Monday, July 25, 2011

Thought For The Day (TFTD): Confusing Doctrine and Preference

One of the more irritating things I come across in the Catholic blogosphere is the amount of confusion there is over Doctrine vs. Preference.  We see many people throw around the accusation of heresy about things which are not in fact heretical.  There is no obstinate post-baptismal denial about some truth the Catholic faith.  There is no defiance against Church teaching.  Rather the person who throws around the accusation is elevating his or her preferences to the level of doctrine, saying in effect, "I'm right in my practice of the faith.  You do something I disagree with.  Therefore you're heretical (or blasphemous or any other invective)."

Thus people who like Marty Hagen hymns, people who receive the Eucharist in the hand, people who don't have problems with the Ordinary form of the Mass tend to be labeled as anything from heretical to being deceived about the "true" faith.

If one prefers the Gregorian Chant, reception of the Eucharist on the tongue or the Latin Mass of the 1962 missal, fine.  These are elements of Catholicism and so long as they are done from a perspective of what helps them enter a peace of mind to focus on God, that is good.

However, once it becomes an attitude of "I am superior to you!" or "anyone who disagrees is not an authentic Catholic" it is no longer good, but rather it becomes an attitude of pride.

Remember, we're not talking about people who dissent from Catholic moral teaching here.  We're not talking about the Cafeteria Catholic who claims that they are allowed to disobey the Church when she teaches about what we must and must not do.  We are talking about people who fly into a rage because the music director plays Shine Jesus Shine at Mass.

It might not be more than annoyance, but some people go so far as to accuse the magisterium of "heresy."  Such a view is dangerous indeed.  Once we make ourselves the judge of what the Church can and cannot teach, we separate ourselves from the Church when our views part ways from the Catholic teaching.

So let's remember something here…

We aren't the Pope

So just because we dislike a thing aesthetically does not make such a thing "wrong."  We have no authority to bind what the Church looses, nor the authority to loose what the Church binds.  If a person feels more comfortable to receive the Eucharist in the hand, and the bishop has permitted it in his diocese, you have no right to look down on that person.  Likewise, if we prefer something which the magisterial authority of the Church decides may no longer be done, the proper attitude is obedience, not defiance.

Otherwise we become guilty of true dissent… having a beam in our eye while focusing on the splinter in the eye of another.

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