Tuesday 27th October 2020

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September 18, 2020 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Q. We recently celebrated the feast of the Queenship of Mary, but a Protestant friend says that there is nothing in the Bible to justify calling Mary a queen. How do I answer this person? — T.L.H., via e-mail.
A. As we have mentioned before, a belief does not have to be explicitly mentioned in the Bible to be true. Mary’s Queenship in Heaven makes sense if we look at the role of the queen mother in the Old Testament. Virtually every time a new king is introduced in First and Second Kings, his mother is mentioned (e.g., 1 Kings 14:21, 15:2, 22:42). Many kings in those days had multiple wives, making it difficult to choose one to be queen, so the king’s mother was given the title and role.
Consider, for example, the role of Bathsheba, the wife of David and the mother of Solomon. When David was king and Bathsheba entered his presence, she bowed to the floor in homage to him and said, “May my lord, King David, live forever” (1 Kings 1:31). But after David died and Solomon became king, Bathsheba went directly to him to ask a favor and, when she entered the room, Solomon “stood up to meet her and paid her homage. Then he sat down upon his throne, and a throne was provided for the king’s mother, who sat at his right” (1 Kings 2:19).
Bathsheba no longer pays homage to the king; he pays homage to her, and he seats her on his right, the position of authority. When she told Solomon that she had a small favor to ask of him, the king said, “Ask it, my mother…for I will not refuse you” (1 Kings 2:20). This reminds us of Jesus, who could not refuse the request of His Mother to provide more wine at the wedding in Cana, even though His hour had not yet come.
He continues to defer to the wishes of His Mother and Queen in Heaven. Thus, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says (n. 966) that when Mary’s earthly life was finished, she was “‘taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death’” [LG, n. 59; cf. Pius XII, Munificentissimus Deus (1950); DS 3903; cf. Rev. 19:16].
Summarizing Catholic belief, Dr. Ludwig Ott said in his book Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma that “Mary’s right to reign as Queen of Heaven is a consequence of her Divine Motherhood. Since Christ, because of the hypostatic union, is as man the Lord and King above all creation (cf. Luke 1:32f.; Apoc. 19:16), so Mary as ‘the Mother of the Lord’ (Luke 1:43) shares in the royal dignity of her Son, even if only in an analogical way.”
“Furthermore,” Ott said, “Mary’s royal merit is based on her intrinsic connection with Christ in His work of Redemption. Just as Christ is also our Lord and King because He has redeemed us with His Precious Blood (1 Cor. 6:20; 1 Peter 1:18f.), so, in an analogical way, Mary is our Lady and Queen because she, the new Eve, has shared intimately in the redemptive work of Christ, the new Adam, by suffering with Him and offering Him up to the Eternal Father. Mary’s sublime dignity as the Queen of Heaven and Earth makes her supremely powerful in her maternal intercession for her children on earth” (p. 211).

Q. What can you tell me about the heresy of modernism? I have read that although it was condemned by Pope St. Pius X over a century ago, it is still a problem today. — K.T., Iowa.
A. Modernism, which St. Pius X called the “synthesis of all heresies,” refers to some theories about the origins and teachings of the Catholic Church that were prominent around the beginning of the twentieth century. Among other things, modernists held then, and still hold today, that the existence of a personal God could not be demonstrated, that the Bible was not inspired by God, that Christ was not divine, and that He did not establish a Church or the sacraments. What makes modernism so difficult to combat is that it uses Catholic terms, but empties them of their traditional meanings.
In his 1907 encyclical letter On the Doctrine of the Modernists (Pascendi Dominici Gregis), the Holy Father said that it would not be wrong “in regarding them as the most pernicious of all the adversaries of the Church. For, as We have said, they put into operation their designs for her undoing, not from without but from within. Hence, the danger is present almost in the very veins and heart of the Church, whose injury is the more certain from the very fact that their knowledge of her is more intimate. Moreover, they lay the ax not to the branches and shoots, but to the very root, that is, to the faith and its deepest fibers. And once having struck at this root of immortality, they proceed to diffuse poison through the whole tree, so that there is no part of Catholic truth which they leave untouched, none that they do not strive to corrupt.”
He said that finding a cure for modernists is virtually hopeless because “their very doctrines have given such a bent to their minds that they disdain all authority and brook no restraint, and relying upon a false conscience they attempt to ascribe to a love of truth that which is in reality the result of pride and obstinacy” (n. 3).
The Pope had preceded his encyclical with the document Lamentabili Sane, which listed 65 errors of the Modernists, many of which you will recognize today.
Among the condemned propositions were the assertion that “divine inspiration does not extend to all of Sacred Scriptures” (n. 11); that the authors of the four Gospels “recorded not so much things that are true, as things which, even though false, they judged to be more profitable for their readers” (n. 13); “the divinity of Jesus Christ is not proved from the Gospels” (n. 27); “it is permissible to grant that the Christ of history is far inferior to the Christ who is the object of faith” (n. 29); “the resurrection of the Savior is not properly a fact of the historical order” (n. 36); “not everything which Paul narrates concerning the institution of the Eucharist (1 Cor. 11:23-25) is to be taken historically” (n. 45); “it was far from the mind of Christ to found a Church as a society which would continue on earth for a long course of centuries” (n. 52); and “Simon Peter never even suspected that Christ entrusted the primacy of the Church to him” (n. 55).
Anyone who thinks that those errors disappeared a century ago should read the Credo of the People of God, the profession of faith promulgated by Pope St. Paul VI in 1968. This restatement of Catholic beliefs was necessary, said the Holy Father, because of “the disquiet which agitates certain modern quarters with regard to the faith. They do not escape the influence of a world being profoundly changed, in which so many certainties are being disputed or discussed. We see even Catholics allowing themselves to be seized by a kind of passion for change and novelty.”
It was to combat this passion for change and novelty that prompted the issuance of the Catechism of the Catholic Church in 1992. In promulgating the official Latin edition in 1997, Pope St. John Paul II said that “the Church now has at her disposal the new, authoritative exposition of the one and perennial apostolic faith.” He said that Catholics “will find in this genuine, systematic presentation of the faith and of Catholic doctrine a totally reliable way to present, with renewed fervor, each and every part of the Christian message to the people of our time.”
Around that same time, the USCCB formed an Ad Hoc Committee to Oversee the Use of the Catechism. All publishers of religion texts were to submit their books to the committee to make sure that they conformed to the Catechism. We were at a meeting of the committee where its chairman, Archbishop Daniel Buechlein of Indianapolis, told the publishers, “Don’t send us any books with deficiencies in them. You will not get our approval if you do.”
He later listed ten deficiencies that were common in religion books at that time, some of which resembled the errors of the modernists. For example, Archbishop Buechlein cited:
Overemphasizing the humanity of Jesus and underemphasizing His divinity.
Presenting all religions as equally good and true.
Distorting or omitting entirely the Church’s teaching on original sin.
Downplaying sin in general and mortal sin in particular, which led to downplaying the need for Confession and postponing First Penance until fourth grade or later.
Raising individual conscience to infallible status while watering down the authority and infallibility of the Church.
Many texts are more reliable today, but modernist tendencies have not disappeared entirely.

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