Friday, April 25, 2008

Why we listen II

In the post Why we listen I provided the scriptural foundation for why listening to the Church is something we should do. Here is a reading from today's Divine Office, which states the consequences a bit more elegantly, and directly.

From a sermon by Blessed Isaac of Stella, abbot

Just as the head and body of a man form one single man, so the Son of the Virgin and those he has chosen to be his members form a single man and the one Son of Man. Christ is whole and entire, head and body, say the Scriptures, since all the members form one body, which with its head is one Son of Man, and he with the Son of God is one Son of God, who himself with God is one God. Therefore the whole body with its head is Son of Man, Son of God, and God. This is the explanation of the Lord’s words: Father, I desire that as you and I are one, so they may be one with us.

And so, according to this well-known reading of Scripture, neither the body without the head, nor the head without the body, nor the head and body without God make the whole Christ. When all are united with God they become one God. The Son of God is one with God by nature; the Son of Man is one with him in his person; we, his body, are one with him sacramentally. Consequently those who by faith are spiritual members of Christ can truly say that they are what he is: the Son of God and God himself. But what Christ is by his nature we are as his partners; what he is of himself in all fullness, we are as participants. Finally, what the Son of God is by generation, his members are by adoption, according to the text: As sons you have received the Spirit of adoption, enabling you to cry, Abba, Father.
This body in which we participate is characterized by many things; one of which is that the ordinary members of the body do not speak for the head; that task is reserved for those parts of the body to whom the task has been entrusted. It was once common to refer to the "Church Teaching" and the "Church Taught." This distinction has been all but done away with in the common understanding, to eternal peril.

In "This Tremendous Lover" by M. Eugene Boylan, (perhaps one of the great spiritual classics of the 20th Century) the author points out that it is fascinating that the great scourge of our day is cancer; but what is cancer, except the condition where a cell lives for itself no longer under the direction of the body?

Awesome post from Father Down Under: Room Temperature Catholics ...


  1. The Church is "top down" not "bottom up".

    I remember not too long ago speaking with a non-Catholic friend about something and I said, "the church teaches" blah, blah, blah. She was very quick to say, "never mind what the church teaches, what does the Bible say."

    Well, duh - it's the same....

  2. I sometimes ask such a person if they would go under the knife of a person who happened to have read a medical text book, but never been to med school and was not a licensed physician. Invariably they are more concerned about their flesh than they are about my soul which they wish to put under the blade of their unguided reading of OUR book.

  3. The further problem is that any two of them will disagree over the very words of the Bible that they read, and of course they will say that the Holy Spirit is guiding them, and that they only have to agree on the "fundamentals," not the non-essentials. Last I remember, Christ is was the Way, the Truth, and the Life, not the half-way, fundamental Truth, and the half-Life. The silliness abounds and while pondering it a good sense of humor helps. I have often told my protestant friends that when looking at the U.S. Constitution, a good jurist will look at how the contemporaries of the authors of the Constitution interprerted it, as well as the succeeding generation who was trained by those contemporaries. No less true here. How did the Apostles and their immediate successors and on and on interpret the Bible, that Jesus Christ changed the bread and wine into His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. Simply put, the faith is Catholic and in turn the Catholic faith is a Biblically-based Faith--not a protesting faith.