Catholicism and “slavery of the mind” from Catholics

These quotes remind of something an older Catholic told me. He had flitted around several denominations searching.  We were eating donuts after Mass and I was asking him about his conversion.  Among other things, he told me he was finally in the realm of absolutes and not opinion.  There was a definite Church with definite teaching.

Chesterton Cathooic Church wiseI have chosen the subject of the slavery of the mind because I believe many worthy people imagine I am myself a slave. The nature of my supposed slavery I need not name and do not propose specially to discuss. It is shared by every sane man when he looks up a train in Bradshaw.* That is, it consists in thinking a certain authority reliable; which is entirely reasonable. Indeed it would be rather difficult to travel in every train to find out where it went. It would be still more difficult to go to the destination in order to discover whether it was safe to begin the journey. Suppose a wild scare arose that Bradshaw was a conspiracy to produce railway accidents, a man might still believe the Guide to be a Guide and the scare to be only a scare; but he would know of the existence of the scare.

— G.K. Chesterton, The Thing

*(Bradshaw was a railway guide.)

RobertHughBenson

Turn now to the Catholic Church. Here is a Society whose function it is to preserve and apply the teaching of Christ; to analyze it and to state it in forms or systems which every generation can receive. For this purpose, then, she draws up not merely a Creed—which is the systematic statement of the Christian Revelation—but disciplinary rules and regulations that will make this Creed and the life that is conformable to it more easy of realization, and all this she does with the express object of enabling the individual soul to respond to her spiritual environment and to rise to the full exercise of her powers and rights. As the scientist and the statesman take, respectively, the great laws of nature and society and reduce them to rules and codes, yet without adding or taking away from these facts, that are true whether they are popularly recognized or not—and all with the purpose not of diminishing but of increasing the general liberty—so the Church, divinely safeguarded too in the process, takes the Revelation of Christ and by her dogma and her discipline popularizes it, so to speak, and makes it at once comprehensible and effective.

What, then, is this foolish cry about the slavery of dogma? How can Truth make men anything except more free? Unless a man is prepared to say that the scientist enslaves his intellect by telling him facts, he dare not say that the Church fetters his intellect by defining dogma….

But the Catholic system has the appearance of enslaving men? Why yes; for the only way of aiming at and using effectively the truth that makes us free is by bringing into captivity every understanding to the obedience of Christ.

–Robert Hugh Benson, Paradoxes of Christianity

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