Thursday, December 8, 2011

How I treat the Church Fathers and non-conciliar traditions

If a tradition is not Tradition, for instance, the view of a single church father, I treat it as the RCC treats private revelation. Just substitute the words "private revelation" for "tradition"

"Private revelation … can be a genuine help in understanding the Gospel and living it better at a particular moment in time; therefore it should not be disregarded. It is a help which is offered, but which one is not obliged to use … The criterion for the truth and value of a private revelation is therefore its orientation to Christ himself. When it leads us away from him, when it becomes independent of him or even presents itself as another and better plan of salvation, more important than the Gospel, then it certainly does not come from the Holy Spirit." ( Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Theological Commentary on the Message of Fatima , 26 June, 2000 ).

1 comment:

  1. I treat the fathers in much the same way. As a priest once said to me about the writings of Mary Margaret Alacoque, when reading it's critical to focus on the core of the message and not pick at every detail, which are less critical. For me, reading the fathers is an encounter with people who lived their Christianity intensely, and may therefore broaden my experience of Christianity. These are kneeling theologians, and it's really inadequate to read them any other way than kneeling. Not to say, however, that academic reading however inadequate is not useful and worthy. Just now and then at least, one ought to do justice to the person behind the writing. Just as one can't adequately look at an icon without praying (again, it may be useful at times to look at the technique, etc).