What is assent of mind and will?

We know that there are teachings that are proposed non-infallibly (although I can’t even identify any), and to those teachings we give our assent of the mind and will (religious assent, or obsequium religiousum), rather than assent of faith.

What exactly is assent of mind and will? Does that mean give the Church the benefit of the doubt? To respect a teaching? That our “default mode” is to agree rather than not? And how awful would it be to disagree with aspects of it? I mean, if it’s not infallible, therefore there might be defects in the teaching.

It means what is done is a personal choice.

Lumen Gentium 25 shows how religious submission of mind and will must be shown:

Bishops, teaching in communion with the Roman Pontiff, are to be respected by all as witnesses to divine and Catholic truth. In matters of faith and morals, the bishops speak in the name of Christ and the faithful are to accept their teaching and adhere to it with a religious assent. This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will. His mind and will in the matter may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking.

Although the individual bishops do not enjoy the prerogative of infallibility, they nevertheless proclaim Christ’s doctrine infallibly whenever, even though dispersed through the world, but still maintaining the bond of communion among themselves and with the successor of Peter, and authentically teaching matters of faith and morals, they are in agreement on one position as definitively to be held.(40*) This is even more clearly verified when, gathered together in an ecumenical council, they are teachers and judges of faith and morals for the universal Church, whose definitions must be adhered to with the submission of faith.


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Yes, to all your questions.
It is our fiat. (cf. Paul VI, Marialis Cultus, 28) “Christian obedience is unconditional submission to the will of God. But your obedience is more strict because you have made it the object of a special giving, and the range of your choices is limited by your commitment. It is a full act of your freedom that is at the origin of your present position: your duty is to make that act ever more vital, both by your own initiative and by the cordial assent you give the directives of your superiors.” (Paul VI, Evangelica testificatio, 27)
You give all for obedience, but the principle is your cooperation with God: apart from the mortal you are obedient - “Faith is, first of all, a personal adherence of man to God. At the same time, and inseparably, it is a free assent to the whole truth that God has revealed. As personal adherence to God and assent to his truth, Christian faith differs from our faith in any human person. It is right and just to entrust oneself wholly to God and to believe absolutely what he says. It would be futile and false to place such faith in a creature.” (CCC 150)

The Church requires us to give an assent, i.e., to believe all of her despite not understanding all of her. As Saint Augustine says, “I believe, in order to understand; and I understand, the better to believe.” (CCC 158)

Assent is our part with the action of grace in the Holy Spirit:
“Justification establishes cooperation between God’s grace and man’s freedom. On man’s part it is expressed by the assent of faith to the Word of God, which invites him to conversion, and in the cooperation of charity with the prompting of the Holy Spirit who precedes and preserves his assent” (CCC 1993)
It is not only personal but requires a communion of life.
“Even the best structures function only when the community is animated by convictions capable of motivating people to assent freely to the social order. Freedom requires conviction; conviction does not exist on its own, but must always be gained anew by the community.” (Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi, 24)

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