Today, November 16, 2018, is the feast day of St. Gertrude the Great, Virgin, Abbess according to the 1962 Roman Missal, and you can obtain your own copy (it should be in every Catholic library) at Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Roman-Missal-1962-English-Latin/dp/0954563123/ref=sr_ and there is an article about her at Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gertrude_the_Great
The definitive article though is at the Catholic Encyclopedia, http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06534a.htm
Reading about these saints is a wonderful daily reflection; such marvelous lives the saints lived, such an army, the Church Triumphant, who has our back in heaven.
This article from Remnant Newspaper explores deeply this often confusing subject. A must read.
One of the more dangerous errors facing well-meaning Catholics today is extending infallibility beyond the limits taught by the Church. While this error of excess may not have posed a problem for Catholics in the past, it certainly does today. In fact, a brief perusal through the comments section of a Catholic blog shows that this error is one of the single greatest dangers for faithful Catholics today, due to the consequences that follow from it. For in the current crisis of the Church and the Papacy, when confused and scandalized Catholics are searching for answers, an error of excess concerning the infallibility of the Pope (or of the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium), often serves as a false premise that “logically” leads to one of two erroneous conclusions:
1) That the Pope, or the Church as a whole, has done what a dogma of the Faith teaches is impossible (i.e., violated infallibility); or
2) That the infallibility of the Pope demands that Catholics give an unqualified assent to whatever he teaches, even if it conflicts with (a) the explicit teaching of the Scriptures, (b) the perennial doctrine of the Church, and (c) the consistent teaching of his predecessors (e.g., the doctrine of the licitness of capital punishment).
The first erroneous conclusion usually ends in a denial of the dogma of Papal Infallibility, followed by a loss of faith in the Church. The second erroneous conclusion undermines the objective nature and immutability of the revealed deposit and logically leads to the Modernist heresy of evolution of dogma, which maintains that the Church’s understanding of dogma changes over time, from one thing to another, in such a way that what the Church taught in the past can no longer be held today.
Because of these dangers that the ecclesiastical crisis poses for Catholics of good-will today, a correct understanding of the conditions required for an exercise of infallible teaching authority is more important than ever, and morally necessary for those Catholics who hope to make it through the present trial with their faith and sanity intact.
Msgr. Van Noort defines infallibility as “the privilege by which the teaching office of the Church, through the assistance of the Holy Ghost, is preserved immune from error when it defines a doctrine of faith or morals.” Note the word define. Infallibility only applies in the case of doctrines that have been defined, or definitive proposed by the Church, either by a solemn decree, or by the force of the ordinary and universal Magisterium.
Infallibility is a negative charism (gratia gratis data) that prevents the possibility of error. It is not to be confused with inspiration, which is a positive divine influence that moves and controls a human agent in what he says or writes; nor is it to be confused with Revelation, which is the communication of some truth to man, by God, through means which are beyond the ordinary course of nature. The gift of infallibility pertains to the safeguarding and explanation of truths that have already been revealed by God, and which are contained in the Deposit of Faith, which was closed with the death of the last apostle. It should also be noted that infallibility is not a habitually active charism but is only engaged when the necessary conditions are met.
The Object of Infallibility
The object of infallibility are the truths that can be infallibly taught by the Church. These are broken out into two general categories:
(a) the primary object consists of truths that have been formally revealed by God, and which are contained in the font of revelation, viz. Scripture and Tradition. The immunity from error extends to both positive and negative decisions of a definitive nature. Positive decisions include such things as dogmatic decrees of a council, ex cathedra statements from a pope, and official creeds of the Church. Negative decisions consist of the determination and rejection of such errors as are opposed to the teaching of Revelation.
(b) The secondary objects of infallibility comprise truths that have not been formally revealed by God, but which are intimately related to and necessary to preserve the revealed deposit. These include such things as 1) theological conclusions (inferences deduced from two premises, one of which is revealed and the other verified by reason), 2) dogmatic facts (contingent historical facts), and 3) the doctrinal judgment contained within disciplinary laws (i.e., that a universal law does not directly contradict a revealed truth). We should note that the Church herself has never defined whether, or to what extent, infallibility embraces the secondary objects. However, theologians qualify it as theologically certain that infallibility does extend to all the secondary objects, with the exception of canonizations, which some qualify by the lesser note of the common opinion.
The Organs of Infallibility
The organs through which the Church teaches infallibly are (a) the pope, (b) a general council, and (c) the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium (OUM), which consists of the bishops dispersed throughout the world, teaching in union with the pope. Each of these organs can teach infallibly, and indeed will do so, provided the necessary conditions are met; but infallibility will not prevent any of them from erring if the conditions are not satisfied. For this reason, rather than saying the pope, or a council, or the OUM are infallible, it is more precise to say they are organs through which the Church can teach infallibly, since the former expression gives the impression that they are, per se, always infallible, and consequently unable to err at any time – which is the error that has caused so much confusion today.
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