Monday, December 11, 2017

Francis de la Mancha: Tilting at Windmills

In an EWTN post which may be found here, Father John Echert notes that:

"The RSV records the Lord’s Prayer as follows:

6:9 Pray then like this: Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 6:10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. 6:11 Give us this day our daily bread; 6:12 And forgive us our debts, As we also have forgiven our debtors; 6:13 And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil.

The Greek text is accurately rendered by the RSV, "Lead us not into temptation" with God understood as the subject. However, we should not understand this to mean that God actively tempts us to sin but that He allows us to undergo testing, including at the hands of the Tempter. In fact, this is precisely what happened to the Son of God who was driven or led by the Spirit into the wilderness, wherein He was tempted by Satan. As we read in the Gospel of St. Mark:

1:12 The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 1:13 And he was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to him.

The Father knew that the Son would successfully face down these temptations and in the process, in His humanity, grow stronger by testing and obedience. The same is true for us; God does not allow us to be tested or tempted beyond what we can endure and He allows it only for the greater good that it may occasion, if we remain faithful.

St. Augustine comments upon the Lord’s Prayer and makes a distinction between being tempted and being led into temptation. He understands being led into temptation as meaning temptations which we are not able to resist and so we are asking that we may not, deserted by His aid, either consent or yield to any such temptation. But as to being tempted or tested, he notes that without temptation none can be approved and so we do not seek to avoid all temptations which we may successfully face with God’s grace. By these temptations, one is approved and made stronger in the process. Or, as one author correctly notes, 'He who refuses the combat renounces the crown.' Of course, God knows each of us personally and so for one who sincerely prays 'and lead us not into temptation' will not be abandoned by God to a test to which one would succumb."

Which makes it problematic that Francis would assert that, the current language of the Our Father prayer "is not a good translation."

Saint Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church, would disagree.  For this giant of Catholic thought, in his Summa, says:

"We are directed to beatitude accidentally by the removal of obstacles. Now there are three obstacles to our attainment of beatitude. First, there is sin, which directly excludes a man from the kingdom, according to 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, 'Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, etc., shall possess the kingdom of God'; and to this refer the words, 'Forgive us our trespasses.'

Secondly, there is temptation which hinders us from keeping God's will, and to this we refer when we say: 'And lead us not into temptation,' whereby we do not ask not to be tempted, but not to be conquered by temptation, which is to be led into temptation. 

Thirdly, there is the present penal state which is a kind of obstacle to a sufficiency of life, and to this we refer in the words, 'Deliver us from evil.'"

As Father William Saunders has noted, "..we must understand this petition in its context. The preceding petition asks our heavenly Father to forgive us our sins as we forgive others — a very positive petition imploring an outpouring of God's healing grace. The petition in question must also be viewed positively: it asks the Father not to lead us into temptation, but not in the sense of God putting us into temptation. St. James reminds us, "No one who is tempted is free to say, 'I am being tempted by God.' Surely God, who is beyond the grasp of evil, tempts no one" (Jas 1:13). Our Lord would never set us up for a fall to sin.

Rather, as the Catechism indicates, the petition means more "do not allow us to enter into temptation" or "do not let us yield to temptation" (No. 2846). 

Rather than engaging in some sort of Quixotic battle against imaginary dragons, perhaps Francis could make better use of his time by clearing up doctrinal confusion which he has sown through Amoris Laetitia or by addressing the homosexual problem in the priesthood?


Paul Anthony Melanson said...

Kathleen1031 said...

But why on earth would he not?
He can, so he will.
"Do what thou wilt".

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