Sunday, 9 December 2007

[never posted as I was too ill with flu shortly afterwards] ....Back !!



















Been a bit rough recently - what with the eye [still recovering slowly but painfully] and other things. Plus my PC and the blog itself was playing up. But Great news on Thursday ! My best friend's wife has had her breast 'cancer' results through and she's all clear - Was dancing round the room hugging the kids in relief.


Have so wanted to comment on Spe Salvi and Advent and so much else that's happened recently but apparently it wasn't meant to be ; so will try and catch up over the next few days - but tonight I'm 'puggled' ; have laundry to do and dinner to cook ; all the kids have colds and huge clouds of menthol/eucalyptus vapour emanate from every room ; Nicky's at work till nearly midnight and I have to be in work really early because in the busiest fortnight of the year the young newbie staff member has walked out leaving me on my own for the whole of tomorrow morning ; and now my mother has informed me Jonathan needs to be picked up from school tomorrow instead of getting his regular lift [something we've already been without for two weeks]- wouldn't mind but it's a five mile round journey and over the past two weeks the wind and rain has been cruel and merciless - So I'm not exactly in the most charitable mode. I'm so glad that His Holiness published Spe Salvi now; it has been a great source of heart-lifting solace - so regrettable that our Bishops have been silent on one of the most beautiful pieces of work to come from the Vatican in decades !!!!
It hasn't been the most wondrous of years - I'm a bit self- obsessed and still feel disheartened that I couldn't find another job [nobody wants to know !] and money's been tight - we really couldn't afford a car but it was a necessity; and I really wanted to start writing properly this year but the hours turned into days turned into weeks and time just drifted away...I really hope Christmas will be a happy and holy time ; and I'm worried the kids might be a little, well ? They have nowhere near as many presents as their fellow schoolfriends; it'd break my heart if they were disappointed - don't get me wrong the kids are really appreciative; but sometimes they really over-emphasise the gratitude to make mum and dad feel better - they exaggerate the 'wow' factor and they are no oliviers...bless 'em ! Usually I get a little depressed when it comes to December , usually regarding the church and world - but this year ? Pope Benedict really does shine like a beacon of light in the darkness.
Anyway, as St Paul says : "always be thankful!" Here's hoping I'm not so tired all the time next year.

Saturday, 8 December 2007

A few thoughts by others...

The Four Marks of The Church


Mgr Ronald Knox


When we have come to the conclusion that our Lord founded a Church, we have still to ask a further question, Which Church? That need not surprise or scandalize us; it's the good things in the world, not the bad things, that produce a crop of imitations--people imitate Keats, they don't imitate Ella Wheeler Wilcox.

This good wine that Christ has given us-it is only natural, in an imperfect world, that there should be some confusion about the labels. In order to keep our heads, when we start out to look for the true Church, we remember that in the Credo at Mass it is qualified by four distinguishing marks, "I believe in one, holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church." Those four marks must be present in the body we are looking for. And this is worth observing; we must be content if we find that they are there at all, we must not expect, necessarily, to find them in an eminent degree. That is a common experience when you are dealing with definitions. The usual definition of Man is that he is a reasoning animal; he is Homo Sapiens. And that is true, you see, even of lunatics; they reason, in fact they often reason with great acuteness, like the mad don who thought the don underneath was trying to shoot him through the floor, and consequently always sat on the table until at last he grew to believe that he was a tea-pot. At the same time, when you reflect on this definition of man, and realize that sapience is his characteristic quality, it makes you examine your conscience a bit, and wonder whether, having matriculated at a University, you ought not to trying to become a little more sapient. And so it is, as I shall try to point out, with these four marks of the Church. They show us what it is, and at the same time they encourage us, our small way, to try and make it rather more so.


To prove that the Church is, and is meant to be, visibly one, is pretty easy going. You've only to read St Paul epistles to be struck by the enormous importance which attaches to the unity of the Church. It's quite true that will talk about the church at Corinth, say, and the church Thessalonica, but never with the smallest suggestion that they are two separate entities. No, it's just like talking about the air at Brighton and the air at Blackpool; the Church, for St Paul, is the atmosphere in which a Christian moves and has his being; even when some half-dozen slaves in some rich person's household had been converted to Christianity, St Paul used to speak of the Church in So-and-so's household. And heavens, how he is always going on and on at those early Christians, even then, about unity; telling them to be built up into one another, to grow up into a single body, and so on. For St Paul, the Church is at once something wholly united, and something wholly unique. The Bride of Christ, how could there be more than one Bride of Christ? The building of which Christ is the cornerstone; what more compact idea could you get of Christian fellowship? The Body of which Christ is the Head; how could there be more than one such Body, or how, outside the unity of that Body, can a man have a right to think of himself as united to Christ?

Of course, you may object that St Paul perhaps wasn't thinking of what we mean by the Church; he was thinking of the invisible Church, as it has sometimes been called-not a society of people distinguishable here and now by possessing a common faith and a common organization, but simply an ideal concept, the sum total of those souls whose names will, at last, be found written in the book of life. Only, you see, that won't do, because our Lord himself doesn't think of the Church in that way. The kingdom of heaven (which was his name for it is like a mixed crop, part of it wheat, part of it cockle, only to be separated at the final judgement; it is like a net cast into the sea, which brings up fish for the dinner-table and fish which are of no use to anybody, not to be separated till the net is brought in to land. The Church, then, as Christ himself envisaged it is a visible Church, rogues and honest men mixed; not all members of the Church are bound for heaven by any means.


And if you look round, today, for a visible Church which is visibly one, there is hardly any competition, is there? I mean, Christians who belong to other denominations don't even claim, as a rule, that their denomination is the Church. Church unity is something which existed in the early ages, which will, it is to be hoped, come into existence again later on; it doesn't exist here and now. Anybody who has reached the point of looking round to find a single, visible fellowship of human beings which claims to be the one Church of Christ, has got to become a Catholic or give up his search in despair.

At the same time, if you get arguing with non-Catholics about the unity of the Church, you will find they have a complaint to make about it. Isn't yours (they ask) rather a nominal kind of unity? Why did the German Catholics allow Hitler to invade Catholic Poland? Why do the Catholic Italians persecute the Catholic Jugo-Slavs? And so on--you know the kind of thing. Well, here we have to go back to the principle I was laying down just now; we said unity, not perfect unity. There have been times at which Pope and Antipope reigned side by side, dividing the sympathies of Europe. But even then, there was only one Church. Part of Christendom followed the true Pope; part of it in good faith, materially but not formally in schism, followed the Antipope. A man suffering from schizophrenia is still homo sapiens. A Church united in doctrine and in ecclesiastical theory is still one Church, although its energies are being dissipated in schism.


Meanwhile--this is the other side of the picture--we Catholics ought to be a jolly sight more careful than we are about unity. It's quite true we have got a central executive in Rome which can, at a pinch, dispose of any controversy; but that is such an awfully bad reason for spending our whole time running controversies among ourselves, nation against nation, one religious order against another, one set or clique of lay people against another, the whole time. I've never yet been able to understand what it is that leads Catholics to savage one another so fiercely, the moment there is any difference of opinion. That is something we can do something about.

But I mustn't go on about that; we must consider the second mark, the holiness of the Church. Here we are in a somewhat more embarrassing position when we start arguing with our friends outside the Church; they're so apt to expect rather too much, aren't they? The usual explanation the books give of this second mark is that "holiness" in the Church is proved partly by the continuance of miracles within her fold, and partly by the existence of the religious orders, with their special cult of perfection. The Church (we are told) has her ups and downs, her bad patches here and there, but we've still got Lourdes and we've still got Carmel. I've no quarrel with that explanation, but I think you can put the thing rather more simply in this way--Christians of any other denomination, if they describe that denomination as "holy" at all (which they very seldom do), are referring in fact to the individual holiness of its members. Whereas when we talk about the Holy Catholic Church we aren't thinking, precisely, of the holiness of its members. We think of the Church as sanctifying its members, rather than being sanctified by its members. Sanctity--what a hard thing it is to define! There is a kind of bouquet of mystery about Catholic ceremonial, there is a kind of familiarity about the attitude of Catholics towards death and what lies beyond death, there is a patient acceptance of little oddnesses and inconveniences about the practice of religion, which you don't find outside the Church itself, except perhaps among certain High Church people who have been at pains to imitate what is to us a natural attitude. That's all very vague, and I haven't time to analyze it more particularly; but I think the reason why atheists usually say, "If I was anything, I'd be a Catholic", is that there is a something about her; and that something is really her sanctity, a quality which belongs to the institution as such, not to you and me.


And that something is not affected, really, by all the mud-slinging which starts, among the more embittered kind of Protestants, the moment the sanctity of the Church is mentioned. Immoral popes and worldly bishops, and priests in odd parts of the world who aren't any better than they should be, and the massacre of St Bartholomew and a dozen other incidents which recall to us the dictum "Happy is the nation which has no history"--well, yes. All that we can admit, and regret, and refuse to extenuate, and still say, "Yes, I know, but I'd sooner be a Catholic than anything else, because I'm not much of a chap really, and somehow being a Catholic means feeling that you get something out of it, whereas being any other kind of Christian means feeling that you've got to put something into it." All that's true, and it's fine. But, mark you, the real reason why Catholic propaganda doesn't go down better than it does, is our individual unholiness. I don't so much mean the way Catholics are always appearing in the police-courts and so on; there's a lot to be said about that, and it's not all to our discredit. No, I mean rather our terrible second-rateness, our determination to get to heaven as cheaply as possible, the mechanical way in which we accept our religious duties, our habit of thinking about every problem of conduct in terms of sin and of hell, when we ought to be thinking much more about generosity in our treatment of God. "Nor knowest thou what argument thy life to thy neighbour's creed hath lent"--it isn't logic, but that's the real mark of the Church the world is looking out for, all the time.


And then, the Catholicity of the Church--there we feel on surer ground again. It's so obvious, on the one hand, that our Lord meant his Church to be an assembly of all the nations, in contradistinction to the old church of the Jews, which was simply the assembly of one nation; it doesn't need proving. And it's so obvious, on the other hand, that the Church which is in communion with Rome is a world-wide Church, does transcend merely local prejudices and merely local ways of thinking; that to be a Catholic does obliterate, instead of emphasizing, the sense of strangeness which you and I have when we meet a foreigner. Say what you will, the other Christianities are so hall-marked with their place of origin, reflect so perfectly a German, or an English, or an American outlook; even their virtues are so much the characteristic virtues of a particular and rather modern culture, that you can't think of their missionary influence, splendid as it often is, as a Catholicizing influence. Whatever else they dislike about us, men admire, and envy, our international ubiquity.

But don't let's forget that our critics have something to say on the other side. They complain that our Catholic culture, though on the face of it it is world-wide, is dominated by the influence of a particular group of nations. In the Middle Ages, Catholicism was at least pan-European. But now, if you lump together the Latin races, with Ireland and Poland, you can say roughly that these dominate Catholic culture; everywhere else the Church is represented by minorities. And there is a temper, they tell us, about Catholics which is just the opposite, somehow, of what we mean by the word Catholic. There's a jealous, a rather timorous attitude about Catholics which makes them look with suspicion on all ideas which haven't sprung from their own minds; there's a rather offensive tone of "Here's tae us, and wha's like us?" about a good deal of their literature; they're all, somehow, rather shut in. If the Church is Catholic in her geographical extension, is she really Catholic in the field of ideas?


Well, you'd want at least a whole conference to deal properly with that charge. There can be a lot of danger in the infiltration of ideas--the very word infiltration gives you, nowadays, the picture of sinister little men creeping through a jungle. I always remember the last of Dr Caird's famous lay sermons when I was at Balliol, and the terrific impressiveness, only possible to a Scot, with which he enunciated the words, "Remember, the man who shuts himself in shuts others out." I thought at the time, and still think, that that was a sort of parody of the Oxford Hegelian manner. Because, after all, what on earth do you mean by shutting yourself in, except that you are shutting other people out? But let us take his point, and let us admit for the sake of argument, at any rate, that the circle of the Church's ideas has been rather narrow, that its culture has been too much a specifically Latin culture, ever since the Reformation. That, if it is true, is not altogether our fault; ever since the Reformation, as Ward used to say, we have been in a state of siege; we have lived under a kind of martial law. If the Northern-European point of view is not sufficiently represented in the Church's councils, that is because the nations of Northern Europe, four hundred years ago, cut themselves off from the Church. It may be that as time goes on our Catholic culture--I do not say our Catholic faith, I only say our Catholic culture--will be further enriched by absorbing the thought of other nations; not necessarily European nations; we may have something to learn from Asia as well. But the point about the Church is that she has the power to assimilate, to digest, fresh ideas, instead of merely gulping them down; all her history makes us sure of that. And in that power of assimilation, she is Catholic.


Have we, as individual Catholics, a lesson to learn, here too? I hesitate to draw the moral, because as I say there are two sides to this question. And it may be urged that in England, and especially in Oxford, we Catholics are in danger of exchanging our ideas too much with the outside world, rather than too little. Let me only say this, for the benefit of anybody here who may need the warning; don't fall into the temptation of crabbing everything that's not Catholic.

Catholic and Apostolic--that is a kind of concealed paradox. This Church which is to be a world-Church, must therefore, you would think, have a breadth of outlook which enables it to enter into the mind of each nation, and interpret it to itself, is nevertheless Apostolic; it is committed to the doctrine handed down, centuries ago, by a set of working men in an obscure province of the Roman Empire. The notion of apostolicity is the faithful handing on of a message. Apostello, to send out, that is a key word of the New Testament; it occurs about 130 times in the course of it, quite apart from the frequent use of the word "apostle". As the Father hath sent me, even so I send you--that is the start of the whole thing. In the Old Testament, you find the prophets coming forward in obedience to an inward vocation from God. In the New Testament, it is not enough to be called; you must be sent; St Paul himself, a called man if ever there was one, was sent by the Church at Antioch when he began his travels. And that sending has been going on continuously through the ages; the Church has always had her own hierarchy of commissioned officials, following one another in unbroken succession. The other denominations may claim that their ministers are called; but who sent them? Always, if you examine their line of succession, there is a flaw in the title-deeds; a human agent has stepped in and interrupted, by his interference, the unbroken succession of sent men to whom our Lord made his promises.

Have our critics found a come-back, here too? Do they accuse us of not being apostolic enough? Well, they haven't the courage to say that we don't try to impress other people with our ideas; if anything, their complaint is rather the opposite. But they have managed to put us in our place, by slightly altering the meaning of the word "apostolic". A funny thing (they say) that you should boast of direct descent from a set of Galilean peasants, when you have your sailing orders given you by a man dressed in very expensive clothes, who talks to you down a golden telephone from one of the few really magnificent palaces left in the world. What bank balances your religious houses have! Is that apostolic? How consistently clerical influence in politics tells in favor of the right, rather than the left; is that apostolic? Well, as I say, they have taken a certain amount of liberty with the word. The word they really want is not so much apostolic as apostoloid. But we mustn't quarrel with them over niceties of language. I don't think we need waste much time in discussing clerical incomes. In some parts of the world, it may be the clergy do themselves too well; in others, they are miserably poor. In England, I think we strike a fair mean; we don't live too well, considering that we are bachelors. There is more substance, I should say, in the accusation that a clerical party in politics is usually a party of the right. There is a terrible lot to be said about that on both sides, and I have allowed myself exactly no time for dealing with it. Let me only say this; that it is a good rule in life not to show the weaknesses which people expect you to show--it makes them take more notice. We are suspected, we Catholics, of having too little sympathy for the poor, for the under-dog. It is important, I think, for Catholics, whatever their views, not to justify that impression, sometimes by living too luxuriously, sometimes by thinking too explosively.

One, holy, Catholic, and Apostolic; those have always been the marks of the true Church; always will be, whatever we do or don't do about it. But, if you and I are to be true samples by which the quality of our Church can be judged, we have to be lovers of unity, generous in our dealings with God, generous in our attitude towards men who do not agree with us, and, in such measure as circumstances and opportunities allow, apostoloid.


WHY I AM A CATHOLIC

by G.K. Chesterton


A LEADING article in a daily paper was recently devoted
to the New Prayer Book; without having anything very new to
say about it. For it mostly consisted in repeating for the
nine-hundredth-and-ninety-nine-thousandth time that what the ordinary
Englishman wants is a religion without dogma (whatever that may be),
and that the disputes about Church matters were idle and barren
on both sides. Only, suddenly remembering that this equalisation
of both sides might possibly involve some slight concession or
consideration for our side, the writer hastily corrected himself.
He proceeded to suggest that though it is wrong to be dogmatic,
it is essential to be dogmatically Protestant. He suggested that
the ordinary Englishman (that useful character) was quite convinced,
in spite of his aversion to all religious differences, that it was vital
to religion to go on differing from Catholicism. He is convinced
(we were told) that "Britain is as Protestant as the sea is salt."
Gazing reverently at the profound Protestantism of Mr. Michael Arlen
or Mr. Noel Coward, or the latest jazz dance in Mayfair, we might
be tempted to ask: If the salt lose its savour, wherewith shall
it be salted? But since we may rightly deduce from this passage
that Lord Beaverbrook and Mr. James Douglas and Mr. Hannen Swaffer,
and all their following, are indeed stern and unbending Protestants
(and as we know that Protestants are famous for the close and
passionate study of the Scriptures, unhindered by Pope or priest),
we might even take the liberty of interpreting the saying in the
light of a less familiar text. Is it possible that in comparing
Protestantism to the salt of the sea they were haunted with some
faint memory of another passage, in which the same Authority
spoke of one single and sacred fountain that is of living water,
because it is of life-giving water, and really quenches the thirst
of men; while all other pools and puddles are distinguished from
it by the fact that those who drink of them will thirst again.
It is a thing that does occasionally happen to people who prefer
to drink salt water.


This is perhaps a somewhat provocative way of opening the statement
of my strongest conviction; but I would respectfully plead that
the provocation came from the Protestant. When Protestantism calmly
claims to rule all the souls in the tone of Britannia ruling all
the seas, it is permissible to retort that the very quintessence
of such salt can be found thickest in the stagnation of the Dead Sea.
But it is still more permissible to retort that Protestantism
is claiming what no religion at this moment can possibly claim.
It is calmly claiming the allegiance of millions
of agnostics, atheists, hedonistic pagans, independent mystics,
psychic investigators, theists, theosophists, followers of Eastern
cults and jolly fellows living like the beasts that perish.
To pretend that all these are Protestants is considerably
to lower the prestige and significance of Protestantism.
It is to make it merely negative; and salt is not negative.


Taking this as a text and test of the present problem
of religious choice, we find ourselves faced from the first
with a dilemma about the traditional religion of our fathers.
Protestantism as here named is either a negative or a positive thing.
If Protestantism is a positive thing, there is no doubt whatever
that it is dead. In so far as it really was a set of special spiritual
beliefs it is no longer believed. The genuine Protestant creed
is now hardly held by anybody--least of all by the Protestants.
So completely have they lost faith in it, that they have mostly
forgotten what it was. If almost any modern man be asked whether we
save our souls solely through our theology, or whether doing good
(to the poor, for instance) will help us on the road to God,
he would answer without hesitation that good works are probably
more pleasing to God than theology. It would probably come
as quite a surprise to him to learn that, for three hundred years,
the faith in faith alone was the badge of a Protestant, the faith
in good works the rather shameful badge of a disreputable Papist.
The ordinary Englishman (to bring in our old friend once more)
would now be in no doubt whatever on the merits of the long quarrel
between Catholicism and Calvinism. And that was the most important
and intellectual quarrel between Catholicism and Protestantism.
If he believes in a God at all, or even if he does not, he would quite
certainly prefer a God who has made all men for joy, and desires
to save them all, to a God who deliberately made some for involuntary
sin and immortal misery. But that was the quarrel; and it was the
Catholic who held the first and the Protestant who held the second.
The modern man not only does not share, he does not even understand,
the unnatural aversion of the Puritans to all art and beauty
in relation to religion. Yet that was the real Protestant protest;
and right into the Mid-Victorian time Protestant matrons
were shocked at a white gown, let alone a coloured vestment.
On practically every essential count on which the Reformation actually
put Rome in the dock, Rome has since been acquitted by the jury
of the whole world.


It Is perfectly true that we can find real wrongs, provoking rebellion,
in the Roman Church just before the Reformation. What we cannot
find is one ot those real wrongs that the Reformation reformed.
For instance, it was an abominable abuse that the corruption of the
monasteries sometimes permitted a rich noble to play the patron and even
play at being the Abbot, or draw on the revenues supposed to belong
to a brotherhood of poverty and charity. But all that the Reformation
did was to allow the same rich noble to take over ALL the revenue,
to seize the whole house and turn it into a palace or a pig-sty,
and utterly stamp out the last legend of the poor brotherhood.
The worst things in worldly Catholicism were made worse by Protestantism.
But the best things remained somehow through the era of corruption;
nay, they survived even the era of reform. They survive to-day in all
Catholic countries, not only in the colour and poetry and popularity
of religion, but in the deepest lessons of practical psychology.
And so completely are they justified, after the judgment
of four centuries, that every one of them is now being copied,
even by those who condemned it; only it is often caricatured.
Psycho-analysis is the Confessional without the safeguards
of the Confessional; Communism is the Franciscan movement without
the moderating balance of the Church; and American sects, having howled
for three centuries at the Popish theatricality and mere appeal
to the senses, now "brighten" their services by super-theatrical films
and rays of rose-red light falling on the head of the minister.
If we had a ray of light to throw about, we should not throw it
on the minister.

Next, Protestantism may be a negative thing. In other words,
it may be a new and totally different list of charges against Rome;
and only in continuity because it is still against Rome.
That is very largely what it is; and that is presumably what
the DAILY EXPRESS really meant, when it said that our country
and our countrymen are soaked in Protestantism as in salt.
In other words, the legend that Rome is wrong anyhow, is still
a living thing, though all the features of the monster are now
entirely altered in the caricature. Even this is an exaggeration,
as applied to the England of to-day; but there is still a truth in it.
Only the truth, when truly realised, can hardly be very satisfactory
to honest and genuine Protestants. For, after all, what sort
of a tradition is this, that tells a different story every day
or every decade, and is content so long as all the contradictory
tales are told against one man or one institution? What sort of holy
cause is it to inherit from our ancestors, that we should go on
hating something and being consistent only in hatred; being fickle
and false in everything else, even in our reason for hating it?
Are we really to settle down seriously to make up a new set of stories
against the bulk of our fellow-Christians? Is that Protestantism;
and is that worth comparing to patriotism or the sea?


Anyhow, that was the situation I found myself facing when I
began to think of these things, the child of a purely Protestant
ancestry and, in the ordinary sense, of a Protestant household.
But as a fact my family, having become Liberal, was no longer Protestant.
I was brought up a sort of Universalist and Unitarian;
at the feet of that admirable man, Stopford Brooke.
It was not Protestantism save in a very negative sense.
Often it was the flat contrary of Protestantism, even in that sense.
For instance, the Universalist did not believe in hell; and he was
emphatic in saying that heaven was a happy state of mind--"a temper."
But he had the sense to see that most men do not live or die in a
state of mind so happy that it will alone ensure them a heaven.
If heaven is a temper, it is certainly not a universal temper;
and a good many people pass through this life in a devil of a temper.
If all these were to have heaven, solely through happiness,
it seemed clear that something must happen to them first.
The Universalist therefore believed in a progress after death,
at once punishment and enlightenment. In other words,
he believed in Purgatory; though he did not believe in Hell.
Right or wrong, he obviously and flatly contradicted the Protestant,
who believed in Hell but not in Purgatory. Protestantism, through its
whole history, had waged ceaseless war on this one idea of Purgatory
or Progress beyond the grave. I have come to see in the complete
Catholic view much deeper truths on all three ideas; truths concerned
with will and creation and God's most glorious love of liberty.
But even at the start, though I had no thought of Catholicism, I could
not see why I should have any concern with Protestantism;
which had always said the very opposite of what a Liberal is now
expected to say.


I found, in plain words, that there was no longer any
question of clinging to the Protestant faith. It was simply
a question of whether I should cling to the Protestant feud.
And to my enormous astonishment, I found a large number of my fellow
Liberals eager to go on with the Protestant feud, though they no
longer held the Protestant faith. I have no title to judge them;
but to me, I confess, it seemed like a rather ugly breach of honour.
To find out that you have been slandering somebody about something,
to refuse to apologise, and to make up another more plausible story
against him, so that you can carry on the spirit of the slander,
seemed to me at the start a rather poor way of behaving.
I resolved at least to consider the original slandered institution
on its own merits and the first and most obvious question was:
Why were Liberals so very illiberal about it? What was the meaning
of the feud, so constant and so inconsistent? That question took a long
time to answer and would now take much too long a time to record.
But it led me at last to the only logical answer, which every fact
of life now confirms; that the thing is hated, as nothing else is hated,
simply because it is, in the exact sense of the popular phrase,
like nothing on earth.

There is barely space here to indicate this one thing out of the
thousand things that confirm the same fact and confirm each other.
I would undertake to pick up any topic at random, from pork
to pyrotechnics, and show that it illustrates the truth of the only
true philosophy; so realistic is the remark that all roads lead
to Rome. Out of all these I have here only taken one fact;
that the thing is pursued age after age by an unreasonable hatred
that is perpetually changing its reason. Now of nearly all the dead
heresies it may be said that they are not only dead, but damned;
that is, they are condemned or would be condemned by common sense,
even outside the Church, when once the mood and mania of them is passed.
Nobody now wants to revive the Divine Right of Kings which the first
Anglicans advanced against the Pope. Nobody now wants to revive
the Calvinism which the first Puritans advanced against the King.
Nobody now is sorry that the Iconoclasts were prevented from smashing
all the statues of Italy. Nobody now is sorry that the Jansenists
failed to destroy all the dramas of France. Nobody who knows
anything about the Albigensians regrets that they did not convert
the world to pessimism and perversion. Nobody who really understands
the logic of the Lollards (a much more sympathetic set of people)
really wishes that they had succeeded in taking away all political
rights and privileges from everybody who was not in a state of grace.
"Dominion founded on Grace" was a devout ideal, but considered
as a plan for disregarding an Irish policeman controlling the traffic
in Piccadilly, until we have discovered whether he has confessed
recently to his Irish priest, it is wanting in actuality.
In nine cases out of ten the Church simply stood for sanity and social
balance against heretics who were sometimes very like lunatics.
Yet at each separate moment the pressure of the prevalent error
was very strong; the exaggerated error of a whole generation,
like the strength of the Manchester School in the 'fifties,
or of Fabian Socialism as a fashion in my own youth. A study
of the true historical cases commonly shows us the spirit of the age
going wrong, and the Catholics at least relatively going right.
It is a mind surviving a hundred moods.

As I say, this is only one aspect; but it was the first that affected
me and it leads on to others. When a hammer has hit the right
nail on the head a hundred times, there comes a time when we
think it was not altogether by accident. But these historical
proofs would be nothing without the human and personal proofs,
which would need quite a different sort of description.
It is enough to say that those who know the Catholic practice find
it not only right, but always right when everything else is wrong;
making the Confessional the very throne of candour where the world
outside talks nonsense about it as a sort of conspiracy;
upholding humility when everybody is praising pride; charged with
sentimental charity when the world is talking a brutal utilitarianism;
charged with dogmatic harshness when the world is loud and loose
with vulgar sentimentalism--as it is to-day. At the place
where the roads meet there is no doubt of the convergence.
A man may think all sorts of things, most of them honest and many of
them true, about the right way to turn in the maze at Hampton Court.
But he does not think he is in the centre; he knows.


Purgatory Puzzle


[Remember the Angels must tell the truth, Demons must lie, Humans can do either]

Level 1
A: I am not a Human
B: I am a Demon
C: If you asked me, I would say that B is the Human

Level 2
A: I am not a Human
B: A is a Demon
C: B is a Human

Level 3
A: I am not a Human
B: A is a Demon
C: A is a Angel

Level 4
A: I am not a Human
B: A is a Demon
C: B is not a Demon

Level 5
A: I am not a Human
B: C is a Demon
C: B is not a Demon

Level 6
A: I am not a Human
B: A is not a Angel
C: A is not a Demon

Level 7

There's a sign in the room saying you may only speak to one of the three entities before you:
One is an Angel, One a Demon, the last a Human - but it's impossible to work out which is which by mere appearance.
So - three questions to which the being can reply yes or no.
The only problem is they speak in Purgatorian - and will only answer english questions in Purgatorian - palyx and xenoch mean yes and no - but you can't remember which is which !!!!???
Which three questions do you ask ?















Which kind of monk are you?

Dominican


Dominican

You have a deep love for God that manifests itself by a single minded devotion to His truth. You tend to be well educated and have a way with words. For these reasons, Dominicans often make gifted preachers. You tend to be results oriented, which is why the phrase ''the end justifies the means'' often applies to you. You are a frequent practitioner of tough love, and although you sometimes question your own methodology you know it is necessary for the salvation of mankind.


Take the quiz!

myYearbook.com


Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Irony or Hypocrisy ? Insanity or Moral Blackmail ?


The Archbishop of Birmingham, UK, has spoken out against the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, presently before parliament. Speaking at the annual civic Mass in the city's St Chad's Cathedral, Archbishop Vincent Nichols said that allowing two women to register as a child's parents would create a fictional parenthood. Mr Steven McCabe, Labour MP for Birmingham, Hall Green, attacked the archbishop, saying that his comments were ill-informed.


Then one can look at today's newspapers and discover that Andy Barthie, 37, a fireman from Enfield, N. London - who donated his sperm to a Lesbian couple- Sharon & Terri Arnold - on the proviso that he had no personal or financial involvement with the child - is being forced to pay child maintenance by the CSA !!!
he is now having his pay docked to pay thousands of pounds in child maintenance even though he has no legal rights over the boy and girl the couple had. He says the payments mean he and his wife cannot afford to have children of their own.

Mr Bathie, from Enfield, said: "These women wanted to be parents and take on all the responsibilities that brings. I would never have agreed to this unless they had been living as a committed family. And now I can't afford to have children with my own wife - it's crippling me financially."

He is now bringing an unprecedented legal challenge so that he is not recognised as a legal parent to the children.

Mr Bathie was approached by the couple five years ago after they were "married" in a ceremony. They had unsuccessfully asked other male friends.

He said: "I did look into the legal side and understood that as a couple they would be the parents, not me. I was never Daddy."

He was stunned when the Child Support Agency contacted him last November to demand payments because the women had split up.

Officials made him take a £400 paternity test and began docking his pay.

Mr Bathie added: "The only reason these children are here is because they wanted children as a couple which means they should take responsibility. The CSA admit that mine is an unusual case - this is double standards and I'm having money stolen by the Government."

At the time of the donation, Mr Bathie was in a relationship with a woman who had been sterilised and was not planning to have children. He has since married someone else.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority is now warning "DIY" donors they are liable financially unless they donate through a licensed clinic. The HFEA said: "We would warn men providing genetic material that the only time they are not the father is when they donate through a licensed fertility clinic. This does not apply to unlicensed websites or home insemination."

See the subtlety ? change the law to make lesbians the legal parents and this won't happen !

This incident is the mere tip of the iceberg and whole fiasco has to stop now - The government should intervene and suspend the Human Fertility and Embryology Authority until adequate laws are formulated by a group of informed ethicists from all spheres of the debate [not the crowd that produced the debacle of the warnock report] , judicially assessed and scrutinised then debated and deliberated upon through parliament - not some inane irrational populist quango - thus creating legislation that is rational , coherent and not responsible for the destruction of thousands of embryos every year.

Comments ?

Monday, 3 December 2007

Was it something I said ?

Time was when there were ten blogs which used to have a link to this one - now after a quick look round this figure has reverted to three - I'm truly sorry if I've offended anyone and I'm sorry if this is boring and not exactly your cup of tea - but things have been rough recently and I've barely had any time to compose on here so most postings have been a cut-and-paste job...nevertheless I have tried sometimes - maybe I should give this up a a busted flush ? don't know - will give it till the end of the month and then think about it.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Former Aide to the Cardinal reveals his true colours...












c/o Damian Thompson's Holy Smoke blog

The Catholic Church has turned away from the message of Christ and is heading towards “aggressive fundamentalism”, according to the former Principal Adviser to Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor.

Sir Stephen Wall's attack puts the Cardinal in a difficult position

Sir Stephen Wall, the senior diplomat who served as the Cardinal’s right-hand man from 2004-5, has written a blistering attack on recent Catholic moral teaching in the Tablet, a stridently Left-wing magazine regarded as the unofficial voice of the Bishops’ Conference.

In the article, Wall accuses the Church of “using the civil law to punish the sinner because of his or her sin. There seems to be nothing in Christ’s teaching to justify such an approach. Indeed, the whole of Jesus’ life, and even more so his death, point firmly in the other direction.”

According to Wall – formerly Tony Blair’s chief adviser on Europe – the Vatican is wrong to oppose gay adoption and IVF; it is “using, or abusing, its own moral absolutism to deny to people whose way of life it stigmatises the civil rights that a more generous state recognises as basic to their status as citizens”.

The Church portrays itself as the victims of aggressive secularism, but is actually heading towards an aggressive fundamentalism that is further from the Christian ideal than secular ideology.


Intriguingly, Wall also attacks the Vatican for threatening to excommunicate John Kerry because he “chose to exercise his own conscience and political judgment on the issue of abortion” (ie, voted for late-term abortions). Think about that, and bear in mind that Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor is getting ready to receive into the Church another politician who “exercised his conscience” on abortion.

You may or may not agree with some of Wall’s points; but what we have here is a comprehensive trashing of the Vatican of Benedict XVI by the man who, until recently, was the English cardinal’s senior adviser.

Not that I’m having a go at His Eminence, mind. No doubt, even now, the Cardinal is composing a statement distancing himself from these statements. I’ll keep you informed.