Saint Thomas Aquinas

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

'Intrumentum Laboris' Battle Lines Drawn: The Natural Law Is Under Fire



"The office divinely committed to Us of feeding the Lord's flock has especially this duty assigned to it by Christ, namely, to guard with the greatest vigilance the deposit of the faith delivered to the saints, rejecting the profane novelties of words and oppositions of knowledge falsely so called. There has never been a time when this watchfulness of the supreme pastor was not necessary to the Catholic body; for, owing to the efforts of the enemy of the human race, there have never been lacking "men speaking perverse things" (Acts xx. 30), "vain talkers and seducers" (Tit. i. 10), "erring and driving into error" (2 Tim. iii. 13). Still it must be confessed that the number of the enemies of the cross of Christ has in these last days increased exceedingly, who are striving, by arts, entirely new and full of subtlety, to destroy the vital energy of the Church, and, if they can, to overthrow utterly Christ's kingdom itself. Wherefore We may no longer be silent, lest We should seem to fail in Our most sacred duty, and lest the kindness that, in the hope of wiser counsels, We have hitherto shown them, should be attributed to forgetfulness of Our office."

Concerning the modernists...

"They recognize that the three chief difficulties for them are scholastic philosophy, the authority of the fathers and tradition, and the magisterium of the Church, and on these they wage unrelenting war."

(Pascendi Dominici Gregis) Pope Pius X given at St. Peter's, Rome, on the 8th day of September, 1907

So we find ourselves one hundred and seven years later, and St. Pius X appears to have been a prophet since we have reaped the whirlwind he said we would if his directions were not followed. We have been silent! If you have read the Catholic news sites you should have seen that a new document has made its way to the Vatican website. It is called, 'Instrumentum Laboris'. This new document contains the results of the world's synod of bishops as to the state of the Catholic Church and the challenges it faces in the modern world. It also gives us some of their proposed "remedies". The document specifically addresses the issue of marriage, the family and evangelization in the modern world. Although there are many troubling statements in the document, there is a very serious proposal concerning the Natural Law that we should be very concerned with. There is huge battle coming down the line within the Church which if lost, can have very dire consequences. It can change the way we teach and understand the Natural Law.

Although the modernists have made inroads over the past 50 years or so in distorting Church doctrine, dogma and liturgical practices, it has not had much luck in making headway against the Natural Law. It has been ignored yes, but the real assault has yet to be made. The very fact the Church not only proclaims God's voice concerning Divine Revelation, it also proclaims God's voice concerning creation and the Natural Law as well. This is emphatically stated for example in even modern Church documents such as 'Persona Humana' which states, “Furthermore, Christ instituted His Church as "the pillar and bulwark of truth. With the Holy Spirit's assistance, she ceaselessly preserves and transmits without error the truths of the moral order, and she authentically interprets not only the revealed positive law but "also . . . those principles of the moral order which have their origin in human nature itself"[7] and which concern man's full development and sanctification. Now in fact the Church throughout her history has always considered a certain number of precepts of the natural law as having an absolute and immutable value, and in their transgression she has seen a contradiction of the teaching and spirit of the Gospel.”

Faithful Catholics understand that the Natural Law cannot be changed, updated, modified or evolved. There is no philosophical framework that can be substituted for the scholastic method when it comes to explaining and teaching it. We should remember that Pope Pius IX condemned the following idea in his syllabus of errors, "The method and principles which have served the doctors of scholasticism when treating of theology no longer correspond with the exigencies of our time or the progress of science." For that reason also Latin has been traditionally used to teach and define concepts concerning the Natural Law along with the Thomistic paradigm. St Pius X tells us, "In the first place, with regard to studies, We will and ordain that scholastic philosophy be made the basis of the sacred sciences. It goes without saying that if anything is met with among the scholastic doctors which may be regarded as an excess of subtlety, or which is altogether destitute of probability, We have no desire whatever to propose it for the imitation of present generations (Leo XIII. Enc. Aeterni Patris). And let it be clearly understood above all things that the scholastic philosophy We prescribe is that which the Angelic Doctor has bequeathed to us..." Pope Pius X clealry understood what was at stake here.

With this in mind, there is only one way to understand the following terms in regard to the Natural Law: Act, potentiality, form, substance, matter, formal cause, final cause, teleology etc. The Natural Law has been defined and explained by these Aristotelian terms for centuries and they cannot be improved upon by other philosophical concepts or language. Even before St. Pius X's time, the Aristotelian Thomistic model has been the target for modern philosophers and theologians. For a general understanding of what has gone on over the centuries regarding philosophy and the war to destroy Aristotelian concepts, you really should read Dr. Edward Feser's book titled, 'The Last Superstition.' If you do not know what is in his book, you are seriously at a handicap when it comes to understanding the war on truth, reality, and the Natural Law. I know I keep promoting this book, but it is really that good. Buy it and study it.



All of this being said, this new document gives us a preview of where this council in October is heading in regards to the marriage questions that have been making headlines since Pope Francis took office. With the problematic statements of men such as Cardinal Kasper and others being floated about, many in the Church are now testing the waters to see if indeed the Natural Law can finally be hijacked by the modernists. Thankfully there has been some open objection to these ideas, Cardinal Mueller who is the head of the CDF and Cardinal Burke who is also in Rome, are two that come to mind. Aside from a few voices, the rest of the church crowd is running down the wrong road, including most Catholics who call themselves "orthodox." In fact, these are the ones you have to worried about. The open modernist heretics are easy to spot. Now however you have many well meaning catechists, theologians and popular apologists who are slowly leading many people into the mine field of modernism. That is a subject for another time. Let us not be distracted further from the immediate issue at hand.

The part of the new document that I want to point everyone's attention to is the part which concerns the Natural Law. Paragraphs 21-30 point out supposed problems with the Natural Law in the modern world, and it gives a few proposals on how to solve them. For one, the bishops apparently see problems with how the people of the world understand the Natural Law. For example, in paragraph 21 the document says, "In a vast majority of responses and observations, the concept of natural law today turns out to be, in different cultural contexts, highly problematic, if not completely incomprehensible." Really, you don't say? Maybe it is because none of the bishops have taught it in 50 years, maybe thats why! No, it is the modern culture's problem, not theirs. Its not that they completely dismissed over 100 years of papal statements telling them to teach Saint Thomas! It would not be "incomprehensible if they actually explained it. The document continues, "Many bishops' conferences, in many different places, say that, although the spousal aspect of the relationship between man and woman might be generally accepted as an experiential reality, this idea is not interpreted according to a universally given law. Very few responses and observations demonstrated an adequate, popular understanding of the natural law." Again, who's fault is that?

The documents continues on now giving us the sob story over new scientific discoveries, which as we know does nothing, absolutely nothing to detract or negate the Natural Law. "Today, in not only the West but increasingly every part of the world, scientific research poses a serious challenge to the concept of nature. Evolution, biology and neuroscience, when confronted with the traditional idea of the natural law, conclude that it is not “scientific." If anyone thinks this is problematic, then they do not understand the Natural Law. Science if anything has proven that the Natural Law concept is the only rational explanation of how the human mind comes into conformity with reality. It is then applicable to everyone at all times and all places and will never displaced by scientific discoveries. The natural sciences themselves can never have dominion over the Natural Law since the Natural Law is above that of the natural sciences.

Paragraph 25 through 29 point out some legitimate problems in the Church concerning the Natural Law. That there are problems concerning people's understanding, or being aware of the concept of the Natural Law is not surprising. That is what happens again when you do not teach something and subvert it for 5 or more decades. But the bishops synod's proposal to remedy these problems are what are extremely alarming and should concern us. Instead of trying to correct the problem by returning the Thomistic "traditional" model that every Pope up until John XIII called for, they instead now look to employ the same methods that got us all in this situation in the first place. Lets modernize everything! Change the language, reread everything and redefine it! Great idea!

Paragraph 30 proposes, "The language traditionally used in explaining the term “natural law” should be improved so that the values of the Gospel can be communicated to people today in a more intelligible manner." The word improved here should be substituted for change! How are they going to improve anything when they have no clue as to what the Natural Law is in the first place? They do not want to improve anything. What language are they even referring to? They going to try and get rid of the scholastic terms and framework that are needed to explain the Natural Law in the only intelligible manner possible. You cannot "improve" upon the "traditional" "language."

Why not use the same modern watered down language and ideas that were used to distort the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the rest of the Sacraments? It will do wonders to understanding marriage and the Natural Law! If you are asking yourself that question, you have got it right! In the document they explicitly tell us what they want to do! "...this proposal insists on using language which is accessible to all, such as the language of symbols utilized during the liturgy. The recommendation was also made to engage young people directly in these matters." This is certainly a recipe for disaster! You cannot use symbols as substitutes for complex concepts. Why don't we just all go back to using hieroglyphs instead of written text? Anytime these moderns get their hands on anything, they destroy it. I can promise you the same will happen once they overhaul the language concerning the Natural Law. They are going to change the entire framework, not simply improve the language. Notice how they specified that the language is the one "traditionally" used, that they want to do away with! This includes Latin and the entire scholastic system. This simply cannot be done, and the faithful should be crying out as loud as possible that it not be done!

The final proposal is also an incredibly horrifying one, "...respondents propose bringing the issue to public discussion and developing the idea of biblical inspiration and the “order in creation,” which could permit a re-reading of the concept of the natural law in a more meaningful manner in today’s world..." Do we not see how they have reread the Bible over the past 50 years or more? They have already destroyed any meaningful understanding of the Scriptures for most people, and now they are going to use more of the same methods to "reread" the Natural Law? These proposals should be taken notice of. Of course I will have people come by the blog and say the document does not hold any real weight, which is of course true. But just because it has no "official" weight not mean that it is not forecasting what is coming down the pipe that can result in tangible horrific results.

Can we allow such proposals to overhaul the Natural Law go unchallenged? Who could permit such suggestions to be taken seriously? In the past no one would have thought many of the things that have happened in the Church could have happened, and yet the faithful sat back and let it happen. Well, these proposals are on the Vatican website for all to see. Some may say I am making too much of this, but I do not think so. This is a very serious matter. Am I the only one who thinks it is a bad idea to start making changes to the "traditional" language and "improving" it to appeal to the "modern world"? Pass this post around and let us make sure that we make it clear to the Vatican that the faithful will not accept an overhaul of the Natural Law we will not accept a new language, a new "rereading" of Scripture and we will not accept anything less than the Thomistic language and principles that explain the Natural Law so clearly and beautifully! Let us head the words of St Pius X in 'Doctoris Angelici'.

"The chief doctrines of St. Thomas' philosophy cannot be regarded as mere opinions—which anyone might discuss pro and con, but rather as a foundation on which all science of both natural and divine things rests. If they are taken away, or perverted in any way, then this necessarily follows: that the students of sacred studies will not perceive even the meaning of those words whereby the divinely revealed dogmas are uttered by the teaching of the Church."

Don't kid yourself, the storm is coming!












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