Wednesday, November 16, 2011

YouCat and Scriptural Inerrancy

A question has come up in the local homeschooling group over the orthodoxy of certain passages in YouCat – the recently published Youth Catechism authored by Cardinal Schönborn and handed out at the recent World Youth Day in Madrid. Especially problematic, in my estimation, are the following Q and A passages, which are very confusing, if not actually incorrect, in describing the Catholic teaching on the truth and inerrancy of Sacred Scripture.

15. How can Sacred Scripture be "truth" if not everything in it is right?
Answer: The Bible is not meant to convey precise historical information of scientific findings to us. Moreover, the authors were children of their time. They shared the cultural ideas of the world around them and often were also dominated by its errors. Nevertheless, everything that man must know about God and the way of his salvation is found with infallible certainty in Sacred Scripture. [106-107, 109]

The previous question is:

14. Is Sacred Scripture true?
Answer: The Bible did not fall from heaven in its final form, nor did God dictate it to human scribes who copied it down mechanically. Rather "God chose certain men… who made full use of their own faculties and powers so that, though he acted in them and by them, it was as true authors that they consigned to writing whatever he wanted written, and no more (Second Vatican Council, DV 11). One factor in recognizing particular texts as Sacred Scripture was their general acceptance in the Church. In the Christian communities there had to be a consensus: "Yes, through this text God himself speaks to us – this is inspired by the Holy Spirit!" Which of the many original Christian writings are really inspired by the Holy Spirit has been defined since the fourth century in the so-called Canon of Sacred Scriptures.

Now, Question 14 simply doesn't answer the question; "Is Sacred Scripture True?" – but Question 15, in setting up the premise "…not everything in it is right?" answers that "the authors were children of their time. They shared the cultural ideas of the world around them and often were also dominated by its errors." This simply seems incompatible with the teaching that A) God is the Author of Scripture (thus couldn't be dominated by "errors" and B) the Catholic teaching the Scripture is inerrant. A Catholics United for the Faith (CUF)  Faith Fact describes this teaching well.

YouCat's answer seems to take advantage of the ambiguous language in Vatican II's Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation - Dei Verbum (DV) to espouse the false idea of limited inerrancy – the idea that the Bible is without error in certain matters, such as faith, morals and the criteria for salvation; but does contain errors when describing other matters, such as scientific observations, historical events, and the actual authorship of books of the bible. Of course, once the idea that the Bible contains errors is accepted, it is a slippery slope to a practical relativism regarding the Bible and God Who is its true Author.

This is quite troubling in such a generally highly-regarded and highly-endorsed catechism, and I want to be sure that what seems to a problem is a real problem, thus I am consulting those with greater wisdom. If you have a copy of YouCat hanging around, please tell me if somehow, in the context of the whole document these questions are decisively corrected elsewhere – but it would seem troubling that the straightforward text would even raise these questions!

Thanks and God Bless, Ron

For more details on a petition to have YouCat recalled and/or corrected see YouCat Recall

Friday, July 22, 2011

Corpus Christi in Santa Clara

We recently returned from visiting my Mom and Aunt in Santa Clara California, and were privledged to be able to participate in a procession following the Sunday Mass for Corpus Christi, at the the Chapel of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. The video below is a edited down selection of footage shot on my amazing iPhone4!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Pentecost thoughts - the Sailboat Analogy

My wife and I were having a discussion the other night, trying to understand the Gifts of the Holy Spirit in light of the Feast of Pentecost and the relationship of the Gifts to the seven Virtues. The Gifts of the Holy Ghost are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. The discussion came around to how they were related to the Virtues - both Cardinal and Theological – Prudence, Justice, Temperance, Fortitude, Faith, Hope and Charity – since there was definitely some overlap in names and meanings.
I was moved to look up the meaning of a virtue from a recent bible study our parish men's group completed, based on the book Boys To Men: The Transforming Power of Virtue, authored by Tim Gray and my friend, and fellow former Venturan, Curtis Martin. In the introductory chapters, they define a virtue as a "good habitual action of the will" – something we have learned to do reflexively,  so to speak, as a result of exercising the strength of will to do what is right time and again until it becomes a habit (or in the case of the Theological virtues - this "habit" is supernaturally infused by Baptism and strengthened by Confirmation).
This led to reading the analogy of the sailboat in regard to our efforts and God's grace. A Catholic understands that both are needed, as Gray and Martin write:
 "The finest sailboat in the world can't sail far without it's sails. Even with wind and good weather, if the sails are not up, the boat will not make much headway. The sails signify our effort, namely the virtues. Conversely, if the boat has excellent sails, but no wind, it cannot sail. The wind is like God's grace. We can make all the effort and preparation in the world, but without God's grace we will not make much progress in the moral life. Similarly, we can receive the sacraments and pray, but God's grace will not avail much if we do not act. The wind will pass over the ship without much effect because the sails are not up.
This happens to too many Christians. They go to Church and receive the sacraments, but the wind of God's grace passes by them, as they do not put much effort into following Christ. God may be present in our lives but, unless we cooperate with His action, we will not reach our destination of eternal life."
Dom GuĂ©ranger, in his commentary on the Feast of Pentecost mentions that there are four major "events" in human history that establish something completely new – The Creation of Man, the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, the Coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and the fourth has yet to happen; The Second Coming of Christ in Glory, which will "conclude" history as we know it. So it seems fitting that the season after Pentecost should be the longest, as it is the one we are now actually living in, in terms of this demarcation of history. So our challenge is to do the work of maintaining and unfurling our sails and catching the wind of the Holy Ghost as he fills our sails with His marvelous Gifts in this glorious season of Pentecost - essentially the rest of the liturgical year until the Feast of Christ the King in November. (I will note that in the Novus Ordo Missae of 1970 this season After Pentecost is called Ordinary Time)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Welcome to my Blog

I thought I'd better late then never try out this whole blogging thing, and we will have to see what happens from here. It will probably reflect on Catholic life, work-at-home issues, homeschooling, pro-life and various hobbies and interests. I am likely to see how it might be integrated into a existing domain, and learn something along the way. Ad majorem Dei gloriam