The Christian faithful need pastors to guide them in the truth, to help form their consciences, and to call them to greater holiness. In the past weeks (regarding the synod), years (regarding Francis’ papacy), and decades (regarding the post Vatican-II Church), many Catholics have rejected their pastors, falling into a state of categorical distrust of the Church under the guise of conscience.

It’s true: the Church gives the conscience a high place.  Our experience of conscience represents an encounter with God, where we hear the Spirit of Truth in the core of the soul. Made in the image of God, the conscience carries the voice of God.

At the same time, conscience cannot be an authority unto itself. It does not stand up equally to the authority of Scripture or Tradition, or to the “living teaching office of the Church” which serves the Word of God, and “whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ” (cf. Dei Verbum).

St. John Paul II writes in the encyclical, Veritatis Splendor, quoting Saint Bonaventure, “[C]onscience is like God’s herald and messenger; it does not command things on its own authority, but commands them as coming from God’s authority, like a herald when he proclaims the edict of the king. This is why conscience has binding force.”

In another place, he writes: “Revelation teaches that the power to decide what is good and what is evil does not belong to man, but to God alone” (emphasis in the original).

In no way can the human conscience be considered a closed system; it constantly depends on the help of God to preserve it in truth and full freedom! As John Paul II said, even in the garden with reason unobscured by the darkness of sin, the knowledge of good and evil was never the “possession” of Adam and Eve but rather they “participated” in it (Veritatis Splendor, 41).

The reality of sin only heightens the need to turn to sources outside the self for the truth, even at the same time the effects of sin make it harder to realize that we are in need of help.

His history of sin begins when he no longer acknowledges the Lord as his Creator and himself wishes to be the one who determines, with complete independence, what is good and what is evil.

Breaking the cycle of sin, it is by the grace of God that we can come to know and love our Lord Jesus Christ. “Truth is a relationship,” says Francis, and this encounter with God gives us “new horizons.” We receive the light of faith and see in a new way.

And yet, even when possessed by God through faith, the Christian still suffers in the darkness of sin.  Francis writes in Lumen Fidei: “Faith is not a light which scatters all our darkness, but a lamp which guides our steps in the night and suffices for the journey.”  During our earthly life, it is the Church that guides us and “nourishes and reinforces” God’s gift of faith. Or to continue the metaphor, the Church, through her pastors, fuels the lamp of faith and strengthens its light in the midst of darkness. For this reason, we would do well to cling to the bishops, for it is precisely through apostolic succession, the line of bishops, that we have “assurance” of the Church’s fidelity to the truth.  Francis writes in Lumen Fidei:

The Lord gave his Church the gift of apostolic succession. Through this means, the continuity of the Church’s memory is ensured and certain access can be had to the wellspring from which faith flows. The assurance of continuity with the origins is thus given by living persons, in a way consonant with the living faith which the Church is called to transmit. She depends on the fidelity of witnesses chosen by the Lord for this task. For this reason, the magisterium always speaks in obedience to the prior word on which faith is based; it is reliable because of its trust in the word which it hears, preserves and expounds.

Or as Lumen Gentium states:

[Bishops] are authentic teachers, that is, teachers endowed with the authority of Christ, who preach to the people committed to them the faith they must believe and put into practice, and by the light of the Holy Spirit illustrate that faith.

In lesser ways, though no less importantly, all pastors are tasked with leading and guiding the faithful in holiness. Even lesser pronouncements, such as the weekly parish homily, still ought to carry some weight among the faithful–not because the priest has been endowed with a grace of infallibility or impeccable wisdom, but because the priest’s responsibility and duty before God requires that the faithful be receptive to God’s grace for him to be effective.

Only if we are prepared to listen, do we have the freedom to set aside our own partial or insufficient ideas, our usual habits and ways of seeing things. (Pope Francis, Gaudete et Exsultate)

Yes, God’s grace may be manifested through the preaching of a lowly minister of the Church who has been ordained to do exactly that–preach!  Francis writes in Evangelii Gaudium:

Let us renew our confidence in preaching, based on the conviction that it is God who seeks to reach out to others through the preacher, and that he displays his power through human words. Saint Paul speaks forcefully about the need to preach, since the Lord desires to reach other people by means of our word (cf. Rom 10:14-17). By his words our Lord won over the hearts of the people; they came to hear him from all parts (cf. Mk 1:45); they were amazed at his teachings (cf. Mk 6:2), and they sensed that he spoke to them as one with authority (cf. Mk 1:27). By their words the apostles, whom Christ established “to be with him and to be sent out to preach” (Mk 3:14), brought all nations to the bosom of the Church (cf. Mt 16:15.20).

(While priests and bishops have a special role in the formation of consciences, [cf. St. John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, “Christians have a great help for the formation of conscience in the Church and her Magisterium.”] Francis reminds us that the care of consciences is not “the exclusive concern of pastors; rather, with different responsibilities and methods, it is the mission of all, ministers and baptized faithful.” We all must look out for each other and help each other, in communion with the Church.)

The simple truth is that if pastors are to be pastors, then we ought to let them be pastors. And we must be sheep. Granted, the modern sensibility is to reject any dependency whatsoever, to be ubermenschen, capable of ruling ourselves with outside help but only if necessary, and even this is weakness. In truth, however, we are all called to take on the yoke of Christ and in this manner become servants of each other as befitting our roles in life. One way pastors are called to be servants is to be God’s teachers, and to preach the Gospel through their words.

We know that all truth comes from God. The Church, as a living body of believers, but specifically through its bishops who have been entrusted by God to be teachers, have the task of preaching the truth and preserving the “light of faith” for all Christians for all generations. Being like “sheep” is not to suggest we dispense with our conscience or accept their teachings blindly, but rather it is about training our ear to hear the voice of Christ speaking through the Church and to trust in the Holy Spirit who preserves the Church from error. All this is in accordance with Christ’s design.

Trusting the living teaching office of the Church is necessary because there are quite often not clear answers for all the world’s problems and challenges. Scripture and Tradition remain preeminent, but adapting those teachings to the experiences of the faithful in each place is the calling of our pastors who live with their “sheep.” Through the the teaching office of the Church, the Holy Spirit is continuing to guide the faithful today, with all its uniqueness.

Daniel Amiri is a Catholic layman, finance professional, and armchair theologian. A graduate of theology and classics from the University of Notre Dame, his studies coincided with the papacy of Benedict XVI whose vision, particularly the framework of “encounter” with Christ Jesus, has heavily influenced his thoughts.  He is a husband and a father to three beautiful children. He serves on parish council and also enjoys playing soccer and coaching his daughter’s soccer team.

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25 Responses

  1. pat says:

    There are today many hirelings among the shepherds (as there have been at other times in history). And they are not hirelings because they covered up abuse, they are hirelings because they don’t care enough to protect the sheep from the enemy. The thing of it is, the sheep know the voice of the shepherd, just as they know when the shepherd is an hireling. perhaps that’s why there is so little faith in the hierarchy of today…

  2. Peter Aiello says:

    Sacred Scripture has an authority that nothing else has. Vatican II, in Dei Verbum 21 says: “Therefore, like the Christian religion itself, all the preaching of the Church must be nourished and regulated by Sacred Scripture.”
    Individual Christians have a discernment by the Holy Spirit that no one else has (1Corinthians 2:9-16).
    Our conscience is a strong part of the mix. Our job is to “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1Thessalonians 5:21). Scripture, with the help of the Holy Spirit, is a good way for us to monitor what the people in the Church teach us. We are not supposed to leave that to others. Our conscience needs to concur with what we are taught. If it does not concur, we are obliged to go with our conscience.

    • Daniel Amiri Daniel Amiri says:

      We are obliged to follow our conscience, but that does not negate the importance of trusting the Magisterium, as an authentic interpreter of Scripture and Tradition. Just as we have to follow our conscience we are also obliged to develop our consciences. The Church’s teaching are a great help in this regard. Obviously, Scripture is one of the sources of authority, but if our private interpretation of Scripture conflicts with Church teaching, then we have to acknowledge that we are in the wrong.

      • Peter Aiello says:

        If we automatically assume that we are in the wrong, then our conscience is being coerced, we do not have psychological freedom, and we are being restrained from acting according to our consciences. This violates Vatican II’s Dignitatis Humanae 2 and 3 on the place of personal conscience.

        • Daniel Amiri Daniel Amiri says:

          The assumption must be that we are working in the darkness of sin. The Church’s Magisterium is one of the Holy Spirit’s help to us, an ongoing assurance in the midst of our daily lives, that we are living according to the Truth of the Faith. Of course, the Spirit works in any number of ways and the private reading of Scripture is important and helpful… But the Magisterium, according to Dei Verbum, the very document you cite, remains THE authentic interpreter of Scripture and Tradition. The Magisterium, particularly when expressed in collegial ways through the whole body of Bishops or even individually as particular bishops, is critical to ensure the faithful’s fidelity to the truth.

          Conscience must continuously be strengthened and formed. DH states in 14:

          In the formation of their consciences, the Christian faithful ought carefully to attend to the sacred and certain doctrine of the Church.(35) For the Church is, by the will of Christ, the teacher of the truth. It is her duty to give utterance to, and authoritatively to teach, that truth which is Christ Himself, and also to declare and confirm by her authority those principles of the moral order which have their origins in human nature itself. Furthermore, let Christians walk in wisdom in the face of those outside, “in the Holy Spirit, in unaffected love, in the word of truth” (2 Cor. 6:6-7), and let them be about their task of spreading the light of life with all confidence(36) and apostolic courage, even to the shedding of their blood.

          The disciple is bound by a grave obligation toward Christ, his Master, ever more fully to understand the truth received from Him, faithfully to proclaim it, and vigorously to defend it, never-be it understood-having recourse to means that are incompatible with the spirit of the Gospel. At the same time, the charity of Christ urges him to love and have prudence and patience in his dealings with those who are in error or in ignorance with regard to the faith.(37) All is to be taken into account-the Christian duty to Christ, the life-giving word which must be proclaimed, the rights of the human person, and the measure of grace granted by God through Christ to men who are invited freely to accept and profess the faith.

          • Peter Aiello says:

            We are not all equally working in the darkness of sin. Individual Christians have a discernment by the Holy Spirit that no one else has (1Corinthians 2:9-16). This affects the efficiency of our conscience.
            The guidance in the Church isn’t only reserved for the hierarchy. It applies to any Spirit-filled person. Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium 12 says: “The entire body of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One,(111) [cf. 1 Jn 2:20, 27] cannot err in matters of belief. They manifest this special property by means of the whole peoples’ supernatural discernment in matters of faith when “from the Bishops down to the last of the lay faithful” (8*) [Cf. 1 Cor. 10: 17] they show universal agreement in matters of faith and morals. That discernment in matters of faith is aroused and sustained by the Spirit of truth.”
            Tradition also includes us because we can all contribute to tradition. There is an interesting quote from Vatican II’s Dei Verbum 8 which states: “This tradition which comes from the Apostles develop in the Church with the help of the Holy Spirit. (5) For there is a growth in the understanding of the realities and the words which have been handed down. This happens through the contemplation and study made by believers, who treasure these things in their hearts (see Luke, 2:19, 51) through a penetrating understanding of the spiritual realities which they experience, and through the preaching of those who have received through episcopal succession the sure gift of truth.”

    • Claire Navarro says:

      Peter Aiello said:” Sacred Scripture has an authority that nothing else has. ” Well you missed reading Dei Verbum no. 10:

      “Sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture form one sacred deposit of the word of God, committed to the Church. Holding fast to this deposit the entire holy people united with their shepherds remain always steadfast in the teaching of the Apostles, in the common life, in the breaking of the bread and in prayers (see Acts 2, 42, Greek text), so that holding to, practicing and professing the heritage of the faith, it becomes on the part of the bishops and faithful a single common effort. (7)”

      • Peter Aiello says:

        How do you reconcile the two statements in Dei Verbum 21?

        • Claire Navarro says:

          You have to read the entire Dogmatic Constitution holistically. Dei Verbum No. 9 states: “Hence there exists a close connection and communication between sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture. For both of them, flowing from the same divine wellspring, in a certain way merge into a unity and tend toward the same end”

          Even the Catechism of the Catholic Church confirms this aligned with Sacred Scriptures.

          THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN TRADITION AND SACRED SCRIPTURE
          One common source. . .

          80 “Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, then, are bound closely together, and communicate one with the other. For both of them, flowing out from the same divine well-spring, come together in some fashion to form one thing, and move towards the same goal.”40 Each of them makes present and fruitful in the Church the mystery of Christ, who promised to remain with his own “always, to the close of the age”.

  3. Christopher Lake says:

    Peter,

    Every single thing in Sacred Tradition *does* align with the teaching of Sacred Scripture, and vice versa. As a Catholic, I never see a conflict between Scripture and Tradition.

    Now, from what I remember, from some past comments that I have read from you here, you are a practicing Catholic. I have also noticed, though, that there are certain aspects of Sacred Tradition which do not seem to align with some of *your personal interpretations of* Sacred Scripture… but your personal interpretations of Scripture are not necessarily always, at all times, the *actual, objective teachings* of Scripture. Only radical Protestants tend to take their personal interpretations of Scripture to be the self-evidently obvious and objective teachings of Scripture.

    As a follower of Christ in the Church that He founded, whom do you trust to be the authentically apostolic, God-intended interpreter of Tradition and Scripture– the Pope and the Magisterium teaching in accordance with him, or yourself (with your own personal, private interpretations)?

    • Peter Aiello says:

      As far as I know, there is no book or series of books called Tradition. It appears to be many separate and scattered writings from many people. How do we even know what writings are part of Tradition as opposed to magisterial teaching. If a priest instructs us on a particular matter, how do we know whether it is just his own opinion or not?
      In regards to tradition, we can all contribute to it (V2-Dei Verbum 8).
      Our reading of Scripture is essential in sorting this out even if our interpretation may not be perfect. Our opinions of what is objective in Scripture may differ. The guidance of the Holy Spirit in the Church isn’t only reserved for the hierarchy. It applies to any Spirit-filled person (V2-Lumen Gentium 12).
      The teaching on personal conscience in Vatican II instructs us in regards to the place of our conscience and how it relates to what we are taught. We have a serious obligation to abide by it. This simplifies things when we don’t have all the answers.

      • Christopher Lake says:

        Hi again, Peter,

        You asked me, “If a priest instructs us on a particular matter, how do we know whether it is just his own opinion or not?” As one place to start, you can always go to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which Saint John Paul II called ” a sure norm for teaching the faith.”

        That is what I did when an ordained local leader in the Catholic Church, in my area, told me that perhaps a member of my family would somehow get another chance to repent, even if she went to Hell when she died (!). Of course, I could have appealed to numerous passages of Scripture which teach that once one is in Hell, it is one’s eternal state, and there are no more chances to repent… but what if the leader’s interpretation of those passages differed from mine (as, apparently, was the case)? He did try to tell me that the Apostles’ Creed supported his case about there being a “second chance for people who go to Hell”– and of course, I strongly disagreed with him.

        In the end, though, I could not simply appeal to Scripture, or to the Apostles’ Creed, or to my own conscience, to settle the question. I had to go to the visible teaching authority of the Church– the Popes, and the Magisterium teaching in accordance with them–, as expressed in the Catechism. When I did that, the leader finally admitted that he had been mistaken on the issue, and that there is no “second chance to repent” after one goes to Hell.

        People can, and will, have differing interpretations of Scripture and Tradition. The Catholic Church does not leave us in the predicament of simply going to Scripture, or to a Papal encyclical, and interpreting for ourselves, to “settle” the questions of our differing interpretations. We have a visible teaching authority which helps us to settle the questions. Your local priest may be right, or wrong, in the counsel that he gives you– but as a Catholic, there are ways for you to know.

        In any event, interpreting Scripture for yourself, and then, on that basis, deciding that the Church’s teaching is wrong, and that your interpretation of Scripture is right, is not the way to settle questions within the Church. That is simply the way to think and live as a Protestant. I should know. I was a committed Protestant for years, before I returned to the Church and submitted my interpretations (of Scripture and Tradition) to her teaching authority.

        • Peter Aiello says:

          Because everything in Catholicism is supposed to be regulated by Sacred Scripture, I am comfortable with using it as my main personal resource because it has instructed me in my spirituality in a way that nothing else has, before or after; therefore, I don’t view it as a predicament but as a privilege. I’m thankful that the Church compiled the Bible in the fourth century and that it is now so readily available. It wasn’t always this way. Its use should not be viewed as primarily a Protestant thing.
          Teaching is a gift ministry of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:11). It is not conferred by ecclesiastical appointment.

          • Christopher Lake says:

            Peter,

            I don’t view personal reading and use of the Bible as (in your words) “primarily a Protestant thing.” The Catholic Church *encourages* personal reading the Bible and application of that reading to one’s life. Now, perhaps your local priest didn’t encourage your congregation in that way when you were a child, and if that is the case, then I am terribly sorry, but the fact is, for quite a long time now, the Popes have been exhorting Catholics to read and apply the Bible to their lives.

            With that said, I *do* view personal interpretations of the Bible which conflict with the Catholic Church’s teaching as “primarily a Protestant thing.” As Catholics, when we read Scripture, we are supposed to be guided in that reading by the Church’s teaching. It’s only logical, because the Church gave us the Biblical canon in the first place. Is that the way that you read Scripture– as guided by the teaching of the Church which gave us the canon?

            I ask that question, partially because I remember that, in the past on this site, you have criticized some aspects of Church teaching for supposedly focusing too much on Mary. Even though the explicit Church teaching is that Christ is the one and only Lord and Savior from our sins, you seem to think that some of the Church’s teaching on Mary detracts from the unique role of Christ in the life of the believer.

            When one reads Scripture as guided by the Church, however, then one can more easily understand the Church’s teaching on Mary. Christ intended that we would read Scripture in light of the teaching of the Church that He founded, rather than *criticizing* the Church’s teaching, in light of *our own personal interpretations* of Scripture.

          • Peter Aiello says:

            Mary is not a problem for anyone. She has the place that God has assigned for her; but Mariology that has developed in the Church needs careful scrutiny. Mariology that tells us to surrender to Mary and receive her spirit in order to find Jesus in Mary; and that this is the preferred way to receive Jesus is contrary to Scripture. Those who believe this treat her as if she is part of the Godhead.
            Is this considered to be Church teaching that is guided by the Church; or is this the teaching of some in the Church? This is the type of thing that often gets fuzzy; and this is why Scripture is so important for us in determining which developed doctrines in the Church are for our benefit and which are not. Scripture is not only Church teaching, but it is the regulator of Church teaching.
            There are 2000 years of water under the bridge. Staying close to Scripture is never a disadvantage for a Spirit-filled person.
            Our job is to “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1Thessalonians 5:21). Scripture, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, is a good way for us to monitor what we are taught in the Church, or what anyone else teaches us.
            God, with the help of the Church, ensured that Scripture was preserved for our benefit and use. I prefer to use it a lot. Others do not.

          • Christopher Lake says:

            Peter,

            Consecration to Mary, in order to grow in love for, and obedience to, Jesus, is one part of Church Tradition. Consecration to Mary is not something that Catholics are obliged by the Church to do in a binding way. It is far from the only way to “receive Jesus” in the Church. We receive Him, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, every time that we take the Eucharist.

            With all of this being said, great Catholic Saints have written devotional books on the very aspects of Mariology which you deride as supposedly treating her as part of the Godhead. These books have generally been cherished within the Church and referred to approvingly by the Popes.

            You continue to say that Church teaching is regulated by Scripture, while you disparage aspects of Church teaching which do not comport with *your particular interpretations* of Scripture. Church teaching is regulated by Scripture, but it is the Pope and the Magisterium, teaching in accordance within him, who are the authoritative interpreters of Scripture within the Church. They vocally approve of the Mariology which you deride. They do not see it as being against Biblical teaching, and neither do I. On this issue, strangely, you seem to agree more with militantly anti-Catholic Protestants than you do with the teaching of your own Church.

            Mary and Jesus are never at odds in their purposes. She advises us, in Scripture, to do whatever He tells us. Consecration to Mary cannot possibly be at odds with love for Jesus, because Mary’s entire purpose is to lead us more deeply to Jesus, so that we will love Him as deeply and devotedly as she does.

            Now, you may never choose to partake in consecration to Mary, and that’s fine– you are not obliged to do it as a Catholic. However, to say that consecration to Mary treats her as part of the Godhead is inaccurate and deeply unfair and uncharitable. Saint Alphonsus Ligouri did not worship Mary by encouraging devotion to her as a way of growing closer to Jesus. If Ligouri had worshiped Mary, he would have been a heretic, rather than a Catholic Saint.

          • Peter Aiello says:

            The only thing that I see in all of the NT epistles concerning Mary is when Paul says that “God sent forth his Son, made of a woman” (Galatians 4:4). This doesn’t require much private interpretation. There is nothing about the possibility of receiving Jesus by surrendering (latria) to Mary, as Louis de Montfort teaches. We receive Christ by faith in Him. Christ is the focal point in all of the epistles. He is the one mediator between the Father and us. He guides us and intercedes for us as our heavenly High Priest at the right hand of the Father. He is not so remote that He can’t identify with our sufferings. The Father is the one who draws us to His Son, the man Christ Jesus, so that we will love the Father as deeply as His Son. In Scripture, Christ is the only one who gives us access to the Father.
            I hope that this doesn’t sound militantly anti-Catholic. I learned it from the Book that regulates all Catholic teaching.

  4. brian martin says:

    I have to wonder what I can trust in a hierarchy that has the stain of covering not only abuse, but also the other sexual sins of the clergy up (fatherless children anyone?) I hardly consider that the hierarchy is open to the movement of the Holy Spirit if their first thought is that the way to prevent scandal to mother Church is to hide things and not be truthful. And for the Truth to truly be opened, there has to be openess to the movement of the Holy Spirit.
    The fact is that we are all sinful individuals be we Bishops, Popes, or peons. Our sin always affects our ability to be open to the Spirit. So while I understand the fonts of revelation, I also understand that the Holy Spirit works within the Church, both in the Clergy as well as in laity to further open our understanding of the Revealed Truth. And if you will please pardon an uneducated non-theologian making a feeble point – the Church’s teaching on any number of issues (slavery, war, capital punishment) has “clarified” – generally lead by people following their conscience. Also several Saints followed their conscience even in the face of resistance from the Church some even rebuking or Challenging Popes (St. Catherine of Sienna anyone?) and were there saints who were accused of being heretical?
    Bottom line Pastors are gonna Pastor as long as they are open to the Movement of the Holy Spirit. Them being clerics doen’t mean they are going to Patsor.

  5. Christopher Lake says:

    Peter,

    One of the many ironies in your objections, as a Catholic, to Catholic Mariology, is that the Church *explicitly affirms* all that you say here, and, indeed, all that Scripture, itself, says, about Jesus!

    The Church completely affirms that Jesus is the one mediator, between the Father and us, for our salvation. This is explicitly affirmed in the Catechism. The Church also affirms that Jesus can and does intercede for us as our efficacious High Priest. The Church affirms that He can identify with our sufferings and that He is not remote from us.

    The Church affirms all of these things about Jesus, *and* the Church has a long tradition of teaching in the area of Mariology, because Jesus and His mother’s respective wills are completely aligned. He is God Himself in human flesh, and she is the Immaculately Conceived (and therefore sinless) mother of the Incarnation. There is no logically possible way, within official Catholic theology, to supposedly “surrender” to Mary by worshiping her, because the Church explicitly teaches that worship (latria) is for God and God alone.

    On that note, Saint Louis de Montfort does not tell us to engage in latria regarding Mary. Latria is worship. No Catholic Saint tells us to worship Mary. Worship of anyone or anything other than God is idolatry, and again, it is explicitly forbidden by the Church. One does not become a canonized Catholic Saint by engaging in idolatry and encouraging others to do the same. It is very odd, to me, that I am even having to write these words to another practicing Catholic, but that is where we apparently are in this discussion.

    Consecration to Mary, in order to grow in Christian discipleship, does not constitute worship of Mary. Your ongoing argument that it does is an argument *with your Church*, not with with me.

    • Peter Aiello says:

      Have you actually read Louis de Montfort’s original writings? I was shocked when I read them. There are many devotional practices and prayers based on his teaching, but I had never heard of him in all my K thru 16 Catholic schooling. His writings that I read are: “The Secret of Mary” and “Treatise on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin”. I found them because I wondered where the Catholic emphasis on Mary came from. While reading them, I felt that many of the attributes that LM applies to Mary actually apply to Jesus. LM speaks of receiving the spirit of Mary through surrender, and receiving the Spirit of Christ through her presence within us because she has Christ within her. This is how we would receive Christ through Mary.
      We receive the Spirit of the Father through the Spirit of Christ within us, which was poured out at Pentecost. This is how we receive both the Father and the Son when we have the Spirit of Christ within us. He contains the Father. Was there a Marian Pentecost after that?
      This type of surrender can only be directed towards the Godhead. Mary is not part of the Godhead because she remains only human regardless of her humility. Her Son is also human, but He is also part of the Godhead. Even though I rejected LM’s characterization of Mary, I received a better understanding of how Christ’s Spirit within us carries the Spirit of the Father. This is why surrender directly to Christ is essential for salvation. God sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts crying Abba Father (Galatians 4:6).
      I can provide you with many references in LM’s writings if you wish.

  6. Christopher Lake says:

    Peter,

    I own St. Louis de Montfort’s “True Devotion to Mary.” In it, he explicitly claims:

    “Jesus, our Saviour, true God and true man must be the ultimate end of all our other devotions; otherwise they would be false and misleading. . . . For in him alone dwells the entire fullness of the divinity and the complete fullness of grace, virtue and perfection. . . . He is the only Physician that can heal us; the only Shepherd that can feed us; . .

    He also states:

    “75. [W]e can call ourselves, and become, the loving slaves of our Blessed Lady in order to become more perfect slaves of Jesus. Mary is the means our Lord chose to come to us and she is also the means we should choose to go to him, . . . Mary’s strongest inclination is to unite us to Jesus, her Son, . . .”

    Now, from your previous comments here, you may well reply that even such a qualified statement as the one directly above is not Scriptural, because Scripture never exhorts us to go to Jesus through Mary, even though, as de Montfort states, “Mary’s strongest inclination is to unite us to Jesus, her Son.”

    However, Catholic teaching is based on what is both explicit in Scripture, and on what is derived, by reasonable implication, from Scripture. Marian consecration is an example of the latter.

    Scripture explicitly states that Jesus came into this world through Mary. Without Mary’s complete “yes” to God, we would not have the Incarnation and the salvation which Jesus brings to us. To be sure, Mary does not save us. Jesus saves us, but Mary is crucial to our salvation. This is completely Scriptural. Jesus came to us through Mary, so there is nothing that is anti-Scriptural at all about consecrating ourselves to her in order to become better disciples of Christ, whom we worship alone. De Montfort is very, very clear in “True Devotion” that Catholics should worship God, and not anyone or anything else.

    The following Popes (and Vatican II’s “Lumen Gentium”) strongly commend de Monfort’s thinking on consecration to Mary to us. Are you prepared, as a Catholic, to say that they are all Scripturally incorrect, and that you understand Scripture better than them on this matter?:

    COMMENDATIONS OF THE POPES

    Blessed Pope Pius IX (1846–78): Declared that Saint Louis De Montfort’s devotion to Mary was the best and most acceptable form of devotion to Our Lady.

    Pope Leo XIII (1878–1903): Granted a Plenary Indulgence to those who make Saint Louis De Montfort’s act of consecration to the Blessed Virgin. On his deathbed he renewed the act himself and invoked the heavenly aid of Saint Louis De Montfort, whom he had beatified in 1888.

    Pope Saint Pius X (1903–14): “I heartily recommend True Devotion to The Blessed Virgin, so admirably written by [Saint] De Montfort, and to all who read it grant the Apostolic Benediction.” . . .”There is no surer or easier way than Mary in uniting all men with Christ.”

    Pope Benedict XV (1914–22): “A book of high authority and unction.”

    Pope Pius XI (1922–39): “I have practiced this devotion ever since my youth.”

    Pope Pius XII (1939–58): “God Alone was everything to him. Remain faithful to the precious heritage, which this great saint left you. It is a glorious inheritance, worthy, that you continue to sacrifice your strength and your life, as you have done until today.”

    Pope Paul VI (1963–78): “We are convinced without any doubt that devotion to Our Lady is essentially joined with devotion to Christ, that it assures a firmness of conviction to faith in Him and in His Church, a vital adherence to Him and to His Church which, without devotion to Mary, would be impoverished and compromised.”

    Blessed Pope John Paul II (1978–2005): “The reading of this book was a decisive turning-point in my life. I say ‘turning-point,’ but in fact it was a long inner journey . . . This ‘perfect devotion’ is indispensable to anyone who means to give himself without reserve to Christ and to the work of redemption.” . . .“It is from Montfort that I have taken my motto: ‘Totus tuus’ (‘I am all thine’). Someday I’ll have to tell you Montfortians how I discovered De Montfort’s Treatise on True Devotion to Mary, and how often I had to reread it to understand it.”

    Vatican Council II (1962–1965): ‘The maternal duty of Mary toward men in no way obscures or diminishes this unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows its power. All her saving influence on men originates not from some inner necessity, but from the divine pleasure. It flows forth from the superabundance of the merits of Christ, rests on His mediation, depends entirely on it and draws all its power from it.’ . . . ‘The practices and exercises of devotion to her recommended by the Church in the course of the centuries [are to] be treasured.’ (Lumen Gentium: 60, 67).

    (Source: https://www.ecatholic2000.com/montfort/true/devotion.shtml)

    • Peter Aiello says:

      Lumen Gentium is obviously not as specific as the writings of the popes. There are a couple of quotes from Louis de Monfort that I believe cross the line.
      In The Secret of Mary 36.2, LM says: “In going to Jesus through Mary, we are really paying honour to our Lord, for we are showing that, because of our sins, we are unworthy to approach his infinite holiness directly on our own. We are showing that we need Mary, his holy Mother, to be our advocate and mediatrix with him who is our Mediator.” This contradicts Hebrews 4:14 16 which tells us to come boldly to the throne of grace of our High Priest who was tempted as we are.
      In True Devotion258, LM says; “We must do everything through Mary, that is, we must obey her always and be led in all things by her spirit, which is the Holy Spirit of God. ‘Those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God,’ says St. Paul. Those who are led by the spirit of Mary are children of Mary, and, consequently children of God, as we have already shown. Among the many servants of Mary only those who are truly and faithfully devoted to her are led by her spirit. I have said that the spirit of Mary is the spirit of God because she was never led by her own spirit, but always by the spirit of God, who made himself master of her to such an extent that he became her very spirit.”

      • Daniel Amiri Daniel Amiri says:

        I appreciate the charitable conversation you both are having, but in the spirit of “not having to moderate each comment that goes on this website” and “it no longer really pertains to the topic of the article”… if you want to continue this conversation, I can connect you via your email addresses that you used to register your comments.

        Thank you!

        • Christopher Lake says:

          Daniel,

          I sincerely apologize. My thought, in continuing this conversation for so long with Peter, was that it was ultimately on the subject of your post, in the sense of Catholics listening to the teachings of the Popes and Magisterium– or not.

          I’ve made my case in this discussion with Peter and am content to let it conclude here. Thank you for letting us converse at such length! God bless!

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