Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Thinking Like An Adult

Pope Benedict XVI tells us what it means to think like an adult.
I wanted to emphasize parts of it, but ended up emphasizing it all. Read carefully.
In the last few decades, the expression ‘adult faith’ [fede adulta, 'grown up faith'] has become a widespread slogan. It is often used in relation to the attitudes of those who no longer pay attention to what the Church and her Pastors say — which is to say, those who choose on their own what to believe or not to believe in a sort of ‘do-it-yourself’ faith. Expressing oneself against the Magisterium of the Church is presented as a sort of ‘courage’, whereas in fact not much courage is needed because one can be certain of receiving public praise.
Instead, courage is needed to adhere to the Church’s faith, even if it contradicts the 'order' of today’s world. Paul calls this non-conformism an ‘adult faith’. For him, following the prevailing winds and currents of the time is childish.

For this reason, it is part of an adult faith to dedicate oneself to the inviolability of life from its beginning, thus radically opposing the principle of violence, in defense precisely of the most defenseless. It is part of an adult faith to recognize the lifelong marriage between one man and one woman in accordance with the Creator’s order, re-established again by Christ. An adult faith does not follow any current here and there. It stands against the winds of fashion.
Benedict XVI
Homily - First Vespers of the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul
June 28, 2009


Kevin said...

Funny how the Pope's definition of "adult faith" and my own definition so strongly differ (mine having to do with the use of independent judgment based on a well-informed conscience).

Thankfully, though, neither denotation nor connotation of terms is a matter of faith or morals (is it?).

Besides, wouldn't it take more courage for a practicing Catholic to disagree with the Pope than to follow the lead of Christ's Vicar on Earth? Not that it would be right, of course, but the Pope is talking about courage, not correctness.

Marcel said...

What informs your conscience, if not the Church?

I would strongly disagree that it takes more courage to disagree with the Church's teaching, because the praise of the world backs up dissent, not orthodoxy.

Kevin said...

What informs conscience, if not the Church? Parents; children; spouses; ideals; the response to actions from others; the best, heck, the good behavior of others; analysis of one's own past actions; Emily Post; history... all of these things, plus innumerable others, can inform conscience. Some of them are related to the Church, some related to practicing Christians; several aren't related to religion at all, or only in the most tenuous sense.

Don't mean to sound high-and-mighty, but goodness, there is so much in the world besides the Church that can inform the conscience, and often for the better of the Church. It took some time, for example, for the Church to come around to the idea that slavery was wrong and that religious toleration is a good thing.

On the second point, the world may back up dissent in the world, but it doesn't necessarily do so in the Church. Depending on whom you're talking to, it can take more courage to challenge orthodoxy than to dissent from it. After all, the world rarely intervenes in a discussion between an orthodox individual, behind whom stands the authority of the one true Church, and one who dissents from that teaching, but still respects it (although that may not always be the case when the discussion takes place on a blog...)

Marcel said...

Yes, the conscience can be informed by many things. But, all other things, outside of the Church, are tenuous. The Church might move slowly, but it also doesn't float away with the lies in the culture.

In some small quarters of the world, it may take more courage to challenge Church orthodoxy, but not outside of the boundaries of these small quarters of the Church.

Courage is standing against the cultural current. Dissent is going with the current.

Kevin said...

It's the time between twixt and twain that concerns me. For example, what is the proper stance in the space between a personal conclusion that slavery is wrong and the Church coming around to that view? Should one believe that slavery is wrong and live in dissent against a Church that accepts slavery? Or swallow your conclusions, ignore your tenuously-formed conscience, and adhere to the Church's teaching?

Marcel said...

The Church itself never supported slavery, while individuals in the Church did. The difference is everything...

Kevin said...

Ah. With all due respect, I believe you've dodged the question. Or perhaps I've emphasized it wrongly.

It's not about the theological stance of the Church, but the lived experience of individuals.

Marcel said...

The Church doesn't "come around" to your truth. There is an objective truth that transcends your lived experience of it.

If you need a direct answer - one is always to follow their conscience, but one is also to submit to the truth and continue to form their conscience in relation to it.

Kevin said...

As always, the discussion has been illuminating. I fear, however, that I'm in danger of overstaying my welcome -- so, until next time!

Jamie said...

This excerpt is awesome. I really like it. Thanks for sharing.