Divine Learning Curve: A Relational Theory

Ramble time.

Many of us have had one of those moments reading a book or seeing some new gadget somewhere, and saying “Hey, I had that idea ten years ago!”

Well, here’s one of those ideas. Somebody who can devote a few years to research should investigate.


THEORY: A direct relationship can be tracked between: connatural knowledge of divine truths among the Catholic hierarchy, formal doctrinal definitions, and the rate of liturgical change in the Roman Rite.

Intriguing, right?

Okay, maybe only to some. Here’s a little more:

  • As chronological distance from the Incarnation increases, connatural knowledge of divine truth among the hierarchy diminishes – best evidenced perhaps by a survey of the nature and scope of heresies, maybe with a focus on the patristic period? Not sure if/how one could quantify this, but from the sub-apostolic Fathers onward one finds an almost reflexive shared sentiment: “If only we were as penitent, wise, devout, and holy as our forebears”…
  • Christ promised greater penetration into the divine mysteries per the Spirit operative in the magisterium – and since Christ entrusted a definite body of doctrine to the Church, the number and scope of formal definitions should be observably highest during early periods (especially crisis epochs), then eventually tapering off as history runs. Consider the notion that some of the Council Fathers held regarding the First Vatican Council: “What else is there left to talk about? We’ve already defined everything.” (Little wonder that Popes John XXIII and Paul VI both maintained that Vatican II was not convened to craft doctrinal definitions at all.) This one could be a bit easier to quantify.
  • Because of the eternal and immutable nature of Christ’s Sacrifice and the inherent immutability of human nature itself, the liturgical rites employed for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass show a greater perfection over time, as they tend towards fixity in continuity with their origin – the definition of “organic” growth (abandoned in the creation of the Novus Ordo). The curve of this “change” in liturgical form should mirror the historical curve of legitimate development in doctrine (more early, less later), with stability gradually becoming the dominant feature. Easier to quantify this one as well.

These ideas are out there already, but it’s the historical relationship between each that’s got me curious. The curves may rhyme.

Think of it…

…the Holy Spirit taking countermeasures against the decrease of connatural knowledge of divine truth (one thinks of St. Paul’s “there must be heresies”), by ensconcing certain propositions of faith and liturgical rites across history as concrete parameters for faith and worship, like the inescapable given-ness of Christ’s physical Body during his earthly life, or the continued presence of his Mystical Body on earth, the Church.

You know, the whole thing must be about the Mass.

“But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.” (Jn 4:23)

Somebody go write a book.



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