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Guadium Et Spes 24 and the Catholic Faith May 15, 2012

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, disaster, episcopate, error, General Catholic, Interior Life.
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A quick qualifier to all the below: I ask alot of provocative questions, and even say some fairly critical things, but it’s mostly me working out my thoughts online.  Perhaps it will be of help to someone, or get me excommunicated.  Either way, YOU WIN!

Guadium Et Spes is the “Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World,” part of the many documents produced as part of Vatican II.  It is also part of that ecstatic, almost orgiastic, reveling in the triumph of man and materialism that seeped into thought in the Church during and after the Council.  For a flavor of that revelry, you should read some of the over-the-top pronouncements that came out of Paul VI’s Vatican associated with the Apollo 11 moon landing.

But I digress.  Gaudium Et Spes, paragraph 24.3, makes the following statement:

Indeed, the Lord Jesus, when He prayed to the Father, “that all may be one……as we are one” (Jn 17:21-22) opened up vistas closed to human reason, for He implied a certain likeness between the union of the divine [sic] Persons, and the unity of God’s sons in truth and charity.  This likeness reveals that man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself.

This is a most incredible statement.  It is repeated almost verbatim in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, #356. All previous Magisterial statements had affirmed Proverbs 16:4, which states that God created all things for HIMSELF, including man.  Thus, mankind was not created for itself, but for God.   It is also difficult to reconcile with the previous understanding of the First Commandment (I am the Lord your God…..you will have no other gods before Me), since it seems to imply that man is an end to himself.  Previously, Catholics had understood that the only end of existence was God.  By making man independent, or created for himself, well……..doesn’t it seem to make man something of a god himself?

Does this not represent a radical shift in fundamental Catholic theology?  It seems, to my admittedly amateur mind, a huge change in the philosophical underpinnings of all of the theology of the Church.  As an example, in the Haydock commentary for Luke 15:8, it is noted that “we are the creatures of the Most High God, who made us, and not we ourselves” – we are not made for our own ends, but for the service of, and to give glory to, God (I just happened to read this yesterday).  In fact, at the First Vatican Council, the claim that man was not created by and for God was declared an anathema.  The Tradition is full of references to man’s total dependence on God, and on our being created by Him and for Him alone.

Does not this statement – made almost as a throwaway comment, without any justification – represent a great change in the belief of the Church?   It seems a shift in focus from eternal, to earthly, concerns, and a shift in focus from offering adoration, contrition, thanksgiving, and supplication to God, to a much more humanly focused theology, which was then played out in the liturgy inorganically developed in the 1970 Missal.

Obviously, there has been great division in the Church over the understanding of statements like this in Vatican II.  Some have taken these new statements and run away with them, creating an entirely new, much more humanly focused theology and philosophy – the ‘spirit of Vatican II.’  Our good Pope Benedict XVI says that such statements must be understood in the light of Tradition.  My question is…..how?   How can a statement that seems at odd with the preceding Magisterium be “reconciled” with it?  And not only with the preceding Magisterium, but with pronouncements made since the Council!

In fact, the source of Catholic theology that Pope Benedict argues is completely authoritative, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, seems at odds with itself on this issue. For, after claiming in #356 that man was created for himself, #358 claims that man was created for God! How am I, as lay Catholic, to process this?  Literally – 356 says this:

Of all visible creatures only man is “able to know and love his creator”. He is “the only creature on earth that God has willed for its own sake……”

While #358 says this:

God created everything for man, but man in turn was created to serve and love God and to offer all creation back to him

Arrrrrgh!  Yo no entiendo!  Even more, a number of papal pronouncements, especially by Blessed Pope John Paul II, build upon both themes, but separately, in a manner that does not reconcile them or link them together.  Man is both created for his own sake, but also for the sake of worshiping God.  Even if some find such a statement reasonable, when this belief is expounded it has lead to all kinds of distortions in theology, philosophy, the liturgy, catechetics, etc.

So, finally to the point of the post – does anyone know of writings that attempt to reconcile this statement in Guadium Et Spes with the preceding Magisterium, to the two different statements of the Catechism with themselves?  And I mean a source that does so without re-defining words or making extensive use of phrases like “in a certain sense,” or, “in a manner of speaking,” etc.  I am speaking of an orthodox, Catholic source.

BTW, as Pope St. Pius X points out in Pascendi Dominici Gregis, it is a tenet of modernism to use contradictory formulations, since modernism holds that something may be “true” to a believer inside a faith, but “false” to those outside the faith – again, placing human notions of “truth” ahead of Divine Truth.  In fact, modernist exegetes at the time of St. Pius X advised the faithful to believe contradictory notions – that, according to “faith,” Christ was God, but, according to “science,” “history,” “reason,” etc., Christ was but a man.

It’s funny that I would come across a critical discussion of Guadium Et Spes 24 in Iota Unum just as the situation with the SSPX is coming to a head.  Providence?  I very much look forward to reading what is in the “doctrinal preamble.” 

What I am asking is much along the lines of what Msgr. Brunero Gherardini and others have been asking.  How can statements that seem in great contrast to solemn definitions in the past be interpreted in continuity, or be declared validly infallible, irreformable, dogmatic material?  Far greater minds than mine have puzzled over this, but I haven’t gotten a clear answer to any of my questions (in fact,in researching this post, I found people all over the world pondering this same problem.  I found no one would could put Guadium Et Spes 24 (and 12, and 22, and……) into continuity with the Magisterium outside of Vatican II).

I’m a convert.  I didn’t stroll into the Catholic Church looking for Tradition, nor with any feeling whatsoever towards Vatican II.  The questions I have developed, my…..less than enthusiastic embrace of aspects of VII……have come from my efforts to study and understand the Faith I love.  But, as I have indicated above, my understanding has hit a roadblock.  I pray for the Light of Christ so that I may understand, or that the murkiness of this situation may be resolved by our great Holy Mother the Church.

Comments

1. Terry Carroll - May 16, 2012

Absolutely brilliant analysis!

Consider St. Augustine’s “For Thou hast made us for Thyself and our hearts are restless ’til they rest in Thee.”

How does this sound? “For Thou hast made us for ourselves, and Thy heart is restless ’til it rests in us.”

It’s impossible to calculate the mischief that “for ourselves” has caused, and it is NOT consistent with the perennial teaching of the Church.

Thank you for this. It’s really good!

2. Jay Boyd - May 21, 2012

Terry – “…Thy heart is restless ’til it rests in us” sounds like the Novus Ordo!

3. A very left-hand, right-hand situation « A Blog for Dallas Area Catholics - May 22, 2012

[…] is trying to assert that there are only a few potentially problematic aspects of Vatican II.  As I tried to point out regarding Guadium Et Spes, which is not a “simple declaration” but is a “great […]


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