Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Rehabilitating Obedience.

I've been pondering how desperately we need to reclaim the virtue of obedience (to rightful authority, of course). Pascal prompts me. Newman prompts me. I really should write an article or something...

Then, this from an old Richard John Neuhaus essay. And I realize he's said it so well that all I need to do is pass it on to you:

"I may not understand an authoritative teaching of the Magisterium, I may have difficulties with a teaching, but, as Newman understood, a thousand difficulties do not add up to a doubt, never mind a rejection. I may think a teaching is inadequately expressed, and pray and work for its more adequate expression in the future. But, given a decision between what I think the Church should teach and what the Church in fact does teach, I decide for the Church. I decide freely and rationally--because God has promised the apostolic leadership of the Church guidance and charisms that He has not promised me; because I think the Magisterium just may understand some things that I don't; because I know for sure that, in the larger picture of history, the witness of the Catholic Church is immeasurably more important than anything I might think or say. In short, I obey. The nuances of such obedience, of what is meant by thinking with the Church (sentire cum ecclesia), are admirably spelled out in the 1990 instruction of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, "The Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian." It is an instruction that can be read with enormous benefit also by those who are not professional theologians. My point is this: liberal Catholicism cannot be reinvented, it cannot be rehabilitated, it will not be vibrantly Catholic, until it candidly and convincingly comes to terms with obedience."

I'm convinced. (I'd add that liberal philosophy can't come to terms with the human condition until I also comes to terms with the tradition.)

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