Rorate Caeli

...infundens oleum et vinum...

But a certain Samaritan being on his journey, came near him, and seeing him, was moved with compassion, and going up to him, bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine; and setting him upon his own beast, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. (Luke x; from the Gospel for the Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost)

...every loyal son of that Church, like the good Samaritan, pours oil and wine into the wounds of the sons of Adam, to free the guilty from sin, to strengthen the weak and feeble, to mould the lives of the virtuous nearer to the ideal of holiness. Even granting that some minister of Christ may at times fail in his duty, does it therefore follow that the power was rendered helpless and void of efficacy? Let us listen to the words of the Bishop of Hippo:

"I assert [he writes] and we all assert, that the ministers of so great a Judge should be just men. Let the ministers be just, if they will. If, however, they who sit on the chair of Moses refuse to be just I find my warrant of security in my Master, of whom His Spirit said: "He it is who baptizes." [In Johannis Evang., tract. 5, n. 15]

Would that the words of Augustine had been accepted formerly and were accepted today by all those who, like the Donatists, allege the fall of a priest as a reason for rending the seamless garment of Christ and for unhappily abandoning the way of salvation!

We see how our Saint, for all his exalted genius, humbly submitted his judgment to the authority of the Church teaching. He knew that, as long as he did so, he would not swerve a finger's breadth from Catholic doctrine. More than that, in pondering the sentence: "If you believe not, you will not understand," [Isaias vii, 9] he learned with certainty that a heaven-born light —denied to the proud— serves as a beacon to the minds of those who cling closely to the Faith and meditate the word of God in a mood of prayerful humility.

He knew, besides, that it was the duty of priests —whose lips should keep knowledge [Mal. ii, 7]— since they are bound to explain and defend aright the truths of Revelation and expound their meaning to the Faithful, to penetrate the truths of Faith to the depths —so far as is allowed by Divine permission.
Pius XI, Ad Salutem

1 comment:

With Peter said...

It is good to remember that our faith does not depend on the moral, much less intellectual, character of the man who occupies the office, but on Jesus Christ who created the office and the Holy Spirit who guards and protects it.

The judgment of the Church’s teaching authority is guided by an Intelligence and Goodness which outshines even the most brilliant and holy saints. It is good to know we can unswervingly follow this Authority even if the man wearing Peter’s ring is entirely unfit and unworthy of the office.

I often ponder why the Lord picked Peter instead of John to be the head of the Church. I think in picking a man who excelled in both sinfulness and holiness, the Lord intended to prepare his Church for the full range of successors who would follow Peter. Whether good or bad, we recognize Peter in each pope whereas we might not recognize John. Because Christ picked a man so obviously outstanding in sin and in grace, we are lead to set aside all judgment of each pope’s character and follow Christ-in-him.

Many eras, many popes, one Peter, one Magisterium.