Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Anathema Defined

> > a·nath·e·ma
> > n. pl. a·nath·e·mas
> > 1. A formal ecclesiastical ban, curse, or excommunication.
> >
> > (MLA citation)
> > "anathema." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the
> > English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin
> > Company, 2004. 28 Jul. 2009.
> > .
> >
> > sw: I trust this is enough for you to concede that
> > we are not misrepresenting the term.
> >
> > In JMJ,
> > Scott<<< >
> BJ: I acknowledge your reply.
> BJ: English dictionary definitions are not adequate
> documentation for the meaning of the Catholic
> Church, nor are they adequate for the meaning in
> the Holy Bible.

sw: An English dictionary should suffice for you for the English use (the language we speak). There are more definitions unrelated to ecclesial circumstances but to answer your objection, allow me to continue.

sw: Anathema originally meant something or someone given to God. "Thus anathema according to its etymology signifies a thing offered to God. The word anathema is sometimes used in this sense in the Old and New Testaments: In Judith 16:23, it is said that Judith, having taken all the arms of Holofernes which the people had given him and the curtain of his bed which she herself had brought, offered them to theLord as an anathema of oblivion."

"In the New Testament anathema no longer entails death, but the loss of goods or exclusion from the society of the faithful. St. Paul frequently uses this word in the latter sense. In the Epistle to the Romans (9:3) he says: "For I wished myself to be an anathema from Christ, for my brethren, who are my kinsmen according to the flesh", i.e. "I should wish to be separated and rejected of Christ, if by that means I would procure the salvation of my brethren." And again, using the
word in the same sense, he says (Galatians 1:9): "If any one preach to you a gospel besides that which you have received, let him be anathema." (ibid.)

"Anathema remains a major excommunication which is to be promulgated with great solemnity." (ibid.)

"The Church, animated by the spirit of God, does not wish the death of the sinner, but rather that he be converted and live. This explains why the most severe and terrifying formulas of excommunication, containing all the rigours of the Maranatha have, as a rule, clauses like this: Unless he becomes repentant, or gives satisfaction, or is corrected." (ibid.)

This from anti-Catholic William Webster:
"We need to say a word here about the meaning of the term anathema. In the formal sense the term means excommunication from the Roman Catholic Church."

sw: The bottom line is, in Catholic theology an anathema is separation from communion with the Catholic Church - or excommunication. In Catholic theology if one is separated from the Church upon their death - and the Church is THE path Jesus established for salvation - which IS the position of Catholics (or else we wouldn't BE Catholics!) then an excommunicated person most likely will find their self in Hell if they die without reconciling with the Church. But again, we must emphasize, the GOAL of the Church in excommunicating someone or anathematizing someone is to wake them up and/or bring the BACK into full communion with the Church. The desire of the Church is reconciliation, NOT condemnation. So excommunication is NOT ipso facto damnation, but it COULD end up that way.


(The above comes from a discussion in CDF)

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