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Monday, February 16, 2009

The Faithful and Canon Law

This weekend was PACKED with great information, and I have to say, this is my favorite semester thus far!  And I think Canon Law is my favorite class so far, which shouldn't be surprising;  after all, my undergrad degree is in Criminal Justice!  

Which makes me think:  back in school, I considered studying theology as I thought it interesting. Perhaps I'd be a Canon Lawyer now if I had. As it was, I considered Law School, even recently as a combined Catholic Studies degree through the University of St. Thomas. But God's will be done, here I am years later working on an MTS with all the elements of my interest forming a very interesting pattern on God's tapestry.  

But I digress, as usual.  

There's a lot to discuss, and I think maybe the most important thing should be used to start our discussion.  Who are the Faithful?   According to Can. 205:  

"Those baptized are fully in the communion of the Catholic church on this earth who are joined with Christ in its visible structure by the bonds of the profession of faith, the sacraments, and ecclesiastical governance."  

So, what does this mean?  Let's unpack it.  
The above Canon is stating five things:  The Faithful must be 1. Baptized, 2. Joined with Christ in Visible Structure, 3. by the bonds of the Profession of Faith (which we pray every Sunday),  4. the Sacraments, and 5. Ecclesiastical Governance. 

1.  Baptism:  

Those who fall outside of the above are not Catholic.  Take note, then:  all who are baptized, including those of other Christian religions, therefore, are baptized also into the Catholic Faith, for we share, through the Trinitarian formula, a common Baptism of Christ. 

This is why those who convert to Catholicism from a different Christian religion do not need to be baptized again (if they were baptized in their own tradition).  If the Trinitarian (In the name of the Father, of the Son, and the Holy Spirit) is used, it is a valid Catholic baptism.  That may surprise some people, but like it or not, if they are baptized through this formula they are introduced into the Catholic community.  

HOWEVER!  Do NOT take that out of context, for the Canon goes on to define what FULL COMMUNION means, and those who have only a common baptism are not in full communion with the Church and thus are not entitled to the same rights!  

This is why it's such a concern when people are "baptized" by a radical feminist formula, that being the "Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier".  The problem is that these are different "modes", different jobs that God does, however, it's also the heresy of Modalism, also called "Sabellianism".  It's not Catholic, it's not Trinitarian, and thus, it is invalid.  Those "baptized" by such a formula have not entered the Church.  

2.  Visible Structure: 

The next point, to be in "full communion" means to be joined with Christ in the visible structure of the Church.  This also needs to be understood.  The Church is made up of only TWO types of people:   Clerics and laity.  Those are the two juridic status available to us.  

Religious are NOT another category;  those who are monks, friars, sisters, or nuns are LAITY.  They are consecrated laity, but they are NOT Clerics and are NOT in "Holy Orders", which is a Sacrament that ONLY applies to Clerics. 

Now, there are some who seem to believe that the only way to be "fully Catholic" is to enter the ranks of the Clergy.  Um, no.  It is not possible to become "more Catholic" than a Baptized, Confirmed Catholic who regularly receives the Sacraments of Confession and Holy Communion. That applies to Both Clergy and Laity.  Thus, a Priest is not "more Catholic"  or necessarily more holy than the laity.  Nor does this status take away from the Clerical state, for they do have a certain dignity given to them by God by virtue of their ordination, but it's not a dignity that makes them somehow "more Catholic" than the rest of us.  

Christ's plan of salvation is entirely inclusive of us all, and we all have a very important role to fulfill.   It is the role of the Priest to stand in persona Christi that Our Lord might come to us through his hands, that we might be forgiven and restored to full communion when we have sinned gravely, and it is the role of the Priest to introduce us to Christ so that we will all understand what it means to be His Bride.  It is his role to stand in for Christ so that we will be properly fed.  Complimentarily,  it is the role of the Laity to take what graces and the teachings we are given from the Word of God and from exposition on that Word from the pulpit and the Sacraments, and take that into the world in order that the Gospel might be spread. 

 THAT'S POWERFUL!  We ALL must speak for Christ, we are ALL given that authority by virtue of our baptism, and we all have the DUTY to do so! 

The reality is that both the Laity and the Clergy need one another, and we need to stand in our proper roles, in response to Christ's own personal invitation to us all.  The fact that some are called to the Priesthood does not denigrate the role of Marriage, and Marriage does not denigrate the role of Religious vows, and none of those Vocations denigrates the role of the person called to be Single, for we are all, in the way designed by God, to be holy in our own state in life, whether Clergy or Laity.  

Now, there are some who think the Church is invisible. It's not. It's extremely visible, and made up of the hierarchy that Christ established.  We have a governance, we have people, we have a real structure.  We as either Clergy or laity are involved in that structure. 

3.  Profession of Faith

Every Sunday and Solemnity, we pray together at Mass the Nicene Creed, which is our Profession of Faith. 

We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
and of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, one in Being with the Father. [original language:  consubstantial with the Father - St. Flavian WAS MARTYRED for those words!]
Through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation,
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered, died, and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in fulfillment of the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge
the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he
is worshipped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic
and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism
for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come.


THAT is our Faith, summarized there. And people have DIED for that declaration of Faith! Bishop St. Flavian was one of them; he was trampled to death by the raging Arians.  If the above is not what you are praying at Mass, then you are NOT in full communion with the Church. The above words CANNOT be changed to suit a different ideology; they have been dogmatically defined and the above is an INFALLIBLE teaching.  

4.  The Sacraments

Besides Baptism, the Church recognizes Seven Sacraments:  Baptism (already discussed), Confession, Eucharist, Confirmation, Marriage, Holy Orders, and Annointing of the Sick.  The Sacraments are what make us the Mystical Body of Christ.  

Understand that Canon Law cannot be taken apart from moral theology;  Canon Law has a proper context, and the rest of that context has to be taken into consideration when considering the different laws.  Mere reception of a Sacrament is not what brings us into full communion; we have to be properly disposed. 

Thus, if we have cut ourselves off from the Church through apostasy or mortal sin or something else, then we may not receive the Sacraments without Sacramental Confession.  Only then can we return to the foot of the Cross and receive Our Lord in the Eucharist and be re-united with the rest of the Body, and with Our Lord.  

5.  Ecclesiastical Governance

As the Faithful, we fall under the authority of the Church, and our way to holiness is guided by the governance as established by Our Lord, showing us HOW we are to become holy.  Governance indicates our rights and duties as the Faithful, to which we must adhere, and with a little information, we might understand not to be restricting, but freeing.  

I believe that this last point would be better addressed in further posts on the rights and duties of the Faithful.  


ignorant redneck said...

Why does your blog always come out so much cooler than Mine?

Excellent post!

elderchild said...

Well at least you have "The Light from Light" portion right.......

Peace, in spite of the dis-ease(no-peace) that is of this world and it's system of religion, for "the WHOLE world is under the control of the evil one" indeed and Truth.......

Truth is never ending.......

Adoro said...

Elder child ~ Yes, this world belongs to the evil one, we agree on that, but the Catholic Church is NOT a part of this world. We just happen to be IN it.

No, there is no peace here; we will only know peace when (if) we enter eternal beatitude, which is the goal to which we are all directed. God desires union with us.

Yes, Truth is never ending.

And Truth is found in the Catholic Church. You'll find it there, too, if you have the courage to look.