Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Round Up...

Cnytr has twisted my arm, and made me remind you all that she's blogging again. Pester her and persuade her to post more about her trip to Rome, her forthcoming wedding and her new puppy.

Incidentally, she and Deirdre seemed to have had a most excellent time when they met up in Rome. I'm thrilled that Deirdre has promoted me to the rank of 'Interesting Person'. I love Rome 'blogs, so I'm also adding her friend Elizabeth to my Blogroll. I presume they both have examinations at the moment, so I'm expecting both of them to do a lot of blogging as I always did when I had examinations. ;)

Matthew of the Holy Whapping posts the funniest thing I've read so far this year. He shows that quite apart from being a fine rubricist, Fortesque offers tips on semantics, airlibe travel and anger management.

Finally, I have been following the Blessed Columba Marmion Novena over at Vultus Christi. Marmion is the Summa of St Thomas, converted into spiritual theology, along with a dash of St Paul. I'm a huge fan of his Christ: The Ideal of the Priest and have just started his Christ in His Mysteries.

Having issues and the defining issues?

I stumbled across the following article and something struck me. The author says:
How come the deciding issues of whether one is a member of the church or not always seems to come down to issues concerning sexuality.
The usual suspects, gay marriage, abortion, etc are always and ever the issues that we are told are the defining issues as to whether or not we are catholic.
Has anyone ever heard of a bishop saying that tax fraud barred one from being a catholic? Has ever a bishop clearly and unambiguously spoken so strongly against the evil of poverty - one in six of the world's population are starving?
The author's point of view is not uncommon these days, and demonstrates how the media filters people's perceptions of the Church. You'll note that he mentions abortion as being one of those issues 'concerning sexuality' which is a defining issue. I would argue that the question of abortion primarily concerns the value of life - the 5th commandment rather than the 6th commandment - and that the author neglects to mention the Church's resistance to euthanasia.

Yes, the meaning of sexuality is one of those areas where the teaching of the Church meets most resistance in the modern world. But it's not something which the Church obsesses about. It's the media who are sex-obsessed. It seems to me that papal and episcopal statements are combed by the media for passing references to sexual morality, these are then cherry-picked and reported, and the rest of what the Church has to teach is neglected. When the Church speaks out against poverty or on environmental issues or against greed, it simply doesn't make headlines. Why? Because it doesn't really titillate the head-line makers. It doesn't attract the attention of the sub-editors. A fair reading of the speeches and messages of any of the recent Pontiffs - they're all available on the Vatican website - will show that the Church speaks out on a whole gamut of issues and offers a radically challenging and uplifting vision of the human person.

Meanwhile, the author of that article presents the following as his parting shot:
Also, is there not something unusual about bishops going on and on in such solemn tones on matters of sexuality while they adorn themselves with chains, crosses, rings and long frocks?
Is one ever struck by the visual appearance of so many bishops?
Again, it seems to me that the problem is with the imagination of the author... Normal episcopal regalia becomes chains, crosses, rings and long frocks... And if he's talking about Irish Bishops, he should be very well aware that they normally present themselves for public consumption in a clerical suit.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Long time, no blog...

I'm afraid it's been much too long since I've blogged regularly. I sometimes feel like posting a rant in the key of St Bernard or St Gregory the Great about how the cares of the world and the pastoral life are keeping me from 'blogging. Of course, they complained that their activity was keeping them from contemplation, which is much more worthy and noble, so I guess I'll just keep quiet.
Anyway, Fr Z has dug some interesting stuff out of my archives in order to mark today's feast of St Agnes. The Vatican's Youtube channel has some great footage of the traditional blessing of the lambs.

Since I last blogged, Jane & Lizzy have updated their template, so we look forward to hearing more from them. *Hint-hint*

I should also give a 'shout-out' to Seraphic whose book is being launched shortly.

What else? Deirdre has an excellent post for those who might be considering studying in Rome. The Irish Catholic has a new website. And Cardinal Newman is going to be beatified! (I've long been a fan.)

As I often do when stuck for original content, I'll conclude with an except from one of his Parochial and Plain Sermons. This was written when he was an Anglican, but it certainly has something to say to us as we celebrate the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
[L]et me remind you, my brethren, how nearly the whole doctrine of ecclesiastical order is connected with personal obedience to God's will. Obedience to the rule of order is every where enjoined in Scripture; obedience to it is an act of faith. Were there ten thousand objections to it, yet, supposing unity were clearly and expressly enjoined by Christ, faith would obey in spite of them. But in matter of fact there are no such objections, nor any difficulty of any moment in the way of observing it. What, then, is to be said to the very serious circumstance, that, in spite of the absence of such impediments, vast numbers of men conceive that they may dispense with it at their good pleasure. In all the controversies of fifteen hundred years, the duty of continuing in order and in quietness was professed on all sides, as one of the first principles of the Gospel of Christ. But now multitudes, both in and without the Church, have set it up on high as a great discovery, and glory in it as a great principle, that forms are worth nothing. They allow themselves to wander about from one communion to another, or from church to meeting-house, and make it a boast that they belong to no party and are above all parties; and argue, that provided men agree in some principal doctrines of the Gospel, it matters little whether they agree in any thing besides.

But those who boast of belonging to no party, and think themselves enlightened in this same confident boasting, I would, in all charity, remind that our Saviour Himself constituted what they must, on their principles, admit to be a party; that the Christian Church is simply and literally a party or society instituted by Christ. He bade us keep together. Fellowship with each other, mutual sympathy, and what spectators from without call party-spirit, all this is a prescribed duty; and the sin and the mischief arise, not from having a party, but in having many parties, in separating from that one body or party which He has appointed; for when men split the one Church of Christ into fragments, they are doing their part to destroy it altogether.

But while the Church of Christ is literally what the world calls a party, it is something far higher also. It is not an institution of man, not a mere political establishment, not a creature of the state, depending on the state's breath, made and unmade at its will, but it is a Divine society, a great work of God, a true relic of Christ and His Apostles, as Elijah's mantle upon Elisha, a bequest which He has left us, and which we must keep for His sake; a holy treasure which, like the ark of Israel, looks like a thing of earth, and is exposed to the ill-usage and contempt of the world, but which in its own time, and according to the decree of Him who gave it, displays today, and tomorrow, and the third day, its miracles, as of mercy so of judgment, "lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake and great hail."