LIBERA ME, Domine, Iesu Christe, ab omnibus iniquitatis meis et universis malis,
fac me tuis semper inhærere mandatis et a te numquam separari permittas. Amen.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Just wondering

The splendid leutgeb of Bara Brith commented on one of my posts yesterday that Catholicism does not rest with these people (the Tina Beatties of the world), but with the old ladies who go to Mass every day and for all I know probably have done all their lives, and I entirely agree with her : it’s not the thinkers, ultimately, who make the Church (although they may unmake it); but the honest, simple, faithful people of God.

This is why, although in one sense I laud and appreciate the various conferences and seminars which have been going on over the last couple of weeks for young Catholics &c, I also have a slight concern about them : because I know from my own experience that sometimes overmuch thought and learning can cause problems, as well as solve them.

I hope I’m not ungrateful to Our Lord for (what I, at least, see as) His great generosity to me in terms of intellect and mental capacity : but I have to be honest and say that there are times when I almost envy those who do not enjoy my gifts, but who are able to rejoice in simple, unquestioning, faith . . . and who deepen it not by listening to gifted speakers, or reading learned theologians, but simply by saying their prayers, trusting in God, and loving Our Lady.


  1. "it’s not the thinkers, ultimately, who make the Church"

    You make some very good points and I think that you may be hinting at the idea of the sensus fidelium as being the ultimate guardian of the faith.

    But I think that what you've written is slightly unbalanced. After all, it is very easy to point to a long line of theological thinkers who have been absolutely crucial to the elucidation of the deposit of faith. One might start with St Augustine and St Thomas, for example, not forgetting the Cappadocian Fathers.

    Secondly, one has to point to the constant teaching of the Church on the interplay of faith and reason - not least recently in fides et ratio.

    Many of the recent problems of the Church are to do with the irrationality of recent theological ideas such as the appeal to purely experiential knowledge of the Spirit. Now you might claim this as supporting your argument (thinkers going off on the wrong track misleading the faithful) but I would counter claim that it has been the inability or unwillingness of many intelligent people to use their ability to think in order to reject such error.

    It is, of course, Christ who makes the Church ;-)

  2. I wasn't seeking to denigrate academic study at all - I am a teacher. It is very important that the Faith can be reasoned etc, presented afresh for every era and that's what some people are called to do. Such conferences are of great benefit to young people who need to know that the Church has its intellectual side too and who have to face attack at university etc.

    But when the 'thinkers' start leading us down paths not consonant with the Church, that's a big big problem.

    Think about the phrase 'active participation' and what nonsense has been wrought by the interpretation of that little phrase.

  3. PS To clarify, Tina Beattie et al do not make the cut on my list of Catholic Thinkers.

    Catholic x
    Thinker x


  4. leutgeb;
    as I have - shall we say - Dominican leanings, I too would not seek to denigrate academic study : I was just expressing my concern about what you highlight; people who lead others down paths not consonant with the Church's teaching.
    I realize, of course, that these conferences do not do that; I suppose what really worries me is that there may be those who don't really digest fully what they get there, and then go off on strange tracks of their own as a result of a failure to comprehend properly . . . which is basically the point you make in your comment about 'actuosa participatio'.

  5. . . . and I entirely agree : Tina Beattie et al may be thinkers (though I don't think they are), but they're certainly not Catholic.

  6. Leutgeb & Dominic Mary,

    I agree with what you've said in this thread. The failure is that of not "thinking with the Church".

    Perhaps a wider worry is the degeneration of debate in the public forum to mere exercises of power and rhetoric.