instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Who are you calling an Ianist?

Today is the dies natalis, and therefore the Memorial, of St. Damasus I, Pope and Confessor. The Roman Martyrology says, "He condemned the heresiarch Apollinaris and restored (to his see) Peter, Bishop of Alexandria, who had been forced to flee. He found many bodies of holy martyrs and wrote their epitaphs in verse."

In addition to Appolinarianism, St. Damasus faced down plain old Arianism, and also the now-obscure heresy Macedonianism, which was like Arianism, only it denied the divinity of the Holy Spirit rather than of the Son.

As far as I know, the divinity of all three Persons of the Holy Trinity isn't much questioned by Catholics these days. Whether that's because we believe it, or are just used to hearing it, or deny it without bothering to question it*, I couldn't say.

And it's not that it doesn't matter what we, individually or as the Church, believe about God; the dogmas of Faith aren't empty tokens of membership. It's that we**, in our day-to-day secularism, are so far from being the Christians we ought to be that any defect in our Trinitarianism is lost among the much greater defects in our charity.

* Have you ever had a casual conversation with a lifelong Catholic, a pillar or at least a paving stone of the parish, only to find that they're a raving material heretic? I don't think I've ever heard Macedonianism advanced, but indifferentism -- of the "I'm Catholic, so I believe this and do that, but non-Catholics should believe and do whatever they believe and do" variety -- seems pretty common.

** For suitable values of "we."