Father Longenecker On Difficulty And Doubt
Beautiful blog post from Father Longenecker about the attitude of Catholics (or those who call themselves so) regarding the problem they encounter in understanding or accepting Catholic teaching on various issues.
Father Longenecker puts is very well when he writes that:
[…] a difficulty is the attitude which says, “How can that be so?” whereas a doubt is the attitude that says, “That can’t be so.” The first is open, engaged, intelligent and searching the tradition in order to understand the teaching. The second puts on above the tradition and the teaching by insisting that one knows better than Holy Church.
Catholicism is not easy. Some of the truths therein contained can be disconcerting, seem to fly in the face of common sense and sometimes are, in fact, a challenge to our ability to accept the Truth. It is only normal that, put in front of them, the Catholic be at first (and before being properly instructed and guided) somewhat at a loss to understand and perhaps a bit lost altogether. What is not normal (for a Catholic) is that he reacts to his difficulties by appointing himself as judge of the validity of Catholic Truth.
A Catholic knows that he has to accept Catholic Truth. Every bit of it. If he has a problem with it, it is a clear sign that he must work in humility to overcome his difficulty. But he must realise from the start that the problem is not about who is right, but about how long will it take for him to understand why he is wrong.
The attitude cannot be: “I disagree with this, so the Church must be wrong”. This is as Catholic as Mohammed, or David Cameron. The attitude can and must be: “I must be wrong on this and I now want to understand why“. Without this fundamental humility (and fundamental wisdom) no spiritual progress is possible; on the contrary, our ego will give us countless excuses to indulge in our little power games. Just notice the smug undertones of all who say “I disagree with the Church on (put here a doctrinal matter)….” to clearly realise the speaker’s barely hidden satisfaction at feeling so important or rebellious or – funny, this – clever.
Credo ut intelligam, non intelligo ut credam. “I believe that I may understand, I do not understand that I may believe”. The acceptance of Truth comes before the full understanding of the Truth and it is what makes this understanding possible in the first place. It is through my humble acceptance of Truth that the instruments to understand it are given to me. My intellect, left to himself, will never lead me to the Truth, but will invariably become the useful idiot of my ever-expanding ego.
Before the open dissent comes a sin of pride; the extraordinary idea that Christ came on Earth and died for us, but somehow neglected to foresee that the Church would betray his teaching until we, oh so clever, come to its rescue; the idea that God is not able to found a Church which keeps His teaching intact, and needs us to cure Her from several centuries of misogyny, or homophobia, or inability to understand modern times.
As I have said, this attitude doesn’t sound very clever. Perhaps you can make this clear to the next wannabe church-founder expanding on how he wants to improve on Christ’s work.
Posted on January 27, 2011, in Catholicism and tagged Catholic, Catholic Church, Catholicism, Christ, Christianity, Conservative Catholic, conservative catholicism, David Cameron, Difficulty, Dissent, Doubt, Fr Longenecker. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Father Longenecker On Difficulty And Doubt.