Friday, July 10, 2009

Tradition and Revolution IV

Continuing his discussion of Catholic dogma, Merton now looks at it's true benefit to those who have the grace to explore it to the fullest. (Part I is here.)
Tradition and Revolution (cont'd.)

The first step to contemplation is faith; and faith begins with an assent to Christ teaching through His Church; fides ex auditu, qui vos ausit, me audit. "He that heareth you, heareth Me." And "faith cometh by hearing."

It is not the dry formula of a dogmatic definition by itself that pours light into the mind of a Catholic contemplative, but the assent to the content of that definition deepens and broadens into a vital, personal and incommunicable penetration of the supernatural truth which it expresses -- an understanding that is a gift of the Holy Ghost and which merges into the Wisdom of love, to possess Truth in its infinite Substance, God Himself.

The dogmas of the Catholic faith are not merely symbols or vague rationalizations which we accept as arbitrary points of stimulation around which good moral actions many form or develop -- still less is it true that any idea would serve just as well as those that have been defined, any old pious thought would foment this vague moral life in our souls. The dogmas defined and taught by the Church have a very precise, positive and definite meaning which those who have the grace to do so must explore and penetrate if they would live an integral spiritual life. For the understanding of dogma is the proximate and ordinary way to contemplation.

Everybody who can do so ought to acquire something of a theologians' accuracy and sharpness in appreciating a true sense of dogma. Every Christian ought to have as deep a comprehension of his belief as his state will allow him. And this means that every one ought to breathe the clean atmosphere of orthodox tradition and be able to explain his belief in correct terminology -- and terminology with a content of genuine ideas.
So I'm thinkin' we're looking at more catechesis, whether done through our reading, scripture studies as a group, seeking guidance of spiritual directors, or more along those lines. There are many ways to learn to appreciate and understand the Church's teachings. It is incumbent upon us to pursue them.

We will hear more about where faithful adherence to the Church's dogma takes us in contemplation in Part IV.

No comments:

Post a Comment