Development of the faith, not alteration

The timing of the Office of Readings to current affairs in the church seems, well, providential:

From the instruction by St Vincent of Lerins, priest:

Is there to be no development of religion in the Church of Christ? Certainly there is to be development and on the largest scale.

Who can be so grudging to men, so full of hate for God as to try and prevent it?

But —

It must truly be development of the faith, not alteration of the faith. Development means that each thing expands to be itself,

while alteration means a thing is changed from one thing into another.

The understanding, knowledge and wisdom of the Church, he says, whether of individuals or the Church as a whole, should through time count on making “great and vigorous progress,” but,

only along it’s own line of development, that is with the the same doctrine,

the same meaning and the same import.

He establishes the idea by making the comparison to human development;

Though bodies develop and unfold their component parts with the passing of years,

they always remain what they were.

The “flower of childhood’ is very different than the “maturing of age” and yet no matter how the condition and appearance of the individual changes over time,

…it is one and the same nature, one and the same person.

And therefore,

…there’s nothing new in old age that was not already latent in childhood.

St Vincent says, this is the “legitimate and correct rule of development”. Then citing the inverse states,

If, however the human form were to turn into some shape that didn’t belong to it’s own nature, or even if something were added to the form of it’s members–

or subtracted from it–

the whole body would necessarily perish or become grotesque or at least be enfeebled.

We have our ancestors to thank for sowing this good seed “in the harvest field of the church,” and as followers it would be,

…very wrong and unfitting if we, their descendants were to reap,

not the genuine wheat of truth, but the intrusive truth of error.

He ends with,

…what is right and fitting is this:

there should be no inconsistency between first and last, but we should reap¬†true doctrine from the growth of true teaching {…}

One Prince of the Church seems to get this and thankfully, has recently been quite vocal on the Synod of Bishops for the family currently underway in Rome. He talks with Raymond Arroyo,

“on the indissolubility of marriage and his thoughts on Walter Cardinal Kasper’s recent proposals to harmonize “fidelity and mercy” in the Church’s pastoral approach to divorced and remarried Catholics and the Sacrament of Holy Communion.”


Seems the Cardinal is clarifying as St Vincent instructed by, “securing the legitimate and correct rule of development,” so that we may reap “true doctrine from the growth of true teaching” and not dishonor those who have gone before us in the faith by becoming feeble or something grotesque.



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