TS 26: Council of Vienne (1311)
We do not have a complete record of all of the acts of this Council. Most of the Councils acts were of the temporal authority. However, there is this teaching:
Adhering firmly to the foundation of the catholic faith, other than which, as the Apostle testifies, no one can lay, we openly profess with holy mother church that the only begotten Son of God, subsisting eternally together with the Father in everything in which God the Father exists, assumed in time in the womb of a virgin the parts of our nature united together, from which he himself true God became true man: namely the human, passible body and the intellectual or rational soul truly of itself and essentially informing the body. And that in this assumed nature the Word of God willed for the salvation of all not only to be nailed to the cross and to die on it, but also, having already breathed forth his spirit, permitted his side to be pierced by a lance, so that from the outflowing water and blood there might be formed the one, immaculate and holy virginal mother church, the bride of Christ, as from the side of the first man in his sleep Eve was fashioned as his wife, in this way, to the determinate figure of the first and old Adam, who according to the Apostle is a type of the one who was to come, the truth might correspond in our last Adam, that is to say in Christ. This, we say, is the truth, fortified by the witness of that huge eagle which the prophet Ezechiel saw flying over the other gospel animals, namely blessed John the apostle and evangelist, who relating the event and order of this sacrament, said in his gospel : But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs, but one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. He who saw it has borne witness - his testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth -- that you also may believe.
We, therefore, directing our apostolic attention, to which alone it belongs to define these things, to such splendid testimony and to the common opinion of the holy fathers and doctors, declare with the approval of the sacred council that the said apostle and evangelist, John, observed the right order of events in saying that when Christ was already dead one of the soldiers opened his side with a spear. Moreover, with the approval of the said council, we reject as erroneous and contrary to the truth of the catholic faith every doctrine or proposition rashly asserting that the substance of the rational or intellectual soul is not of itself and essentially the form of the human body, or casting doubt on this matter. In order that all may know the truth of the faith in its purity and all error may be excluded, we define that anyone who presumes henceforth to assert defend or hold stubbornly that the rational or intellectual soul is not the form of the human body of itself and essentially, is to be considered a heretic.
All are faithfully to profess that there is one baptism which regenerates all those baptized in Christ, just as there is one God and one faith'. We believe that when baptism is administered in water in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy Spirit, it is a perfect means of salvation for both adults and children. Yet because, as regards the effect of baptism in children, we find that certain theologians have held contrary opinions, some saying that by baptism guilt is indeed remitted in infants but grace is not conferred, others on the contrary asserting that both guilt is remitted and the virtues and sanctifying grace are infused with regard to habit though for the time being not with regard to use, we, considering the general efficacy of Christ's death, which through baptism is applied in like manner to all the baptised, choose, with the approval of the sacred council, the second opinion, which says that sanctifying grace and the virtues are conferred in baptism on both infants and adults, as more probable and more in harmony with the words of the saints and of modern doctors of theology.
This sect, planted by the sower of evil deeds, holds and asserts in its sacrilegious and perverse doctrine the following errors.
1. First, that a person in this present life can acquire a degree of perfection which renders him utterly impeccable and unable to make further progress in grace. For, as they say, if someone could always make further progress, he could become more perfect than Christ.
2. Secondly, that it is not necessary to fast or pray after gaining this degree of perfection, for then the sensitive appetite has been so perfectly subjected to the spirit and to reason that one may freely grant the body whatever pleases it.
3. Thirdly, that those who have reached the said degree of perfection and spirit of liberty, are not subject to human obedience nor obliged to any commandments of the church, for, as they say, where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
4. Fourthly, that a person can gain in this life final beatitude in every degree of perfection that he will obtain in the life of the blessed.
5. Fifthly, that any intellectual nature in itself is naturally blessed, and that the soul does not need the light of glory to elevate it to see God and enjoy him blissfully.
6. Sixthly, that the practice of the virtues belongs to the state of imperfection and the perfect soul is free from virtues.
7. Seventhly, that to kiss a woman is a mortal sin since nature does not incline one to it, but the act of intercourse is not a sin, especially in time of temptation, since it is an inclination of nature.
8. Eighthly, that at the elevation of the body of Jesus Christ, they ought not to rise or show reverence to it; it would be an imperfection for them to come down from the purity and height of their contemplation so far as to think about the ministry or sacrament of the eucharist, or about the passion of Christ as man.
With the counterfeit appearance of sanctity they say and do other things also that offend the eyes of the divine majesty' and constitute a grave danger to souls. Since the duty of the office committed to us obliges us to exstirpate from the catholic church this detestable sect and the above execrable errors, lest they be further propagated and corrupt the hearts of the faithful, we condemn and utterly reject, with the approval of the sacred council, the sect itself and the errors described above, and we strictly forbid anyone henceforth to hold, approve or defend the errors.
If indeed someone has fallen into the error of presuming to affirm pertinaciously that the practice of usury is not sinful, we decree that he is to be punished as a heretic
The above quoted text is the teaching of the Council of matters of faith and morals. The point about Baptism both remitting guilt and infusing virtues and sanctifying grace is stated by the Council as more probable, but at this point in time it is an infallible teaching under the Universal Magisterium.
The bold text above on the soul being the form of the body means that the soul is thoroughly united with the body (not merely a 'ghost in the machine'), and is distinct, but not separate. In this context, form refers to the intrinsic principle of activity of the body, such that the body without the soul is dead, and such that the soul is essential to the proper functioning of the body by its very nature. In human persons, body and soul are together the one nature.
I think the teachings of this council are very important to current Catholic apologetics.
The more ovious points to me are...
1. To show why abortion is the murder of a human being..."the body without the soul is dead."
2. To defend infant baptisms against some Protestants' practice of adult baptism.
3. To discredit moralistic and spiritual relativism.
A Harvest of Lies
The logic of this sect confounds me. If someone has to make further progress, then obviously he hasn't even reached that state of perfection exemplified by Christ which we are called to aspire to. It would appear that this sect had no inkling of the meaning of original sin and concupiscence.
For the flesh has desires against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you may not do what you want.
Galatians 5, 17
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry.
Matthew 4, 1-2
He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will." When he returned to his disciples, he found them asleep. He said to Peter, "So you could not keep watch with me for one hour? Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."
Matthew 26, 39-41
"But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret."
Matthew 6, 6
"But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden."
Matthew 6, 17-18
"Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill."
Matthew 5, 17
When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.
Luke 2, 39-40
Then he allowed him. After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the spirit of God descending like a dove and coming upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, saying, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased."
Matthew 3, 15-17
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to death,
even death on a cross.
Philippians 2, 7-8
Jesus expects us to observe the teachings and commandments of His Church. To do otherwise amounts to an act of disobedience against the will of God and is unworthy of Christ.
"Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me."
Luke 10, 16
We ask you, brothers, to respect those who are laboring among you and who are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to show esteem for them with special love on account of their work.
1 Thessalonians 5, 12-13
One has to wonder whether the members of this sect had actually viewed themselves as having become sinless like Jesus and our Blessed Mother Mary before death.
Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father."
Matthew 16, 17
Likewise, it is by the grace of God that we come to face his verdict and acknowledge our sins before him. God's grace certainly worked through Nathan's parable to help David judge and acknowledge his inexcusable and indefensible transgression that had reached the depths of his soul. And for the psalmist the Lord had always been his "light" and his "help".
For I know my offense;
my sin is always before me.
Against you alone have I sinned;
I have done such evil in your sight
That you are just in your sentence,
blameless when you condemn.
A clean heart create for me, O God;
renew in me a steadfast spirit.
Do not drive me from your presence,
nor take from me your holy spirit.
Psalm 51, 5-6, 12-13
Good and upright is the Lord,
who shows sinners the way,
Guides the humble rightly
and teaches the humble the way.
Psalm 25, 8-9
For the grace of God has appeared, saving all, and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age, as we await the blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of the great God and of our savior Jesus Christ.
Titus 2, 11-13
Put on, then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection.
Colossians 3, 12-14
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