Welcome to the first section of a five-part series on the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II).
There are documents available on the Vatican website for all of this. That’s where I found the first-hand resources.
I wanted to start with Dei Verbum because it was one of the shorter documents, and it’s one of those prennial, always relevant topics, especially if you have vocal protestant friends.
Dei Verbum, Latin for ‘Word of God,’ explains how the Catholic Church uses both Holy Scripture and tradition to practice the one true faith.
If I had to break down this document into one key point, here it is:
It is clear, therefore, that sacred tradition, Sacred Scripture and the teaching authority of the Church, in accord with God’s most wise design, are so linked and joined together that one cannot stand without the others, and that all together and each in its own way under the action of the one Holy Spirit contribute effectively to the salvation of souls.”
But there is SO much more in this document.
Really, this is the one document that could probably fight all Protestant arguments.
All responses to the good-looking Protestant friend’s questions are pulled directly from Dei Verbum.
Imagine you’re talking nicely with your protestant friend:
He said, “Each person should discern the word of God himself. I read it and find my own interpretation of the Bible.
Tell your friend, “For all of what has been said about the way of interpreting Scripture is subject finally to the judgment of the Church, which carries out the divine commission and ministry of guarding and interpreting the word of God.”
Your friend may say, “Jesus didn’t say that.”
(You can answer here snidely that Jesus didn’t say not to watch porn either…)
Or you can say, if you’re a grown up, “The task of authentically interpreting the word of God, whether written or handed on, has been entrusted exclusively to the living teaching office of the church … This teaching office is not above the word of God, but serves it … guarding it scrupulously…”
Try to explain here, that the Church guards the scripture and tradition. The Church keeps it all safe because we stay against the gates of hell. We will not fall. The Catholic Church will continue, and thus, Christ’s teaching will with us.
Your nice, yet misguided, Protestant friend will say, “Of course Catholics would say Catholics are the only ones who can interpret the Bible. The Church didn’t even let you read it for yourself for a long time.”
Just respond calmly, “Easy access to Sacred Scripture should be provided for all the Christian faithful. That is why the Church from the very beginning accepted as her own that very ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament which is called the septuagint.” (which, remind me to write a learn something post on the septuagint.)
Again Protestant friend will say, “Catholics added books to the Bible.”
Refer your friend to the septuagint, the vulgate, the Council of Trent and the first copies of the Bible. Were protestants around when the Bible was first pulled together? Let me check… uh, no, they weren’t yet.
Remember to keep this conversation friendly, calm and polite. Protestants are still Christians. They just probably don’t know the kind of vast wealth the Catholic Church holds in her teaching and tradition. In fact, most Catholics don’t know about all of it, myself included.
I hope Protestants reading this are not offended. It’s not my intention. I just want to be clear on how to answer this often brought up arguments against being Catholic.
Getting back to tradition, your Protestant friend may throw around some “sola scriptura.”
Just answer, “But in order to keep the Gospel forever whole and alive within the church, the Apostles left bishops as their successors, ‘handing over’ to them ‘the authority to teach in their own place.’ This sacred tradition, therefore, and Sacred Scripture of both the Old and News Testaments are like a mirror in which the pilgrim Church on earth looks at God, from whom she has received everything, until she is brought finally to see Him as He is, face to face.”
“What does that mean?” your good-looking Protestant friend will ask.
“Therefore the Apostles, handing on what they themselves had received, warn the faithful to hold fast to the traditions which they have learned either by word of mouth or by letter and to fight in defense of the faith handed on once and for all,” respond to him. You may want to leave the “therefore” out of that quote, unless you’re a college professor.
This may spiral out of control about whether Christ really established a “one, holy, catholic and apostolic” Church on earth.
Try to stay away from that conversation unless you have wine.
Instead, stay on track about tradition and Scripture.
Tell your friend, “Consequently, it is not from Sacred Scripture alone that the Church draws her certainty about everything which has been revealed. Therefore both sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture are to be accepted and venerated with the same sense of loyalty and reverence.”
And that… “The Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures just as she venerates the body of the Lord, since, especially in the sacred liturgy, she unceasingly receives and offers to the faithful the bread of life from the table both of God’s word and Christ’s body. She has always maintained them, and continues to do so, together with sacred tradition, as the supreme rule of faith, since, as inspired by God and committed once and for all to writing, they impart the word of God himself without change, and make the voice of the Holy Spirit resound in the words of the prophets and Apostles.”
In the end, you will probably only win over a Protestant with love and a lot of prayer.
That’s the only way you’ll win anyone over. Don’t just talk like a Catholic, be a Catholic. Live out what you speak and you’ll change hearts.
It’s not about preaching to someone when you aren’t living what you say.
Finally, part of Dei Verbum is that “We now await no further new public revelation.”
It’s all done. Everything is there, in the Bible and in tradition and the teaching of the Church.
Here’s my favorite part:
“God, the beginning and end of all things, can be known with certainty from created reality by the light of human reasons (see Rom. :20); but teaches that it is through His revelation that those religious truths which are by their nature accessible to human reason can be known by al men with ease, with solid certitude and with no trace of error, even in this present state of the human race.”
Do you ever look out your window or stop in your tracks on a hike or look out the window of an airplane or scan the Grand Canyon or a waterfall and just know that God was there?
I get it a lot. I mean, the world is beautiful. And it’s God-made!
Just look at the colors present in the sky at sunrise or sunset. God did that.
Or the leaves in the fall or the tulips in the spring or the layers of an onion or the pattern of your cat’s hair. God did that.
God planned that.
GOD CAN BE KNOWN WITH CERTAINTY FROM CREATED REALITY.
We can know him, just by being on earth. It doesn’t take the Bible, it doesn’t take the liturgy, it doesn’t take a proselytizer. It just takes God’s creation to know him.
Then, we have the Bible and the liturgy and our friends to get to know him better. Oh, thank you God.
There is more in Dei Verbum about the Gospels and the relationship between the two testaments of the Bible.
It’s en easy to read document, you should check it out.
God bless, always.
Vatican II Series:
Introductory Post on Church Councils
In case you aren’t aware, tomorrow, Aug. 15, 2013, is the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Yes, that’s a Holy Day of Obligation.
What’s it all about, anyway?
In 1950, Pope Pius XII wrote Munificentissimus Deus, defining the Dogma of the Assumption.
It’s really the go-to guide for this feast.
Pope Pius XII said, “Since ancient times, there have been both in the East and in the West solemn liturgical offices commemorating this privilege.”
This isn’t something new that Pope Pius XII thought would be a great idea. Cool! Let’s make a new feast day for Mary and make it a Holy Day of Obligation!
No, this has been a tradition in the Church throughout the world since “ancient times.” When the Church talks about “ancient times,” you know it’s pretty serious.
Pope Pius XII continued, “The fact that holy fast had been ordered from ancient times for the day prior to the feast is made very evident by what our predecessor St. Nicholas I testifies in treating of the principal fasts which ‘the Holy Roman Church has observed for a long time, and still observes.'”
There are even traditions that most (read: me) Catholics don’t follow… a fast before the feast day? What a great idea! I wish we hadn’t given that up. I may try that today (Wednesday). Except… usually, I fast breakfast and lunch and then eat dinner. I should work on that and what a great time to start.
There’s more from Pope Pius XII:
“The Holy Fathers and the great Doctors, in the homilies and sermons they gave the people on this feast day, did not draw their teaching from the feast itself as from a primary source, but rather they spoke of this doctrine as something already known and accepted by Christ’s faithful.”
ALREADY KNOWN by Christ’s faithful. It was already in our (Catholics) corporate knowledge. It was just something that made sense to us. Of course. Mary’s body was not corrupted. She was just lifted up into Heaven. This makes perfect sense.
Pope Pius XII explains exactly what we know in our hearts.
“She, by an entirely unique privilege, completely overcame sin by her Immaculate Conception, and as a result she was not the subject to the law of remaining in the corruption of the grave, and she did not have to wait until the end of time for the redemption of her body.”
Now, if you haven’t got to that part about the bodily assumption of all humans… go check out your copy of the Catechism. That’s right. We aren’t going to be angels. We’re going to be humans, perfected in Heaven. We’ll be near Christ in our human bodies, in the same way Mary is now.
Just like not bearing sin, she’s the the forerunner. She does it before us (and with us, of course). You can’t get any closer to Christ than Mary is. She’s there, walking in his footsteps. She walks so close behind her rabbi, she’s covered in the dust from his sandals.
Let me break down this quote.
ENTIRELY UNIQUE – she’s the only one that not only had an Immulate Conception, was chosen (AND ACCEPTED) and was taken up to Heaven. The only one. She’s special.
NOT THE SUBJECT OF THE LAW – that’s right, those biological laws. she wasn’t subject to them. She didn’t have to die. God spared her from that, because she, too, sacrificed her only son.
END OF TIME FOR REDEMPTION – the rest of us have to wait until Christ returns. and oh, what a wait. Mary didn’t have to wait. She didn’t have to be away from Jesus.
Pope Pius XII said, “The august tabernacle of the Divine Word had never been reduced to dust and ashes.”
I had to look up august in this sense. It means marked by majestic dignity. Is there any better way to describe Mary? Majestic dignity.
St. Robert Bellarmine said, “And who, I ask, could believe that the ark of holiness, the dwelling place of the Word of God, the temple of the Holy Spirit, could be reduced to ruin? My soul is filled with horror at the though that this virginal flesh which had begotten God, had brought him into the world, had nourished and carried him, could have been turned into ashes or given over to be food for worms.”
St. Peter Canisius, the Vatican’s secret agent, said, “This teaching (of the Assumption) has already been accepted for some centuries, it has been held as certain in the minds of the pious people, and it has been taught to the entire Church in such a way that those who deny that Mary’s body has been assumed into heaven are not to be listened to patiently but are everywhere to be denounced as over-contentious or rash men, and as imbued with a spirit that is heretical rather than Catholic.”
WOW. St. Peter Canisius thinks this doctrine of Mary’s Assumption is pretty serious stuff.
And we should, too.
Pope Pius XII tells us, “Since our Redeemer is the Son of Mary, he could not do otherwise, as the perfect observer of God’s law, than to honor, not only his eternal Father, but also his most beloved Mother. And, since it was within his power to grant her this great honor, to preserve her from the corruption of the tomb, WE MUST BELIEVE (emphasis mine) that he really acted in this way.”
Now, Mary sits “in splendor at the right hand of her Son,” Pope Pius XII said.
Wait, the right side? So Jesus is in between Mary and God. Interesting.
It’s like… A HOLY FAMILY. Wow.
I’ll let you know how my fast goes… if it goes. Maybe I’ll give up coffee.
Yes. I’ll start with abstaining from coffee. And add on.
Check out other learn something posts:
Queen of Heaven
Why is Mary the Queen of Heaven?
Mary. Our Queen and Queen of Heaven.
Our Blessed Virgin has a lot of titles. Our Lady of Good Help, Throne of Wisdom, Mother of Mercy, Our Lady of Peace, Our Lady of Mount Carmel… the list is nearly never ending.
Maybe those titles will be other posts. I do love the Blessed Virgin Mary. She really is the model for following Christ. She was there every step of the way.
But… QUEEN of HEAVEN. What does that mean? Where does that title come from?
Why is Mary our queen?
She was crowned after she was assumed into Heaven.
They don’t crown just anybody. They crown those worthy of being called King and Queen.
Diego Velazquez (link to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Diego_Vel%C3%A1zquez_012.jpg) painting of the crowning of the Blessed Virgin.
There are so many paintings of this. Beautiful.
We can look at all these, and just imagine that Heaven is SO MUCH BETTER than all of that. So much better.
And we can’t even imagine it. We can only know that we’ll be WITH CHRIST. There’s nothing better than that.
And we get to be with Mary.
Sometimes, when I really start thinking about my Catholic faith and our church, it just blows my mind. Our traditions and beliefs are so beautiful and wonderful I don’t know why anyone would want to practice any other religion.
Clearly, it happens, but why????? I can’t begin to answer it.
I’ve never thought about leaving the Church. I’ve had moments of not being as faithful as I am now (am I’m still not super concrete in my faith), but I’ve never thought about leaving.
ANYWAY. Back to Mary, our Queen.
Think about when Jesus was a child. Mary was there, leading him, teaching him, correcting him.
All that time, she knew, he knew, Joseph knew, that Jesus was going to go through trials but eventually overcome them and become king.
Mary played a vital role in Jesus’ life. And that’s why she should play a vital role in our lives.
It doesn’t mean we need to develop a devotion to the Blessed Rosary, though that’s a good thing that I sometimes think I should return to.
It doesn’t mean that we need to forget about our other devotions, but Mary is a huge advocate for us.
Imagine if your mom asks you to do something. She’s usually right, huh? Yes. Of course, she’s right. She’s your mom.
And you just have to do what she says, right? And it works out, right?
Moms are amazing.
Mary is even more amazing. She talks to Jesus. About us! About what we ask her.
She’s the Queen because she has power. She’s not a god. No. We don’t worship her, no. I’m not even going to really get into that. There are answers to that complaint elsewhere on the Internet that would do it better than I can do.
Mary intercedes for us with Jesus, she doesn’t do it for us.
But she’s strong and can talk to Jesus for us.
Joseph does the same thing.
But there can only be one King, and that is Jesus.
Not that Joseph isn’t an amazing intercessor as well, but let’s not get off-topic which I am so prone to do.
So by bearing Christ, she became our mother, by being crowned in Heaven, she became Queen.
Queen of HEAVEN, though.
So, the Queen of England only has power in England and the Commonwealth (I think that’s what all the countries are called when grouped together).
The Queen of Heaven, though, she has power everywhere.
There are some references to Mary, Queen of Heaven AND EARTH, but I haven’t read anything definitive on that.
But those in Heaven all have influence on what happens on Earth. They all can intercede for us if we ask.
Mary’s power extends to EVERYTHING. Heaven. Earth. Universe.
That’s not to hard to understand, I don’t think.
Mary, then, is Queen, and she should be treated like a Queen.
When we ask Mary to intercede for us, we should do so like we talk to our own Mom when we want something.
No, be respectful and honest with the Blessed Virgin. She has earned that dignity.
In 1946, Pope Pius XII sent the encyclical Deiparae Virginis Mariae to all the Bishops.
He referred to Mary as the “Queen of Heaven” in the letter.
“For a long time past, numerous petitions (those received from 1849 to 1940 have been gathered in two volumes which, accompanied with suitable comments, have been recently printed), from cardinals, patriarchs, archbishops, bishops, priests, religious OF BOTH SEXES, associations, universities and innumerable private persons have reached the Holy See, all begging that the bodily Assumption into heaven of the Blessed Virgin should be defined and proclaimed as a dogma of faith.”
He asks the Church to respond to his question:
“We earnestly beg you to inform us about the devotion of your clergy and people (taking into account their faith and peity) toward the Assumption of the most Blessed Virgin Mary. More especially we wish to know if you, Venerable Brethren, with your learning and prudence consider that the bodily Assumption of the Immaculate Blessed Virgin can be proposed and defined as a dogma of faith.”
It’s interesting how Catholic dogma is adopted sometimes.
And it’s cool that the Church keeps great records.
In Bendito seja, Pope Pius XII said, “He, the Son of God, relects on His heavenly Mother the glory, the majesty and the dominion of His kingship, for, having been associated to the King of Matyrs in the unspeakable work of human Redemption as Mother and cooperator, she remains forever associated to Him, with a practically unlimited power, in the distribution of the graces which flow from the Redemption. Jesus is King throughout all eternity by nature and by right of conquest: through Him, with Him and subordinate to Him, Mary is Queen by grace, by divine relationship, by right of conquest, and by singular choice [of the Father]. And her kingdom is as vast as that of her Son and God, since nothing is excluded from her dominion.”
In 1954, Pope Pius XII wrote Ad caeli Reginam, proclaiming the Queenship of Mary:
“From the earliest ages of the Catholic Church a Christian people, whether in time of triumph or more especially in time of crisis, has addressed prayers of petition and hymns of praise and veneration to the Queen of Heaven. And never has that hope wavered which they placed in the Mother of the Divine King, Jesus Christ; nor has that faith ever failed by which we are taught that Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, reigns with a mother’s solicitude over the entire world, just as she is crowned in heavenly blessedness with the glory of a Queen.”
Can’t put it any better than that.
I missed Mass on May 12.
I could have made it to the 6 p.m. Spanish Mass at a Parish near mine.
But… I would have been in my Army uniform and smelly. I had spent four hours riding in the back of a HMMWV and three additional hours driving from my unit to my home.
I would have had 20 minutes to shower/change/get ready and leave for Mass… and I would have been late to Mass. At least 10 minutes late.
Or I could have not changed or showered and been on time.
To a Spanish Mass… which I’ve gone to before.
And it’s almost like going to a Latin Mass for me. I don’t know what’s going on.
The Spanish Mass is the ordinary rite, but it’s… in Spanish.
I don’t speak Spanish.
So… I didn’t go.
I figured this would be a good time to see what the Catechism said about this.
2192 “Sunday… is to be observed as the foremost holy day of obligation in the universal Church.” “On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass.”
Bound to participate in Mass. Wow. That’s pretty clear.
Bound to do so. We need to, have to, must do so.
2178 This practice of the Christian assembly dates from the beginnings of the apostolic age. The Letter to the Hebrews reminds the faithful “not to neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some, but to encourage one another.”
Dates from the beginnings of the apostolic age.
It’s been going on for a while. This isn’t some “new rule” the Church just thought of.
We know the Church doesn’t work like that, anyway.
Our traditions have generally existed since the beginnings, we just don’t always have them written down. We don’t always have them in concrete.
That doesn’t mean they aren’t legitimate.
This is my favorite:
2179 “A parish is a definite community of the Christian faithful established on a stable basis within a particular church; the pastoral care of the parish is entrusted to a pastor as its own shepherd under the authority of the diocesan bishop.” It is the place where all the faithful can be gathered together for the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist. The parish initiates the Christian people into the ordinary expression of the liturgical life: it gathers them together in this celebration; it teaches Christ’s saving doctrine; it practices the charity of the Lord in good works and brotherly love:
Let me break in here. “The parish initiates the Christian people into the ordinary expression of the Eucharist.”
Ordinary, in this case, means what we should see as normal, usual. It’s the usual practice that we should receive the Eucharist, that we should receive Christ.
We shouldn’t receive Christ at home (unless necessary). We shouldn’t say an act of spiritual communion if we can make it to Mass.
The usual, normal, ordinary way, is the way we should do it. That’s in the Mass.
You cannot pray at home as at church, where there is a great multitude, where exclamations are cried out to God as from one great heart, and where there is something more: the union of minds, the accord of souls, the bond of charity, the prayers of the priests.
You cannot pray at home as at church.
Hm. You cannot pray at home as at church. You can not pray at home as at church.
I just have to repeat it to make it stick.
… from one great heart…
There is power when we gather together that we don’t have when we’re alone.
This doesn’t mean that our personal prayer doesn’t matter.
But prayer together matters too. It’s important.
A religion necessitates this community aspect. We must gather.
Jesus asked us to gather together.
“He who is not with me is against me; and he who does not gather with me scatters.” (Matthew 12:30)
2180 The precept of the Church specifies the law of the Lord more precisely: “On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass.” “The precept of participating in the Mass is satisfied by assistance at a Mass which is celebrated anywhere in a Catholic rite either on the holy day or on the evening of the preceding day.”
2041 The precepts of the Church are set in the context of a moral life bound to and nourished by liturgical life. The obligatory character of these positive laws decreed by the pastoral authorities is meant to guarantee to the faithful the very necessary minimum in the spirit of prayer and moral effort, in the growth in love of God and neighbor:
The obligatory character of these positive laws decreed by the pastoral authorities is meant to guarantee to the faithful the very necessary minimum in the spirit of prayer and moral effort.
The minimum. These laws are the minimum we need for sanctity. That’s what we want, after all.
2042 The first precept (“You shall attend Mass on Sundays and on holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor”) requires the faithful to sanctify the day commemorating the Resurrection of the Lord as well as the principal liturgical feasts honoring the mysteries of the Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the saints; in the first place, by participating in the Eucharistic celebration, in which the Christian community is gathered, and by resting from those works and activities which could impede such a sanctification of these days…
This paragraph continues with the second and third precept. Those aren’t topical right now. I’ll get to them someday.
1382 The Mass is at the same time, and inseparably, the sacrificial memorial in which the sacrifice of the cross is perpetuated and the sacred banquet of communion with the Lord’s body and blood. But the celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice is wholly directed toward the intimate union of the faithful with Christ through communion. To receive communion is to receive Christ himself who has offered himself for us.
Makes sense to me.
Of course, there are reasons one can miss Mass. But it should be a rare occasion.
A dire need.
I plan to add this to my next confession.
See my previous Learn something post:
Yesterday, I wrote about leaving things a little better than when you came to them.
And last night, I had a fight with someone and it made me think… why don’t we do the same with people?
Why don’t we treat them so they become better people? Really, this just revolves around the Golden Rule. (I like that Wikipedia calls it the “ethic of reciprocity. That makes a lot of sense to me phrased that way.)
So instead of… flipping out last night, I should have just thought to my self, hey, don’t take it personally. It’s not an attack.
Of course, I didn’t come to this revelation until this morning when I was driving to work (late).
And this morning, I was up to track 11. He mentions a few Bible verses that blow me away.
“The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.In the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.”
Cross reference those verses with Jeremiah 17:13
“Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the Lord, the spring of living water.”
Cavins said Jesus was writing in the dust, specifically referencing this verse from the Old Testament.
(Verses copied from NIV… I know. I don’t like the language that much either.)
Anyway, if you can get your hands on this CD from your Parish or by joining the CD of the Month club… do it. This will be one of the CDs I listen to over and over again.
That brings me back to making people better…
It reminds me of The Four Agreements. And this specifically relates to my fight last night because I get awful defensive because of shame and because I take things personally.
Don’t take anything personally: Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering. (From Toltec Spirit.)
While I don’t “subscribe” to all the ideas behind The Four Agreements, I do think they make sense and fit with Catholicism.
And not taking anything personally fits in with the verses from John.
The men who brought the woman to Jesus were ashamed of something in their own lives. They all left her alone because he was writing their names in the dust because they had forsaken God.
What others say and do is a projection of their own reality… it’s a projection of how everyone else has treated them earlier in the day.
So, when someone said something to me that I took personally last night, that person may have been upset about something else in his day. He wasn’t necessarily upset with me, and I shouldn’t take it personally.
I should have just let it roll off my back (or turn the other check) and let it go.
Instead of my severe reaction, I wouldn’t have added to his previous conflicts of the day. And it wouldn’t have added to mine.
What can we take personally, then?
Actions, repeated habits, promises.
The things that matter.
When someone does something for us, out of love, out of empathy, out of compassion. Those are things that are about us.
Insults, complaints, anger is not about us. Love is.
Love is the only way we should interact with other people, with our neighbors.
Like from C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, don’t love humanity, love your neighbors.