Wednesday, June 22, 2016

For the record, Sandro Magister: Alice in Wonder Land

Another missive came a few days ago from our mysterious correspondent, Guy Noir - Private Eye, apparently sent before his vacation in Martha's Vineyard. He writes: 
  • File A[moris] L[aetitia] under "Serendipity," "Marriage Encounters," "Values Clarification" 
  • File what follows under "The Faith Once & For All Delivered to The Saints"
Sandro Magister, "Alice in 'Amoris Laetitia' Land" (www.chiesa, June 7, 2016):
Graven upon tablets of stone by the finger of the living God (Ex 31:18, 32:1 5), the ten "words" proclaimed to mankind for all ages: "You shall not commit adultery" (Ex 20:14), and: "You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife" (Ex 20:17).

Our Lord himself declared: "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her (Mk 10:11).

And the apostle Paul repeated the language: "She will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive" ( Rom 7:3 ).

Like a deafening absence, the term "adultery" is entirely absent from the lexicon of "Amoris Laetitia". Instead we have something called "'irregular' unions", or "irregular situations”, with the "irregular" in double quotation marks as if to distance the author even from this usage.

"If you love me", says our Lord, keep my commandments (Jn 14:15), and the Gospel and Letters of John repeats this admonition of our Lord in various ways. It means, not that our conduct is justified by our subjective feelings, but rather, our subjective disposition is verified in our conduct, i.e., in the obediential act. Alas, as we look into AL, we find that "commandments" too are entirely absent from its lexicon, as is also obedience. Instead we have something called "ideals", appearing repeatedly throughout the document.

Other key words I miss too from the language of this document: the fear of the Lord. You know, that awe of the sovereign reality of God that is the beginning of wisdom, one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in confirmation. But indeed this holy fear has long vanished from a vast sweep of modern catholic discourse. It is a semitic idiom for "eulabeia" and "eusebia" in Greek, or in Latin, "pietas" and "religio", the core of a Godward disposition, the very spirit of religion.

Another register of language is also missing in "Amoris Laetitia" is that of eternal salvation. There are no immortal souls in need of eternal salvation to be found in this document! True, we do have "eternal life" and "eternity" nominated in nn. 166 and 168 as the seemingly inevitable "fulfillment" of a child’s destiny, but with no hint that any of the imperatives of grace and struggle, in short, of eternal salvation, are involved in getting t here.

It is as if one’s faith-filled intellectual culture is formed to certain echoes of words that one listens for, and their absence is dinning in my ears.


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