Feb 15, 2007

Back to the Church of the 60's


My husband found two small metal file cases in the 'dungeon' below and asked whether I wanted to review (and toss!?) the contents. One of the boxes contained a study outline for a course I attended at our Catholic parish in about 1964-65. "Dogma #101" was prepared by Rev. Richard Smith, S.J., with notes and edits by five nuns identified either as "O.P." or "Ad.PP.S." [O.P. refers to Dominicans, but I wonder if the second order wasn't a casualty of post Vatican II trauma. [See list of religious order abbreviations.]

Does the mid 1960's mimeographed course on Dogma show signs of the future weakening and undermining of Catholic beliefs in the next four decades? Here is what I found.

The first eight tightly spaced pages offer a rather detailed discussion of "Comparative Religions." I remember the course spent a lot of time on the "eleven great religions of the world," and this is confirmed because these pages have the most notes added while the course was being given in the mid 60's. The next three sections are entitled "Nature of Theology" (still lots of notes), "Revelation" (only a few notes), and "Supernatural Truths--Mysteries of Christianity (no notes).

The remaining sections of the 77-page course handout contain virtually none of my notes, except those surrounding a pictorial representation on page 24 of the locations of Sheol and the Bosom of Abraham. The diagram uses the following captions: earth, Sheol, water, firmament, sluice gates, snow, wind, and eternal mountains. Apparently we spent a lot of time discussing this clearly erroneous viewpoint of people who lived hundreds of year before Jesus Christ, just as we spent a lot of time reviewing the beliefs of the "eleven great religions of the world."

Apparently we never got to the section on the number of souls saved compared with those who are not saved. This section concludes that "the majority of Catholics will save their souls....in general Protestants, orthodox and etc,, they too will save their souls." [Perhaps the chances were a little better in the early 60's--I'd hate to hear the same statement today when so many Catholics miss Sunday/weekend Mass, rarely go to confession, don't understand basic principles of their faith, regularly fornicate before marriage, etc.]

As the course continued into a discussion of "Sin of the first man," various theological questions are brought up on original sin, concluding with :
So the total result of human nature being subject to original sin is that man is completely helpless. [yes] He still has the supernatural goal, yet no forces of personality in himself that can get him one single bit closer to it. This seems to be a strange position. A goal, yet helpless to achieve it. [Not quite. Even though this is the end of the discussion on original sin, where is a discussion of Baptism?]
My comment after finding this theology course outline in 2007: If we only had had foresight in the mid 60's, rather than the hindsight of today.


SleepyBob said...

Dusty, are you refering to Father Smith from Rockhurst? I remember him. I grew up in the Jesuit St. Francis Xavier parish/church, located across the street from The Rock.

Back in that same era, there was another very popular Jesuit priest from Rockhurst who said the 9:45 Mass every Sunday at SFX. As I recall, his name was Lakas (sp?). His Masses were always crowded - standing room only a lot of the time. If he were still alive today, I believe he would probably have been very much in support of the changes brought about since VII.

I never attended his Masses - his sermons were too long and the beautiful, wonderful BVM(s) in charge of assigning altar boys never assigned me to Father's 9:45 Mass - probably did not want my innocent soul tainted by what Father had to say.

Were you a one time parishoner of SFX?

Alison said...

Why were the priests notlocked in the "dungeon" with the documents?

Dust I Am said...

I have no idea who Fr. Smith was or where he came from. I do remember hearing about the other priest who witnessed the marriage of my brother and who died an untimely death a few years later. No, I was never a member of SFX parish, thank God.

SleepyBob said...

It was Father Paul Smith SJ, I was thinking of.