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Review by Dr Pravin Thevathasan



Authenticity
A Biblical Theology Of Discernment
by Thomas Dubay, S.M.
Ignatius Press

The word discernment is bandied about quite a lot these days. In some circles, it is believed that it becomes morally acceptable for couples to live in adulterous relationships if they have discerned that they have no other choice. Some Catholic bishops appear to believe that the pro-abortion politician Joe Biden should be allowed to receive Holy Communion if he discerns that this is the right thing to do. These people need to read this wonderful book.

Fr Dubay was a spiritual giant. He was also orthodox. He points out that discernment is rooted in obedience. This means obedience to the constant teachings of the Catholic Church. Biblical discernment can never contradict the teachings of the Church on matters of faith and morals.

Fr Dubay warns us not to base our spiritual lives on the extraordinary. What matters is a life of prayer and reception of the sacraments: the ordinary means. He was an expert on the Spanish mystics and it is therefore no surprise to discover that St John of the Cross features so much in this work.

It is St John who warns us of the dangers of relying on the extraordinary.

In order to discern the will of God, we first need to deeply convert to God. We need to follow the teachings of the Church on matters of faith and morals. What about those who believe they are following an inner light? They need to be careful that they are not Protestants in all but name.

The divisions within the Catholic Church are a source of scandal. As Fr Dubay puts it: "Outsiders can hardly take seriously an institution that cannot speak with one clear voice. A maze of opinion impresses no one."

As I read this work, I kept thinking about a time when I attended weekday Mass at a convent. The nuns were friendly, well-meaning and elderly. It appears that after the Second Vatican Council, they discarded the religious habit. Mental prayer was replaced by various psychological exercises. A life of asceticism became a thing of the past. There was no longer communal recitation of the Rosary. At Mass, we sat in a circle. Few of us knelt at consecration. There were no vocations and presumably that convent is no more.

There was one nun who stood out. She was the only one in a habit. She thanked us for kneeling at Mass and was very unhappy with the direction her superiors had taken after the Council. Had they had Fr Dubay as their spiritual director, what would he have said? Read the documents of Vatican II ! Where does it say that the religious habit should be thrown out? Or the Rosary? Or kneeling at Mass?

This is a very timely work. More timely now than when it was first published.


            
Copyright ; Dr Pravin Thevathasan 2020

Version: 13th December 2020



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