The DW and I are participating in a scripture study called “Parables of the Kingdom”. (Little Rock Scripture Study).
Is it Catholic?
In the Old Testament, God is very specific with regard to many things…methods of worship, rituals, clean and unclean, foods, etc…
But it has to be taken in the context and culture from where it came from. Tribal theology of the ancient Hebrews is different than the theology of St. Paul and St. Thomas Aquinas.
In the New Testament, Jesus changes all of that. He is much simpler, but in reality much more demanding. Demanding in the sense that he doesn’t “cover us up” with rules and rituals, but instead lays out some basic principles for us to follow.
Jesus taught in the context of agape love, not in the context of reward and punishment, as the Old Testament writers did.
Jesus, on the other hand gives us but two.
The two commandment Jesus gave us, Love of God and Neighbor, are the sum of the 10 Commandments.
First reaction of human nature is to think that two is easier than ten. Ah, grasshopper, but the two are much more difficult. Jesus appears to be more nebulous, but in reality the two commandments are much more difficult to adhere to.
They’re the same, but love is the basis of all the commandments and Jesus presented his teachings in the context of love.
“God can not be grasped, except through love.” From the Cloud of Unkowning.
As I pondered this, it occured to me that the Church, pre and post Vatican II have a bit of a parallel to this…now, I am NOT saying that the pre-V2 Church is “Old Testament”, not at all.
But what I do see, is a loosening of rote-memory ritual, but in reality, a greater call in our lives…a call to a more personal spirituality instead of rote-memory ritual.
It has more to do with changes in culture. In the pre-Vatican II days, society as a whole, accepted things in black and white. There was little questioning of anything put forth from the government or the religion. There was more of a conformist mentality. However, the Vietnam war showed that conforming to the will of the government, just for conformity sake, was dangerous. This level of skeptical questioning, transcended to all parts of society, including science.
The same happened in in religion. For the many Catholics, they were Catholics, but hardly Christian. The same was true for protestants, I’m not just point out Catholicism here. Not belonging to a Christian religion in the 30’s 40’s and 50’s, was socially damaging. I remember the negative stigma, that people had to suffer with, when they got divorced, and for many Catholics, were no longer able to receive the Sacraments, so no longer went to Church. Everyone in the neighborhood knew them. My friend’s parents were divorced, and some of the kids in the neighborhood, were not allowed to play with him. Can you imagine?
Today, we’re more tolerant of people who don’t follow religion or those who follow other religions other than Christianity. However, I’m seeing less tolerance lately, and its a growing concern.
Also today, more of us go to Church on a regular basis, because we have faith and want to, rather than merely fulfill an obligation.
We also have more access to being educated about the Church, than in pre-Vatican II.
I remember my mother forgetting it was Friday, and she accidentally prepared a meat dish, for supper. She called the parish priest and asked if she could serve it. All she go was, “NO.” No explanation, no logic, just “NO.” So, she complied. We had it for left overs the next night. Instead, my father sent out for my favorite, fried clams.
This sort of thing made no sense to a great many Catholics and they in fact left the Church, because of it.
So, the bottom line is, look at the culture and you’ll see the Church adapt accordingly.