To a Stoic Philosopher, the question of Theodicy, or why God permits bad things to happen to good people, why God permits suffering, is simply absurd. The fact is, we do suffer, we will face injustices, we will suffer illnesses and death, and the rain falls on both the good man and the bad man. God will not shield us from suffering and injustice, but God will provide us with the strength to endure the challenges of this life. […]
Pope Benedict once said that both the supporters and opponents of the Second Vatican Council have one characteristic in common, and that is, most of them have never read the decrees or the history of Vatican II and are ignorant of the actual teachings of the council. His solution was to draft the Catholic Catechism, but unfortunately, nobody reads that either. […]
IMHO, you cannot truly understand the modern Catholic Church without reading William O’Malley’s histories of Trent and Vatican II. O’Malley argues that Vatican II restated the theology of Trent, countering the notion that Trent was a reactionary rather than a reforming council. This polemic view of Trent was influenced by the fact that the Vatican had closed the archives of the Trent Council until early in the twentieth century. […]
Was the Council of Trent a reactionary council? This is a common perception, that the Council of Trent initiated the Catholic Counter-Reformation to defend the Catholic Church from the influences of the Protestant Reformation started by Martin Luther, and that the Vatican II Council was a rejection of Trent, steering the Catholic Church in a more liberal direction. Father O’Malley’s history leads to a different conclusion, that the actual Council of Trent, as opposed to the later impressions of Trent, is really a progressive council that is a precursor to Vatican II. Indeed, the documents of Vatican II and the subsequent Catholic Catechism both cite the Council of Trent extensively.
The post Reformation polemics are to blame for this misunderstanding of the nature of the Council of Trent. In Father O’Malley’s words, “When Pope Pius IV confirmed the council’s decrees, he forbade the printing of commentaries or notes on them without explicit permission of the Holy See.” The Pope really had no choice, the Catholic Church was besieged, had the Pope not restricted access to the minutes of the Council of Trent, protestants would have taken out of context and distorted the debates to discredit the Church. But this prevented balanced scholarship on Trent for four hundred years, until Pope Leo XIII opened the Vatican Archives in 1880.
Also, when he confirmed the decrees of the Council of Trent, Pope Pius IV established the Congregation of the Council that functioned for four hundred years, until the time of Vatican II, 1966. Many of these interpretations of the Council of Trent were more reactionary than the Council itself, partly in response to the polemic pressures encountered by the Catholic Church. In Father O’Malley’s words, “the Congregation’s decision promoted the impression that the council answered all possible questions, even on subjects it in fact never addressed, and that is left little room for change or further development and local adaptation. This impression became an integral element in the myths about the council.” […]
The Church Fathers of Vatican II believed that the Catholic guarantee of Religious Liberty was crucial for regaining the respect of many believers and the modern world. History had evolved so that the Catholic Church was not on the side of truth regarding religious liberty. From ancient times the Catholic Church was supported first by the Roman emperors starting with Constantine, and then the royalty of medieval Europe, but the absolute monarchies had all disappeared, giving way to dictators and republics, some of which were constitutional monarchies. The Jacobism of the French Revolution and its grandchild communism were the enemies of the church, and the church supported fascism to combat communism. World War II totally discredited fascism, now the Catholic Church saw democracy as the bulwark opposing communism, and religious liberty was a cornerstone for democracy. […]
By abandoning diatribes, by abandoning the proclaiming of anathemas against those who disagree with Catholic doctrine, the post-Vatican II Catholic Church now explicitly believes that both Catholics and Protestants can both attain Salvation through the grace of God and His Son Jesus Christ. By opening a dialogue, the Church teaches we can learn from both Catholic and Protestant theologies, and this also infers that this encourages study, effort, and dedication. In the spirit of Vatican II, we should strive to view these as differences of emphasis rather than as differences that divide. […]
The cleric whose writings most influenced the decrees of Vatican II was Yves Congar, including his work on the Meaning of Tradition. He examined what the Church Fathers taught us about tradition throughout Church History, and as expected, since it was not hotly debated until the Reformation, there was a great many teachings on what tradition meant. […]
We should always search our heart for upright and humble motives. St Mark the Ascetic warns that “some, without keeping the commandments, think they are keeping the faith, while others, keeping the commandments, expect to receive the kingdom as a reward owed to them. Both are deprived of the kingdom.” Our reward lies in our humble obedience, our salvation is our striving to live a more godly life.
Salvation is not a transaction, salvation is not bartering, salvation is a gift by grace, unearned. St Mark the Ascetic teaches us, “when the Scriptures say, ‘God will reward each person according to his works,’ the Scriptures are not saying that works deserve hell or the kingdom, but rather that works are done out of faith or lack of faith in Him. Christ repays each person not as a businessman fulfilling his contracts but as God, our Creator and Redeemer,” out of love for us, not out of bartered obligations. […]