Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Degrees of “worship” in the Bible

Yesterday, there was a ‘light shredding’ of one William Albrecht (a lay, Catholic apologist) by the anonymous, anti-Catholic, Reformed polemicist, known as Turretinfan over the issue of Marian devotions (see THIS THREAD).

Since I do not engage in personal Marian devotions, I am under no inherent compulsion to defend them. However, I would like to entertain the notion that both sides of this ‘debate’ are ignoring (at least I have yet to come across examples, though I may have missed something) important Biblical data, which clearly demonstrates that degrees of proper “worship” (devotion, homage, obeisance) exists. For instance, 1 Chr. 29:20:

And David said to all the congregation, Now bless the LORD your God. And all the congregation blessed the LORD God of their fathers, and bowed down their heads, and worshipped the LORD, and the king.

The term “worshipped” (shaha) denotes prostrating (bowing down) in an act of worship/devotion.

In Rev. 3:9 we read:

Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.

The Greek term proskuneō, is used to describe the act of prostrating (bowing down, "worship") before Jesus (and God the Father) throughout the NT, but in the above text, it is utilized with reference to the saints, the adopted Sons of God.

The evidence strongly indicates that one must speak of degrees of “worship”.

Now, with that said, there is one Greek term of religious devotion reserved for God (the Father) alone: latreuō.

So in ending, which ever side one chooses to defend, one cannot ignore the issue of degrees of religious “worship” (devotion) as being Biblical.


Grace and peace,

David

27 comments:

Chris said...

David,

I'm inclined to agree. I recently read St. John of Damascus' three treatises on the divine images. He argued, in effect, that there is proskynesis (often translated "veneration") of worship and proskynesis of honor. The latter type occurs a number of times in the Bible, including Abraham venerating Melchizedek, Jacob venerating Esau, and Joshua and Daniel venerating the angel of the Lord. The example you gave is just one of many.

There are, indeed, biblical passages that suggest that even mere proskynesis to some other than the Father is forbidden. But the Bible is not univocal, and I think that there is an equally weighty case to be made for both sides.

Iohannes said...

In the marriage service of the old Book of Common Prayer the man would say: "With this ring I thee wed, with my body I thee worship, and with all my worldly goods I thee endow: In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen."

David Waltz said...

Hi Chris,

Thanks for responding; you posted:

>>I'm inclined to agree. I recently read St. John of Damascus' three treatises on the divine images. He argued, in effect, that there is proskynesis (often translated "veneration") of worship and proskynesis of honor. The latter type occurs a number of times in the Bible, including Abraham venerating Melchizedek, Jacob venerating Esau, and Joshua and Daniel venerating the angel of the Lord. The example you gave is just one of many.>>

Me: I like that distinction. I think Origin’s thoughts on the issues of prayer and worship also has some merit.

>>There are, indeed, biblical passages that suggest that even mere proskynesis to some other than the Father is forbidden. But the Bible is not univocal, and I think that there is an equally weighty case to be made for both sides.>>

Me: The rendering/act of proskuneō with reference to pagan deities is certainly forbidden—in any “degree”.

Now, given the fact that veneration to is given to men who are acting as representatives of Yahweh (and, of course, the Angel of Yahweh), what implications can be drawn when it comes to the veneration of the Messiah?


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Hi John,

Thanks for that tidbit—quite interesting…


Grace and peace,

David

Chris said...

>>what implications can be drawn when it comes to the veneration of the Messiah?

An interesting question, David. John of Damascus, Basil, and others suggested that honor given to the image passes to the archetype. Since Jesus is the image of the invisible God, we might suggest that that is as true of him as of icons or of human beings. John of Damascus also suggested that even though the saints are divinized and have become "gods", we give them only proskynesis of honor, not of worship. One might suggest then that even if the "divinity" of Jesus is affirmed, the worship given him may perhaps differ from that given God.

I've been meaning to engage you on your Arius thread about Pseudo-Dionysius, mostly because he affirmed the doctrines of creatio ex nihilo and of procession out of God's being simultaneously, as if the two doctrines were perfectly compatible. And he applied this understanding not only to the Son and Spirit, but to everything that exists. The difference between the two persons and the rest of the created beings is that the two persons are higher in the hierarchy of being. As I'm sure you know, Pseudo-Dionysius was long regarded as perfectly orthodox, and influenced much of medieval theology including Aquinas.

Anyway, the reason I bring up Pseudo-Dionysius in this context is that he seems to say that the Father operates only through the mediation of the hierarchy and that we are conveyed to him and to contemplation of him through that same hierarchy. This works fairly well with John of Damascus' doctrine that honor given to the image is conveyed to the archetype. And it implies that the Father, who tops the hierarchy, is the sole, ultimate archetype to which it is all conveyed.

Ken Temple said...

"Since I do not engage in personal Marian devotions, I am under no inherent compulsion to defend them. "

Some questions:
1. Why do you not engage in them?


2. Why do you call "Turretin Fan" an "anit-Catholic" ?

3. Do you agree with Dave Armstrong's definition of the term?

seems wrong to call people by that name, just because they disagree with RCC doctrine; and they consistently believe that if Sola Fide is the heart of the gospel, then knowingly rejecting it cannot receive salvation. (my point is in consistent thinking; not that it is less articulated in history after the first century.

4. Is not calling upon Mary and her extra-grace in the treasury of merit something that will help RCs in their attaining final salvation?

5. The context of proskunew is important. The verse in I Chronicles is understood as worshiping God; but giving honor to the king. I Peter 2:17 indicates a similar principle. But nowhere does the NT say anything about praying to dead saints or bowing down to them or praising them in a worship/prayer context. John was rebuked for proskunew to the angel - Rev. 19:10; 22:8-9

Ken Temple said...

If Marian devotion is optional, why is it so prevalent; perhaps the most prominent thing that makes Roman Catholicism Roman Catholicism on a popular level that is quickly discernable to the whole world?

If it is optional, don't you agree that it would have better to do away with it; since it has caused the whole Muslim world to mis-understand the Trinity as "Father, Son, and Mother" ? Surah 5:116

It is a major stumbling block to Muslims who need the gospel; and they can quickly dismiss Christianity by just looking at the prevalence of these devotions all over the world in RC churches.

Also, it may the big thing that caused Mohammad to think the Christians had strayed from the truth of the gospel and start his own religion and claim it was the final revelation.

Ken Temple said...

David,
What do you think of C. Michael Patton's series "In Defense of Sola Scriptura" ?

http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2008/07/in-defense-of-sola-scriptura-part-seven-what-about-the-canon/


What do you think of Dave Armstrong's recent critique of it?

Sincerely,
Ken Temple

Ken Temple said...

David,
Don't you think that anyone can question anything endlessly with the apologetic method of the RCC on the canon and Scripture and the right interpretation with

"How do you know what books belong in the canon?"

and
"how do you know you have the right interpretion?"

Even after a supposed other "infallible magisterium" of pope and line of tradition; one can still keep questioning with, "how do you they actually got everything right?"

Anonymous said...

Hi David,

No one seems to deny that there are degrees of adoration in the Bible. It seems to me that the correctness of any degree of worship hinges upon an accurate appraisal of the object of worship.

Ken Temple suggests that since Marian devotion, being optional, is a stumblingblock to Moslems that it would be better to eliminate it. I don't think so. Devotion to Mary and the saints leads to increased worship of the God who made them.

Degrees of worship implies that creatures will sometimes be the object of veneration by other creatures. Obviously, we do not condone attributing to creatures that which only belongs to God this.

The Moslem or Protestant who has the opinion that Catholic devotional practice shows that we hold that Mary is beyond creaturely status, or a member of the godhead, needs only to consult any Catholic book that has ever been written about Mary to find out that lo and behold, Blessed Mother we deny that Mary has two natures. She has one and it is human.

Maybe Protestants and Moslems look at the way Catholics are devoted to the saints and find a parallel with how they themselves worship God? Remember, we are talking about people who don't even believe they have ever been in the same room with God in the Blessed Sacrament. If they don't know the difference between latreia and lower degrees of worship, perhaps it is because they are offering God the lower degrees of worship? If we adore Mary more than they love God, I am sorry. I still worship God more than I adore Mary.

Unlike you David, I have a personal "dog in this hunt" as one devoted to our Blessed Mother. But my conscience is clear. As for the Protestants and Moslems who can't seem to tell the difference, maybe its their fault?

Filter Boy

David Waltz said...

Hi Ken,

Longtime no chat; so nice to see you back at AF. You posted:

>>Some questions:
1. Why do you not engage in them?>>

Me: So much of personal Marian devotions are linked with the Rosary, and I have never felt ‘led’ to embrace such devotions.


>>2. Why do you call "Turretin Fan" an "anit-Catholic" ?>>

Me: Probably because everything I have read by TF that touches on Catholicism is negative.

>>3. Do you agree with Dave Armstrong's definition of the term?>>

Me: I do not know what his definition is, so I do not know if I do or don’t.

>>seems wrong to call people by that name, just because they disagree with RCC doctrine; and they consistently believe that if Sola Fide is the heart of the gospel, then knowingly rejecting it cannot receive salvation. (my point is in consistent thinking; not that it is less articulated in history after the first century.>>

Me: I personally use to term to describe those who in public forums (and/or books, lectures, etc.) attack the doctrines of Catholicism. Do you think there is a better term to use; one that is more accurate?

>>4. Is not calling upon Mary and her extra-grace in the treasury of merit something that will help RCs in their attaining final salvation?>>

Me: I am no expert on this, but I think it has to do with temporal punishment, rather than the issue of salvation proper.

>>5. The context of proskunew is important. The verse in I Chronicles is understood as worshiping God; but giving honor to the king. I Peter 2:17 indicates a similar principle.>>

Me: I agree, context is always important. However, the grammar and immediate context of 1 Chr. 29:20 does not differentiate between to the two persons being addressed.

>>But nowhere does the NT say anything about praying to dead saints or bowing down to them or praising them in a worship/prayer context. John was rebuked for proskunew to the angel - Rev. 19:10; 22:8-9>>

Me: We do have the interesting “parable” wherein Abraham is invoked (“Father Abraham, have mercy on me”)…


Grace and peace,

David

P.S. I have my grandson visiting until Sunday, so the time I will have to spend on the internet is going to being significantly restricted until next week.

David Waltz said...

Hello once again Ken,

You wrote:

>>If Marian devotion is optional, why is it so prevalent; perhaps the most prominent thing that makes Roman Catholicism Roman Catholicism on a popular level that is quickly discernable to the whole world?>>

Me: Good question/s, but I am the wrong guy to ask.

>>If it is optional, don't you agree that it would have better to do away with it; since it has caused the whole Muslim world to mis-understand the Trinity as "Father, Son, and Mother" ? Surah 5:116

It is a major stumbling block to Muslims who need the gospel; and they can quickly dismiss Christianity by just looking at the prevalence of these devotions all over the world in RC churches.

Also, it may the big thing that caused Mohammad to think the Christians had strayed from the truth of the gospel and start his own religion and claim it was the final revelation.>>

Me: I think the EOs also engage in Marian devotions; but I could be wrong. As for the Qur’an and Islam, my take was pretty much delineated in the two following threads: FIRST; SECOND (you probably remember the first one).


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

>> David,
What do you think of C. Michael Patton's series "In Defense of Sola Scriptura" ?

http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2008/07/in-defense-of-sola-scriptura-part-seven-what-about-the-canon/>>

Me: I remember reading Michael’s posts (but not all the comments) when the series first came out, and mulled over whether or not I should take up my pen and comment (chose the latter).

Personally, I thought it was a pretty good series, and that he did a good job in presenting the various nuances and different understandings of the doctrine. Maybe next week we can get into the series in greater depth…


>>What do you think of Dave Armstrong's recent critique of it?>>

Me: Have not read it; do you have the link?


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Ken, Filter Boy, Chris, and all others,

I have run out of time; will try to add some more comments later.


Grace and peace,

David

Paul Hoffer said...

Hi Dave, I found this post to be very interesting and thought provoking. One aspect of worship, however that you do not touch upon is the matter of sacrifice. Do you have an opinion one way or another that the Catholic notion of the Mass as a sacrifice that is offered to God alone is a characteristic that distinguishes the worship we accord God and the devotions we may show to the BV Mary or to the saints? It is my thought that since most Protestant sects do not recognize this aspect of worship as a part of their devotional practices, it is much tougher for them to distinguish between worship and veneration.

Anonymous said...

Thanks David,
I understand your time issues; that is main reason I have not contributed recently; it just takes up too time in the comboxes.

http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2008/11/reply-to-c-michael-patton-on-sola_18.html

Here is the link to one of Dave Armstrong's critiques of Michael Patton's "In Defense of Sola Scriptura"

Patton's point about epistemology seems to me to be right. We will go insane and mentally ill when we demand that we have infallible certainty about something. He cites the movie, "What about Bob?" with Bill Murray. That was a very strong point and funny point also.

Protestants ( and no one else; God doesn't demand that from us) don't need an extra council or infallible interpretation of the infallible books in order to have moral certainty or reasonable certainty about something that God has revealed or promised.

Ken Temple

Anonymous said...

Me: I personally use to term to describe those who in public forums (and/or books, lectures, etc.) attack the doctrines of Catholicism. Do you think there is a better term to use; one that is more accurate?

Dave Armstong has an article on it and calls it a "scholarly term"; but it seems ad hominem - it is attacking the person, as a Catholic is a person; but "anti-Catholicism" or "anti-Roman Catholic doctrine", though cumbersome; would be more accurate.

The term "anti-catholic" implies hatred of the person who is catholic, and that is what all of us Reformed types are offended by; because none of us have hatred toward the people. We disagree with the doctrines, but desire to be free of hatred against people.

I am doing this "anonymous" because I have forgotten my google password.

Ken Temple

Anonymous said...

Me: Good question/s, but I am the wrong guy to ask.

Why? If you are Roman Catholic, shouldn't you think about this issue more deeply? Is it not the most characteristic thing about the RCC, along with the symbols of the Pope and the mass and crossing oneself at the altar?

Is the rosary optional?

Wasn't it regular in the mass?

why the bowing before a stature of Mary, as the pictures of John Paul II and Benedict XVI show? Doesn't that communicate idolatry?

the external things of the Marian devotional practices are the hardest aspects of the RCC for both Protestants and Muslims to accept; because they give the impressions of worship and idolatry.


>>If it is optional, don't you agree that it would have better to do away with it; since it has caused the whole Muslim world to mis-understand the Trinity as "Father, Son, and Mother" ? Surah 5:116

It is a major stumbling block to Muslims who need the gospel; and they can quickly dismiss Christianity by just looking at the prevalence of these devotions all over the world in RC churches.

Also, it may the big thing that caused Mohammad to think the Christians had strayed from the truth of the gospel and start his own religion and claim it was the final revelation.>>

Me: I think the EOs also engage in Marian devotions; but I could be wrong.

Yes, (they have icons, not statues, but lots of the same ideas and practices) but back in history at the time, the east and west church was more unified in 600-900 AD. So, please try to answer the question, more from the historical background and that Muslims look at the whole Christian world as one unified thing through the lens of Surah 5:116

Ken Temple

Ken Temple said...

http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2008/07/scholarly-use-of-term-anti-catholicism.html

One of Dave Armstrong's articles on the term "anti-Catholic"

he has links to his other articles.

Seems to be ad homimen to label the Protestant who disagrees with the RCC doctrine, but loves the person and wants them to know the truth of the gospel.

Ken Temple
Finally recovered my password!

Ken Temple said...

The Roman Catholic Catechism says,

"The Church's devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship."

also:
". . . Marian prayer, such as the rosary, an "epitome of the whole Gospel", express this devotion to the Virgin Mary".
( section 971, page 253; 1994, Catechism of the Catholic Church, Cardinal Ratzinger.)

Does not seem to be optional to me, according to the official Catechism.

Are you a "cafeteria style Catholic" ? picking and choosing what you want?

It is inherent to worship! Wow.

Anonymous said...

Ken Temple says concerning devotion to Mary:

"Does not seem optional to me, according to the official Catechism"

Filter Boy says:

I am not among the enthused with the Catechism. I find it generally reliable. I doubt it says what you seem to think. If you are right, it would be an example of error in the Catechism. Private Marian devotion has to be optional.

What about the Apostles and others who died before her Assumption? Does the Church teach that before Mary went to heaven, all Christians went to Hell? I pray the Rosary every day, but it only came along in the 12th Century. How can any Catholic insist that this popular and sumpremely valuable aid to contemplation of the Gospel not be optional.

The doctrines of Mary have never understood by the Church better than today, after 2,000 years. The main reason we know with dogmatic certainty why Marian devotion is optional today, is because it WASN'T an option to faithful Christians for many centuries.

The only option that is not open to the Catholic of every age is the option of mortal sin. If you commit mortal sin and die unrepentant you lose.

The Catholic Church tells no one that it is mortally or even venially sinful to eschew personal devotion to the Mother of God. Public devotion is altogether different. When David says he is without Marian devotion, he can correct me if I am wrong, but I suppose he is speaking about his personal and private worship. The Church's devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary is not intrinsic to the private worship of every soul in the state of grace.

All of us are obligated to assist at Mass with faith, devotion, and without deliberate distraction. Clearly, nowadays, the Church's devotion Blessed Virgin is intrinsic and present in the public liturgy of the Church, being invoked at the Confiteor of every Holy Mass, and celebrated in perhaps a dozen or so various feasts in her honor throughout the year, including two holy days of obligation. This is probably how to understand your Catechism references.

Boy, Filter

Paul Hoffer said...

Hi all!

Dave Armstrong's definition of anti-Catholic is simply this: a person who refuses to recognize Catholics as Christians. No more, no less. I tend to ascribe to the same view.

Hi Rev. Temple!

You wrote,
" The Roman Catholic Catechism says,"The Church's devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship."

Actually, you need to quote the whole sentence in order for the quote to be considered properly in context. The sentence at 971 of the Catechism states, "All generations will call me blessed": "The Church's devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship." The text is footnoted which I have found to be rather important to understanding what the Catechism is actually stating. Of course, the footnote here notes Lk. 1:48 which is where the inerrant Word of God states that all generations will in fact call the Blessed Virgin "blessed".

The footnote also references Pope Paul VI’s Apostolic Exhortation, "Marialis cultus". Contained in that text is the following explanation of what is meant by the statement contained in the Catechism. First, the Holy Father, Pope Paul VI states, "The development, desired by us, of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary is an indication of the Church's genuine piety. This devotion fits--as we have indicated above--into the only worship that is rightly called "Christian," because it takes its origin and effectiveness from Christ, finds its complete expression in Christ, and leads through Christ in the Spirit to the Father."

Section #56, the actual section referenced by the footnote, states:

"Venerable Brothers, as we come to the end of this our Apostolic Exhortation we wish to sum up and emphasize the theological value of devotion to the Blessed Virgin and to recall briefly its pastoral effectiveness for renewing the Christian way of life. The Church's devotion to the Blessed Virgin is an intrinsic element of Christian worship. The honor which the Church has always and everywhere shown to the Mother of the Lord, from the blessing with which Elizabeth greeted Mary (cf. Lk. 1:42-45) right up to the expressions of praise and petition used today, is a very strong witness to the Church's norm of prayer and an invitation to become more deeply conscious of her norm of faith. And the converse is likewise true. The Church's norm of faith requires that her norm of prayer should everywhere blossom forth with regard to the Mother of Christ. Such devotion to the Blessed Virgin is firmly rooted in the revealed word and has solid dogmatic foundations. It is based on the singular dignity of Mary, "Mother of the Son of God, and therefore beloved daughter of the Father and Temple of the Holy Spirit--Mary, who, because of this extraordinary grace, is far greater than any other creature on earth or in heaven." This devotion takes into account the part she played at decisive moments in the history of the salvation which her Son accomplished, and her holiness, already full at her Immaculate Conception yet increasing all the time as she obeyed the will of the Father and accepted the path of suffering (cf. Lk. 2:34-35, 41-52; Jn. 19:25-27), growing constantly in faith, hope and charity. Devotion to Mary recalls too her mission and the special position she holds within the People of God, of which she is the preeminent member, a shining example and the loving Mother; it recalls her unceasing and efficacious intercession which, although she is assumed into heaven, draws her close to those who ask her help, including those who do not realize that they are her children. It recalls Mary's glory which ennobles the whole of mankind, as the outstanding phrase of Dante recalls: "You have so ennobled human nature that its very Creator did not disdain to share in it." Mary, in fact, is one of our race, a true daughter of Eve--though free of that mother's sin--and truly our sister, who as a poor and humble woman fully shared our lot. We would add further that devotion to the Blessed Virgin finds its ultimate justification in the unfathomable and free will of God who, being eternal and divine charity (cf. 1 Jn. 4:7-8, 16), accomplishes all things according to a loving design. He loved her and did great things for her (cf. Lk. 1:49). He loved her for His own sake, and He loved her for our sake, too; He gave her to Himself and He gave her also to us."

Take it from a lawyer~read the footnotes!!!

The rest of your comment suffers from the similar problems. Starting at the sentence immediately preceding the part you ellipsed makes it clear that Marian devotion is not the same as the worship accorded God. It states:

“This very special devotion differs ESSENTIALLY from the adoration which is given to the incarnate Word and equally to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and greatly fosters this adoration. The liturgical feasts dedicated to the Mother of God AND Marian prayer, such as the rosary, an "epitome of the whole Gospel", express this devotion to the Virgin Mary". [EMPHASIS ADDED].

You may want to read the footnoted texts which show WHY Marian prayers and the rosary are a kind of “epitome of the whole Gospel”.

Marialis cultis #42: "We wish now, venerable Brothers, to dwell for a moment on the renewal of the pious practice which has been called "the compendium of the entire Gospel": the Rosary. To this our predecessors have devoted close attention and care. On many occasions they have recommended its frequent recitation, encouraged its diffusion, explained its nature, recognized its suitability for fostering contemplative prayer--prayer of both praise and petition--and recalled its intrinsic effectiveness for promoting Christian life and apostolic commitment. We, too, from the first general audience of our pontificate on July 13, 1963, have shown our great esteem for the pious practice of the Rosary. Since that time we have underlined its value on many different occasions, some ordinary, some grave. Thus, at a moment of anguish and uncertainty, we published the Letter Christi Matri (September 15, 1966), in order to obtain prayers to Our Lady of the Rosary and to implore from God the supreme benefit of peace. We renewed this appeal in our Apostolic Exhortation “Recurrens mensis” October (October 7, 1969), in which we also commemorated the fourth centenary of the Apostolic Letter “Consueverunt Romani pontifices” of our predecessor Saint Pius V, who in that document explained and in a certain sense established the traditional form of the Rosary."

Sacrosanctum Concilium #103: "In celebrating this annual cycle of Christ's Mysteries, Holy Church honors with especial love the Blessed Mary, Mother of God, who is joined by an inseparable bond to the saving work of her Son. In her the Church holds up and admires the most excellent fruit of the redemption, and joyfully contemplates, as in a faultless image, that which she herself desires and hopes wholly to be."

Ken, of course, you are free to disagree with what the Catholic Church says about the Blessed Mary Virgin, but you will never find anything in the Catechism, or in any magisterial writing for that matter, that states that a member of the faithful is mandated to perform a specific customary Marian devotion. I personally might wonder why one would not wish to take advantage of the opportunities to receive the grace or fruit God bestows on the person who practice Marian devotions, but I would never argue that such devotional practices are mandatory.

You may wish to note, however, that given the multitudes of devotional practices recognized or encouraged by the Church, it would be impossible for someone to engage in every single devotion. There are some, like myself, who prefer to do Holy Hours of Eucharistic adoration and Sacred Heart Devotions. There are others who like to say the Rosary or Divine Mercy Chaplets. (Were you aware that there a number of different kinds of Rosaries? I own two different kinds myself) There are some who say the Liturgy of Hours. There are those who practice asceticism and fasting. There are some who get involved in prayer circles or cenacles. It is sort of like a Baskins-Robbins-different flavors for different tastes. Hopefully, this helps give you a better picture about Marian practices.

God Bless!

P.S. Sorry Dave for taking up so much space.

David Waltz said...

Hello Ken, Filter Boy, and Paul,

My grandson is asleep, and against better judgment (because it is late, and I know I will have yet another very busy day tomorrow), I am staying up later than I probably should tonight to check in on my blog. As you all know, there has been a considerable amount of activity in my absence, and I want to apologize up front for not being able to spend as much time as I would like in responding to so many articulate, and cogent posts; but in my defense, I get my grandson for an entire week but for a couple a times a year…

Now, with all that said, I would like to briefly comment on private Marian devotions; certain aspects of our Lord’s Blessed Mother are certainly a part of would I would term “irreformable dogma” for all Catholics, and include: Mary as the Theotokos, the Immaculate Conception, and the Bodily Assumption. However, the Rosary is not part of the infallible decrees of the RCC.

Paul and Filter Boy have already contributed some very cogent comments on this issue, to which I would like to add the following quotation from Paul VI’s apostolic exhortation, Marialis Cultus (previously, and rightfully so, copiously quoted by Paul in his last response):

“55. In concluding these observations, which give proof of the concern and esteem which the Apostolic See has for the Rosary of the Blessed Virgin, we desire at the same time to recommend that this very worthy devotion should not be propagated in a way that is too one-sided or exclusive. The Rosary is an excellent prayer, but the faithful should feel serenely free in its regard. They should be drawn to its calm recitation by its intrinsic appeal.” (Bold emphasis mine.)

Two points: first, Paul VI’s apostolic exhortation is not an ex cathedra promulgation; and second, even if it was, “the faithful should feel serenely free in its regard”.

Wish I had more time right now to devote to so many interesting, and cogent posts in this thread…please bear with me, will try to respond as much as I can until this coming Monday when I will be back to my ‘normal’ beachum schedule.

God bless,

David

Ken Temple said...

Thanks Paul and Filter Boy and Dave for clearing that up.

Paul - you did a good job of a thorough answer.

Cutting the sentences is just the nature of the combox space and nature of these kinds of discussions. You certainly supplied the full answer. Thanks.

I disagree with all of all that Marian devotion of course, as it is unbiblical. But you showed that it is optional.

So, only
Theotokos
Immaculate Conception
Bodily Assumption

are mandatory and binding dogmas about Mary, right?

What about Perpetual Virginity? Is is dogma and mandatory?

The rosary and all those other things you named are optional, so is bowing and praying before statues and pictures of Mary?

Paul Hoffer said...

Hi Ken,

You asked,

"So, only Theotokos, Immaculate Conception, Bodily Assumption,
are mandatory and binding dogmas about Mary, right? What about Perpetual Virginity? Is is dogma and mandatory?

Answer: Theotokos, IC, Bodily Assumption and Perpetual Virginity are all dogma and are binding on Catholics.

"The rosary and all those other things you named are optional, so is bowing and praying before statues and pictures of Mary?"

Answer: Yes.

God bless!

David Waltz said...

Well, my grandson’s extended visit is finally over. However, along with many fond memories, he left me with a very nasty cold (flu?). Though I am back to ‘beachbum’ status, the sinus headache I now have is quite troublesome…so, if my thoughts today seem a bit disjointed (more than usual – grin) I have an excuse of sorts.

Paul posted the following last week:

>>Hi Dave, I found this post to be very interesting and thought provoking. One aspect of worship, however that you do not touch upon is the matter of sacrifice. Do you have an opinion one way or another that the Catholic notion of the Mass as a sacrifice that is offered to God alone is a characteristic that distinguishes the worship we accord God and the devotions we may show to the BV Mary or to the saints? It is my thought that since most Protestant sects do not recognize this aspect of worship as a part of their devotional practices, it is much tougher for them to distinguish between worship and veneration.>>

Me: Have not thought this over, prior to your question. My initial reflections on this matter are certainly conditioned by the thoughts of the early Church Fathers concerning the nature of “sacrifice” (Greek: thusia). Like so many dogmas (Trinity, Christology, Soteriology, et al.) the precise nature of the Eucharist developed over an extended period (centuries). In the early Church, the Eucharist as a sacrifice of the literal body and blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ, (realist interpretation) does not appear in concrete form until Origin, and yet, like the CFs before him, he too speaks of Christian prayers as a “sacrifice” unto God. To complicate matters even further, Origin’s view of the Eucharist did not directly influence any of the subsequent CFs; the vast majority retained the view that it was Christian prayers (and service) which were a “sacrifice” unto God. One must look to Cyprian as the true developer of the doctrine. R.P.C. Hanson wrote:

“When we turn to consider the eucharistic offering in Cyprian we find that he has made just that mover which we have found virtually all our authors hitherto stopping short of. He unequivocally regards the eucharist as an offering of Christ by the celebrant. (“Eucharistic Offering”, Studies in Christian Antiquity, p. 102.)

So, with that background, though one can certainly now point to “the Catholic notion of the Mass as a sacrifice that is offered to God alone”, such was not the case in the early Church.

I have probably gone down a path that you were not thinking of, so please feel free to change directions…


Grace and peace,

David

Paul Hoffer said...

Thanks David for giving me something to check out.