Magisterium and Changes
As I understand ‘Magisterium”, it refers to the teaching authority of the Church which directly stems from the apostles of Jesus. On the surface, all of that sounds very good until one does a little scratching into the deeper layers of that ‘presumed and assumed’ authority. A little historical review might be helpful in attempting to interpret the mismanagement of that Magisterium.
After Jesus’ crucifixion, all sorts of stories were fabricated concerning thereafter events. The bottom line eventuated into an interminable squabble and disagreement among the bishops who professed absolute theological power within their domain. It seems obvious that those who established the concept of those unquestionable domains presumed that all bishops would have identical understanding of Jesus-events. However, as is usual for most human endeavors, there evolved a situation whereby many differing views about Jesus, his words ,and activities existed among the bishops of the so-called Christian world.
Christianity had spread rapidly along both shores of the Mediterranean Sea, across North Africa on the south and all the way to Rome, Spain and Portugal on the north. At the time all that territory was under the domain of the Roman Empire which was divided into two sections. Eventually one section fell to the other and the Empire became consolidated. All that territory from Judea to Portugal was under Roman control and rule. Rome had made a pact with the Jewish community which allowed the Jews to continue their form of religious sacrifice and control of their constituents. The Jews were allowed to punish but were not allowed to perform capital, punishment —that was strictly reserved to the Roman authorities.
Most of the 1800 bishops of Christianity resided in the Eastern section of the Empire. While the Christians were supposed to be producing for the Empire, they were instead squabbling, and at times, outright fighting among themselves about the ‘Jesus thing’— productivity was very low — morale was even lower — the peasants were being severely oppressed by both Rome and the Jewish hierarchy. Zealots who attempted to organize an overthrow of both governments were common in Jesus’ day — they all met the same fate, crucifixion.
Jesus, himself, was a zealot but in a different way. His method involved an attempt to show his brethren that the god they were worshiping was a myth. It was a ‘vengeful god’ who demanded ‘perfect sacrificial offerings of appeasement’ to control his ire. Those perfect offerings could only be provided by and offered by the High Priest — always at considerable cost to the peasants. It was a prefect money making scheme. Jesus’ plan was to educate his followers that the ‘real God’ was all love, and, furthermore, the only way they could have peace was by living that love through accepting their God and their neighbor as is. Jesus’ plan was subliminal — when enough constituents followed his teaching, the money-making scheme of the High Priest would gradually dissipate – a new government of love supported by good civil laws (10 commandments) could and would eventuate.
Jesus knew he was a traitor and what his eventual fate would be — that makes him the ‘hero of all heroes’. He mainly remained on the outskirts teaching in the hope that over time his followers would understand and accept his teaching of God and love and would perpetuate them across the world. It seems to me that Jesus was a total failure in his efforts, and here is why.
Three hundred years after Jesus’ death, because of all the squabbling which contributed to a lack of productivity, Emperor Constantine called the bishops into council at Nicaea. He commissioned them to form a consensus of Christian belief and practice — it would be the official religion of the entire Roman Empire backed by the Roman army — the Holy Roman Catholic Church was formed.
In complete disregard for Jesus’ teaching of an all-loving God, the bishops’ new religion was patterned exactly after Jewish sacrificial ritual with them and their designees (priests) as the only people who make those sacrifices of appeasement. However, despite completely ignoring Jesus’ teaching, they conveniently attached his name to their religion for obvious ‘propaganda reasons’.
Of course, in establishing their new religion, they set themselves up as ‘lord and master of all’ — they were the absolute authority concerning anything to do with faith, morals and/or practices — they were the absolute interpreters of God’s wishes and demands.
Early on, priests and bishops were allowed to be married unimpeded. Then there was a time when bishops could be married but could not sleep in same room with his wife —guards were posted to insure. Then priests could not be married at all. That fact was one of the factors resulting in the Great Schism between the Eastern and Western Church in the eleventh century.
In my short eighty-nine years, I have witnessed ‘God changing his mind’ innumerable times. Here are some of the most notable: from the time I made my first Holy Communion in 1940 until I was twenty or so, no one was allowed to take Communion without total fasting from both food and liquids from midnight on — taking Communion after breaking one’s fast was a ‘mortal sin’ and would send one straight to hell if one died before confessing that sin. Likewise, deliberately allowing one’s teeth to touch the Communion host was a Mortal sin with similar consequences. Of course, deliberately breaking any one of the Ten Commandments was a mortal sin. The ‘real hammer’ fell on breaking the laws of the Church, particularly those to do with attending Mass on all Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation and the Church’s laws concerning sex and marriage. Marriage to a non-Catholic was strongly discouraged and the ceremony could not be done inside the Catholic Church building. Divorce was out of the question, and marriage to a divorced person who had not obtained an official annulment from the Church carried the same dire consequences of mortal sin. Artificial birth control was ‘out of the question’ and, furthermore, it was the topic of most homilies during my childhood and early adulthood. Infant baptism within the first ten days after birth was mandatory for fear an infant would die beforehand and be sent directly to Limbo where it would ‘never see God’. Then, of course, there was the stain of sin which remained with us despite God’s forgiveness and that stain combined with the small (venial) sins we committed largely guaranteed that each of us would spend time in ‘Purgatory’ burning off the stain before entering heaven. We could decrease that time by reciting ‘indulgence bearing prayers. In fact, there was once a time when one could ‘buy indulgences’. That gave great hope for the rich since they knew from scripture that it would be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to get into heaven.
The foregoing examples are just a few of the shackling, tormenting, controlling guilt-driven edicts of the Magisterium— all intended to ‘keep the troops in line ‘and the hierarchy in total dictatorial uncontested control. Then suddenly the Magisterium changes in some areas: one only has to fast one hour before receiving Communion. Then, almost as quickly, one was not required to fast at all. Furthermore, the Communion hosts were being distributed by the faithful and in addition, the recipients were encouraged to chew the hoist vigorously— what a turnaround — God must have been in a drunken stupor to change his rules so abruptly— I don’t think so. The changes in God’s rules came when those who professed magisterium realized people were not heeding them and, worse yet, were dropping out of the Church — money-well going dry.
Fast-forward to today; not a word ever about birth control, abortion, divorce, mixed marriages — only an occasional sideswipe mention of a Holy Day — never a word about any Church Law. In fact, the only sin ever mentioned is sex sin — oh that lovely controller — it’s the Church’s last holdout.
So, what has happened? Just yesterday, Pope Francis publicly declared that he is seriously considering allowing priests to be married. He made mention of the fact that that rule prohibiting marriage is not rooted in basic theology but simply in the rules (magisterium) of the Church. So, again, the Vicar of Christ on earth is interpreting God’s mind and has determined that since the number of vocations to the celibate priesthood are tumbling and foreign priests are being imported from Africa and Central and South America to fill the void, it is high time to change the rules. That’s only common sense to me but it does not ameliorate one degree the torment that I and billions of other Catholics have undergone at the hands of an ‘almighty, ironclad hierarchy hiding behind the armor of Magisterium’ —that old dog is simply too tired to hunt anymore.
Of course, this commentary beats up on the Catholic Church but, believe me, it can be applied to all protestant churches just as well but in a different way. They revolted for just reason from the Catholic Church but, in doing so, they put all their eggs in one tattered basket full of holes — a book totally corrupted by both honest mistake and deliberate change so as to suit the whims of the writers and rewriters and rewriters ad nauseum — they have no more credibility. Like the Catholics and their near mimickers, they all worship a false god’. I am allowed to say ‘false god’ because not one of them has ever or can define the ‘essence’ of the god of whom they speak.
I can and have defined my and Jesus’ God. Our God is a Perfect rational Being who is ‘all love’. It cannot be hurt, helped, pleased, displeased, or changed in any way. If it could, it would not be perfect. There is a ‘Perfect Rationality’ which pervades our entire universe — it shows in every event that has ever occurred since the beginning of time at the moment of the Big Bang. The result of every event is and always has been perfect for its foregoing set of circumstances — direct evidence of God’s Perfection, Love, and Reliability.
Please read my little books, Wilderness Cry, Peace in Spirituality, and Provocative Catholic for as broader understanding. If you would like a humorous ‘Huck Finn’ rendition of my childhood, read Growing Up In Fancy Farm Kentucky. All available hard copy and digital from Amazon-Kindle and autographed hardcopy directly from me – firstname.lastname@example.org.
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