You Aren’t an Authority Yet Buddy!

I’m a bit pig headed. I have a tendency to run around like a bull in a china shop. I can’t help it.

Sometimes, I just need to be put in my place.

I read so much information on a daily basis that I often have a hard time knowing where it came from. One day I’m reading a Church document or the Bible, the next I’m reading a blog I enjoy or some Catholic social commentary. When I first came into the Church, I went down to my local parish DRE, and borrowed every video she had, and watched them all. I’m really thirsty that way, and the info has a tendency to just pile up. Sadly, my brain does not always organize the information by trustworthiness, and once and a while I start talking about things as if they were factual, when in reality it may be rather speculative.

So here I am, giving talks, classes, trying to spread the message of the Kingdom of God the best I can. Every once and a while, God decides to remind me of my need for humility and He lets me put my foot in my mouth. I think he must really enjoy this, as He does it rather more often then I would like.

So the other day I was giving a talk about morality, and the questions from the class moved into the realm of how do decide whether any given act was moral or not.

Piece of cake right?

So I started going on about the basic steps to defining whether an act was moral in the standard way, explaining the difference between the object, the intention and the circumstance of an act, and how these relate to the objective good or evil quality of the act.

Then I started talking about double effect. (Insert foot A into mouth B)

Now, You might not know what this principle is, but basically it means an action may have more than one effect, and if your intention was on of these acts that was good, and and the other effect was bad, then it might be a neutral act. Well, I got called to the carpet, and rightly so.

Now I’m not commenting on whether or not the principle of double effect is true, leave that to the moral theologians to figure out. My problem was I was stating this as if it were the teaching of the Church, which it is not.

(Maybe we should put both feet into the mouth)

This for me is the cardinal sin, to teach error in the name of official Church teaching. I deeply dread this kind of thing coming up. I constantly study, trying to make sure I am prepared for any talk I may have to give, but once and a while, one of those random ideas I have read about sneaks in to grab me by the throat. God save me from making such an idiot of myself.

The worst thing is, I held to it. I just knew I was right. Dangit, I’m like Mary Poppins, practically perfect in every way, I cannot make a mistake. It’s just not possible.

The group felt I was probably right, and everyone went home with my sage wisdom. Then I pulled out the Catechism. Guess what? No double effect. Nowhere. Not even hinted at. Crap.

The next time I met with them, I was a lamb. A dog with my tail between it’s legs. I’m still embarrassed.

Lord, save me from my own pride.
(If you are interested, you can find this info in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 1749-1756)

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