Friday, December 21, 2012

Dogma and the Spiritual Life

If I keep spending a whole day on each paragraph of the Catechism (CCC), as I did yesterday with paragraph 87, this series of posts could take ten years. There are 2,865 paragraphs in the CCC. And I may not have ten years.

But paragraph 89 is another good one:

“There is an organic connection between our spiritual life and the dogmas [defined by the Church’s Magisterium]. Dogmas are lights along the path of faith; they illuminate it and make it secure. Conversely, if our life is upright, our intellect and heart will be open to welcome the light shed by the dogmas of faith.”

I love the give-and-take here between (intellectual) dogma and the (practical) path of faith. We all need lights along our way, and to the extent that we keep our life in order, we will hear the message of dogma louder and truer.

This paragraph is not likely to win many friends among the I’m-spiritual-not-religious crowd. Who are a bunch of bishops, they would say, to light my spiritual path? 

And yet the spiritual-not-religious gang demonstrate that they need “lights along the path” as well as anyone. They are trolling the aisles of Barnes & Noble’s self-help section looking for words to guide their individualistic spiritual quests. Without some kind of light, they know they are likely to go lost in the dark.

Just not the Church’s light, OK? Not the Magisterium (sounds sinister), which “exercises the authority it holds from Christ” (paragraph 88). Better Sri Aurobindo than Christ. Better the soup of the soup of the soup of the soup of Buddha than the authorized successors of God-made-man!

A footnote to Paragraph 89 refers the reader to John 8:31-32: “Jesus then said to those Jews who believed in him, ‘If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’”

You can have your Sri Aurobindo.

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