Friday, April 27, 2007

A Thought About Doctrine and Dogma

Absp. Fulton Sheen once said that there are likely only a handful of people who truly hate the Church. Most simply hate what they incorrectly believe the Church to be.

I'm in the middle of a paper on the various levels of magisterial authority and the degree of adherence faithful Catholics owe to each level. What struck me (ouch!) as I was rehashing the phrasing extra ecclesiam nula salus was that most people have no real exposure to Catholic dogma or doctrine in its clearest form. What they are exposed to are blunted weapons wielded by people who have a poor understanding of the truth or people who hold the truth without charity or people who are ignorant of the truth and want to pursuade others to accept their biases. And none of these people have any magisterial authority!

With such representatives, it's no wonder the Church has enemies.

I believe that the Catholic Church teaches the Truth. The Truth is not a battering ram that breaches a wall or crushes the bones of the opposition or flings disease and disaster over the walls of a stronghold to force defenders to flee. The Truth is that which causes those inside to leave willingly and abandon the defenses, the defenses they thought protected them from destruction but in reality only caused inertia and enfeeblement.

Truth builds up. It doesn't batter down. Truth converts hearts. It doesn't impel a heartless adherence.

Our Catholic faith is the Truth. We already know how the story ends. We don't need to beat non-Catholics into submission. We need to understand the Truth, not simply parrot stock phrases.

The Truth is beautiful. The Truth is loveable. The Truth will set us free.
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