Now I understand there are “various degrees” of heresy in the Catholic church. And that depends on something called “matter and form”. And then of course there is Apostasy and we want no part of that. What is this “matter and form” that is mentioned? How does it apply to heresies ?
And that depends on something called “matter and form”.
Every Sacrament has a required matter and form (as well as a valid minister with valid intent).
The “matter” is the physical substance (for example, in Baptism, it is water. In Eucharist, it is wheat bread and grape wine). The “form” is the liturgical language (for example, in Baptism, it is the Trinitarian form, “I Baptize you, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” or words essentially equivalent).
What is this “matter and form” that is mentioned? How does it apply to heresies ?
It would apply if some denomination wanted to use an invalid matter for Baptism (such as milk) or an invalid form (such as “I baptize you in the name of the Lord Jesus.”)
From what I understand there are varying degrees that one can dissent from Church teaching. For example certain teachings which the Church puts forward are not authoritative or infallible. Faithful Catholics are expected to adhere to these statutes with something like “religious submission”. If someone were to disagree with the Church on one of these issues, he is not necessarily a full-blown heretic. This person would be considered in “error” but not a “heretic” (this is not to make light of being in error which is indeed a serious condition and the person has the responsibility to reconcile his beliefs with those of the Church). However, when the Church speaks authoritatively on an issue, or declares that we must hold certain truths to be Divinely Revealed the response of Catholics must be faith. If someone dissents from these revealed truths which the Church teaches authoritatively he is in heresy.