and appreciated only from the standpoint of this
assent, which is a sister to love, beyond the range
of clear reasons and arguments. We need to re-
member that all religious teaching ultimately has
to be reflected in the teacher’s way of life, which
awakens the assent of the heart by its nearness,
love and witness.
43. In her ongoing discernment, the Church
can also come to see that certain customs not
directly connected to the heart of the Gospel,
even some which have deep historical roots, are
no longer properly understood and appreciated.
Some of these customs may be beautiful, but
they no longer serve as means of communicating
the Gospel. We should not be afraid to re-exam-
ine them. At the same time, the Church has rules
or precepts which may have been quite effective
in their time, but no longer have the same use-
fulness for directing and shaping people’s lives.
Saint Thomas Aquinas pointed out that the pre-
cepts which Christ and the apostles gave to the
people of God “are very few”.
Citing Saint Au-
gustine, he noted that the precepts subsequently
enjoined by the Church should be insisted upon
with moderation “so as not to burden the lives
of the faithful” and make our religion a form of
servitude, whereas “God’s mercy has willed that
we should be free”.
This warning, issued many
centuries ago, is most timely today. It ought to
S. Th.
, I-II, q. 107, a. 4.
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