Faith/Spirituality Forum: Spirit Of The Law
Spirit Of The Law QUESTION from Marcia September 13, 2001 Dear Brother-
Please explain what you meant (in your September 4th answer about a RC attending an Eastern Rite in communion with Rome, either permenantly or regularily, while remaining a RC, or considering changing to the Eastern Rite, in either case) by a violation of the spirit of the law? What does that mean, and why would it be a violation?
Thank you very much and God Bless you. Marcia
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on September 10, 2001 Dear Mrs. Marcia:
The Spirit of the law refers to the original intent of the law that the legislators had in mind when they promulgated the law. What did the Vatican intend in making this law? The intent is that Catholics should be loyal to their respective Rite. The Eastern Rites are ethnic and national Churches. For example, to transfer to a Ukranian Church is rather odd unless you are a Ukranian. If you are not a Ukranian then you are not familiar with that culture. While you might feel a higher degree of reference or spirituality in the Ukranian Mass, ethnically you are in unfamiliar territory and that will have its negative affects spiritually.
To violate the Spirit of the Law is to violate the underlying intent.
I will give you an example:
Little Johnny does something wrong and his father grounds the boy to his room for an hour. The father says, Johnny, you are grounded. Go to your room and don't come through that door for one hour.
Fifteen minutes later the father sees the child in the front yard playing. The Father yells out, Johnny, didn't I tell you not to come through your bedroom door for one hour?
Johnny replies, Yes, daddy, but you said nothing about the window.
Techically, Johnny did NOT disobey his father. He never went through the bedroom door.
But, Johnny did OBVIOUSLY violate the father's obvious intent -- the he be restricted to his room for one hour.
Whenever any law is written or preached one can always find loopholes. Thus an honorable person seeks not only to follow the letter of the law, but also the spirit (intent) of the law. A dishonorable person doesn't care what the intent was and will manipulate the technicalities of the law to suit himself.
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