Skip to comments.Beginning Catholic: Accept No Substitutes: Catholic Orthodoxy [Ecumenical]
Posted on 07/29/2008 3:37:24 PM PDT by Salvation
What is "Catholic orthodoxy?"
When learning about the Roman Catholic Church, it's important to get orthodox information. Here, "orthodox" means the same as "faithful and accurate."
Faith is serious business. Especially your own faith: this is about your life, remember?
And faith is about the truth. Really. With a capital 'T', as in "The Truth." At least, that's what Jesus said: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life" (John 14:6).
So, would you want to make a decision about your faith based on something... less than the truth?
Of course not.
That's why Catholic orthodoxy is important.
The fact is, you'll get your information about the Catholic Church from people. And since people aren't perfect, you won't always get perfect information.
When you get the wrong information about the Church, most of the time it's because someone just doesn't know truth themselves, and so they can't teach it to you in turn. Someone else told them the wrong thing at some point, and they're just passing it on.
(The rule of charity is very important here: don't think badly of someone who's not teaching good doctrine. Assume that it's either ignorance or their own struggle with some issue that's preventing them from being able to teach faithfully. We're all works-in-progress. Pray for them.)
The point here isn't to scare you. You just need to be aware of the situation.
(Of course, this has always been the situation! Even at the beginning, some people decided to go off on their own and teach their personal beliefs instead of what the Apostles had received from Jesus. The more things change, the more they stay the same....)
This is so important that I have to say it again: it's essential for you to get accurate information, faithfully taught.
Not just for the big things. The little things matter, too.
Here's why: think of your faith as being like a crossword puzzle.
As you learn things, you're filling in rows and columns of the puzzle. Every word you fill in will affect the rest of the puzzle. If you write in some wrong words, even small ones, you won't be able to put the right words into other places later. Do you want to have to re-work parts of the puzzle later to set things right?
So: Learn sound doctrine, even for things that seem small.
Unfortunately, the area where you'll often find the worst information is in the one area where it matters the most: how we should live as disciples of Christ. We call this area morality.
Moral teachings are widely misunderstood, often taught inaccurately, and sometimes outright rejected.
And yet, morality is central to your life as a Christian. So especially for moral questions, make sure you're getting solid guidance.
Here are some tips for getting reliable information:
So, here you are, a beginning Catholic who's looking for solid guidance. You've found someone you like. But you need something specific to help you determine if they'll give you reliable, orthodox advice.
I hate to suggest giving someone a test...
...but I think you need to do exactly that!
This is very important. You're about to put your life your soul in their hands. So I think it's fair for you to ask a few questions first.
You're not judging whether they're a good or bad person. You're just trying to tell whether they're likely to give you sound advice based on orthodox Catholic teaching, or not.
So ask them what they think about three specific things:
The Catholic Church has taught definitively about each of these topics. A faithful Catholic cannot reject those teachings.
For each of those three issues, your potential advisor should tell you that the Catholic Church unambiguously teaches that they're not allowed.
I know substantial numbers of Catholics reject those Church teachings. All I'm saying is that you do not want them as a guide to the Catholic faith, or as a spiritual advisor!
Don't worry if the person tries to be understanding of any doubts you have, or says that some Catholics struggle with those teachings. Compassion is good! But make sure they also tell you clearly and firmly about Church teaching.
Personally, I'd look for someone who gives clear and accurate answers, is enthusiastic and positive, and who is very understanding and approachable. Such a person is likely to be an outstanding guide who can help you find and take each new step on the way to Christ.
Again, morality is probably the hardest area in which to get accurate information about Church teachings. Be particularly careful here. If you ask about the morality of something and you're told to "just follow your conscience," then find a better source of information.
Conscience is widely misunderstood these days, and many believe it's a giant loophole for doing whatever we darn well please.
There is another section of articles just about morality. Be sure to read and understand the "foundations of Catholic morality" section of the article about Catholic morality.
Please notify me via FReepmail if you would like to be added to or taken off the Catholic Discussion Ping List.
Beginning Catholic: Catholic Morality: Life in Christ [Ecumenical]
Beginning Catholic: When Was The Bible Written? [Ecumenical]
Beginning Catholic: Books of the Catholic Bible: The Complete Scriptures [Ecumenical]
Beginning Catholic: A Strong Start in the Faith: The Catholic RCIA Stages [Ecumenical]
Beginning Catholic: The RCIA Inquiry Stage In the Catholic Church [Ecumenical]
Articles on ‘conscience’ and ‘Catholic morality’ have already been posted. Please see the above links.
If I'm correct, doesn't that make the statement "A faithful Catholic cannot reject those teachings" incorrect? It requires religious submission if it is a definitive teaching that is fallible. Thus, although the standard is high (very, very, very high), you can reject that teaching.
Not trying to stir the pot (I think I've proven my bona fides on this forum already), but, in an article about Catholic Orthodoxy, we should try and be as correct as possible, without letting our own perspective in. And maybe I'm nuts and it is an infallible teaching - very possible ;-)
I believe the little 1,2,3, test is all correct.
|2399 The regulation of births represents one of the aspects of responsible fatherhood and motherhood. Legitimate intentions on the part of the spouses do not justify recourse to morally unacceptable means (for example, direct sterilization or contraception).
|2370 Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality. These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom. In contrast, "every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible" is intrinsically evil:
This is where I disagree with a some other Catholics. For me the Person and Work of Christ (Christology) Is the absolute beginning point of understanding the Church it is ‘The Truth’ upon which all else is. From there as your starting point you can expand and talk about sin and therefore the need for the Sacrifice of Jesus and then explain about the Eucharist etc.
There are many moral people who do not believe in Christ or the Church.
I don’t think we disagree. All things with Christ start with love and compassion.
As you said, from there it moves on to other things.
This series will continue and along the way some of that will be discussed.
Ok disagree is a bit strong and I look forward to the rest of the series
But very good arguments have been made that the prohibition of ABC is infallible and I'[m inclined in that direction myself.