Catholic

Especially relevant to the Roman Catholic Church

St Anselm of Canterbury and Sola Scriptura

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St Anselm of Canterbury, the Magnificent Doctor

‘Therefore, just as at the beginning God marvellously, without cultivator or seeds, created grain and other terrestrial things to nourish people, so too he marvellously, without human learning, made the minds of prophets and apostles and, above all, the Gospels, rich with seeds for our salvation. These are the source of whatever we sow salutarily, in God’s husbandry, for the nourishment of our souls, just as what we cultivate for the nourishment of our bodies derives only from the original seeds of the earth.

‘In fact, we proclaim what is useful for the salvation of souls only what Sacred Scripture, made fecund by the marvellous activity of the Holy Spirit, has produced or contains in its womb. For if at times we assert by a process of reasoning a conclusion which we cannot explicitly cite from the sayings of Scripture or demonstrate from the bare wording, still it is by using Scripture that we know in the following way whether the affirmation should be accepted or rejected. If the conclusion is reached by straightforward reasoning and Scripture in no way contradicts it, then (since just as Scripture opposes no truth so too it abets no falsehood) by the very fact that it does not deny what is inferred on the basis of reason, that conclusion is accepted as authorised by Scripture. But if Scripture indubitably opposes our understanding, ever though our reasoning appears to us to be impregnable, still it ought not to be believed to be substantiated by any truth at all. It is when Sacred Scripture either clearly affirms or in no wise denies it, that it gives support to the authority of any reasoned conclusion.’

-De Concordia 3:6

 

Is St Anselm supporting some form of the protestant doctrine of Sola Scriptura, over four centuries before Martin Luther? Sort of.

That’s not to say that this Roman Catholic Archbishop and Doctor of the Church didn’t acknowledge the authority of the Church’s magisterium (i.e. authoritative teaching) however. That the minds of prophets and apostles are the original seeds, seems to imply that that the fruit they bore produced the plants that nourish us now, which must surely be their legitimate successors. For St Anselm, that must have meant the Holy Catholic Church and his fellow bishops. So we can’t say Scripture was for him the sole authority, as Luther made it.

However, he does clearly consider the Scriptures alone to be sufficient to tell between all truth and falsehood, at least regarding ‘what is useful for the salvation of souls’. Everything we teach must either be straight from Scripture, or proceed from straightforward reasoning and not contradict the Scriptures. Simple enough. While every heresy must, however reasonable it may seem, contradict the Scriptures and so be rejected. Revelation must protect us against the horrific reasonableness of heresy, because what else could? Yes, the magisterium of the Church, but the magisterium always refers us back to the revelation given to us once and for all in Jesus Christ.

This is a point we need to be clear on: The Church, as the authoritative interpreter of the Scriptures, has no authority over the Scriptures. Interpretation has come to mean something dishonest in our times; we suppose the meaning is being distorted and lost; in our post-modern world, we’ve started to wonder if there are any “correct interpretations”. Yes, there are. If the Bible is the Word of God, then its meaning is what God means by it, not what I decide to make of it. No one cares what I think. The Church, then, is the authoritative interpreter of Scripture, simply because She is the one who hears God’s voice and listens. The Scriptures were spoken to the Church, the Beloved Bride of Christ, and therefore they are Hers to understand. The Word of God belongs to Her, precisely because She belongs to the Word; ‘I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine’ [Sg 6:3].

Yes, the Scriptures are also written to me particularly, but to me within the Church. They are never my private possession. The faith is mine, because it is ours. It is mine, only because I am a living member of the Body of Christ, and my faith cannot contradict that of the Church. As I wrote in the past, your religion is mine, and mine is yours.

 

I hope and pray that all Christians can establish true unity with one another. ‘Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.’ Amen.

Happy feast of St Ignatius of Loyola

St. Ignatius said that the Examen is the most essential prayer of each day. It’s a method of praying through each day, and learning to see as God sees. To celebrate his feast day, I’m sharing the ‘Reimagining the Examen’ app with you. The link below introduces it wonderfully, and has all the versions at the bottom.

http://reimaginingexamen.ignatianspirituality.com

God bless you!

Happy feast day!

Accept – Offer – Surrender

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‘Accept, offer, surrender’ is a method of prayer I’ve formed recently, to help me come to Jesus and find rest in Him. It’s longer name is, “accept the past, offer the present, surrender the future.” It’s been very helpful to me, and so I share it now, in the hope that it might help someone else.

Accept

I found I have a tendency to fight the past. Stupid, right? I routinely exert my effort and stress into hating and complaining about things I cannot change. On the other hand, meanwhile, I resist the good things I’ve been given, by being ungrateful. I think this is generally because I don’t like that I’m not in control of the good things in my life, so I either ignore them, or pretend they’re my right and take them for granted.

In order to accept what I’ve been given, especially the bad, I start off by saying something like, “Lord, I accept Your love.” Unless I accept God’s love, I’ll always remain on guard against the world, never letting anything in, and always remaining at war. I then proceed to go through the things in my life, especially those most on my heart and mind, and pray, roughly, “Lord, I accept ____ in Your love.” God works everything for good for those who love Him [Rm 8:28], and all things, good and bad, are to be accepted from His hand. God is present in all things, and we ought to love and accept Him in all things.

But some things are seemingly impossible to accept. Thinking about them brings too much pain. When this is the case, I recommend praying again, “Lord, I accept You love me.” Let His love enter you, ask for His help, and try again to accept it. Then, if you fail repeatedly, change tact, and instead accept, offer and surrender your struggle to accept it.

Offer

It is easy to live with a worldly mindset, in which I just get by, serve myself, and my life is basically meaningless. It’s incredibly easy, corrupted as I am by sin, to remain closed in on myself, refusing to love. But we are called to follow Christ, who opened and poured Himself out for us.

I say, “Lord, I offer myself to You now, in union with Jesus’ sacrifice upon the cross, in union with His love, and in union with His obedience.” I then go through every situation I’m in, each problem, each obstacle, and each opportunity, and offer it up to the Father, asking to be obedient in each one, and united to Jesus’ offering upon the cross.

It’s in this offering of love and gratitude that we find true life and true freedom in Christ. In sharing His love, we experience His own joy, and our joy is made complete [Jn 15:11].

Surrender

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Ultimately, I’m not in control; I never have been; I never will be. Nothing at all is truly in my power. But this is good news, because it is all in God’s power, and His plans and desires for me, are far greater than mine. It is difficult to let go of the illusion of control and trust in God, but it is the only way to peace and freedom, both for ourselves, and for those we have been oppressing.

Again, I start with something like, “Lord, I surrender to Your love for me.” I don’t think I could surrender to anything but love, and I don’t think I’d want to. Then, I go through the things I’m uncertain of, each of my fears and my hopes, needs and desires and say, “Lord, I surrender ____ to Your love.” Often I’ll make a petition that it goes a certain way as well, because I know God is a good Father, who is happy to treat us [Mt 7:11].

 

 

God bless you!

 

P.S. Also, if a particular matter arises to trouble me, I’ll do a short accept-offer-surrender for just that issue. I’m sure it can be adapted in many other ways too.

God bless!

Mother of Light

[I’ve decided to start sharing some art on here. I think we undervalue and underutilise beauty today, and need to reverse that immediately]

‘Truly I have set my soul
in silence and peace.
A child on its mother’s breast,
even so is my soul.’
(Ps 130:2)

God bless you!

The painting is called, Mother of Light, and it’s from http://www.artofamaryknollsister.com/Details.asp?ProdID=628&category=2 (but I found it through pinterest).

Secrets, Sex, & Spirituality

As with so many things, I learnt this the hard way. Some things, even (and especially) beautiful things, are meant to be kept secret. Some blessings can’t be shared without being corrupted, and sometimes exclusion is necessary for a deeper inclusion.

The obvious natural example of this is sex. I hardly need to explain that the less exclusive it is, the more it becomes “cheap” and the more it is objectified. What you have received is given to you alone, for you alone, and no one else matters in it. Within such intimate gift, a whole microcosm is built, in which there is no one but lover and beloved, and therefore love can become all.

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But I didn’t intend to write about sexuality. As per usual, this is even more true on the supernatural level. Sometimes God gives us certain insights, experiences, blessings, or gifts, and it’s not about anyone else– it’s just Lover and beloved, together in their own microcosm. To try to share these things, is to try to make them about others, and it only does violence to the gift given. Others won’t properly understand and appreciate them, because they’re not meant for them. Instead, we ought to harbour these secret gifts, treasure them, and savour them ourselves, regularly reentering our hidden world and praying to our Father “who is in secret” [Mt 6:6].

If you feel concerned about the seeming exclusivity, and perhaps selfishness, of this, don’t. Just as sexuality naturally overflows into new life and deeper love for all, so this hidden intimacy with God supernaturally overflows into spiritual children and deeper love for all. These loves, like every authentic love, reach out to all, but only by moving through us, transforming us into love.

 

God bless you!

 

P.S. I honestly had no intention of writing about sex, but then I never know what I’m going to find when I write. You can probably guess I’m reading Theology of the Body for Beginners at the moment, and am honestly blown away. I can’t recommend it enough.

God bless you again!
P.P.S. This was originally published as ‘Intimate secrets with God’, but honestly, that title was boring, and it didn’t fit as well as the new title.

God bless you!