07 January 2013

Error vs. heresy and Vatican II things the SSPX can learn.

Something that has come across my mind lately. I have often heard in the traditional circles that Vatican II erred on *insert thing x, y or z.* What crosses my mind often is the difference between error and heresy.

Perhaps a formal definition would be a way to start, but I'll forgo that in exchange for a different approach.

If I say Force = mass times acceleration. (A form of Newton's 2nd Law)....I'm stating a mathematical reality, but not a physical reality. If I say this, there are somethings that must be understood

  • by Force we mean a resultant force, or the vector sum of all the forces added together. It is not an individual force at all that causes an acceleration
  • the resultant force is what causes the acceleration, NOT the other way around. 
  • mass is not merely a proportionality constant, but a measure of the resistance to motion (inertia), thus if there is more resistance to motion, less acceleration it has, and less resistance it has the greater acceleration that exists. 
  • force does not have a mathematical definition as mass times acceleration. 
There is no intentional denial of these details by those that say it. The intention to use the easy form of the equation to memorize isn't an intrinsic evil or anything horrible. It's just that without these details, the conclusion that will be reached will be a false one. 

It would be better to state that acceleration of a body is directly proportional to the resultant force and inversely proportional to its mass. ( a = F/m). As this shows the cause of a change in motion (the resultant force) and the measure of this change (mass, inertia). It's a minor detail,  but we realize that little details add up. 

So you may ask, what the heck does this have to do with error, heresy and Vatican II? All of the pieces will be put together...just be patient. 

When we say something is erroneous, this doesn't necessarily imply anything, other than the conclusion reached was wrong. It doesn't necessarily mean that the intention behind the wording was evil. Something erroneous can simply be incomplete, it could be totally right. 

Like in my example, without the details to assist you in understanding F = ma, the conclusions that you could reach would be wrong. There in lies the problem. Error leads to other things happening which are far worse than the given intention. 

Heresy is the denial of a dogmatic teaching of the Church. It can be intentional (formal) or unintentional (material). 

Heresy is one of the strongest words in the Church and should be used with caution. 

I hear often in some circles that Vatican II was erroneous in *insert x, y, z*....well, what are the possibilities of this?
  • Said teaching is correct, but if not understood properly will lead many to the wrong conclusion.
  • Said teaching is wrong and will lead others to the wrong conclusion. (but not heretical)
  • Said teaching is correct, but could have been stated better. 
  • Said teaching is correct, the logic behind the statement is horrible though. 
  • Said teaching is wrong and HERETICAL to boot
Let's take a look at each of these. 

1) Said teaching is correct, but if not understood properly will lead many to the wrong conclusion. 

Here's a quote from Sacrosanctorum Concilium (1, 14)

14. Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that fully conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy. Such participation by the Christian people as "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemed people (1 Pet. 2:9; cf. 2:4-5), is their right and duty by reason of their baptism.

In everyday parish life many of us have seen the warping of this very paragraph. In the English language active is typically interpreted as having to do something. For example, I have an active lifestyle: I play sports and teach physics. Activity involves doing. Precisely because of this understanding in the English language we have seen the following
  • Lay people reading
  • Lay people singing EVERYTHING
  • Lay people distributing Holy Communion during Mass
  • Hand motions galore
  • Lack of Silence
  • Various other things which I'm sure we could continue this list forever.
The thing is that none of these things in of themselves are evil or horrible. The problem is that these things have been taken to the extreme (and semi-logical conclusion). Things need to be brought in balance and in their proper perspective. 

Liturgy is multiple parts functioning each in their own dignity for the greater glory of God. This must be restored. 

As has been mentioned ad nausem by various people actual participation, is not active participation.  Actual participation means interior participation and when necessary exterior participation. Basically what I'm saying is that what the Council intended ended up having a reverse clericalism effect. That even though the things that happen now in the present aren't in of themselves evil or horrible, but our own dignity as lay people has been lost by us doing these things. It's as if being a lay person isn't good enough. Last time I checked there aren't that many clerical Saints. ;)

2) Said teaching is wrong, and will lead others to the wrong conclusion (but not heretical)

How the Church deals with man-made religions is not a matter of dogmatic teaching. So to say the least it's a matter of prudential judgement. One can disagree with how others are dealt with. There are some important points that can't be lost
  • The Catholic Religion is the One True Religion...all others are false. No matter how good intentioned they are. It does not mean we need to treat them as if they're the next coming of Satan on earth.
  • Indifferentism is a sin 
  • Religious freedom is the ability to practice religion as one ought (aka: the Catholic Faith), other religions are tolerated.
  • Man does have free will, but with free will comes responsibility to pursue Truth. 
There are some that see ecumenism as glorified indifferentism. In some situations because of human weakness that is exactly what has happened. It most certainly wasn't intended but that's what comes across. (As they say it's not what, but how)

Things to fix the dictatorship of relativism/indifferintism have been taken. There are many situations where the Holy Father has declined to pray with religious leaders. Calling all to conversion is the job of all of us and the Holy Father most certainly. Most certainly it is not just calling all to the Catholic Faith, but interior conversion as well that we are able to better live lives in Christ. 

3) Said teaching is correct, but could have been stated much better. 

12. The holy people of God shares also in Christ's prophetic office; it spreads abroad a living witness to Him, especially by means of a life of faith and charity and by offering to God a sacrifice of praise, the tribute of lips which give praise to His name.(110) The entire body of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One,(111) cannot err in matters of belief. They manifest this special property by means of the whole peoples' supernatural discernment in matters of faith when "from the Bishops down to the last of the lay faithful" (8*) they show universal agreement in matters of faith and morals. That discernment in matters of faith is aroused and sustained by the Spirit of truth. It is exercised under the guidance of the sacred teaching authority, in faithful and respectful obedience to which the people of God accepts that which is not just the word of men but truly the word of God.(112) Through it, the people of God adheres unwaveringly to the faith given once and for all to the saints,(113) penetrates it more deeply with right thinking, and applies it more fully in its life.

This is most certainly true...That said, it'd probably be a lot easier if were said this way:

The Church participates in the Prophetic Office of Christ:
  • Living the Faith in the fullness of charity
  • offering intentions at Holy Mass
  • Christened to battle the secular world with the Sacrament of Confirmation
  • By the charism of infallability in the matters of Faith and Morals
  • She is lead by the Holy Ghost to all Truth.
  • The Laity in their love of God obey the Bishops in Union with the Holy Father
4) Said teaching is correct, but the Logic behind it is horrible

Upon all the laity, therefore, rests the noble duty of working to extend the divine plan of salvation to all men of each epoch and in every land. Consequently, may every opportunity be given them so that, according to their abilities and the needs of the times, they may zealously participate in the saving work of the Church.

The problem is two fold. This does not happen without the Grace of God. And Sanctifying grace is found through the Sacraments. So while certainly this is what we're supposed to be doing....let's switch the logic flow. 

The laity, with the sanctifying grace from the Sacraments, rests the duty to teach and evangelize the Catholic Faith to all men and in every nation. With their talents and understanding the needs of the culture, the lay may participatie in the call of Christ to teach all nations (Matt 28, 19)

From God---> to man ---> to work..

5) Said teaching is wrong, and heretical to boot. 

Guess what you're not going to find heresy in the 2nd Vatican Council. 

What needs to be done for all involved?
  • There are different perspectives to theology. Being Augustinian is different from being Thomistic. Both are equally valid perspectives in theology. Thomas is more linear, Augustinian may require more explanation.
  • Errors can't be assumed to be heretical. Errors should be assumed as mistakes that need fixing. 
  • Learn different formulations for the same concepts. Eventually one can be found that all will agree upon. 
  • Most importantly, pray a clean heart make for me O Lord

Pax Vobis

1 comment:

  1. Do you have a source for the impossibility of heretical teachings in non-infallible passages of ecumenical councils? Thanks.


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