Friday, October 07, 2005

VOTF: A Movement in Decay

Writing to the Ephesians, St. Paul said, "Put off the old man who is corrupted according to the desire of error, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind: and put on the new man, who according to God is created in justice and holiness of truth" (Eph. 4:22-24). And as Dr. Von Hildebrand explains, "These words of St. Paul are inscribed above the gate through which all must pass who want to reach the goal set us by God. They implicitly contain the quintessence of the process which baptized man must undergo before he attains the unfolding of the new supernatural life received in Baptism." (Transformation in Christ, p.3).

Dr. Von Hildebrand goes on to explain in this work of critical importance that there is a certain type of man, "who, while not lacking a certain elan, refuses to take account of his limitations and is thus driven to magnify his stature artificially." He continues: "Suppose he is present at some discussion of spiritually relevant topics: he will take part in the debate as though he were fully equipped to do so; he will claim impressions as deep as the others; he will not yield to any other man as regards intellectual proficiency or even religious stature. Thus he works himself up, as it were, to a level which he has not reached in reality - and which he may not even be able to reach, so far as it is a matter of natural capacities. He is not without zeal; but that zeal is nourished at heart by pride. He misjudges the limitations of the natural talents which God has lent him, and consequently lapses into pretense. He is fond of speaking of things which far transcend the limits of his understanding; he behaves as though a mere mental or verbal reference to such subjects (however poorly implemented with actual knowledge and penetration) would by itself amount to their intellectual possession. This cramped attitude of sham spirituality is mostly underlain by an inferiority complex, or by a kind of infantile unconsciousness. Stupidity in its really oppressive form is traceable to this pretension to appear something different from what one is in fact, and by no means to a mere deficiency of intellectual gifts." (Transformation in Christ, pp.23-24).

Why am I relating all of this? Because, Dr. Von Hildebrand teaches us that such false self-appraisals actually hinder our readiness to change or to "put on the new man" as St. Paul instructs us to do. And what Dr. Von Hildebrand refers to as a "cramped attitude of sham spirituality" was clearly in evidence at the recent VOTF meeting held at St. Eulalia Parish.

My editor at secretly attended this meeting and reported that the crowd has dwindled to 35 regulars from 10 surrounding parishes and that "their mantra is the same: Keep the Faith. Change the Church." This even though it was acknowledged that VOTF is held in "low esteem" by most Catholics across the country and despite the fact that everyone in the audience had their own thoughts as to what is to change.

The people who were in attendance at this meeting may have their own thoughts as to what must change. But this is because they fail to listen to the Word of God as given to us by the Apostle to the Gentiles. Insisting that it is not they who must "put on the new man" in Christ Jesus but that it is the Church which must change, these intellectually and spiritually cramped characters evaluate the abuse crisis within the Church and issue an arrogant vestra culpa (your fault) while refusing to issue a humble mea culpa (my fault). These sophomoric souls, anxious to assign blame to the Church for the sins of some of Her members, forget the words of the great Cardinal Journet: "All contradictions are eliminated as soon as we understand that the members of the Church do indeed sin, but they do so by their betraying the Church. The Church is thus not without sinners, but She is without sin. The Church as person is responsible for penance. She is not responsible for sins...The members of the Church themselves - laity, clerics, priests, bishops, and Popes - who disobey the Church are responsible for their sins, but the Church as person is not responsible...It is forgotten that the Church as person is the Bride of Christ, 'Whom He has purchased with His own Blood' (Acts 20:28)."

VOTF members will no doubt continue to live in denial while loudly proclaiming the need for "structural change" within the Church even while remaining unsure as to what this actually means. This is why their movement is fast becoming a rotting corpse. But there is another and no less important reason for their movement's decay. And it is this: most Catholics in this country understand what they themselves do not: namely, that the Church founded by Jesus Christ the Incarnate Word is a perfect society which is immutable.

They know and understand this because such is the teaching of the Church. It was Pope Pius XII, in his encyclical letter Mystici Corporis, who taught that: "..The Church, which should be considered a perfect society in its own right, is not made up of merely moral and juridical elements and principles. It is far superior to all other human societies; it surpasses them as grace surpasses nature, as things immortal are above all those that perish...The juridical principles, on which also the Church rests and is established, derive from the divine constitution given it by Christ.."

Such authentic Catholics accept the teaching of Vatican I that, "...the pastors and the faithful of whatever rite and dignity, both as separate individuals and all together, are bound by the duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience, not only in things which pertain to faith and morals, but also in those which pertain to the discipline and government of the Church which is spread over the whole world, so that the Church of Christ, protected not only by the Roman Pontiff, but by the unity of communion as well as of the profession of the same faith is one flock under the one highest shepherd. This is the doctrine of Catholic truth from which no one can deviate and keep his faith and salvation." (Dogmatic Constitution I on the Church of Christ, Session IV).

VOTF rejects this clear and unambiguous teaching of Holy Mother Church. This is why the movement is held in "low esteem" by most Catholics in this country (and beyond) and why their working papers are probably now being used to line bird cages.

Paul Anthony Melanson

No comments:

Site Meter