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APPENDIX - S. VINCENT OF LERINS

"All which things, though they were abundant for the overthrow and extinguishing of all the profane novelties, yet, lest aught should be lacking to such fulness, we add for a conclusion a twofold authority of the Apostolic See, the one of the holy Pope Sixtus, the venerable man who now adorns the Roman Church; the other of his predecessor of blessed memory, Pope Celestine, which we have thought necessary here to insert."*

Thus we see that, according to the teaching of S. Vincent, a doctrine may be thoroughly Catholic, and yet may not in every case (as that of not re-baptising heretics) have been held ubique, et ab omnibus.

But there remains the word semper. Those who hold to the interpretation and application of S. Vincent's rule, as it is commonly understood by non-Catholics, would maintain that all genuine doctrines of Christianity, originally contained in the revealed deposit, were believed in the same manner, that is to say, explicitly, at any rate, more or less so, in every age of Christianity from the beginning, at least by some few, and somewhere in the Church.

We would now, then, show that S. Vincent held that the teaching and belief of Christian doctrines was not always the same; or, in other words, that alongside of the principle, quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus, there was, according to the Saint, a process of doctrinal development in the Church, whereby additions were made to Catholic teaching, and certain Christian truths that at one time had been believed only implicitly came in course of time to be believed explicitly.

For this purpose we shall simply give a lengthened quotation from the Commonitorium, thus leaving S. Vincent to explain his teaching on the matter in his own words: --

"O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding the profane novelties of words...+ Who at this day is Timothy, but either generally the universal Church, or especiallly the whole body of prelates, who ought either themselves to have a sound knowledge of Divine religion, or who ought to infuse it into others? ... Depositum custodi. What is the depositum? It is that which has been entrusted to thee, not what has been found out by thee: what thou hast received, not what thou hast thought out; a matter not of ingenuity, but of learning; not of private adoption, but of public tradition; a thing brought to thee, not brought out by thee: wherein thou must be not an author, but a keeper, not a originator, but a pursuer: not leading, but following. Keep, he says, the deposit: preserve the talent of the Catholic faith inviolate and pure. Let what has been entrusted to thee remain with thee, be delivered by thee. Thou hast received gold, give back gold. I will not that thou offer me one thing for another, and have the face, instead of gold, to present me with lead, or cheat me with brass. I want not the appearance of gold, but its reality (naturam)."

"O Timothy, O priest, O steward, O doctor, if the Divine gift has rendered thee fit, by thy wit, thy travail, thy doctrine -- be the Beseleel of the spiritual tabernacle, engrave the precious gems of Divine dogma, faithfully set them, wisely adorn them, give them brightness, grace, and beauty. Make what was before believed more obscurely, by thy exposition, to be more clearly understood. Let posterity rejoice for coming to the intelligence of that, by thy means, which antiquity, without understanding it, had in veneration. Nevertheless, the things thou hast learned, the same teach in such sort, that albeit thou speakest after a new manner, thou speak not new things.


* Ib. 32, p. 683.

+ 1 Tim. vi. 20.

 

 

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