Saturday, September 12, 2009

Because of Dogma . . . Not

Just back from my Saturday morning men's group at St. Mary Star of the Sea. A great group of guys, usually about fifteen strong; a mixed group, agewise, smartswise, even faithwise. Protestants slip over the fence once in a while, and Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, even atheists are welcome. Some members, like Ferde, Bill, and Jonathan, are extraordinarily knowledgeable about scripture and Catholic doctrine. Ferde founded the group three or four years ago, and it has grown successfully under his leadership.

But boy, it drives me nuts sometimes—while redirecting me, graciously, to the sources of my own personal faith.

This morning, Bill presented on the Eastern Orthodox interpretation of Mary. Within ten minutes, we were arguing (arguing!) about such matters as:
  • the precise meaning of the Immaculate Conception
  • whether Mary died or merely fell asleep before the Assumption
  • whether Jesus's "brothers" were really brothers, or only cousins
  • the meaning of the filioque clause
  • the meaning of Theotokos
  • the meaning of until (as in Matthew 1:25—"And [Joseph] did not know her until she had brought forth her firstborn son")
It got to the point where I wondered if someone wouldn't quote St. Bill of Clinton on the meaning of the word is.

This is what occurred to me, as I slumped back in my chair, knowing that I had neither the knowledge of dogma nor the intellectual firepower (at least at this hour, 8 a.m.) to enter the fray. It is entirely enough for me that:
  • God so loved us that he gave us his own son;
  • That this son, the incarnate Word of our Heavenly Father, actually appeared here on earth and showed men just like me His face;
  • That He was born from the womb of a virgin;
  • That He spoke to us and told us what to do; and
  • That, as St. John of the Cross wrote, God has nothing more to say.
Wow! This is enough for me. It's all I need, Lord. To contemplate this, to fully understand and appreciate these facts. I ask nothing more.

The argumentation, the dogma, and all the puffed-up reasons for the split between Eastern and Western Churches—all that's for someone smarter than me, and with way more time on his hands.