Thursday, January 26, 2023

The Sources of Modernism --Fr. Ripperger


Father Chad Ripperger, F.S.S.P.

In 1996, a group of friends had lunch in Rome at the Czechoslovakian college. One of the priests who offers Mass according to the New Rite was a bit dumbfounded. He had written an article in which he had discussed certain aspects of the liturgical reform. His puzzlement came from the fact that the traditionalists had attacked his article and he could not understand why. A seminarian, who was a traditionalist, said to the priest, "we agree that something has to be done about the liturgy, but we do not agree on what should be done." Traditionalists(1) and neo-conservatives(2) often find each other mystifying and the reason for this has to do with the relationship each position holds with respect to ecclesiastical tradition.

In classical theological manuals, textbooks and catechisms, the word "tradition" was given a twofold meaning:

  • The first signification of the term "tradition" was taken from its Latin root word which is tradere, which means "to pass on"(3). In this sense, the word tradition refers to all of those things which are, in any way, passed on from one generation to the next. This would include all of the divine truths which the Church passes on to the subsequent generations in any way(4), including the Scriptures(5).

  • The second sense or more restrictive sense of tradition refers to a twofold division within that which is passed on and not written down,(6) viz. divine tradition(7) and ecclesiastical tradition(8).

    Divine tradition is that tradition which constitutes one of the sources of revelation, i.e. a source of our knowledge about those things which were revealed to man by God. This means that divine tradition is intrinsic to the Deposit of Faith, which constitutes all of the divinely revealed truths necessary for salvation and passed on by the Church in an uninterrupted tradition. Since it is intrinsic to the Deposit of Faith, this form of tradition is sometimes called intrinsic tradition, a prime example of which is the magisterium of the Church and the sacraments since they were established by Jesus Christ and passed on and will be passed on until the end of time(9).

Ecclesiastical tradition is all of those things which are not intrinsic to the Deposit of Faith, but which form the heritage and patrimony of the work of previous generations graciously passed on by the Church to subsequent generations for their benefit. Because it is extrinsic to the Deposit of Faith, ecclesiastical tradition is also called extrinsic tradition, examples of which include the Church's disciplinary code as set out in canon law and non-infallible teachings of the ordinary magisterium. This would include those things contained in Apostolic exhortations and encyclicals in which infallibility is not enjoyed, e.g. Pope Leo XIII in Immortale Dei asserts that the Church is a perfect society.

Because God Himself entrusted the Deposit of Faith to the Catholic Church, the Catholic Church is inherently traditional. Since all men by nature desire to know(10),the Church cannot help but develop an ecclesiastical tradition. Once man was given the Deposit of Faith, he naturally reflected upon the Deposit resulting in a greater understanding of it. That understanding was then passed on. This also means that the Church herself would pass judgment upon the Deposit in magisterial acts(11) and these magisterial acts become part of the ecclesiastical tradition. The ecclesiastical tradition, therefore, was formed over the course of time i.e. in the life of the Church throughout the twenty centuries of its existence.

Ecclesiastical (or extrinsic) tradition developed according to two principles:

  • The first principle, was the Deposit of Faith itself. The members of the Church used the teachings within the Deposit to develop schools of spirituality, Church discipline and legislation, as well as all of the other things which pertain to ecclesiastical tradition. Since the teaching of Christ must govern the life of the Church, it was necessary for any authentic extrinsic tradition (e.g. Canon Law) to be consistent with those teachings. Anything that was contrary to the teachings contained in the Deposit caused the Church great affliction but over time it was cut off from the life of the Church(12).

  • The second principle was the nature of man. Since Scripture itself tells us a great deal about man and as philosophical systems advanced in an understanding of the nature of man, especially in the medieval period, the extrinsic tradition was fashioned based upon the knowledge of that nature. Furthermore, it was known to be a wounded nature, i.e. one affected by Original Sin and so the extrinsic tradition was designed to aid man in his condition. For example, many schools of spirituality and rules of the religious orders were designed in order to help man overcome his proclivity to self-will and concupiscence in order to conform himself to the ideals taught within the Deposit. Those who fashioned the extrinsic tradition were often saints who were guided and helped by divine aid in establishing some custom or aspect of the extrinsic tradition which was passed on to subsequent generations. The extrinsic tradition came to form a magnificent patrimony and heritage of all Catholics.

As the Modernist crisis grew under the impetus of modern philosophy, the extrinsic tradition was eroded and subverted due to several factors. The first was a change of view about the nature of man. With the onslaught of rationalism(13),then empiricism(14) and later Kantianism(15) and other modern innovations about the nature of man, the Thomistic view, i.e. the realist view of man, was supplanted. At first, this occurred outside the Church and was kept at bay by formal teaching within the Church which maintained a proper view of man. The Protestants, not having an intellectual heritage, quickly succumbed to the modern philosophies. As the Modernist crisis spread within the Church and the curiosity and fascination with modern philosophy grew, the view of man held by Catholics began to change in the latter part of the nineteenth century and during the twentieth century.

Rationalism also changed how man viewed revelation. Since rationalists do not believe that one can come to true intellectual knowledge by means of the senses, then that which pertained to the senses was systematically ignored or rejected. Since revelation is something introduced into sensible reality(16), revelation came under direct attack. Moreover, if one is cut off from reality, then one is locked up inside oneself and so what pertains to one's own experience becomes paramount. After Descartes(17), came Spinoza(18) who systematically attacked the authenticity of oral tradition regarding the Scriptures(19) and through his philosophy he began to change people's view of the world. As empiricism rose, the view of man as simply a material being led to fixing man's meaning in the "now" or always in the present. Since for the empiricist, man's meaning is found in what he senses and feels, this led eventually to a lack of interest in the past since the past as such (and future for that matter) cannot be sensed nor fulfil our sensible desires(20). With the advent of Hegel(21), the intellectual groundwork was laid for a wholesale lack of interest in and distrust of tradition. With the scepticism of Spinoza about the sources of Scripture,(22) coupled with the Hegelian dialectic, the past (including all forms of tradition) was now outmoded or outdated and tradition was to be distrusted. As a consequence, those who wanted to impose some religious teaching based upon tradition or history became suspect.

At the same time in which the intellectual underpinnings for trusting tradition collapsed in the minds of modern intellectuals under the impetus of modern philosophy, a growing immanentism(23) arising from three sources(24) became entrenched.

  • The first was Kant, who, through an epistemology(25) which was founded on Cartesian and empirical scepticism of the senses(26), left one locked into one's own mind, logically speaking(27). This meant that everything is within oneself or one's own mind which means that man's experiences are essentially immanent, i.e. they are within or remain within himself(28).

  • The second source of immanentism was the location of the theological experience within the emotions and this was done by Friedrich Schleiermacher(29). For Schleiermacher, religion was primarily an expression of piety and piety is found only in the emotions. Religion could not be satisfied with metaphysical treatises and analysis, i.e. a rational approach to religion; rather, it had to be something emotional. This led to the immanentization of religion since piety or religious experience was something within the individual. We often see this today: people expect the liturgy to be conformed to their emotional states rather than they conforming themselves to an objective cult, which conforms itself to God.

  • The third source which led to immanentization and therefore provided an intellectual foundation for acceptance only of the present and a rejection of the past was the work of Maurice Blondel(30). Blondel held that:

"modern thought, with a jealous susceptibility, considers the notion of immanence as the very condition of philosophizing; that is to say, if among current ideas there is one which it regards as marking a definitive advance, it is the idea, which is at bottom perfectly true, that nothing can enter into a man's mind which does not come out of him and correspond in some way to a need for expansion and that there is nothing in the nature of historical or traditional teaching or obligation imposed from without that counts for him..."(31)

For Blondel, only those things which come from man himself and which are immanent to him have any meaning. No tradition or history has any bearing upon his intellectual considerations unless it somehow comes from himself.

These three sources of immanentism as they influenced the Church during the waning of an intellectual phase of Modernism in the 1950s and early 1960s(32) provided the foundation for a psychological break from tradition as a norm. As Peter Bernardi observes, Blondel was "working at a time when the Church was just beginning to become conscious of a certain break in its tradition"(33). The work of Blondel and the influx of the other modern philosophical points of view, which were antithetical to the ecclesiastical tradition(34), had a drastic impact on Vatican II(35). By the time Vatican II arrived, all of the intellectual foundation was in place for a systematic rejection of all of the aspects of ecclesiastical tradition.

In summary: Blondel and others, under the influence of modern philosophy, thought that modern man could not be satisfied with past ways of thinking. They provided an intellectual foundation upon which the Church, with a Council as a catalyst, could "update" itself or undergo an "aggiornamento"(36). With the foundations for the extrinsic tradition having been supplanted, the extrinsic tradition was lost. In other words, since the view of man had changed and since the view of the Deposit of Faith was subjected to a modern analysis, the extrinsic tradition, which rested upon these two, collapsed. We are currently living with the full blown effects of that collapse(37). The members of the Church today have become fixated on the here and now and the past traditions are not only irrelevant but to be distrusted and even, at times, demonized.

This has had several effects on the members of the Church. The first is that those things, which pertain to the extrinsic tradition and do not touch upon the intrinsic tradition, are ignored. This manifests itself in the fact that some ecclesial documents today do not have any connection to the positions held by the magisterium prior to the Second Vatican Council. For example, in the document of Vatican II on ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio, there is not a single mention of the two previous documents which deal with the ecumenical movement and other religions, viz. Satis Cognitum by Leo XIII or Mortalium Animos by Pius XI. The approach to ecumenism and other religions is fundamentally different from the approach of the Vatican II document or Ut Unum Sint by Pope John Paul II(38). Moreover, the problem is not just with respect to magisterium prior to Vatican II but even with the magisterium since the Council(39).

This type of behaviour coupled with the modern philosophical encroachment into the intellectual life of the Church and the bad theology resulting therefrom has led to a type of "magisterialism"(40). Magisterialism is a fixation on the teachings that pertain only to the current magisterium. Since extrinsic tradition has been subverted and since the Vatican tends to promulgate documents exhibiting a lack of concern regarding some of the previous magisterial acts, many have begun ignoring the previous magisterial acts and listen only to the current magisterium.

This problem is exacerbated by our current historical conditions. As the theological intellectual community began to unravel before, during and after Vatican II, those who considered themselves orthodox were those who were obedient and intellectually submissive to the magisterium since those who dissent are not orthodox. Therefore, the standard of orthodoxy was shifted from Scripture, intrinsic tradition (of which the magisterium is a part) and extrinsic tradition (which includes magisterial acts of the past, such as Pius IX's Syllabus of Errors), to a psychological state in which only the current magisterium is followed.

Neo-conservatives have fallen into this way of thinking i.e. the only standard by which they judge orthodoxy is whether or not one follows the current magisterium. Traditionalists, as a general rule, tend to be orthodox in the sense that they are obedient to the current magisterium, even though they disagree about matters of discipline and have some reservations about some aspects of current magisterial teachings which seem to contradict the previous magisterium (e.g. the role of the ecumenical movement). Traditionalists tend to take not just the current magisterium as their norm but Scripture(41), intrinsic tradition, extrinsic tradition and the current magisterium as the principles of judgment of correct Catholic thinking. This is what distinguishes traditionalists and neo-conservatives i.e. their perspectives regarding the role of ecclesiastical tradition and how the current magisterium relates to it.

Inevitably, this magisterialism has led to a form of positivism(42). Since there are no principles of judgment other than the current magisterium, whatever the current magisterium says is always what is "orthodox." In other words, psychologically the neo-conservatives have been left in a position in which the extrinsic and intrinsic tradition are no longer included in the norms of judging whether something is orthodox or not. As a result, whatever comes out of the Vatican regardless of its authoritative weight, is to be held, even if it contradicts what was taught with comparable authority in the past. Since non-infallible ordinary acts of the magisterium can be erroneous, this leaves one in a precarious situation if one only takes as true what the current magisterium says. While we are required to give religious assent even to the non-infallible teachings of the Church, what are we to do when a magisterial document contradicts other current or previous teachings and one does not have any more authoritative weight than the other? It is too simplistic merely to say that we are to follow the current teaching. What would happen if in a period of crisis, like our own, a non-infallible ordinary magisterial teaching contradicted what was in fact the truth? If one part of the magisterium contradicts another, both being at the same level, which is to believed? Unfortunately, what has happened is that many neo-conservatives have acted as if non-infallible ordinary magisterial teachings (e.g. the role of inculturation in the liturgy as stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church) are, in fact, infallible when the current magisterium promulgates them. This is a positivist mentality(43).

As the positivism and magisterialism grew and the extrinsic tradition no longer remained a norm for judging what should and should not be done, neo-conservatives accepted the notion that the Church must adapt to the modern world. Rather than helping the modern world to adapt to the teachings of the Church, the reverse process has occurred. This has led to the neo-conservatives being overly concerned about politically correct secular matters. Rather than having a certain distrust of the world which Christ exhorts us to have(44), many priests will only teach something from the pulpit as long as it is not going to cause problems. For example, how many priests are willing to preach against anti-Scriptural feminism? The fact is that they have adopted an immanentized way of looking at what should be done, often from an emotional point of view. And this coupled with political correctness has incapacitated ecclesiastical authorities in the face of the world and within the Church herself where the process of immanentization, with its flawed understanding of the nature of man and his condition as labouring under Original Sin, has severely undermined discipline. Even those who try to be orthodox have become accustomed to softer disciplinary norms, which fit fallen nature well, resulting in a lack of detachment from the current way of doing things and a consequent reluctance by neo-conservatives to exercise authority - precisely because they lack the vital detachment required to do so.

All of the aforesaid has resulted in the neo-conservatives rejecting the extrinsic tradition as the norm. This is why, even in "good" seminaries, the spiritual patrimony of the saints is virtually never taught. Moreover, this accounts for why the neo-conservatives appear confused about the real meaning of tradition. Since it is not a principle of judgment for them, they are unable to discuss it in depth. In fact, they ignore extrinsic tradition almost as much as the "liberals." Even when neo-conservatives express a desire to recover and follow the extrinsic tradition, they rarely do so when it comes to making concrete decisions.

It now becomes clearer why there is a kind of psychological suspicion between neo-conservatives and traditionalists: they have fundamentally different perspectives. The neo-conservatives have psychologically or implicitly accepted that extrinsic tradition cannot be trusted, whereas the traditionalists hold to the extrinsic tradition as something good, i.e. something which is the product of the wisdom and labour of the saints and the Church throughout history. For this reason, the fundamental difference between neo-conservatives and traditionalists is that the neo-conservative looks at the past through the eyes of the present while the traditionalist looks at the present through the eyes of the past. Historically, the mens ecclesiae or mind of the Church was expressed through the extrinsic tradition. That is to say that the Church, since it receives both its teaching from the past and the labour of the saints and previous magisterium by tradition, always looked at the present through the eyes of the past. In this, she looked at the present not as man under the influence of modern philosophy looked at the present(45), but through the eyes of her Lord Who gave her His teaching when He was on earth (i.e. in the past). Only at the time of Christ, is it possible to look authentically at the past through, what was then, the eyes of the present, since Christ was the fulfilment of the past. But once the work of Christ became part of history and He ascended into heaven, we must always look back to Christ and to our tradition for an authentic understanding of the present(46).

This fundamental shift in perspective has left the traditionalists with the sense that they are fighting for the good of the extrinsic tradition without the help of and often hindered by the current magisterium. Liturgically, traditionalists judge the Novus Ordo in light of the Mass of Pius V and the neo-conservatives judge the Tridentine Mass, as it is called, in light of the Novus Ordo(47). This comes from the Hegelianism which holds that the past is always understood in light of the present, i.e. the thesis and antithesis are understood in light of their synthesis. This leads to a mentality that newer is always better, because the synthesis is better than either the thesis or the antithesis taken alone. Being affected by this, the neo-conservatives often assume or are incapable of imagining that the current discipline of the Church may not be as good as the prior discipline. There is a mentality today which holds that "because it is present (Hegelianism), because it comes from us (immanentism), it is necessarily better."

Furthermore, neo-conservatives love the Church and have a strong emotional attachment to the magisterium which causes them to find it unimaginable that the Church could ever falter, even with regard to matters of discipline. Like the father who loves his daughter and therefore has a hard time imagining her doing anything wrong, neo-conservatives have a hard time conceiving that the Holy Ghost does not guarantee infallibility in matters of discipline or non-infallible ordinary magisterial teaching. Traditionalists, confronted by a Church in crisis, know that something has gone wrong somewhere. As a result, they are, I believe, more sober in assessing whether or not the Church exercises infallibility. That, allied to their looking at the present through the eyes of the past, helps the traditionalists to see that the onus is on the present to justify itself, not the past.

The dominance of Hegelianism and immanentism also led to a form of collective ecclesiastical amnesia(48). During the early1960s, there existed a generation which was handed the entire ecclesiastical tradition, for the tradition was still being lived. However, because they laboured under the aforesaid errors, that generation(49) chose not to pass on the ecclesiastical tradition to the subsequent generation as something living. Consequently, in one generation, the extrinsic tradition virtually died out. By the late 1960s and early 1970s, seminary and university formation in the Catholic Church excluded those things which pertained to the ecclesiastical tradition. Once the prior generation had chosen this course, not to remember and teach the things of the past, it was never passed on and so those whom they trained i.e. the current generation, were consigned to suffer collective ignorance about their patrimony and heritage.

A further effect of what we have considered is that no prior teaching is left untouched. In other words, it appears as if more documentation has been issued in the last forty years than in the previous 1,960. Every past teaching, if the current magisterium deems it worthy of note to modern man, is touched upon anew and viewed through the lens of the present day immanentism. The impression is given that the teachings of the previous magisterium cannot stand on their own and so they must be given some form of "relevance" by being promulgated anew in a current document. Moreover, the current documents often lack the clarity and succinctness of the prior magisterium(50), and, with relatively few exceptions, are exceedingly long and tedious to read in their entirety. As a result, the frequency of the documents taken together with their length have eroded their authority because, as a general rule, people simply do not have the emotional or psychological discipline to plough through them.

The differences between traditionalists and neo-conservatives are rooted in their respective attitudes to extrinsic or ecclesiastical tradition. Even if a neo-conservative holds notionally(51) that the extrinsic tradition is of value, nevertheless in the daily living of his life and in his deliberations, he simply ignores a large portion of it, if not completely. But there is hope, even outside the circles that hold to tradition. Many of the young, even those in neo-conservative seminaries, are no longer weighed down by the intellectual baggage which afflicted their counterparts in the previous generation. Because they have been taught virtually nothing about religion, they lack a perspective that might influence them negatively in favour of one particular view of extrinsic tradition. Many of them are eager to learn the truth and do not have any preconceived ideas about the current state of the Church. As a result, if they are provided with or are able to arrive at the knowledge of their patrimony, many of them seeking it out on their own, then we can be assured of a brighter future. But this requires knowledge of the problem and the willingness to adopt or connect to the extrinsic tradition by embracing it as something good. It is unlikely that the role of ecclesiastical tradition will be sorted out soon, but we can hope that its restoration is part of God's providential plan.

Father Ripperger teaches moral theology and philosophy at the seminary of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter in Nebraska. Email:

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(1) The term "traditionalist" has two different meanings. The first is the heresy condemned by the Church i.e. a philosophical/religious system which depreciates human reason and establishes the tradition of mankind as the only criterion for truth and certainty. This heresy denies the ability of reason to know the truth and so it must be gained through tradition alone. It is different from the current movement in the Church which clearly recognizes the ability of reason to know the truth but which sees the good of the tradition of the Church and would like to see it re-established.

(2) The term "neo-conservative" refers to those who are considered the more conservative members of the Church. More often than not, they are those who hold orthodox positions, but they would not assert that it is necessary or a good idea to reconnect with ecclesiastical tradition. The prefix "neo" is used because they are not the same as those conservatives in authority in the Church right before, during and after the Second Vatican Council. The current conservatives, i.e. the neo-conservatives, are different insofar as the conservatives of that earlier period sought to maintain the current ecclesiastical traditions which were eventually lost. Obviously all of these labels have a certain inadequacy, but since they are operative in the current ecclesiastical climate, we will use the terms here in order to denote certain theological and philosophical positions. It should be noted, however, that the term "liberal" is often misleading. Many "liberals" are, in fact, unorthodox and do not believe what the Church believes. One can legitimately be a liberal, if and only if, one upholds all of the authentic teachings of the Church and then in matters of discipline or legitimate debate, one holds to a more lenient view. But often liberalism is merely another name for what is really unorthodox.

(3) Ad. Tanquerey observes (Synopsis Theologiae Dogmaticae, Desclée et Socii, Roma, 1927: vol. I, p. 635) that the word tradere comes from "trans" and "do" (dare) which literally means to give across or to give over.

(4) See ibid.

(5) The irony of Protestantism is that while rejecting tradition, it, in fact, employs tradition in order to pass on from one generation to the next the Scriptures and its teachings about the Scriptures. This leads one to conclude that the Protestants were not so much against tradition as such. Rather, they were (are) against Catholic tradition.

(6) In this case, Scripture is distinguished from tradition as Scripture is written, whereas tradition, in the stricter sense, refers to those things passed on which were not written down.

(7) Divine tradition is further divided according to dominical tradition (that which was given directly by Our Lord while on earth) and apostolic tradition (that which the Apostles passed on under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost).

(8) Tanquerey, op. cit., p. 636f and Christian Pesch, Praelectiones Dogmaticae (Herder & Co., Friburgus, 1924), vol. I, p. 397f.

(9) Vatican I, Pastor Aeternus, chpt. 2 (Denz. 1825/3058).

(10) Aristotle, Metaphysics, Bk. I, chpt. 1 (980a22).

(11) This indicates that one must distinguish between that which pertains to the Deposit and that which does not. The Church sometimes passes judgment on the Deposit of Faith in order to clarify the teaching contained within the Deposit for the good of the Church, e.g. when Pius IX declared the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady. Other magisterial acts are merely extrinsic to the Deposit of Faith and do not necessarily point to anything within the Deposit, but which may be connected to the Deposit in some way. This would include some ordinary magisterial acts as well as matters of discipline. However, more is contained in ecclesiastical tradition than just the acts of the magisterium.

(12) Here we have in mind those who develop heterodox teachings of their own (heresies), spiritualities and customs which are contrary to the teachings of the Church.

(13) Rationalism is any one of the views that attribute excessive importance to human reason. Often rationalists hold that all of our knowledge is innate, i.e. we already have all our knowledge within ourselves from the beginning and that knowledge is not acquired by means of the senses.

(14) Empiricism is a system which holds that the sense knowledge is the only form of knowledge. Empiricists do not hold that there is anything beyond the material or if there is anything beyond the material, we are incapable of knowing it because our only form of knowledge is sense knowledge.

(15) Kant held that we are incapable of knowing things in themselves, i.e. we do not really know things outside of ourselves. He held that any experience we have is received according to a priori categories which are in the mind and which impose structure and order on our experiences. As a result, man is essentially cut off from knowing anything in reality because his mind changes the experience according to these categories.

(16) When Christ was on earth, He used sensible signs that we could see and hear. He used sensible signs in order to teach us about spiritual realities which are not physical or material.

(17) Rene Descartes lived from 1596-1650. He was a rationalist who began his philosophy by systematically doubting the truth of the senses and so his philosophy starts in the intellect rather than in reality.

(18) Benedict Spinoza lived from 1632-1677. He held that there was one thing and only one thing, viz. God and all of us are merely part of God. Since God was eternal and did not change, then what we see in the world is not really changing. Spinoza used the phrase "Deus sive Natura" which employs the inclusive "or" (sive) in Latin to show that God and nature were the same thing. This notion that God is nature and nature is God is the intellectual foundation for the current New Age movement in the West and it was also partly responsible for the eroding of the notion of God's transcendence. Spinoza was excommunicated by the Jews because of the incompatibility of his views with Judaism.

(19) David Laird Dungan in his text A History of the Synoptic Problem (Doubleday, New York, 1999) recounts how Spinoza developed the historical/critical exegetical method and from that point on, Scripture studies began to deteriorate outside the Catholic sphere. Later, these same problems enter into the Church with the uncritical adoption of the same methods.

(20) What this means is that if someone is only interested in what is sensibly pleasing or if they lead their lives according to their sensible appetites, they will not be interested in the past because the appetites are not interested in the past as such.

(21) G.W.F. Hegel lived from 1770-1831. He, like Spinoza, held that there was one thing and only one thing. But the difference between Hegel and Spinoza was that Spinoza held that this one thing was static and did not change, whereas Hegel held that this one thing was in a constant state of flux. This one thing went from an original state, sometimes called a thesis, to its opposite which is sometimes called an antithesis. Then there is the merger of the two opposites within the one thing and that becomes the synthesis and the synthesis becomes the thesis in the next series of perpetual changes. This process was called the dialectic and it indicated that things were constantly advancing. Hence, the past became irrelevant.

(22) See Laird, op. cit.

(23) Immanentism is a philosophy which holds that anything of importance is contained within the individual, i.e. the individual becomes the measure or standard by which things are judged. "Immanent" comes from the two Latin words "in" and "manere" which means "to remain in." Immanentism essentially holds that exterior reality is not important except to the extent that we can express ourselves in it. What is really important is that which is within ourselves.

(24) There are actually more than three but these three are particularly important.

(25) Epistemology is the branch of philosophy in which we investigate how man knows the world around him.

(26) Descartes starts his Discourse on Method with a systematic doubt about everything which cannot be known with certitude. Since, for him, the senses can be deceived, he doubted them. The problem is that the senses put us into contact with reality and if we cut ourselves off from reality by doubting our senses, there is no epistemological foundation for being able to know reality. The empiricists held that we only know our sensations and not the things which correspond to those sensations. Hence, all we know is sense knowledge but not necessarily things outside of ourselves.

(27) Etienne Gilson in his various epistemological works demonstrated that Transcendental Thomism was untenable. Transcendental Thomism is a philosophical system in which the epistemology of Descartes is merged with Thomism. Gilson showed that once one accepts the cogito of Descartes (i.e. the beginning point of his epistemology, viz. one begins in thought and not in reality first) one is not able to get back to reality. In this respect, Gilson's works are of particular importance today.

(28) As this is transposed to the domain of theology, since one cannot know things outside of oneself, then God must speak to one directly through one's conscience or some interior experience. This Kantian notion provided the intellectual foundation for the Protestant's theory of the subjective religious experience.

(29) His work On Religion is where this finds a full expression.

(30) Maurice Blondel lived from 1861-1949.

(31) "Letter on Apologetics" as found in the article by Peter J. Bernardi, "Maurice Blondel and the Renewal of the Nature/Grace Relationship," Communio 26 (Winter 1999), p. 881.

(32) The heresy of Modernism has occurred in four phases. The first was the initial phase which began around 1832 when it was called liberalism until the beginning of the First Vatican Council in 1869. The second phase was the intelligentsia phase in which it began to infect the Catholic intelligentsia more thoroughly and this occurred from 1870 to 1907 at which time Pope St. Pius X formally condemned Modernism. Then from 1907 until about 1955 to 1960, the underground phase occurred in which the Modernist teachings were propagated by some of the intelligentsia in the seminaries and Catholic universities, though quietly. Then, in the latter part of the 1950s, a superficial phase began in which the intellectual energy was exhausted and what was left was the practical application of the vacuous teachings of Modernism which occurred during the period in which the Second Vatican Council was in session and persists until this date. Vatican II was the catalyst or opportunity seized by the past and current superficial intellectuals who teach things contrary to the teachings of the Church.

(33) Ibid., p. 806.

(34) Blondel, in fact, wanted to go back to an earlier tradition and ignore the tradition which was passed on to him. This essentially meant that Blondel and other Modernists wanted to get away from medieval traditions which begot the Mass of Pius V and go back to earlier traditions because they were congruent with the immanentized experiences of modern man.

(35) Bernardi observes this but in a positive way in loc. cit.

(36) This was John XXIII's word for updating the Church.

(37) That is we are living with the full effects of the superficial stage of Modernism. For example, unlike previous generations there are no great theologians; theological discourse and writing in scholastic journals lacks the depth afforded the subjects that were given to it, even just fifty years ago, and there seems, in general, to be a lack of intellectual advancement of the science of theology.

(38) While the current magisterium can change a teaching which is under non-infallible ordinary magisterial teaching, nevertheless, when the magisterium makes a judgment in these cases, it has a moral obligation due to the requirements of the moral virtue of prudence to show how the previous teaching was wrong or to be understood differently by discussing the two different teachings. However, this is not what has happened. The magisterium since Vatican II often ignores previous documents which may appear to be in opposition to the current teaching, leaving the faithful to figure out how the two are compatible, e.g. as we see in Mortalium Animos and Ut Unum Sint. This leads to confusion, infighting within the Church as well as the appearance of contradicting previous Church teaching without explanation or reasoned justification.

(39) For instance, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in 1975 (Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics as found in the official English translation of the Vatican by The Wanderer Press, 128 E. 10th St., St. Paul, MN 55101) asserts the following regarding masturbation: "The main reason is that, whatever the motive for acting this way, the deliberate use of the sexual faculty outside normal conjugal relations essentially contradicts the finality of the faculty." This indicates that regardless of one's intention or motive, the act is in itself gravely immoral. Then in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (editio typica, Libreria Editrice Vatican, 1997) a definition is given which seems to allow for different intentions to modify whether such an act is evil or not: "Masturbationis nomine intelligere oportet voluntarium organorum genitalium excitationem, ad obtinendam ex ea veneream voluptatem," i.e. "by the name masturbation it must be understood as the voluntary excitement of the genital organs to obtain from it venereal pleasure." The last part of the definition therefore includes in the act of masturbation a finality, viz. "to obtain from it venereal pleasure." This appears to contradict the prior teaching of the Church as well as the teaching of the CDF. If one does not do it for the sake of pleasure, does that mean that it is not masturbation? For example, if one does it for the sake of determining one's fertility, does this justify it? One can rectify the situation by arguing that when it is done for the sake of pleasure it is an instance of masturbation, but that the actual definition is what the Church has always held. Clearly, however, this example is testimony to how careless the magisterium has become in its theological expression.

(40) The term is the author's own designation for this phenomenon.

(41) Neo-conservatives as a general rule accept Scripture and give it a rather prominent place. But Scripture along with intrinsic tradition are not that much of a norm for them except insofar as the current magisterium asserts the necessity for following them as a matter of orthodoxy.

(42) Positivism is a philosophical system in which one regards only the sensible, the particular (singular) experience, as real and holds that only the knowledge of such facts is certain because only they can be (physically) verified. This would mean any reality which is not physical is to be denied. Positivists tend to hold that legislation does not have to be founded on any other principle than the mere fact that a given authority promulgates it. Since tradition or past history is not something tangible, it is ignored.

(43) Many of the things which the neo-conservatives do are the result of implicitly adopting principles which they have not fully or explicitly considered. Many of them would deny this characterization because they do not intellectually hold to what, in fact, are their operative principles.

(44) The world which God created is not to be despised because it is evil but because it is a good, i.e. because it is good we can become attached to it rather than God and, as a result, it can lead us to moral ruin. This requires us to live in the world but be detached from it. Sometimes the term "world" is also taken to include man and his moral corruption due to sin.

(45) In fact, this seems to be the theme which is warned against by the magisterium prior to Vatican II.

(46) As the dictum says, he who does not study history is bound to repeat it. This is because if you do not look at the present through the experience or eyes of the past, you will not take heed of the lessons learned by past generations. Furthermore, man's identity is determined in part by the history from which he comes. As a result, we do not fully understand ourselves and our circumstances without knowing where (historically) we came from.

(47) This has caused many a traditional priest problems. Even when they are discussing liturgical matters with those who uphold the teachings of the Church, they are often faced with criticism of the Old Mass based upon principles which govern the New Mass. It is difficult even to discuss it coherently when the accepted principles or premises of those holding different views are fundamentally at odds.

(48) This can also be asserted of the customs, morals and culture in the secular sphere.

(49) This is, of course, a generalization. Not everyone of that generation agreed with the course of action that their own generation was taking.

(50) What this means is that there is a certain restlessness today in the Church and its members cannot seem to leave things in the past alone. Perhaps this is due to their perspective which holds that the past, i.e. the extrinsic tradition, was inherently inadequate.

(51) In philosophy, a distinction is made between notional and real assent. Notional assent is when the person may make an intellectual judgment that something is true, but it does not really determine his action or thinking. Real assent is when a person makes an intellectual judgment about the truth of some matter and actually lives and thinks according to it.

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