Sunday, October 2, 2011

Trust's Role in the Obedience Equation

I took some time this Sunday to listen to a YouTube video posted on 30 September of Fr. Rostand, USA District Superior, as he talked in Kansas City about the current situation between the SSPX and Rome. His tone is familiar and not without humor. He states clearly that he has not yet seen the document which the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith presented to Bishop Fellay on 14 September. He characterizes the decision which will be facing Bishop Fellay after his society internal consultation on the document in Albano, Italy on 7 October as basically a prudential judgment on how best to serve the Church and the cause of the restoration of the tradition. The prudential part of it all really has to do with whether things have changed over the years, whether "Rome" can be trusted today, presuming that the doctrinal part is Catholic in the fullest sense of the term. Fr. Rostand invites his listeners to pray for the best decision for the Society and the Church on the part of Bishop Fellay.

Let me say that I found Fr. Rostand "upbeat" yet in no way unrealistically optimistic about the future. We haven't really asked more of anyone historically in the course of the life of the Church than we are asking today of the SSPX and, by contrast, in the past too often we have accommodated from others near folly. There has been an awful lot of intolerance shown toward people seeking the narrow way in obedience of faith over these last 4 decades in particular. On other matters also of importance of a more distant past, we need only look to the example of St. Joan of Arc and of Savonarola to know how things can go.

I don't want to enter into the material which divides or strains our relationship but only wish to say that trust is not necessarily part of the obedience equation. I disagree wholeheartedly with the very reasonable (humanly speaking) criterion that my decision in favor of communion in the fullest sense must be based on reasonable guarantees which restore my trust in the other. I'm excluding the notion that the stronger imposes the terms for peace on the weaker, while at the same time saying that in our Church economy truth may demand sacrifice of me for the sake of truth's ultimate victory. As romantic as it sounds, for Church the romantic choice to serve the common good or cause "outside of the structure" makes no sense. How do I save a marriage by refusing "bed and board"?

I remember years ago in Germany hearing the many object to a supposed or real Jesuit notion of unquestioning obedience. That is not the point. Because of the notion of office in the Church and obedience, and believing in the doctrine of indefectability, the question is whether I am big enough and at the same time small enough to embrace the consequences for me of the other's recognized authority come what may. St. Joan of Arc, pray for us! SANCTA MARIA, STELLA ORIENTIS, FILIIS TUIS ADIUVA!

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