Dedicate yourselves to thankfulness. Colossians 3:15

Friday, November 14, 2008

Moral law, grace urge us to act

"Adhering to the precepts disposes us to receive God's grace and to be able to humble ourselves in love and service before God so that we will be able, humbly, to love and serve others."

(Photo from Clay Pots.)

"Moral Law, Grace and the Church" was the topic of yesterday's Why Catholic session. Father Ty Hullinger introduced concepts of moral (natural) law as being imprinted by God on our consciences, giving us an innate sense of right and wrong, good and evil, and grace as being infused continually, our reception, though, being subject to our awareness and acceptance.

Relying heavily on the Compendium as his source, Father Ty spoke then of the five precepts of the magisterium that are established as the "indispensible minimum" for us to aspire to do in order to cooperate to dispose ourselves to be open to the reception of God's grace: Attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation; receive the sacrament of reconcilation at least once a year; receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least once in the year, during the Easter season; fast and abstain according to church guidelines; keep holy the holy days of oblication.

The two most liberal Catholics in the group -- St. Patrick (Cumberland) Deacon Loren Mooney and Antoinette Wiseman -- challenged the magisterium's "indispensible minimum" idea and raised the fact that the guidelines say nothing about loving each other. Father Ty agreed with me when I contended that these precepts are the magisterium's instructions for us to follow in order to dispose ourselves to be aware of and accept God's grace; the idea of loving each other is "covered" in the Ten Commandments and the Beautitudes. Loren and Toni both asked Father Ty, then, for reassurance that there is a law above these precepts of the magisterium. Of course, Father Ty said there is.

Loren propsoed, then, that Vatican I followers most likely would be very comfortable adhering to these precepts, which have nothing to do with love. If it would not have belabored the point, would have clarified that these precepts are about us, individually, developmentally, spiritually, not about our direct relationships with others. Adhering to the precepts disposes us to receive God's grace and to be able to humble ourselves in love and service before God so that we will be able, humbly, to love and serve others. I like both Loren and Toni, but here is another example of how unaccepting of church teaching and single-minded about "love" (which they seem to equate to leniencey) above obedience and openness to the fullness of God's love that a Vatican II-trained thinker can be....

Father Ty very effectively wove his points about moral law and grace into the story line of the movie Amazing Grace, which presents the relationship between John Newton, Anglican clergyman, former slave ship captain and auther of the famous hymn by the same name, and
William Wilbefforce, a Member of Parliament who spent 20 years, at the encouragement of Newton, fighting to abolish the slave trade in the British Empire.

The ignominy of slavery is the ignominy of present-day abortion, oppression of immigrants, human trafficking (all modern forms of enslavement); and we are called by social responsiblity, moral law and God's grace to take an active role to fight for justice.

Last week's session was led by Toni Wiseman and considered topics of "Sin, Mercy and Moral Solidarity." Toni discussed our relationship with God as one similar to a friendship that can be damaged and broken, in need of attention or often requiring repair.

We discussed God's eternal and infinte mercy that should not be taken for granted, but cherished and nourished, and His call for us to receive and develop the mercy He gives to us into our mercy given for others. As members of one church, we are called to take a unified position to address social injustices.

Our Why Catholic sessions are adjourned now until the Lenten season.

by Nancy E. Thoerig 11-14-08

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