Where I Stand

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(for those who care.)

While I am fascinated by disputations and controversies in doctrine, dogma, and practice, I have to admit to not be terribly interested in the things that divide us as Catholics. That is not to say that these issues are not important, they are. However, I know what I believe, when what I believe is challenged or proven to be incorrect, I take steps to correct it, and that is as much as is required of me. The truth of the matter is I haven't the wherewithal to correct the errors of others. Moreover, I often find myself in sympathy with the motives of those who hold erroneous beliefs, if not with the belief itself.

On issues of practice and discipline, I hold no fixed belief. I was not raised Catholic and so I do not revere the celibate life the way those born to the faith might. It little matters to me whether a priest is married or unmarried so long as his first and overwhelming love is the Lord.

On issues of doctrine, I am somewhat less flexible. I will continue to hold with the Church that the ordination of women is not licit until such time as I hear otherwise. However, I have no intention of or interest in trying to prove this to anyone else. It simply doesn't matter. I don't believe that when one approaches the gates of heaven after living life in a state of grace, helping God's poor, and partaking of the sacraments that one will be excluded on the basis of believing that women should be ordained.

I hold to the truth and I pray for those who differ--not for fear of their souls (in most cases) but rather in respect for the truth. If what I believe is true, then it is the only thing worth believing. If it is false, then it should be excised. I leave to finer, more honed minds than my own the excision, submitting myself to the correction of the Church. However, I am not a surgeon. My part in the body is not to excise error, but to encourage love and devotion. This is something I feel equipped to do. This is something I can understand and which requires no great grasp of the intricacies of the faith, but rather a desire. Truth supports this desire, which is why it is always necessary to be in touch with truth; however, truth isn't necessarily the desire itself.

I cannot correct error. I don't think in the ways necessary and at this point have no desire to think that way. I'm afraid I tend to be on the side of Unapologetic Catholic in these matters--many of the apologists for the faith have personalities that would send St. Thérèse into screaming tantrums. The truth need not be abrasive, nor need it be present caustically. In fact, the truth can be presented in any number of ways outside of argument--and that is where I am called. I love God and I can share God's call to His love in my own inadequate fashion. I leave to other, differently attuned minds the defense of the faith. As their honed arguments and presentations bring the flock in, I will feed and water and care for them as best I can. My position is not that of master, but servant and most appealingly as servant of all God's servants. My rule is love. It can lead to excesses and there is the danger of indifferentism, but not so long as prayer informs everything I do. I cannot be indifferent to the Truth, because the Truth is what I love and what I desire others to love. I may not be able to see and articulate the fullness of the truth with the skill of some others. But what I can see, I desire to make known as clearly as God can make possible for me.

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For those who care, Iíll add my 2 cents. Part of what you describe is being involved in apologetics. I myself have never cared for apologetics very much. Sure I wonít hesitate to tell someone what I believe, but due to my hot temper and propensity to intellectual pride, debate on such matters really can become an occasion of frustration and sin for me.

Another interesting point, I would agree with you that believing a point of doctrine contrarily to the Churchís teaching isnít necessarily in and of itself damning. Here are a few incomplete thoughts on that idea. Take one example, homosex, premarital sex, and contraceptive sex are all grave sins. Some believe this is true, some believe that parts of this are true, and some believe that this is false. Now human sexuality is of fundamental importance to the truth of who and what the human person is, but belief (or not) in that truth is of a different order than belief (or not) in who and what Christ and His salvific mission is.

So is belief (mere belief and not practice) in the truth of human sexuality as necessary for salvation as belief in the truth of Christ? I would say no. This isnít simply an academic point, because at times I get the impression that there is a certain flavor of orthodox who appear to suggest that if any part of the total understanding and assent to Church teaching (and thatís a lot!) is lacking, then woe to that one. This position also seems vaguely Gnostic to me, but would require several paragraphs for me to more fully explain. Still, there are huge caveats to not understanding or assenting to the Churchís teaching:

A lack of faith and trust in the definitive teachings and authority of the Church will [could eventually] parallel a lack of faith and trust in the teachings and mission of Christ.

Misunderstanding or disagreeing with the Churchís definitive teachings will probably lead to pride or an adversarial posture in relationship to the Church and God.

Mere belief (disbelief) in a definitive teaching (we can use the example of sex again) however, is unlikely to remain "mere". Consciously (or not) we will teach, enable in disorder/sin, or criticize others based on our beliefs.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on June 2, 2005 9:10 AM.

Lectio Divina II--Encountering God in Scripture was the previous entry in this blog.

Lectio Divina III--An Example is the next entry in this blog.

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