Fr. Powell had an interesting post last week called On the Habits and Spirit of Dissent. He mentions:
Habitually, dissent looks like…
…anger: a consuming frustration, disappointment, rage toward the Truth
… hatred: a self-defining loathing for the apostolic faith
… willful ignorance: a refusal to learn, a refusal to be disciplined (to be a student)
… pride: an utter failure to be humble in the face 2,000 years of teaching
… arrogance: an expression of pride that manifests as dismissiveness of authority
… entitlement: an obsessive assertion of prerogative/privilege over service
… idolatry: the raising up of Novelty and Trendiness as final ends
… rebelliousness: revolting against legitimate authority in favor of private choice
4. Failure of humility, triumph of pride. The Habit and Spirit of Dissent is fundamentally about the failure to understand and accept the necessity of authority in defining and teaching the faith. Pride tells us that we are basically independent creatures, freed from any and all obligation, beholding to none (including and especially God!). Humility in teaching the faith means that we begin my assuming the authenticity of the witness we’ve received. In other words, we start this whole project by trusting the Holy Spirit to do what He said He would do: to guide His church, to keep Her free from error though the apostolic tradition. The Habit and Spirit of Dissent begins by assuming that the apostolic tradition as received is deeply flawed, in desperate need of repair, and that he/she is the One to accomplish this healing through radical reformation and revolution. The model for this reformation/revolution is almost always secular in origin: ecclesial democracy, spiritualized psychotherapy, fetishization of various secular or non-Christian philosophies (Marxism, feminism, Eastern thought), ad. nau. Typical prideful statement about an authoritative text: “Most Catholic theologians disagree with Dogma X. The latest research indicates that Dogma X is an outdated assertion of ___________ [insert Current Dissenter Object of Derision, e.g. papal authority, institutional identity, gender domination, etc.].”
Teaching the faith means teaching with the mind of the Church. On this subject, the constitutions of the Order of Preachers reads: “In all things the brethren should think with the Church and exhibit allegiance to the varied exercise of the Magisterium to which is entrusted the authentic interpretation of the word of God. Furthermore, faithful to the Order’s mission, they should always be prepared to provide with special dedication cooperative service to the Magisterium in fulfilling their doctrinal obligations” (LCO III.1.80).
One of my favorite stories is of Dietrich von Hildebrand when he was seeking instruction to come into the faith. This was before RCIA and he was receiving private instruction from a priest. He wanted to go ahead and enter the Church but he did not understand the Church’s teaching on contraception and just couldn’t accept the arguments against it. The priest told him he would not bring him into the Church unless he fully accepted all that the Church teaches. He immediately replied that he believed the Church was true and thus would accept the teaching on contraception. Of course later on he became a great champion of the defense of this teaching. He both realized that the Church was true and had the humility to accept its teaching.
Humility is not looking in the face of two millennia of consistent Church teaching and then saying excuse me, I have something to teach you. Now no one comes into the Church understanding all of what the Church teaches, unless they have been given infused knowledge. The question though is whether you feel yourself in the role of student or teacher when it comes to the Church. It seems to me that the reason to become Catholic is not because you agree with doctrines A, B, C thru Z; but that you believe that what the Church teaches is true and has the authority to teach that these doctrines as true. As St. Augustine said, "I would not believe the Gospels if it were not for the Church." Too many have this inverted or they try to project societal understanding especially in regards to sexual morality as the gospel that the Church must accept.
This is the part of dissenting ecclesiology that I just can’t understand since it in effect says that the Church guided by the Holy Spirit has been teaching error in significant ways since the beginning. If we can’t accept the teachings on for example contraception and homosexuality, how can we accept what books even belong in the Bible without doubt. Flannery O’Connor famously said ‘If It’s a Symbol, the Hell with It’ The same goes for the Church. If the Church can teach error when it comes to faith and morals then it isn’t guided by the Holy Spirit. If you truly believe that this is the case you should look for one that is or start your own.
Thinking with the mind of the Church is not something easily conducive in our culture where individualism reigns supreme. Too often we want to be a ventriloquist and throw our voices to make it seem that it is the Church speaking when it is only ourselves. St. Peter when it came to understanding the Eucharist replied to Jesus when asked if he would leave also "Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life." If we start from the proposition that what Jesus teaches through his Church is true we can then stand with St. Peter in his confusion and humbly struggle to the best of our abilities to understand what is taught.