HINTS AND TRACES - Fr. Roy Cimagala () - May 12, 2006 - 12:00am
That, simply put, is the teaching office of the Church. I wonder how many people are aware of it, let alone realize the abiding relevance it has in our lives.

In Church documents and theology books, its amazing nature, its divine origin, how it is exercised, who holds it, what it contains, etc. may be amply explained. But there's one point worth reiterating especially in our age of rapid information.

And this point is that regardless of the circumstances surrounding its exercise, the magisterium is the living voice of God speaking to us now, and even up to the end of time.

The magisterium is not us, led by some brilliant and clever Church officials, trying to figure out what God is trying to tell us today. It's not just a human exercise, imbued with the best intention and our best human powers. That may be a lot, but that is not enough.

The magisterium is truly the voice of God that comes to us through the mediation of the apostles and their successors, the Pope and the Bishops united with the Pope.

In spite of the inadequacies of the human and natural instruments used, it's still God's voice that is never lost. It cannot be muted. It will be with us till the end of time, effectively guiding us and reminding us about what really matters in our life.

It therefore has to be listened to with faith, with obedience and love, and with eagerness to carry out that it commands or even suggests. It cannot, and should not be considered simply as one more opinion among many other brilliant opinions that are around. Thus, we need to develop the proper dispositions.

The point, as I said, is worth reiterating, because there's a tendency to think that we are now left on our own to figure out what is best for us. With the proliferation of data and information, this mentality can be heightened. We can easily think that we have the capability to be on our own, and to chart our own destiny, without God's help.

We have to keep reminding ourselves that God continues to intervene in our life, not only in some distant, formal way, but also in a very direct and immediate way. But he uses ways appropriate to our human condition.

Thus, he speaks to us directly, especially to our conscience. That's our inmost sanctuary where we get to hear the voice of God. We have the duty to keep it in its best condition, but even in its bad form, that voice cannot be completely muted.

But he also speaks to us through the Church, precisely through the magisterium. We are not left alone guided only by our individual consciences that can still err, given our weakness, in understanding God's words.

Much less are we left only with our own human knowledge. No matter how brilliant that may be, it cannot penetrate the truth that ultimately governs us, and that is, that we are children of God, meant for God, meant for heaven, and not just for this world and this life.

With the magisterium, we are given a very clear light and an objective guide. While its focus is on our supernatural destiny, it is never oblivious to our earthly concerns, knowing that the latter are crucial to the former.

That is why, those who directly exercise it, while insured by Christ himself by the gift of infallibility, should be most careful when exercising it. They, especially the bishops, should be aware that when they teach, they do so in the name and person of Christ as head of the Church. They are never teaching on their own, expressing their opinions and preferences.

Thus, they have to be most careful when commenting on issues related to politics and other temporal affairs we have. These are things that involve varying valid options and opinions. We cannot make God appear to take positions in them. They are just for us to settle and resolve in the Christian spirit of love and respect for one another.
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