The Catholic state of play

Discussion in 'Christianity' started by Thomas, Aug 6, 2019.

  1. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    According to a recent Pew survey, 50% of US Catholics believe the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ, that is, they believe in the Transubstantiation.

    The other half — a staggering 50% — think the change is 'symbolic'.

    Fr Dwight Longernecker — from whom I've filched this article — suggests a number of causes, the easiest to point a finger at being 50 years of 'raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens' catechesis, and most respondents here at IO seem to have an expeience of questions ignored or chopped off short.

    Others (not here) blame Vatican II, and the liberalising of the Church, culminating in 'Father Fabulous' with his Day-Glo vestments, churches that look like a spaceships and music that seems to be a blend of Joan Baez, the Carpenters and campfire songs — in short, that religion should be hip, be cool ...

    This particular debate goes way back. The Fourth Lateran Council in 1215, the Council of Trent (1545-63). Trent was a response to the Protestant revolutionaries. Luther proposed “consubstantiation” and the Anglicans “receptionism”, while Calvin and Zwingli argued for a merely symbolic presence of Christ at the celebration of the Eucharist.

    Modern Materialist Christian Man believes Christianity is a human endeavour, the product of a certain historical period and culture. As such, it not only may change, but it must change according to the time and culture in which it finds itself. In other words, Christianity is a relative religion. Not only is the Eucharist a symbol, it's all a symbol/metaphor/analogy/myth.

    (A note: Had the Church adopted this change with the times attitude, it wouldn't be here today, any more than the structures of those times ... even idealistic 60/70s Christian movements are dying as the generation passes ...)

    Modern Mysticist Christian Man (admittedly way, way less than 50%) believes that the dogmas of faith are not relative, but Revealed. The Incarnation, the Trinity, the Sacraments. The Words and the Deeds – the Eucharist and the entire Christian faith is not symbolic but supernatural. It is revealed by God, and as such transcends the vagaries of history and culture.

    Longernecker makes a nice analogy:
    In our downstairs bathroom we have a collection of family photographs. There I am as a child of two in my father’s arms. Next to it is a family photo when I am five, another when I am 12, then my high school portrait, my college years and then yesterday’s me … an old bald man. The physical form has changed, but in each photograph you can see it’s me. That invisible, unchanging person is my substance.

    It is this "substance" of the bread and wine that changes, the 'me' of it. All that has happened is the ontological source has been affirmed and, if you like, actuated. If God cannot imbue the eucharistic species with his essence, than neither can man attain 'enlightenment' or 'salvations' or 'deliverance' or whatever you want to call it ... God is more unlike us than we are unlike bread and wine. In fact God is nothing like us ... so why we should think that we can achieve what cannot be achieved by any other collection of atoms in the cosmos, well ...

    +++

    Mystery religions are unfashionable, unless they wear their mystery on their sleeves. Same with spirituality, whatever ... 'no pain, no gain', the motto goes, but what if there is pain but no gain to the authentic spiritual life? Not so enticing now, it seems ...

    ... so we slide back into eros, into the ecstatic, the whoo-hoo of mysticism, that the mystic is imbued with some kind of 'I-know-something-you-don't know' Mona Lisa smile, and if you can pull that off, and write a book, you're made.

    The religion of the age is scientism. It's the basis of faith, or rather the basis of a faith that says if it cannot be empirically determined, it cannot be.

    Me? I long for an authentic Christian Mystagogia — a deeper seating of the faithful in the Mysteries of the Church, a chance to drink from deep wells ... but my God, would that put you at odds with the world!

    Really, in trying to stay still, we've gone backwards. That diet is all too rich for us now. I read the lessons of St Augustine to the Catechumen and I'm staggered by what he tells them. Say that today and it won't be long before someone cries heretic or insists its an assertion of pantheism, or a 'spiritual analogy'.
     
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  2. muhammad_isa

    muhammad_isa Active Member

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    I think you mean empiricism :)
    Yes, many people only believe something if they can "see it" for themselves.
    Some people are unable to see .. they cannot understand what spiritual sight is .. that strong connection with the Divine.

    Science is observation of physical phenomena. It uses a logical, statistical analysis of data. I'm totally in favour of that.
    There is no need to stay in "the dark ages" .. we have better education these days. It doesn't mean we have to become more liberal necessarily.
    ..but more enlightened? God willing :)
     
  3. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    Is it wrong to chuckle when pew research researches those in pews?

    Does the research break it down by country?

    I am with the 50%!
     
  4. A Cup Of Tea

    A Cup Of Tea An ordinary cup of tea

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    I doubt that:
    Scientism is an ideology that promotes science as the only objective means by which society should determine normative and epistemological values.
    Empiricism is a theory that states that knowledge comes only or primarily from sensory experience.

    Me as well!
     
  5. muhammad_isa

    muhammad_isa Active Member

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    I stand corrected..

    Yes, but which 50%? The do's or the don'ts? ;)
     
  6. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    Yes!
     
  7. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

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    Hasn't it always been like that, though?

    Those of use who have the longing, who sense the depth and immensity of our situation, and who consequently can never be satisfied by pat answers: we are few and far between, even in this age of ubiquitous instant global communication.

    I'm grateful to have found you all, hidden away in this corner of the internet.

    That said: Transsubstantiation, how does it work for you? There must be an experiential angle to it, but which one, in your case?
     
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  8. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens

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    I believe that because Christ promised to be present in the Eucharist, in reality -- therefore he is.
     
  9. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    and therein lies the Crux of the biscuit...

    You believe....Christ promised.
     
  10. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Well Augustine's sermons were far more 'radical' than anything you'll hear in catechetics today, although the situation is improving in some areas. The Director of Catechetics at Maryvale when I studied there is now directs the programme at the Franciscan University at Steubenville, Ohio. A great loss to the UK.

    Of course the world has changed. The rationalisation of religion began with the Reformation, but that was a rationalist skepticism within the context of a Christian culture. We now live in a secular culture that wears its Christianity lightly, really. The more rationalism and relativism takes a grip, the more the mystical retreats into the shadows.

    The good catechist never gives 'pat answers', but no doubt there are probably Augustines labouring away somewhere, it's just that I don't know them!

    It works in that I can explain it logically and rationally within the context of the deposit of faith.

    No, not directly.
     
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  11. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    O, ye of little faith :D
     
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  12. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    The emoticon accurately replicates my grin!
     
  13. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

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    Indirectly, then, in the experience of rational explanation within the deposit if faith? Doesn't this inform your more direct experience of the mystery of faith, in the communion?
     
  14. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Well I sense it, the Eucharist is like a focal point— really it's the focal point of the whole thing.

    How to convey that is something else. A certainty? A certitude?

    But here we're at another point: On what basis should we assume/expect an 'experience'? I'm not belittling your question, it's a valid one. But reception of the Eucharist is an act of faith, and if there was an experience, something evidential, then it would be a proof, and faith would go out the window ...

    St Irenaeus of Lyon:
    "... He has declared the cup, a part of creation, to be His own blood, from which He causes our blood to flow; and the bread, a part of creation, He has established as His own body, from which He gives increase to our bodies... "
    This is in line with my own belief: If God is the creator, then God is the ontological source of all; and this ontological source is not a one-time event, but an ongoing continuum, and God being God, He can at any time unite Himself directly with any part of His creation; He is immanent in with and to creation all the time, but the Eucharist signifies a participation; as much as we take Him into ourselves, He takes us into Himself. (Against Heresies 5:2:2-3)

    St Gregory of Nyssa:
    "Rightly then, do we believe that the bread consecrated by the word of God has been made over into the Body of God the Word. For that Body was, as to its potency, bread; but it has been consecrated by the lodging there of the Word, who pitched His tent in the flesh... In the plan of His grace He spreads Himself to every believer by means of that Flesh, the substance of which is from wine and bread, blending Himself with the bodies of believers, so that by this union with the Immortal, man, too, may become a participant in incorruption. These things He bestows through the power of the blessing which transforms the nature of the visible things to that [of the Immortal]. (The Great Catechism 37)

    St Augustine:
    "My friends, these realities are called sacraments because in them one thing is seen, while another is grasped. What is seen is a mere physical likeness; what is grasped bears spiritual fruit... listen to the Apostle Paul speaking to the faithful: "You are the body of Christ, member for member." (1 Cor. 12.27) If you, therefore, are Christ's body and members, it is your own mystery that is placed on the Lord's table! It is your own mystery that you are receiving! You are saying "Amen" to what you are: your response is a personal signature, affirming your faith... Be what you see; receive what you are. (Sermon 227)
     
  15. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    The only begotten is continually begotten...

    Put the mind that is in Christ in your mind...

    WWJD

    Raise yourself (your thought, your response) to the Christ idea... ideal.

    Take, drink, eat, consume, allow these nutrients, thoughts, concepts, ethics, morals, to be within you, be you...

    You've done it again, caused thousands of not random thoughts to go spinning randomly through my brain...

    Thx
     
  16. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

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    Thanks, and I should have been more clear, and stated that I consider subjective experience (which is not necessarily objective evidence to anyone else) as a valid experience in its own right, and that I consider our cognitions to be experiences of our cognitive sense faculties (as the Buddhists do, and which is where I got it from).

    Thus, to have faith is already an experiential thing in my book.

    I especially like the Augustine excerpt you posted. Thanks again!
     
  17. A Cup Of Tea

    A Cup Of Tea An ordinary cup of tea

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    Very reasonable I think. But on what does faith rest if not an experience? Not the pure logic of the theology, right?

    Experience and faith. Chicken and egg?
     
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  18. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens

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    Yes, if one is open to the power of it. It is a subtle thing.

    I think it can just become a ritual and forgotten as soon as a person walks out of the church door. That's one thing I have about the repetition of religious rituals -- they can lose their power through familiarity. I don't think church should be forced; I don't think a person should have to feel guilty for not going. I think that takes away the power of the religious experience.

    I have explained before that what is meant in the Catholic Church by 'The Religious' are the various orders of monks and nuns and priests, with their various habits/uniforms and their strict daily prayer regimes. The religious professionals, really.

    I think it is important and someone has to do the job. I've said before that to me religion is the shell of the nut.

    @Thomas said somewhere that without the Catholic Church, there would be no church by now. It would have been watered away to suit whatever the times were, to conform with what human beings thought it should be.

    But the monks have continued the exact same rituals for centuries upon centuries. Changes are slow to come. The inner truth is preserved by their work. At the moment they are nursing the flame that is flickering very low, imo.

    Perhaps life is so much easier now materially for most of us in advanced western countries that we don't need God anymore. On other forums where I lurk, I read comments by people demanding that God should prove himself to them, and stop children dying from leukaemia, etc. IMO we are lost in our materialism.

    The problem of suffering is one of the mysteries of existence. God doesn't dance to satisfy anyone's curiosity.

    May I post a verse from Leonard Cohen's song Suzanne:

    Now Jesus was a sailor when he walked upon the water
    And he spent a long time watching from his lonely wooden tower
    And when he knew for certain only drowning men could see him
    He said: All men will be sailors then until the sea shall free them
    But he himself was broken long before the sky could open
    Forsaken almost human he sank beneath your wisdom
    Like a stone.
     
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  19. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

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    Subtle, good word.
     
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