Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Capax Dei

The first discussion between priest-philosopher Józef Tischner and journalist Jacek Żakowski concerns the core difference between the current (post-Vatican council) catechism, and the old Tridentine one. Out goes the doctrine of the Catholic Church as intermediary between God and Man. Rightly - a revolution, says Fr. Tischner. Catching up with the Protestants after 400 years, ripostes Żakowski. And a good thing too, replies Fr. Tischner - chapter 1 of the new catechism opens with the statement Capax Dei - Man is capable of God. To be capable - to be open - to be seeking - the Eternal, the Absolute, the True. Man is indeed capable. Man's consciousness does yearn for the numinous, the metaphysical and the transcendental. It is in our nature. [But are all men equally capable?]

We seek answers - not just to what will happen to us after we die - no; the questions we've been asking from childhood about life, reality, the universe, what it is to be human, a search for meaning and direction, a search - conscious or not conscious - for God.

How then should we search? The old Tridentine catechism would rather suggest that we don't search - that we merely accept the answers from God's church on earth, God's vicar and intermediary. Everything that we are expected to believe we is handed down in minute detail (the Blessed Virgin Mary's Assumption into Heaven for instance). Only this way can theological teachings, and through them social order, be preserved, reasoned medieval kings, who found Christianity a useful system for backing up their 'divine right' to rule.

But, says Fr. Tischner, things have changed. The current catechism is human-centric, rather than church-centric. So is he saying we can all find our own ways to God? (those of us of course who genuinely seek?)

Wouldn't things start to fall apart? A billion individual approaches, each one slightly different, tuned to individual needs and tastes; the church loses its authority, doctrinal dilution takes place.

Hasn't this process started already? No doubt these questions will arise in later chapters.

Lent going well so far, no craving for alcohol, coffee or meat. Let alone for confectionery, cakes, fizzy drinks, salt snacks or other bad things.

This time last year:
Who are the thickies of Europe?

This time two years ago:
Oldschool Photochallenge: Response No. 2

This time three years ago:
Oligocene water from Jeziorki

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