Wednesday, June 11, 2014

69. Interpretation and the Three-Legged Stool

A while back, you may recall, I was attending RCIA classes with a young lady. Many of the teachers and sponsors were around when the Second Vatican Council (VII for short) took place and/or took effect, so they talked about the changes (and in my opinion, didn't give a very accurate depiction, but I taught my candidate separately). One of the things that they harped on a lot was that before VII, they "weren't allowed to read the Bible for fear of misinterpretation." They made it sound like, "Those misogynistic old men wouldn't let us read the Scriptures! How oppressive of them" These are the same old ladies (and one "Sister" in lay clothes) that constantly referred to the Extraordinary Form ("Old Mass") as if it was some ancient, nonsensical frivolous thing, and thank God we don't have THAT any more!  .  .  . Ahem.

Moving along...

I never really had an answer or rebuttal for why they thought that they weren't allowed to read Scripture before, or why the Church would suddenly lift her arm on that.

As I was driving to Mass yesterday, I was listening to a Lighthouse Catholic Media CD titled "Set All Afire; Why the Church Still Matters," a CD that gives a sample of many other CDs on various topics. One of the excerpts was from Patrick Madrid's CD, "Why I am Catholic When I Could be Anything Else." I was struck by something that Patrick said.

(This exercise might be harder to do since you're reading rather than listening, but let's give it a go) He gave us the phrase, "I never said you stole money." 6 words. How many different ways could someone interpret (or misinterpret) that phrase?

I never said you stole money.
(Someone else said so!)
I never said you stole money.
I never said you stole money.
(I might've thought it though!)
I never said you stole money.
(I said that the shady guy stole it.)
I never said you stole money.
(You borrowed it!)
I never said you stole money.
(You stole a lamp instead!)

... See what I mean?

So how do we interpret Scripture, if we can't even be sure that we are interpreting this 6-word phrase correctly? That's what TRADITION is for! The Catholic Church complied the Bible. She knows what it's supposed to mean, and without her guidance, we can be left in the dark and be liable to misinterpret the very Word of God! We need the Church's Tradition in order to shape the way that we read Scripture and in order to not misinterpret it.

Look at the Protestants! Their heresies are founded on misinterpretation of Scripture and lack of Tradition! We do not want to fall into the same pit that they're in, and risk losing our eternal inheritance in Heaven.

It's important that we listen to Holy Mother Church with regards to the Scripture and interpretation of it. It would be terrible if a Catholic (or anyone, really), misinterpreted something so fundamental to our Faith as the Real Presence in the Eucharist, or Jesus' command to his Apostles, "whatever sins you forgive are forgiven..." And most importantly, it would be absolutely HORRIBLE if someone misinterpreted Jesus' words and thought that he was ONLY man, and was simply a wise preacher. That is what Tradition and the Magesterium are for; to guide us into the light and to help us understand the Scriptures.


(Now for a little analogy) Scripture, Tradition, and Magesterium work together like the legs of a 3-legged stool, supporting the Church.
If one leg is removed, there is no possible way (unless the sitter is extremely balanced. We know that as human beings, we are faulty and thus not very well balanced. This is part of the reason why Jesus gave us the Church.) for the stool to not topple over.

Just as we have the Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, we have the three-legged support system of the Church: Tradition, Scripture, and the Magesterium. To remove the Holy Ghost from the Trinity would be impossible (because He IS), but not only that, it would set us off balance, off kilter, and we surely would be left in the dark without His Guidance. 

The Church's Tradition and Magesterium help us to better understand Scripture.  If it wasn't for the Doctrines and Dogmas guiding our understanding of the Scriptures, we could be lost! What if we (like many other misinformed people) read the Gospel and mistook them for saying that Jesus had brothers and sisters? Thus one could assume that Mary was not perpetually a virgin! That's a huge heresy, and that's why the Church, in her Wisdom, gives us guidance and steering in the direction of the Truth, since she literally possesses It (In the Eucharist, as well as in the Word of God).

Why not........ .... TRADITION!

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