Friday, September 28, 2007

Angels And Catholic Dogma

I’m planning on attending part of the angels event at our Parish this weekend. So last night, while waiting for Mrs. Serviam! to come home from her latest “any-reason-for-the-ladies-to-get-together-and-party” event, I pulled out Ludwig Ott’s book Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma and took a look at what the Church has dogmatically defined in the area of the angelic.

Just a side note, this book is published by TAN so that means it’s expensive, cheaply bound, has a horrible font, but has great content. And since TAN is the only publisher, you have to take what you can get.

Having the Church’s teaching on a subject clear before reading or listening to anything on the topic is always a good idea. Information gained through other sources such as private revelation and theological speculation may add to a person’s understanding, appreciation, or devotion in an area, but it needs to be understood in its relation (subordinate) to defined truth.

So while private revelation and theological speculation are not in themselves bad things or necessarily untrue, understanding where they begin and the Church’s authoritative teaching ends is important. Blurring this line seems to be pretty common today, and leads to nothing but trouble.

So here is what Ott has listed under Angels:

  • In the beginning of time God created spiritual essences (angels) out of nothing. (De fide.)

  • The nature of angels is spiritual. (De fide.)

  • The angels are by nature immortal. (Sent. communis.)

  • God set a supernatural final end for the angels, the immediate vision of God, and endowed them with sanctifying grace in order that they might achieve this end. (Sent. Certa.)

  • The angels were subjected to a moral testing. (Sent. certa. as regards the fallen angels, Sent. communis as regards the good.)

  • The evil spirits (demons) were created good by God; they became evil through their own fault.

  • The primary task of the good angels is the glorification and the service of God. (Sent. certa.)

  • The secondary task of the good angels is the protection of men and care for their salvation. (De fide on the ground of general teaching.)

  • Every one of the faithful has his own special guardian angel from baptism. (Sent. certa.)

  • The Devil possesses a certain dominion over mankind by reason of Adam's sin. (De fide.)


Terms as defined by Ott:

De Fide.
(“Of the Faith”) = accepted and taught as essential doctrine.

Sent. certa. (“Theologically Certain”) = A Teaching pertaining to the Faith . . . a doctrine, on which the Teaching Authority of the Church has not yet finally pronounced, but whose truth is guaranteed by its intrinsic connection with the doctrine of revelation (theological conclusions).

Sent. communis. ("Common Teaching") = doctrine, which in itself belongs to the field of the free opinions, but which is accepted by theologians generally.

Hope to see some of you this weekend!

1 comment:

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