Monday, April 23, 2018

"Fully Catholic" (Not)

I've been giving more thought to the bishops' use of the term "fully Catholic" in their recent letter to the Diocese of San Bernardino, especoially as it relates to Pope Francis's recent exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate, the funhouse mirror portralyal of Catholicism we see on the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society blog, and Abp Garcia-Siller's remarks about not just unique but separate.

The Arlington Catholic Herald says of the Holy Father's exhortation,

The path to holiness, he wrote, is almost always gradual, made up of small steps in prayer, in sacrifice and in service to others.

Being part of a parish community and receiving the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and reconciliation, are essential supports for living a holy life, the pope wrote.

One problem that continues to bother me is that all but a few of the largest OCSP communities simply don't offer the resources and opportunities available in most diocesan parishes -- I outlined some of those yesterday. In fact, they probably serve to convince some members -- and it appears that the regular posters at the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society blog attend some of the smallest OCSP groups -- that they're being "fully Catholic" when they aren't doing much at all.

But in addition, one thing I've noted in gaining experience as a diocesan Catholic is the importance of sacramentals, yet how little stress is placed on them in catechesis, especially in the Evangelium program. This is especially problematic for ex-Protestants. We see here,

Sacramentals are often a stumbling block for non-Catholics who don’t understand their need or person. For instance, before his conversion to Catholicism, Dr. Scott Hahn was a staunch anti-Catholic Presbyterian minister. In his talks, Hahn often tells the story of how he discovered his grandmother’s rosary. His grandmother had just died and Hahn relates that he ripped the rosary beads to pieces pleading to God to set her free from the chains of Catholicism that had kept her bound.
Even high-church TEC parishes tend to minimize sacramentals -- at St Thomas Hollywood, for instance, there was a Sunday morning rosary group, but no adoration program and certainly no adoration chapel.
While they are similar in name, sacraments and sacramentals have a unique and distinct role in the life of the Catholic Church. Sacraments are outward signs that give grace to those who receive them in a worthy manner.

Sacramentals, on the other hand, “are sacred signs which bear a resemblance to the sacraments. They signify effects, particularly of a spiritual nature, which are obtained through the intercession of the Church. By them, men are disposed to receive the chief effect of the sacraments, and various occasions in life are rendered holy” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 1667).

I heard a homily from a priest who appears, from the details he gave, to have suffered from PTSD after combat deployments as a chaplain and fallen into what appears to have been serious clinical depression. He said that what pulled him out of it was the ability to go to adoration. My wife and I have found, after roughly a year of regular adoration, that it's been extremely helpful in our spiritual lives.

I have a very hard time understanding how a priest who hasn't been formed in the context of sacramentals can offer counsel based on their efficacy -- especially when Reformed doctrine explicitly rejects them, and we see in Article XXII:

The Romish Doctrine concerning Purgatory, Pardons, Worshipping and Adoration, as well of Images as of Relics, and also Invocation of Saints, is a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God.
Article XXV:
The Sacraments were not ordained of Christ to be gazed upon, or to be carried about, but that we should duly use them.
Article XXVIII
The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper was not by Christ's ordinance reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshipped.
I just don't see how a few make-up courses at a Catholic seminary, much less distance learning from Houston, can counteract this influence even in former TEC priests who've gone to Episcopal seminaries. Once again, I wouldn't go near one of these guys, especially for confession. And unless someone refers me to something particularly egregious there, I do not visit, and do not recommend, the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society blog.