Tuesday, 29 September 2015

What is behind the mess at the Synod?

One of the great spiritual writers of our time, Father Garrigou-Lagrange, in a booklet entitled Where Is the New Theology Leading Us? aids us in understanding why certain priests and lay people think the way they do about doctrines being discussed in the Synod.

Because this is a blog post, I shall concentrate only on two evils of Modernism, which inform the minds and hearts of those trying to change Church doctrine regarding grace.

In a nutshell, the problem demands an understanding of the denial of "form" and the idea of "vital immanence", which can be seen in the efforts of those who want to move away from traditional Church teaching regarding marriage and the sacrament of the Eucharist.

Taking the idea of "form" first, The very idea of Truth was attacked by the Modernists, and part of this attack was the denial of form. For the Catholic trained to think as a Catholic, truth is the intellect meeting reality. Reality is fixed, and there are forms, created by God, which can be understood through reflection.

The Modernist believes that truth is a process, and that forms change constantly and must be re-evaluated in a contemporary manner. Sadly, this idea of progressivism is so common, that most Catholics cannot see the mine-field of errors following the idea that truth cannot be found, but only experienced, or worse, re-created. 

Obvioulsy, some of the Synod Fathers simply do not believe in a fixed truth, or a form of religion, which demands a proper response of humility and grace. Herein lies another error, the error which denies that grace is not only necessary for salvation, but not merited. Grace is necessary both for justification, and in the movement of the mind and heart through which a person accepts justification.

Grace upon grace flows through the sacramental life of the Church.

Back to forms: truth does not change and cannot be other than what is both capable of being found by the intellect and what is revealed by God. Such truths are the certain dogmas of the Church, such as Transubstantiation, and the earthly permanence of the marriage vow. 

Those in the Synod who want to radically change rules for the reception of Communion have fallen into the thinking that a docrine which is not changing is not valid. They also seem to deny the efficacy of grace.

I am convinced that some bishops want a world religion, which denies form, denies grace. They want faith to merely be conformity to one's personal judgement, not a set of revealed, immutable forms of truth.

The true Modernist denies Transubstantiation, denies the reality of the Presence of Christ's Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity in the sacrament. The Modernist bishop may not be willing or even able to define such a position, but in denying the truth of forms, the truth of immutable dogmas, such a belief hides under a veneer of pastoral care, setting aside æquatio rei et intellectus.

Hence, some of the errors are the result of the great danger of the Charismatic emphasis on experience and personal feelings regarding the Faith.

Which leads me to the other false idea pushing some stances in the Synod, vital immanence.

Vital immanence has seeped into the teaching and consciousness of millions of Catholics, partly because of the popularity of psychology as a substitute for religion. I think some of the Synod Fathers think grace is something "natural",  forgetting the supernatural origin of grace.

They seem to think that one grows into grace, setting aside the doctrine of grace as gift, gift through certains means, and not a natural condition of humans.

Do they confuse the "immanence" referred to by St. Paul with their idea of "vital immanence"? Maritain seems to think the Modernists confused and re-discovered the "half-truth" of immanence by placing the Divine into Man. Here is Maritain on this subject and I highlight key sentences:

 As to the Modernist theory of the Divine in man, or, as they prefer to call it, 'vital immanence,' it is one of those very subtle half-truths which in reality are the greatest falsehoods. The 'immanence' of St. Paul is one thing, the Modernist 'vital immanence' is quite another. It is not only that God is in us, but we are also in God.{2} God is present everywhere by His essence, presence and power, which is the same as saying -- (1) There is no place where He is not; (2) He is not inactive, but is always Preserving creation, 'upholding all things' (Colossians); besides, (3) He is continually creating anew. But He is absolutely distinct from all creatures whatsoever They are not a part of God in any way, for this would be pantheism. Then, again, it is quite true there is the mystic life of Christ living in the souls of men; there is the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in holy souls. But God and Christ and the Holy Spirit are essentially Divine in themselves, and infinitely distinct from the souls of Christian believers. What is Divine in man is only so in a purely created and participated sense, not in an absolute sense. It is a presence by means of grace, which is a created supernatural gift bestowed on the possessor, either making him holy or helping so to do, according as it takes the form of sanctifying or actual grace. This is not God, or Christ, or the Holy Spirit; it is quite distinct from the Divine Being.
Faith comes from without, being a supernatural gift bestowed on man. Without this no man by any interior impulse or 'vital immanence' (!) could believe than he could see at all, any more without the organs of vision, or reason without an intellectual faculty. Revelation is absolutely distinct from faith, as the objects seen by man are distinct from the eyes that see them. Revelation is both the whole ensemble of Divine mysteries and supernatural realities existing in the supernatural works; and the Mind of God, unfolding or revealing or unveiling them to the mind of man, to believe in by means of the supernatural gift of faith. So much for the false theory of Modernism as a so-called philosophy. 

I am reminded of the popular idea of universal salvation, which blurs the teaching on grace as a gift exterior to humans. What the false idea of vital immanence does is to make people, including bishops, believe that grace is part of naturally being human, a denial of sin, both actual and Original. This hope or belief of vital immanence as some sort of interior impulse to be good and do good, that religion comes from man himself, blossoms out of modern psychology and the love-affair of contemporary theologians with "religions" other than Catholicism or Christianity. To be politically correct means that one must accept some sort of vital immanence in all humans, which lead them to the truth of the Divine, found, in themselves, and not through grace or through the Church. Thus, man-made religions are O.K. to the Modernist, as these are seen as efforts to find the Divine within.

The sentiment of vital immanence not only creates religion, but brings some sort of grace, some sort of salvation because the person finds God through his or her own efforts and inner search. Sounds like Neo-Pelagianism in the mask of tolerance.

One can see the logical conclusion among some Synod Fathers who want to relax rules regarding the reception of Communion for those in irregular marriages, for example. Or the tendency to overlook the sins of same-sex activities. If all persons have some sort of vital immanence, they will find God anyway, not through the external gift of grace, or through the sacramental life of the Church, but through some sort of emotional sense, a true denial not only of the intellect and the will being involved in conversion, but a real denial of the forms of truth, the immutability of dogma.

To put it all in kindergarten context. some Synod Fathers seem to think that receiving Christ in the Eucharist when in sin will take away sin because one will find the God within, not through grace but through one's own creation of religion through some sort of sentiment. Religion becomes one's own "journey" and not a movement of God's gift of grace, plus the reflection and acceptance of the intellect, aided by Revelation, exterior to one's own mind, heart, and soul.

These Synod Fathers, to be blunt, have created a religion in their own minds, which is not Catholicism, but a hybrid of Modernism and psychological interpretations of the soul. Such is the politically correct stance of the relativist.

May I quote the great Dominican criticizing Blondel by using the Frenchman's own words? "No longer 'adæquatio rei et intellectus', but 'conformitas mentis et vitæ'" is the problem behind the mess at the Synod.

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