Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Laity sometimes know more than theologians says Pope Benedict

Particularly during my time at St Simon's South Ashford, I learnt to learn from the faith of the Faithful.

They taught me love for the Divine Mercy which led me to facilitate their requests for the weekly public celebration of the Chaplet with a period of Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, and to lead it myself. This enriched greatly my own spiritual life.

The commitment of some parishioners to a Legion of Mary prayer group and their perseverance in meeting in spite of the apparent lack of fruit was a time of rich sowing. Now they have started visiting families to say the Rosary, and the families have themselves asked to meet with other families in the church for Rosary. Last Monday, the evening before my departure, I was overjoyed to see a lovely group of families and young children who had gathered at church for this. This led all the more to the sadness I felt on leaving. But on the other hand I rejoiced to see this wonderful example of the lay apostolate.

It was also from lay people that I acquired a love for the Extraordinary Form of the Mass which I now celebrate as occasion provides.

These are just a few examples.

Pope Benedict spoke today about how Blessed Duns Scotus found the way to overcome the objections that theologians had to the doctrines of the Immaculate Conception and Assumption, even though the faithful had no problem accepting this teaching.

Zenit today informs us:

Regarding Scotus' pivotal role in understanding the Immaculate Conception, the Pope said this: "In Duns Scotus' times, the majority of theologians offered an objection that seemed insurmountable to the doctrine that Most Holy Mary was free from original sin from the first instant of her conception. In fact, the universality of the redemption wrought by Christ, at first glance, might seem compromised by such an affirmation, as if Mary had no need of Christ and of his redemption. Because of this theologians were opposed to this thesis."

The Pontiff recounted how Scotus developed an argument that Pope Pius IX would go on to use in 1854 when he solemnly defined the dogma.

"And this argument," Benedict XVI said, "is that of the 'preventive redemption,' according to which the Immaculate Conception represents the masterpiece of the redemption wrought by Christ, because in fact the power of his love and of his mediation obtained that the Mother be preserved from original sin. Hence Mary is totally redeemed by Christ, but already before her conception."

The Holy Father said that:

"faith in the Immaculate Conception or in the bodily assumption of the Virgin was already present in the People of God, while theology had not yet found the key to interpret it in the totality of the doctrine of the faith. Thus the People of God precede theologians and all this thanks to that supernatural 'sensus fidei,' namely, that capacity infused by the Holy Spirit, which qualifies us to embrace the reality of the faith, with humility of heart and mind.

"In this sense, the People of God is 'magisterium that precedes,' and that later must be deepened and intellectually accepted by theology."

He expressed his hope that theologians will always be able to

"listen to this source of faith and have the humility and simplicity of little ones!"

I'm sure there will some smart-aleck who will extend this interpretation to posit a church that only proclaims doctrines/teachings that are accepted by the laity. So they will say that since Humanae Vitae has not been accepted by a large majority of Catholics, Pope Paul's teaching cannot be considered dogmatic. Or they will refer to Newman's teaching on conscience and twist it to putting the authority of conscience above that of the authentic magisterium of the Church. But any faithful Catholic will know that this is not what the Pope means. For another characteristic that marks out the "little ones" of the lay faithful is their instinctive trust and confidence in and faithfullness to the teachings of the Pope.


  1. Great to hear of families doing the rosary with their children. Looking back on it, I wasn't always in the mood at the time to say the rosary at night when my mom wanted to -- BUT I can look back now and remember those times (+the benedictions we went to) as some of my most intimate with her, and I'm greatful for the character formation and closeness to my mother and the Blessed Mother

  2. Very interesting! Thank you!


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