Sunday, November 16, 2008

Repost: Erik's testimony

This is Elena's post from the last time Candy printed the article from Erik, back in July. This one has a lot of references to the Catechism, so I thought it worth a repost. --Kelly

The majority of the time, show me a former Catholic, and I'll show you one that was poorly catechized. Candy's husband Erik illustrates this point very well. "This article was written by my husband...

When I was growing up, going to church was something that you did for an hour on Sunday and then you got back to your 'Real Life'. Better yet, get church 'out of the way' on Saturday afternoon just before dinner so you can enjoy Sunday without interruption. I got the impression from my upbringing that it was impolite to talk about God outside of church. So much for spreading the gospel as Christ called every Christian to do.

That's sad. It sounds like Erik's parents didn't take their faith seriously so why should he be expected to. This is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say about parental responsibility of raising their kids.

2223 Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule. The home is well suited for education in the virtues. This requires an apprenticeship in self-denial, sound judgment, and self-mastery - the preconditions of all true freedom. Parents should teach their children to subordinate the "material and instinctual dimensions to interior and spiritual ones." Parents have a grave responsibility to give good example to their children. By knowing how to acknowledge their own failings to their children, parents will be better able to guide and correct them:

He who loves his son will not spare the rod. . . . He who disciplines his son will profit by him. Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
2228 Parents' respect and affection are expressed by the care and attention they devote to bringing up their young children and providing for their physical and spiritual needs. As the children grow up, the same respect and devotion lead parents to educate them in the right use of their reason and freedom.
2226 Education in the faith by the parents should begin in the child's earliest years. This already happens when family members help one another to grow in faith by the witness of a Christian life in keeping with the Gospel. Family catechesis precedes, accompanies, and enriches other forms of instruction in the faith. Parents have the mission of teaching their children to pray and to discover their vocation as children of God. The parish is the Eucharistic community and the heart of the liturgical life of Christian families; it is a privileged place for the catechesis of children and parents.

In our family we go to mass every Sunday. Sometimes there is one of us at all the masses as servers and choir members! My husband also teaches Sunday School (PSR). We try to follow the liturgical year and we have special feast days that we like to commemorate. Life in the church permeates our home and fills our existence. It's so sad that Erik did not experience that! I invite all of you to write in the com boxes how your family lives out your Catholic faith!!

Actually reading the Bible was not encouraged, because neither I, nor anybody in my immediate family was 'expert enough' to really understand what it said anyway. The idea was that the experts in the church who studied the Bible 'professionally', would be the ones to tell us what it meant.

Without proper interpretation you get the whacked out crazy interpretations that we have read. There are tens of thousands of Christian churches all fractionated on bible interpretations. Obviously they can't all be right when they all disagree!

Again from the catechism:

110 In order to discover the sacred authors' intention, the reader must take into account the conditions of their time and culture, the literary genres in use at that time, and the modes of feeling, speaking and narrating then current. "For the fact is that truth is differently presented and expressed in the various types of historical writing, in prophetical and poetical texts, and in other forms of literary expression."76
111 But since Sacred Scripture is inspired, there is another and no less important principle of correct interpretation, without which Scripture would remain a dead letter. "Sacred Scripture must be read and interpreted in the light of the same Spirit by whom it was written."77
The Second Vatican Council indicates three criteria for interpreting Scripture in accordance with the Spirit who inspired it.78
112 1. Be especially attentive "to the content and unity of the whole Scripture". Different as the books which compose it may be, Scripture is a unity by reason of the unity of God's plan, of which Christ Jesus is the center and heart, open since his Passover.79

The phrase "heart of Christ" can refer to Sacred Scripture, which makes known his heart, closed before the Passion, as the Scripture was obscure. But the Scripture has been opened since the Passion; since those who from then on have understood it, consider and discern in what way the prophecies must be interpreted.80
113 2. Read the Scripture within "the living Tradition of the whole Church". According to a saying of the Fathers, Sacred Scripture is written principally in the Church's heart rather than in documents and records, for the Church carries in her Tradition the living memorial of God's Word, and it is the Holy Spirit who gives her the spiritual interpretation of the Scripture (". . . according to the spiritual meaning which the Spirit grants to the Church"81).
114 3. Be attentive to the analogy of faith.82 By "analogy of faith" we mean the coherence of the truths of faith among themselves and within the whole plan of Revelation.
The senses of Scripture
115 According to an ancient tradition, one can distinguish between two senses of Scripture: the literal and the spiritual, the latter being subdivided into the allegorical, moral and anagogical senses. The profound concordance of the four senses guarantees all its richness to the living reading of Scripture in the Church.

116 The literal sense is the meaning conveyed by the words of Scripture and discovered by exegesis, following the rules of sound interpretation: "All other senses of Sacred Scripture are based on the literal."83
117 The spiritual sense. Thanks to the unity of God's plan, not only the text of Scripture but also the realities and events about which it speaks can be signs.

1. The allegorical sense. We can acquire a more profound understanding of events by recognizing their significance in Christ; thus the crossing of the Red Sea is a sign or type of Christ's victory and also of Christian Baptism.84
2. The moral sense. The events reported in Scripture ought to lead us to act justly. As St. Paul says, they were written "for our instruction".85
3. The anagogical sense (Greek: anagoge, "leading"). We can view realities and events in terms of their eternal significance, leading us toward our true homeland: thus the Church on earth is a sign of the heavenly Jerusalem.86

118 A medieval couplet summarizes the significance of the four senses:

The Letter speaks of deeds; Allegory to faith; The Moral how to act; Anagogy our destiny.87
119 "It is the task of exegetes to work, according to these rules, towards a better understanding and explanation of the meaning of Sacred Scripture in order that their research may help the Church to form a firmer judgement. For, of course, all that has been said about the manner of interpreting Scripture is ultimately subject to the judgement of the Church which exercises the divinely conferred commission and ministry of watching over and interpreting the Word of God."88

The church encourages the faithful to know the scripture!!

131 "And such is the force and power of the Word of God that it can serve the Church as her support and vigor, and the children of the Church as strength for their faith, food for the soul, and a pure and lasting fount of spiritual life."109 Hence "access to Sacred Scripture ought to be open wide to the Christian faithful."110
132 "Therefore, the study of the sacred page should be the very soul of sacred theology. The ministry of the Word, too - pastoral preaching, catechetics and all forms of Christian instruction, among which the liturgical homily should hold pride of place - is healthily nourished and thrives in holiness through the Word of Scripture."111
133 The Church "forcefully and specifically exhorts all the Christian faithful. . . to learn the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ, by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures. Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.112

Also, there are so many versions of the Bible, the fact that it could be translated in different ways was proof that the average person was wasting their time if they studied the Bible, but if they were going to try it, it better be done under the expert guidance of a 'professional'. If anybody quoted a part of the Bible to me in order to try and correct my lost spiritual condition, I could easily dismiss the Bible quote by thinking it was just 'their interpretation'. Also, since I was lost, I did not have the Holy Spirit to help me understand the Bible, the few times I did try to read part"
Poor kid. Probably didn't even know where to start.

Well for starters, if one really wants to understand scripture, some good bible studies are in order. How to know which ones are good.

The Fisheaters Site gives some good guidelines:

The Church, given teaching authority by Christ and as the conduit for fullness of Truth on this earth, has the obligation to preserve Her sheep from deviations from the Truth and to to guarantee them the "objective possibility of professing the true faith without error" (Catechism, No. 890). Because of this, the Bishops will look at books published by Catholics on Catholic matters in their dioceses, giving them their "okay" if nothing therein is found to be contrary to the Faith (relevant Canon Law: "Title IV: The Means of Social Communication," ¶ 822-832)

The procedure works like this: when a Catholic writes a book on faith, morals, theology, liturgy, books on prayer, editions of Sacred Scripture, etc., he will submit his manuscript to his diocese's Censor. If the Censor finds no problem with it, he will give it his stamp, which reads "Nihil Obstat," or "nothing stands in the way." He then sends it to the Bishop for his review. If the Bishop finds nothing objectionable, he gives the book his "Imprimatur" which means, "let it be printed."

If the Catholic writing the book is a member of a religious order, the manuscript is first sent to his religious superior before it is sent to the Censor and Bishop. If the religious superior finds no impediment to publication, he will give the book his stamp of "Imprimi Potest," which means "it can be printed."

Nowadays, after the Imprimatur, you might see these words:

The "Nihil Obstat" and "Imprimatur" are official declarations that a book or pamphlet is free of doctrinal or moral error. No implication is contained therein that those who have granted the Nihil Obstat and the Imprimatur agree with the content, opinions or statements expressed.
Please know that the presence of an Imprimatur does not mean that a book is an official text of the Church. It doesn't make the book the equivalent of an encyclical, say. It's not the approval of the work by the Pope or a dogmatic Council, and it's not a stamp of infallibility. It doesn't even mean that everything in the book is accurate, only that there is nothing in it that contradicts Catholic dogma. But, while occasionally a book sneaks through and its Imprimatur later recalled, this procedure is an important way for Catholics to increase their chances of staying error-free with regard to doctrine. Sadly, because of the triumph of modernsists and liberals in the human aspect of the Church since the Second Vatican Council, books which could well contain a watered-down theology, a warped view of History, etc. now do receive the "Imprimatur."

Bottom line: When buying books on religious and spiritual matters, seek out those books written before Vatican II and which have the "Imprimatur," or those books which are known to be written by solidly orthodox traditional Catholics. Otherwise, be wary and take the book with a grain of salt. And, always, if you come across a book that says horrific things about the Church, Her teachings, or Her history, read the traditional Catholic point of view and dig up objective resources. There's a lot of lying going on out there, folks.

Aquinas and More has examples of acceptable Catholic bibles and explanation of the difference between the Catholic and Protestant bibles.

Also some bible studies available.

Kelly covered bible studies here.
Scott Hahn's Scripture Catholic.
Bible Study following the liturgical year.
Catholic Bible study Online Resources.

Erik's upbringing after Vatican II unfortunately was pretty typical. I think that after the council the bishops didn't know what to teach, and so they taught pretty much nothing and a couple of generations were lost.

I have theories about why people stayed too. My family was devout. We went to church every Sunday and we prayed every day. We prayed for people. I always felt that God was listening and that He was close. Our faith was part of the fabric of our lives and when I did explore other Christian faiths, I found nothing comparable. How do you replace the Eucharist?

Many thanks to Erik for illustrating the point that I have been making with a banana peel, beautifully.

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