Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Church is Mother and Teacher (CCC 85-87; 2030-2051)
CCD Class Six

The Church is both Mater et Magister (Mother and Teacher). The Church was established by Jesus Christ to not only confer the sacraments, but to teach the Word of God. Jesus said He would be with us always. So, after His Ascension to heaven, Jesus sent His Holy Spirit, so that the successors of Peter (the pope) and the apostles (bishops) are guided by the Holy Spirit, and the Faith is protected from error. That is, Jesus conveyed teaching authority upon the Apostles and their successors, commanding them to go and preach the Good News, while promising that the Holy Spirit would continue to guide and protect His Bride, the Church, from error.

The teaching office of the Church is known as the Magisterium. The teachings of the Magisterium, be they on matters of faith or morals, are not the personal opinions of the pope, and they are not the “policy positions” of the Church, although they are often erroneously described as such in the media. Because God is Love and Truth, the pope and the Church are bound in their moral teachings by love and truth. Moreover, because She was founded by Christ, we are not free to change the Church as we wish. Not even the pope is free to change the Church to suit his own tastes. Faith and Truth are not arbitrary, and they are not matters of opinion to be decided by majority vote. The Church is His Church before it is ours. She is the One, Holy, Catholic (universal), and Apostolic Church of Christ, not the “Church of do your own thing.”

The Magisterium provides the authoritative interpretation of Divine Revelation, both Holy Scripture and Tradition, and assures the truth of the Faith by use of Revelation and right reason, i.e. truth, as guided and protected by the Holy Spirit.

In addition to helping to form our faith, another function of the Magisterium is to teach us and assist us in the formation of our consciences, which involves an act of reason, not feeling. That is, moral conscience, present in the heart of the person, is a judgment of reason which at the appropriate moment enjoins him to do good and to avoid evil. Whereas the natural law discloses the objective and universal demands of the moral good, conscience is the application of the law to a particular case. In helping us to properly form our moral consciences, the Church does not really teach anything new, anything that was not previously revealed by God or is not already written as the natural law on men’s hearts and therefore discoverable and knowable by reason. Under the natural law, the concepts of truth, justice, good and evil, and values of right and wrong are deemed fundamental, absolute, and transcendent. As a component of transcendent truth, morality is objective, not subjective, relative, or situational.


kylelmeade said...

Thank you for that. I think we all need to read that from time to time to keep us grounded.

Flexo said...

Kylelmeade --