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A Simple Priest’s Guide to the New Morality: I Receive, You Receive

According to Fr. Martin, S.J., et al:

For a teaching to be really authoritative it is expected that it will be received by the people of God, by the faithful. So you look at something, like, say, the Assumption … people accept that. They go to the Feast of the Assumption, they believe in the Assumption. It’s received.

When arguing in this way, the proponents of this view focus on the manner in which the Dogma of the Assumption was declared. This, it is implied, proves their point.

However, this argument is so spurious that it is hard to believe that anyone could take it seriously. The immediate obvious problem is the conflating of the words “receive” and “agree” or “accept” to mean just one cognitive attitude: “acceptance.”

Here are the facts concerning the Assumption. Pope Pius XII wrote to all the patriarchs, cardinal bishops, and so on to ask them if they agreed that the understanding regarding Our Lady’s death – namely, that Mary was assumed into Heaven, body and soul – is what the whole Church has always believed. They responded by saying they agreed that this had been “received” and handed on from one generation to the next. (I suppose the Feast of the “Dormition of Our Lady” in Eastern Churches is a good example of this. If I remember rightly, from the sixth century, this feast was observed to have spread far and wide in the Greek Church.)

Returning to the new concept of how Catholics are to determine whether they need to observe Church teaching on moral laws or not, it seems, according to Martin & Co., that when they say they have not “received,” they really are saying they have not agreed with that teaching and therefore do not accept it. This, apparently, then, absolves them from obeying the moral law in one aspect or another.

In practical terms, this means, for liberated, modern man, that he is now free not to observe Church teaching on morality if he does not receive it (i.e., he does not agree with it – which, in reality, means he does not accept it). This must be the absolute peak of subjectivism. As there now, apparently, is no universal or natural law that is binding on everyone (even though this is recognized by those with no faith at all), then the arbiter who decides whether some action, some deed, is right or wrong is the individual. So modern man places at the very center of his decision the self: the me, the I, what I want, what I feel comfortable with. In fact, the whole moral law now amounts to – in basic, practical terms – what is moral is what I like to do. End of discussion.

In my ignorance, I thought the argument using the word received was always used, in past decades of the Church, in explaining the Deposit of Faith as being, as the great Archbishop Lefebvre said, using the words of St. Paul: “the handing on what had been received from the beginning.

It was also used in connection with those pagans who still had a chance of salvation if they, through no fault of their own, never had the chance to “receive” the Word of God – who, therefore, were in a state of invincible ignorance. In their case, they still had the possibility of salvation but only through their diligent, faithful observance of the natural law.

And so, with ecumenism flourishing and almost universally accepted, are pagans also brought into the Church by the same means of discerning the moral law, moral practices etc., as full members of the Mystical Body of Christ, by just choosing to do whatever they like to do, then calling that morally “good”?

Looking at the success of this new approach to moral living, it actually means that, if accepted – as it seems to be in most Western societies, at least – there is now no need for the Catholic Church, the pope, priests, religious, structures, hierarchy…anything at all.

Objectively speaking, it could be a rather effective plan – a DIY job – to destroy the Church completely! In accepting this attitude toward morality, which necessarily includes doctrine as well, the Church would actually make itself entirely irrelevant – redundant. (This could save a lot of money and bring to an end the everlasting scandal of sodomitical priests and child abuse – for what they are doing, if not “received,” could not be classified as morally wrong.)

This teaching from Martin & Co. could mean, of course, that universal salvation is finally, officially, accepted. That is one principle that is received without any hassle as all! If that is the case, does this mean that Luther has triumphed? Surely, it must, if, as the “Agreement on Justification” has been signed by both Rome and some Lutherans, it follows that no merit is required for sanctification.

If that is the case, then we should most definitely celebrate every anniversary of the Protestant revolt – not only celebrate, but apologize for our stupidity and clamor for the canonization of poor, misjudged Luther immediately, and declare emphatically all those who participated in the Council of Trent posthumously excommunicated.

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