Context: The Bishop of Constantinople was allowing heretics to meet and present their views. The heretics were led by Apollinaris, who denied the Trinitarian faith (though in words he held some of it), denied the full humanity (though in words he deceived Pope Damasus and others for a while).
Gregory writes to Nectarius, Bishop of Constantinople. Christology of the Later Fathers, p. 231
“Now, if they who hold such views have authority to meet, your Wisdom approved in Christ must see that, inasmuch as we do not approve their views, any permission of assembly granted to them is nothing less than a declaration that their view is thought more true than ours. For if they are permitted to teach their view as godly men, and with all confidence to preach their doctrine, it is manifest that the doctrine of the Church has been condemned, as though the truth were on their side. For nature does not admit of two contrary doctrines on the same subject being both true. How then could your noble and lofty mind submit to suspend your usual courage in regard to the correction of so great an evil? But even though there is no precedent for such a course, let your inimitable perfection in virtue stand up at a crisis like the present, and teach our most pious Emperor, that no gain will come from his zeal for the Church on other points if he allows such an evil to gain strength from freedom of speech for the subversion of sound faith.”
From Yesterday’s Liturgy, Preface of Palm Sunday:
For, though innocent, he suffered willingly for sinners and accepted unjust condemnation to save the guilty.
From Leo’s Tome:
“What was taken from the mother of the Lord was the nature without the guilt” (adsumpta est de matre domini natura, non culpa) Leo’s tome, Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, 1.79
John IV, pointing to what is true in Pope Honorius’s infelicitous words:
“[The Son] Assumed all that is ours without bearing any guilt of the sin arising from the inheritance of the transgression…. There was no sin at all in him when he was born and lived….” (DH 496, Ignatius Press edition).
Gaudium et Spes, 22: “As an innocent Lamb, freely shedding his blood, he merited life for us.”
A couple of suggestions regarding my podcast series have come in.
- That I should make the content a little more accessible. I like this suggestion. I’ll not change the past two but will change the level of future ones. The level will be for a wider audience, though the judgment informing the contents will, hopefully, be responsible and with sufficient precision and nuance.
- The title. I’ll change the series to DOGMATIC THEOLOGY. This title is classical.
- Some have suggested that I charge. It takes considerable effort to produce. I will continue to consider this suggestion, but meanwhile I am trying to accomplish my primary aim, which is to serve in the knowledge of Christ and his only Church, against the many agitations against the faith, both witting and unwitting, both outside the Church and (more treacherous) inside the Church.
- Spread the word. I cannot spread the word, but you can. Share the links with your friends if you think these are of help in theological formation.
I’m leaning more and more to closing shop. Would like to record and post a number of lectures organized around theological themes and/or treatments of theologians. Perhaps I can start a Youtube channel and do that. Holiday season coming, so I’ll be busy with family. Not sure when I’ll be able to get to this stuff again.
Soon, my initial deal with the hosting company is about to end. The price goes way up. Upwards of 500 / year all told. I am inclining to fold shop. There are already loads of good sites.
I just acquired another text by Joseph C. Fenton entitled Laying the Foundation: A Handbook of Catholic Apologetics and Fundamental Theology. Click here to order on amazon.
This is an outstanding contribution to the contemporary theological landscape, for we contemporary theologians have forgotten classical apologetics. However, it is a powerful, formidable source of reflection. It exhibits the rationality of our faith. It exhibits also the unique claim on divine appointment that Catholicism has. For the Catholic religion is the One True Religion. It alone, this day, is appointed by God. Through its teachings, we come to know the truth, about ourselves, about the paths to happiness and misery, about God. Through its agency, we are equipped to mount the ladder to that happiness.
To enter the gates of faith, to submit one’s mind to the Revelation of God as communicated through the Catholic Church, is eminently rational. In fact, the argument is made in this text that not to do so is irrational. But who can submit his mind without hearing the message? Who can believe if never told?
The task is set before us: To give an account for the hope that we cherish, an account before others. To give such an account was the brilliance of theology 50-80 years ago. Alas, the great achievements of that era have been swept away by forgetfulness. The republication of this text of Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton can help us cultivate that skill of apologetics.
The Cardinal Newman Society has done a marvelous job, spearheaded by Dr. Janet Smith, in defending the infallible teaching of the Magisterium that contraceptive sex is intrinsically evil.
The link to the petition is here: https://cardinalnewmansociety.org/scholars-faithful-catholic-colleges-affirm-church-teaching-contraception/.
The list of signatories is here: http://trs.cua.edu/humanae-vitae/
Many are the great American theologians that have suffered our forgetfulness. Among these surely ranks the great Joseph C. Fenton.
Fenton wrote on many and sundry topics of dogmatic theology. However, one of his areas of focus was ecclesiology. His work is deep. Indeed, he uses Scripture with great dexterity while engaging in the theological enterprise with the acumen of the scholastics. For instance, he suggests that one ought to contemplate the presence of Christ in the Church by analogy with his presence with that early band of disciples. Very incarnate presence. Also, he wants us to read even the Synoptics with that Eagle’s eye of John, so that we realize that when Christ is speaking to this or that person as narrated in the Synoptics, we recognize that he is at once Illuminating the mind of that person, that he may receive him.
Hence, “he spoke with authority.”
Fenton also engages the very thorny, but absolutely crucial, issue of the Necessity of the Catholic Church for salvation. Here, he has much to teach us. Before future posts, I’d like to cite an important point he makes regarding the watering down of this dogma:
“As a matter of fact the lax or ‘liberal’ interpretation of the dogma concerning the Church’s necessity for salvation is essentially a screen for a tepid or non-existent missionary spirit” (essay on “Theological Proof of the Necessity of the Church for Salvation, Part II).
Precisely here, he notes, is a double problem. As a matter of actual fact, the Church IS necessary. Hence, failure in missionary activity is depriving souls of the grace God wills them to receive. We are in it together, as many say. Part of this means that we must go out, if we have been blessed. Lord, give us strength to spread your word, and your Kingdom, which is the Catholic Church.