Superview, a distinguished contributor to Second Sight, has left me thinking. In a comment he tells us of the contrast between the 614 laws of Judaism and the one law of Christianity — which is love. I found it useful to take this thought on a little further.
We are still left with law. The ten commandments have not become the ten commendments and, while I haven’t counted, I daresay the number of do’s and don’t’s listed in the Catechism is considerable.
Reconciling the two requires us to remember that love does not take place in the abstract, but always in terms of a relationship. And the meaning which love takes will vary according to the relationship. There is a considerable difference (at least I hope there is) between the love I properly have for my wife, and the love I have for the clerk in a building society who answers my telephone call. My siblings, my children, my grandchildren, my friends, my colleagues, my fellow citizens — all have a call on my love. But the expression and the demands of the law will vary according to the terms of the relationship.
I suspect that the difference lies in the nature of Old Testament law which, as St Paul emphasises, can condemn but cannot save, and the nature of New Testament law which has an intrinsic value in so far as its rationale and inspiration is the proper use of love in the context. It is not that Christ repealed the law but that he transformed it.
There are dangers in appealing simply to the disposition of love, or even in asking the question: what would Jesus do? It is only too easy to follow our subjective judgments, and to let the heart drag reason in its train. And that is where good moral education comes in. The Church, through — for example — the Catechism bears witness to the rules of love in different situations. The coverage is comprehensive but not complete, and based on a deep understanding of experience and revelation but not, as such, infallible. There is room for us to disagree but no room for the Catholic who does not strive to understand not only what the Church teaches, but why.
The opposite danger is legalism. That is, law for its own sake, and not for love’s sake. And, while it potentially leads to perfect behaviour, history tells us that it tends to be twisted so as to permit unloving acts either of pharisaic rigorousness or lax casuistry. When it is no longer tethered to love its meaning is quickly denatured to human pride, selfishness and hate. And it is all the worse for the camouflage of righteousness.
Bernard Haering , the great moral theologian, wrote in his Lex Christi that Jesus is the harbour light and the laws are the buoys which mark the entrance to the channel. “The ten commandments protect the outer periphery of the realm in which Christ will be formed in us.” So the law as it stands is the boundary between love and unlove. Far from cramping us, it gives us the freedom to love.
I was thinking of Superviews comment on love.
What would Jesus do?
What did He do is more appropriate. One thing He did was the Will of His Father.
I love my children. It is a natural instinct. I am there when they need me to comfort them, to tend to them when they are ill or injured, to counsel them when they are in difficulties, to feed them and clothe them, and to celebrate them as wonderful gifts in my life. And of course, I want to pass on to them the values that I believe will make them happy.
But my love is unconditional and so, however much I am saddened by the troubles they may bring upon themselves or by a life style that repudiates the rules by which I govern my own life, I continue to care and to worry for them. I do not conclude from their rejection of what I hold dear that their love for me is any less than mine for them, for my love was not expressed in rules and regulations. There were no marker buoys to my affection and I thank God that neither were there any in respect of my own mother and father, for if that had been the case I would not have known love.
I do not believe the statement, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” is transferable.
God loves us in the same way.
We dont stop loving our children when they do wrong. But that does not mean that we do not show them the error of their ways.
The Lord’s prayer that Jesus taught us-to live our life by.
‘Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.’
‘We don’t stop loving our children when they do wrong? and ‘unconditional love.’
Is love then eternal ? Is there no wrong that our children, as they become adults, can inflict that will kill love of them? Suppose one child were to kill his brother or rape his sister?
There are laws that if broken can kill love. Thou shalt not commit adultery is a prime law that is not a legal crime but one against God, and one that kills human love, and possibly God’s love too.
If we love with the love of God, then it is Eternal. the love which we have for each other,or should have. That does not mean giving in to all their ‘whims’.
Human love does die!
How unconditional is our love for our children? Would it survive the atrocities that one sibling might inflict upon another? Who knows, for like the term, unconditional, we never experience the term, love, as it is envisaged in its pure platonic form. That only floats around in the abstract realms of theology and philosophy. The love we experience is messy, mediated to us physically in the touches, tears and laughter of an intimate and sustained earthly relationship.
We can probably agree that we would experience great anger and heartrending grief that would never leave us if such tragedies were to strike our families. But we do experience anger hand in hand with love and surely we cannot grieve over someone we do not love, be that one the abused or the abuser.
The father of the prodigal son,is one of the often spoken of love,next to Jesus’s love for His Father,who gave His life for us ,His brothers.
No greater love has no man, than he lay down his life for his brother.
We say Jesus’s gave His life willingly. However in the Agony in the garden, He asked His Father twice if this cup should pass away etc, then He said, ‘not my will but Thine.
I very often think about when Jesus was speaking to His Apostles, and asked them
can they drink the Cup that He will drink. How pertinent is that to the drinking of the Chalice. How easy that is to drink from , in comparision to the Cup that He drank on Calvary. That is True Love!
“….There is room for us to disagree but no room for the Catholic who does not strive to understand not only what the Church teaches, but why…”
Sorry Quentin but this is nonsense- sounds like the only spare rooms in your house go to moral theologians! Show mercy over justice, look after the weak and love your neighbour as yourself will see most of us through far enough I suspect-its not really that complex is it?
Michael, let me give you an example since you favour simple and straightforward approaches.
The Catechism (2482ff) teaches us that we may never tell a lie. “By its very nature lying is to be condemned..” it goes on to say that there are circumstances in which we are obliged not to speak the truth because the questioner is not entitled to it; the suggested remedies are silence or “discreet language”. Suppose that one is faced by a question which it would be unjust to answer but silence or discreet language would simply give the game away. Before you could be justified in going against the Church’s instruction you would need to have tried to understand why the Church teaches what it does, and the reasons it gives for it.
I would maintain that the formation of conscience requires a readiness to listen to the Church, even if one rejects it in a particular case. The Church has authority to bear witness to the moral law (or, if you prefer it, witness to what the law of love requires in given situations).
The faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation,unless excused for a serious reason… Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin’ (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2181).
Ideally Catholics should attend Mass because they are motivated to do so by love of God and by a desire to pay Him homage but obligation also has a role to play.
Years ago we concentrated too much on fear. But now we realize that God is love.
Our religion should be the result of motivation. We should go to Mass more because we love going to Mass.
It is easy to see we have obligations to the State and to our neighbour,and yet not so easy to see that we have even more serious obligations to God.
We can not rely only on motivation. Laws and commandments are necessary to guide us.
In answer to the lawyer who asked him which was the first commandment, Jesus replied; ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind… and your neighbour as yourself’ (Mt 22;37,39)
These are strict obligations, not mere options. In the same way we have obligations in the ordinary affairs of life,so to we have more serious obligations to God.In the Old Testament we see these obligations spelt out in the offering of the first fruits, or the sacrifice of animals and ultimately in the sacrifice of Abraham, which foreshadowed the Sacrifice of Christ
In the New Testament that sacrifice is the sacrifice of the only begotten of the Father, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, through the eternal priesthood of Christ, man is able to offer perfect adoration, perfect reparation for sin, perfect thanksgiving and perfect petition.
The more this truth is understood the more we begin to appreciate that the Holy Eucharist make presnt the Sacrifice of Calvary, the love story of God for man
Superview says in a earlier post – rules and laws, and cradle catholics.
Yes we need those as children, but now we are grown up we put away childish things and understand the meaning of rules. Do we need as children to be knocked down by a car before we understand the meaning of safety ?
Maybe the saying of Jesus ‘unless we become like little children again, we can not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven’ that we must listen to rules!
Speaking about ‘metaphors’ Jesus is Christ the King, His Kingdom is not of this world.
Does Superview have a problem with that! Or Queen of Heaven we are adults now and ought to respect and understand that.
St Joseph, the – absolutely orthodox response – you give here marks the point where I have some difficulties which push me back in Superview’s direction.
I agree wholeheartedly with the importance of celebrating the Eucharist, but the term “grave sin” concerns me. We were taught at our mother’s knee that to commit a grave sin – with full knowledge and full consent – means separation from God in Hellfire, if we die – perhaps by accident – before we repent. And that means an eternity of punishment. (How many Catholics in the Twin Towers had missed Mass without sufficient reason on the previous Sunday?) One might have thought that, say a hundred years, would have been enough weeping and gnashing of teeth to deal adequately with an unjustified Sunday lie-in. But no – after a billion years an infinite number of billions of years awaits.
But there is the question of full knowledge and full consent. Of course this sort of phrasing was drafted when people had a rather simple idea of the psychology of human decision. But do we think that in the matter of absolutely regular Sunday attendance it is rather easy to meet these conditions? If so, then what is being portrayed is a God of quite extraordinary brutality. If they are very difficult to meet, why allow people, particularly those given to unwarranted scruples, to suffer under a misapprehension?
Hell is the final and irrevocable decision to reject God. God has made us free to choose (why He did so is more difficult, but no doubt He had His reasons). So Hell is possible. That doesn’t mean it’s heavily populated. Rules are important, but it is not for us to judge others. God will judge us all with true justice and unbounded mercy. Maybe part of our time in Purgatory will be taken up with getting used to the idea of sharing Heaven with notorious – but ultimately repentant – sinners?
Hi Quentin-Re your previous example to me.. A good few years back I remember sitting in a small flat in the back end of the Gobi desert facing a small deputation of Chinese security police who wanted to know the names of the people who I had met with the previous sunday. I politely answered that though I’d love to help chinese names all sounded the same to me and so I couldnt remember them. After much humming and hawing and furious grinning they left and I breathed out…what would the catechism think of that?
Quentin, I do see your point, and as I said in my comment, we ought to be motivated by love. No one is speaking about ‘hell’ and I did not mention it.
The problem is that so many people confuse the meaning of grave sin with hell,
It is a thing of the past, but not to ‘some’. who like to use that to condemn the Church
What constitutes a ‘grave sin’ I dont take it as what we used to consider as ‘mortal’
when we seperate ourselves from God. Murder is supposed to be a mortal sin.
If we go to Mass out of obligation because we love the Lord, and what He did for us on Calvary, so be it!! .
I wasn’t taught at my mothers knee all this so called ‘orthodox’ catholicism that Superview speaks about, and I am a cradle catholic too!!
If that is the only resentment one feels for the Church- I think that is a great pity, and they miss out on the beauty of our faith., and all I can say is I feel sorrow for them!
Just to add to my comment to your Sunday ‘lie in’ There is Saturday evening Mass and Sunday evening Mass for those who want a lie in. Which I have done many a time.
I always took my children to Sunday evening Mass. Perhaps thats why they still go!Also I never preached Hell fire to them or to anyone else.But hopefully taught them to love the Lord, and the Church!
I take great comfort and learning from St. Joseph’s explanations and the ones used in this post are no exception. I recall from my own Catholic childhood that the Church never claimed that anyone was inevitably in hell because we could never discount that a death bed conversion had been made and that God in his mercy had heard it.
(I suppose our sense of human justice could bring us to the likely conclusion that certain notorious sinners were so evil that they would never have repented and so got their just deserts!)
I am not sure if this childhood view is doctrinally correct but ‘Justice is mine’ says the Lord.
We could, uncomfortably, also extend that sense of God’s justice being different to our own to one that may well consider that the reckless failure to keep an obligation merits eternal punishment. I hope it doesn’t.
Yep me too-I hope I haven’t spent half my life serving a murderous tyrant by mistake!!! Thankfully Claret the recent teaching on Hell I’ve heard has been along the lines you speak of, most of us seem to hope like crazy that the place is completely empty…
St.joseph, unfortunately I cannot read what the the Catechism teaches into your comment. In 1857 it reads: “Mortal sin is a sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent.” and in 1861 “If it (mortal sin) is not redeemed by repentance and God’s forgiveness, it causes the …the eternal death of hell.” Since missing the Eucharist on a prescribed day without adequate excuse is grave matter, it clearly qualifies.
At a practical level it seems difficult to dissociate the Church from a strongly authoritarian point of view, and a fixation with sin. This might have been more comprehensible in the Middle Ages when secular punishment was brutal, but nowadays it seems to me to work against the “encouraging” approach which you favour, and is – I believe – much more helpful.
I was taught as an adolescent that to entertain willfully impure thoughts was grave matter. Thus I went through several years of being rather careful in crossing the road. Needless to say, my spiritual life was on hold.
Things must have changed Quentin, I went along to confession not long ago for a similar list (alas without even the excuse of adolescence) and the priest said:
‘Now don’t go getting a hang up about all this will you!’
Kindly admonishment seems a better bet to me than dammnation anyday..perhaps the priest had been slack in reading his catechism!
I absolutely understand that if you want to join a club which has rules then, assuming they are made known before you join, and you accept them, you are reasonably required to keep them. Nevertheless, some rules are more important than others, with penalties for infringements accordingly proportionate. It is in the nature of things that the bigger the rule book, and the greater the number of detailed rules there are, the more likely it is that there will be infringements whether by accident or design. Rules where discretion is to be exercised can be troublesome, and there is also a risk that there will be inconsistencies or even contradictions, or rules that are ultimately an abuse of natural justice, or even simply silly. We have all come across legislation or decisions of courts where the maxim ‘the law is an ass’ seems to fit the bill.
As a cradle Catholic my club membership was decided for me. It is surely, therefore, perfectly proper that I should, even if belatedly, visit the club’s rule book and see if it is acceptable and consistent with the kind of organisation it professes to be in its constitution? The first thing to note is that it is a considerable undertaking, because it is a very odd club. Although the constitution [the New Testament – don’t ask me about the Old] is, for the most part, clear and gives two main rules (Matt. 22:36-40) the rule book actually takes many different forms.
For example, there are lots of extra rules from interpretations of the constitution made by clever people a very long time ago, and by meetings of a general management committee, although these are rare. The day to day enforcement of the rules is by a full-time, salaried, executive management committee, and those on the committee wear a special kind of red outfit to show how important they are. To show he is especially important the chairman wears a white dress and red shoes. He is very powerful and chooses who is to be on the committee, and he can, and does, make new rules whenever he likes. The committee is all male, because it has always been all male, which is perfectly understandable. They believe the constitution gives them supernatural wisdom, understanding and knowledge, and they therefore entertain no other opinions, especially not those of the club’s ordinary members, whom it is widely known do not possess any of these gifts. Indeed, the committee has sometimes ordered that some members be put to death for expressing opinions different from the management committee, although this hasn’t happened recently. They are very keen on rules and believe that there can never be too many for the members to follow. They are especially qualified to make rules on sex. Unfortunately, from time to time some rules based on immutable facts are found to be not based on immutable facts, but it has been found better to allow a century or two to pass before making amendments to the rule book.
Well, caricature it may be, but all these details are plain facts. The Church is a very worldly organisation, despite wanting to be seen as other-worldly. Let me provide an example of the reach that it has exercised over the life of its members. In a CTS booklet entitled ‘Attending Non-Catholic Services’ written by Rev. John F. McDonald, L.C.L., and dated December 1961, the following extracts are to be found (I would give the whole section but space does not allow):
“…whatever allowance is made in all charity for our separated brethren, it can never be lawful for Catholics to compromise religious truth by joining with non-Catholics in an act of worship which they know to be false.”
“A Catholic is also forbidden to take any active part whatsoever [the last six words in italics] in the religious worship of non-Catholics even though he does not give internal voluntary approval to such worship. The reason for this prohibition is that such active participation in the religious rites of non-Catholics, though not necessarily implying the internal profession of heresy, could be construed as a practical external approval [last three words in italics] of heretical worship. It is forbidden therefore for a Catholic to play the organ, to be a member of the choir, to join in the singing of the hymns or the saying of the prayers at a non-Catholic service.”
‘Canon 1258 (1) of the Code of Canon Law’.
I made a brief and painful skirmish into the Canon Law pages on the Vatican website, but could not find the replacement to this article. For all I know it could say the same thing. Some may protest that it was 1961. Some may point out that it is legitimate brand protection. Some may see it as impeccable logic. For me, it was part of my life until I got better sense. Now, with all that we know about the management committee’s moral stewardship of the Church, it is even more misguided and shameful.
Superview when I married in 1962, at St Joseph’s Church, Highgate, London. As my husband was a non-catholic, I was unable to have hymns, or flowers on the Altar, or allowed a cine film to be taken in Church.
The first Mass my husband and I attended the morning after our wedding was in Warwick St, Soho , London, where the Mass is celebrated for homosexuals.. Which I have attended.
yes Superview things have changed- is it for the better?
I am not griping about all this, only that Jesus is still in the Eucharist and in the Sacraments, and in the Body of the Church.
And the Holy Spirit abides in us through the very fact of our Baptism, and one day you will be grateful for that.
Your last sentence could be misconstrued to which ever way you are looking!
Superview, the 1961 regulations you quote were applied quite strictly. I attended an old-established Grammar School which had close links with the CofE and remember for the first three years not being allowed to attend the religious part of morning assembly, the carol service and the Founder’s Day service (ironically the founder was a pre-Reformation Catholic bishop). The carol service ban was particularly galling since it was a compulsory evening attendance and everyone, apart from us left-footers, had a half-holiday in compensation. We were also excused Divinity which at least resulted in a couple of free periods a week, and on Ascension and Corpus Xi were crocodiled to morning Mass under the supervision of the only Catholic master.
These restrictions were suddenly lifted in 1965 by the bishops, presumably acting on instructions from Rome. I read recently that Catholics are now officially encouraged to attend Eucharistic services of other denominations, although forbidden by Canon Law to take communion. And, of course, they are still obliged to attend Mass.
Thank you Quentin.
1862 CCC. One commits venial sin when,in a less serious matter,one does not observe the standard prescribed by the moral law,or when one disobeys the moral law in a ‘grave matter’,but without full knowledge or without consent. .
Mortal sin as we all know must have full knowledge and complete consent.
1735.Unintentional ignorance can diminish or even remove the imputability of a grave offence.
Sin committed through malice,by deliberate choice of evil,is the ‘gravest.’
I take that as meaning grave sins can be venial as well as mortal.
And Quentin you know what it means-and it depends on how one wants to interpret it,
to suit our own conscience.
That does not mean that we dont tell our children the obligations we have to worship God. The highest form of worship is the Sacrifice of the Mass.
Have we forgotten the Graces we receive from being present-even if we are ‘bored’
or dont like the priest, or who we sit next to or the music, or the Bishop, or the Holy Father or the Cardinals, or the whole workings of the Church etc etc.
The Church is correct in teaching the importance of the Eucharist,and if it teaches its a ‘grave matter ‘to miss Mass, it has a duty to do so!.
1033CCC. However, although we can judge that an act is in itself a grave offence, we must entrust judgement of persons to the justice and mercy of God.
The Church teaches that too!!!
By the way unlike you I wasn’t taught that impure thoughts were a grave matter- but thank God I knew they were.
Thank you Claret for your comment.
CCC1037 (See you’ve all got me at it now!!) God predestines no one to go to hell; for this, a wilful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is neccessary,and persistence in it until the end……This is the point isn’t it? To qualify for any of the nasty stuff you are all chatting about we must be firmly, faces like granite, set against God, without a shadow of turning, solidlyand completely, all through right to the very last second (and maybe through purgatory too) It is possible to imagine someone in this state I guess -but I havent met anyone like that -most professing atheists havetheir doubts too as far as I can see.
re John Nolans answer to Superview… This certainly chimes in with events on the ground here in Birmingham Diocese. Where I am Churches together occasionally use our churches and according to our priest the only reason he doesnt go to Churches together is due to the fact that a vein of continued anti catholic grumbling means he never gets invited!! I find this debate absolutely fascinating by the way as I am very interested in an earlier statement by superview that conforming of ones ways to the teachings of the church is for catholics the the following of Jesus Christ. It seems to me also that the whole issue of the spirit and the letter of the law is on full display here. It seems to me that only a complete zealot would suggest that to occasionally miss Mass could possibly result in eternal damnation but on the other hand I can see point. I seem to remember reading somewhere that in the end ALL teachings of the catholic church are a matter for the individual conscience. This was in the recent furore over contraception and Aids.
In my pre catholic days while working in NW China I was often called upon to express views on internicine disputes within the very brave but equally very unruly housechurch. These days and with hindsight I would have probably kept quiet but there was a dispute which I remember clearly about which came first- salvation or repentance. The reason for this was that a group of churches had fallen into the grip of a heresy by which the poor believers were required to show their contrition for their sins by weeping and prostrating themselves for long periods of time until the pastor felt they had ‘repented’ enough of their sins……..I will never forget walking among them in one of those churches and being horrified when I understood what was happening.
And the point of all this is…..It does seem clearly obvious simply CANNOT order the heart no matter how much it may like to and nor can it, in tiny detail, dictate the life though it must teach, act and lay down guidelines-the outer perimeter beyond which Christ will not be formed in the individual heart.
I find this whole debate interesting because of the obvious similarity of the discussion Jesus had about fulfilling not abolishing the law.
So far in my catholic life-having trained as a catechist and to begin my Diaconate training this September- I see less concern about minutiae than appears on these hallowed pages of debate. No priest,deacon,spiritual director, Bishop or lay person comes knocking on my door on the sundays I’m not apparently at mass and no one takes me to task when, as I used to do, I ask dispensation to sit on the Anglican diocese evangelisation team or discuss prayer at an ecumenical gathering…..why is this do you all think?
Sorry there’s an incomplete sentence above:
“It does seem clearly obvious that the Church CANNOT order the heart no matter how much it may like to…..”
Just a short note here to advertise my new blog called discussdebate at http://www.discussdebate.com. Quentin suggested to me that I could setup another blog which could possibly attract another set of blog participants. What both Quentin and I hope is that both sets of readers could visit each blog alternatively and enrich discussions with their contributions on various issues. As I am completely new to having my own blog, please be patient with me as I learn how to run it. Thank you for your time. John Candido.
I would like to announce a new blog called ‘discussdebate’, which was an original suggestion of Quentin’s to myself. It can be accessed here…www.discussdebate.wordpress.com. It is also about the relationship between religion and science as well as the discussion of current affairs.
Both Quentin de la Bedoyere and I hope that in future both sets of regular contributors can fruitfully visit and post within both websites, to the mutual enrichment of all.
Now let me introduce the very first topic of discussion in discussdebate. Please go to http://www.discussdebate.wordpress.com to make a contribution to this issue and refrain from posting any comments on ‘advance care planning’ in ‘614 to 1’ within SecondSight.
‘At the end-point of our lives, a juncture is reached where we simply have to let go, allow ourselves to pass away and that efforts to continue life at this point, and can be disproportionate, aggressive, burdensome, or over-zealous. I know that this is quite sad, but it is all a part of our end of life reality. Nobody can live forever, and no medical treatment by any doctor at any hospital can prevent this final outcome.
There is a relatively new idea in medicine that has been introduced into hospitals called ‘advance care planning’ or ACP. This is where patients, who are generally terminal, can elect to include or exclude any medical treatments that they would consider inappropriate, at some future point in time. Patients with an ACP have done so with free and respectful discussion and dialogue with their doctors, social workers, psychologists, pastoral care workers, and nurses involved with ACP, family members, legal guardians, and their most trusted friends. This is where medical treatments are considered to be pointless, inappropriate, and aggressive, are not to be employed at a specific juncture in time. An outline of this issue has been the subject of a full page article in The Age newspaper on the 20th March 2011, and can be accessed here…’
‘Do we have a right to refuse any medical treatment from any clinic or hospital, under any circumstances? If a person is not medically determined to be in a terminal state of decline, is this a subtle form of suicide? Is this in any way related to euthanasia or physician assisted suicide?’
‘Please discuss this issue in a respectful manner, knowing that others will not necessarily agree with your point of view. I will be moderating all comments. I might add that even if others do not agree with your or my point of view, this does not mean that our own points of view are invalidated.’
Thank you. John Candido.
John I have made a comment on the new blog,but is waiting moderation.
My apologies st.joseph. I have approved your comment within DiscussDebate. Thank you for your excellent contribution.
This quote from the 1958 edition of Father Henry Davis SJ’s four volume work on moral theology appeared in my Autonomy and Obedience in the Catholic Church (2002)
“It is not, as a general rule, permitted to Catholic nurses in hospitals to send for non Catholic ministers to attend non Catholic patients for religious purposes; they must be passive in such cases (Sacred Office March 15 1858). This was further explained (Feb 5 1872) to mean that nurses might tell some non-Catholic attendant that the patient wanted the non-Catholic minister, and this was declared not to be active co-operation. Furthermore, if even this were found impossible, then for very grave reasons and to prevent enmity arising against the Church, nurses might themselves send for the non-Catholic minister if asked to do so.”
Is it possible for a Catholic priest to administer to a non-catholic the Last Rites and the Blessed Sacrament-if a Minister of their church is not available.
I am not sure, but thought it was.
I understand now that a non-catholic marrying a Catholic can receive the Blessed Sacrament at a Nuptial Mass.
It is wonderful that we have become closer as Christians over the years.
I will say, that my parents always has a lot of Anglican friends.
I went to a non- catholic school until age 9 and my experience was then ,that as a catholic I was the one alienated., and thought to be peculiar by other children. I realised at that age with my parents having friends of other denominations, it was only kid like.even though I got bullied. One boy promised me sweets next day if I didn’t tell.
The bigotry does not only come from catholics.
It is wonderful that so many Anglicans are joining Rome at Easter. We must pray for them.
These days, I believe, it is forbidden to any nurse to send for a minister of any religion to attend a patient for religious purposes unless the patient specifically requests it.
I have a certain dichotomy of mind on the issue of the need for regulation. On the one hand there is a need for the law or regulations to some extent. Any society or organisation cannot exist without them. On the other end of the spectrum, one can be personally overcome by legalism, formalism, rigorism, and by extension, scrupulosity, as a symptom of inordinate fear and/or an excessive dependence on a culture of formal correctness.
There are a number of passages within the gospels that demonstrate Jesus’ obvious contempt for the excessive legalism and rigour of the Sadducees, Scribes, and Pharisees of his day. He hated and instantly saw through their hypocrisy, status seeking, and selfishness. It seems to me that Jesus had a certain dislike for formality and legalism, especially when the pressing needs of people came last, or when legalism becomes a front for hypocrisy or a shallowness of spirit.
If we were to come back to the present day; it is quite apparent that most contemporary men and women do not like excessive regulation and legalism for its own sake. The eschewal of rules and regulations seem to go hand in hand with the eschewal of organisations in general, if I may offer a sociological observation. This trend in society is based on a shift in attitudes around personal freedom and dignity verses the overriding value of the group, structure, or collective. Personal freedom has become the winner in contemporary society, and this is quite evident today if you were to contrast the number of people who used to join all manner of groups a couple of generations ago, with the rather poor number of people doing the same today.
This is part of the backdrop of why so many good people do not go to church today. As far as I am concerned, it is a striking sign of the Sensus Fidelium teaching the rest of the official church that contemporary Catholics want a return to the attitudes and teachings of the gospels. This is buttressed by Jesus’ attitude to the hypocrisy, status seeking, and selfishness of past religious officials, and how these same attitudes are prevalent within the church today. It is such a shame that the church has missed a golden opportunity to reform itself via the auspices of Vatican II, only to go back into its lonely shell of rigorism and legalism. And why would it do this? Answer, because this is what it does best.
John, tell me why are the Anglicans joining the Catholic Church?
The reason for this as far as I can tell is that conservatives within the Anglican Church are joining the conservatives within the Catholic Church. Like meets like I suppose.
Thank you John. Truth seeks Truth!
Also John, I don’t understand your conservatism meaning
I made my first Confession in our front room-(called in those days) with the priest.And my First Holy Communion in Northampton at 6yrs on my own, with my mothers wedding veil, and my ‘coat’!!
Would one call that liberalism to-day or conservatism?
Like to like is a sweeping generalisation John. There is a very high Anglican church near us and occasionally its folk sort of sneak along to us and proclaim our similarity. One is struck by the dissimilarity really and the fact that there is a tendency among Anglo Catholics to favour and in my view lean to0 heavily on ritual. However this is only one side of the story. My own coming into the catholic church along the varied route of 15 years in the Evangelical charismatic house church followed by 10 years as an Anglican has been that of the profound journey of the heart wherein deep calls to deep. You can read of these journeys John in the book The Path to Rome (Modern journeys to the Catholic Church) edited by Dwight Longenecker. The common theme of these moving stories is one of ‘coming home’ and that is my own prodigal theme-it isnt wise John to consider that this movement of decent hearted people toward catholicism is simply one of conservatism.
I fear I am equally confused Superview by your thoughts on ecumenical dialogue. The Concilar and Post Concilar documents of Vatican 2 volume 1 contain the Decree on Ecumenism and the Reflections and suggestions concerning Ecumenical Dialogue. They make explicit and positive reference to shared prayer and respectful dialogue with other Christian denominations. Perhaps one can construct a case from almost any document one finds in order to prove ones point and that to a degree is a favourite practice of the human heart-mine included- I would be interested to know which reference ‘trumps’ which and why-your canon law or my Vatican 2!!!
This may be a side-issue, but I do get so irritated by the pigeonholing of positions as ‘progressive’ or ‘conservative’, as if this determined whether we should adopt them or not. Let’s hear arguments!
As far as it goes with me, I am a Catholic!!RC If you like.
Yes Mike, The Path to Rome is worth a read not only for non-catholics, but for some catholics too!
If one can receive EWTN 589 on Sky Freeview. The ‘Journey Home Programmes’ are something to be seen, Where people from all faiths and none have journed into the Catholic Church. One can pick up the programmes on EWTN’s website.
Sorry for this, 3 posts. But one can see a weekly programme on NFP, Embracing the Marital Gift! Fridays 7pm. info @ stclaremedia-ewtn.co.uk o208 2542350.for monthly free programmes.
When referring (on 30 March above) to the contents in the 1961 CTS booklet ‘Attending Non-Catholic Services’ I was seeking to illustrate, in the context of ‘614 to 1’, how pervasive and intrusive law-making had become, and still is, in the lives of Catholics. Let’s be clear, the quoted excerpt from the Code of Canon Law was binding on Catholics. Attending non-Catholics services was forbidden, because
“…whatever allowance is made in all charity for our separated brethren, it can never be lawful for Catholics to compromise religious truth by joining with non-Catholics in an act of worship which they know to be false.”
If anyone had said at the time ‘This is nonsense!’ the whole weight of ecclesiastical authority would have come down upon his or her head – indeed, Cardinal Manning is quoted in support of the law laid down in the booklet. Now we know that ‘it can never be lawful’ was nonsense. Mike Horsnall can, happily, refer to the Vatican II Decree on Ecumenism, and the reality of good ecumenical relations at parish and diocesan level. But our parish priest, who proclaims himself as a counter-reformationist, absents himself from any such goings-on. I’ve no doubt he sees it as so much window dressing that even Pope Benedict is obliged to support, and that the real beliefs founded on scripture and tradition are being safeguarded.
Mike Horsnall is too generous – much too generous in fact – in referring to ‘your canon law’ (it was 1 April), when I think it is pretty clear that I would still not be surprised to find something incongruous to the ecumenical spirit behind lock and key in the Vatican. The Code of Canon Law is still there, and is still binding (ask Quentin) and it would be encouraging to see a transparent official explanation, even as a footnote, to a Canon describing the new liberties on ‘Attending Non-Catholic Services’ which affirms that the previous ‘Canon 1258 (1) of the Code of Canon Law’ was completely wrong and misguided (what is it… no remission without repentance?).
But I doubt it. Perhaps someone could show my pessimism to be unfounded?
I believe that before 1965 a Catholic needed episcopal dispensation to attend an Anglican wedding, though I doubt whether many people in practice went to the trouble of obtaining one. Like all legislation Canon Law has to cover matters great and small, and is not immutable. When Parliament changes an existing law it does not issue an apology for that law, which might well have been appropriate for its time. Nor do we put motoring offences in the same category as murder.
Sunday obligation was all very well when Mass was more or less the same everywhere, but for those of us with a low tolerance threshold for liturgical abuse and trite music it is not always a practical proposition.
Often rules and laws were necessary at the time . Not forgetting the reformation, where catholics had to defend the Faith more so than now. Remembering that we were not the ones to seperate, but the Anglicans!
Since ARCIC we have more understanding for each other as Christians.
We are not allowedEucharistic Services at Eucumenical times. For obvious reasons!
We pray for what unites us,and hold on to our own belief as Catholics.
John Nolan makes an heroic attempt to excuse the past – maybe that is an historian’s job as he sees it. It could well be that explaining the past amounts to the same thing, but I would prefer to have the explanation and then judge for myself whether that amounts to an excuse for the harm that was done. Denying generations of good Catholics – those who took what they were taught in school and pulpit as necessary and right – the normal opportunities to attend and participate in the variety of Christian services involving family, friends and work colleagues was no small thing. It extended a so-called religious prohibition into the wide social relationships of Catholics and it was little short of toxic.
John Nolan tells us that Canon Law, like Parliamentary legislation, is ‘not immutable’. I would be interested to explore further the parallels and the contrasts between the two, but another time perhaps. In the meantime, how should we read retrospectively the portentous statement ‘it can never be lawful’ – when it carried the whole authority of the Church and without a shade of ambiguity?
Superview, now that you know it is ok to go to other christian services- do you?
I dont believe we were not allowed to go to funerals or weddings or Baptisms.
I don’t know do you, and why would you wish to go to a non-catholic service of worhip.
Would you bring them along to Holy Mass?. Or do you?You have every opportunity to bring your non-catholic members of your family and friends. Would they come in those days. Or are you only looking at it one way! Next Sunday invite them and see what they will say.
A priest told me many years ago,that if he walked down the street in his cassock he could be arrested, as it was against the law!
Not very Christian is it! Why is the Catholic Church all the time accused of ‘bad laws and rules’.Perhaps critcism of the abortion laws would be more appropriate.
Best keep that incongruous old door firmly bolted Superview unless out should tumble -all blood spit and dust-the spanish inquisition!!! (No one expects the Spanish Inquisition)..all tight faced and grim with jaw muscles furiously working!…Sorry thats Monty Python for you….But is it really the case? Is it the case that canon law trumps Papal intent or is it rather that old law -like exhausted precendent- can just lie sleeping and ignored until-like Yeat’s rough beast-slouch back to Bethelehem to be reborn? This is actually a serious question that I would like answering if possible..Because you present a situation which seems to imply that no one should ever on any account read canon law unless they wish to wallow in retrospective culpability.
..We clearly live in different worlds Superview- I’m quite interested in yours. You do sound a little embittered I think and I wonder how much of the grim interpretation is partly a factor of personal experience being reflected back?
Sorry, embittered is probably the wrong word-perhaps cynical or something similar?
I hope that I haven’t missed a point here. It is certainly true that Vatican II brought about a very substantial change in the Church’s teaching with regard to other religions. It was noted, particularly by Fr Charles Curran (the American moral theologian not always the apple of the Vatican’s eye), that this quite dramatic change took place without any official pronouncement that the previous teaching was, to put it kindly, inadequate.
You may laugh, but I recall as a young man in 1959 being asked to say the grace at a secular company function. And I deemed it prudent to consult a priest over whether this was permissible. His reply was that it was fine because they would be praying with me, not I with them. (He was of course a Jesuit) That reminds me of the flavour of the times.
I am very happy to accept that the Church has quite often got things wrong, and I understand how such a conservative institution is disinclined to move speedily. My only problem is with those who criticise arguments for change on the grounds that the Church doesn’t make mistakes. They are simply ignorant of history.
If our present day understanding of “outside the Church there is no salvation” had been expressed in earlier times, bell, book and candle would have been quickly employed. Yet the kernel of that doctrine – that salvation comes to all through Christ and therefore through a conscious or unconscious participation in his Church – remains as true as it ever did.
I had tea today with a distinguished old friend of mine (by old I mean well into his 90’s). He told how he had remarked at a meeting of bishops some years ago that many of them were antiChrist. After the meeting an episcopal friend of his asked him whether the epithet antiChrist applied in his case. To which he replied: “That depends on whether you put the organisation ahead of the people or the people ahead of the organisation.” That bears thinking about, particularly in the light of recent history.
Fifty or so years ago most Anglicans treated Catholics with polite condescension. They regarded themselves as Protestants and associated Catholicism with the more backward parts of the world and the fact that most Catholics they encountered were Irish immigrants tended to reinforce their pejudices. Catholic worship and devotional practice had for them a strong whiff of idolatry and superstition. The Anglo-Catholics of course knew better, but despite liturgical similarities kept their distance, lest they be tarred with the Roman brush. The Queen has never attended a Mass, and 25 years ago forbade the Prince of Wales from attending Mass in the Pope’s private chapel when he visited Rome shortly after his (first) marriage. [Incidentally George V had no qualms about attending the Requiem Mass for the Empress Eugenie.]
Catholics for their part had what has been called a ‘drawbridge mentality’. They prayed for their separated brethren but not with them. They adopted a sort of defensive triumphalism. In the 1950s a schoolboy asked his Jesuit master what was the spiritual authority of the Church of England, and received the fizzing reply “Henry VIII’s church has as much spiritual authority as British Railways!”
Ecumenism as we now understand it was reciprocal. A lot of it is due to Vatican II and Paul VI and his successors, but Michael Ramsay faced criticism from his own church on the occasion of his historic visit to Rome.
Ironically the one thing ultra-liberals and ultra-conservatives agree on is that the Church can make mistakes!
I would put it down to caution,more than ‘sinful mistakes’.and not wanting to fall into error!
We as catholics ought to know that protestants were and still are suspect of catholics and our Worship.
I said in posts before how on meeting my late husband, his opinions on catholics were as John Nolan mentions.
My husbands first words to me were ‘Oh you are not one of those who worship Mary, pray to pictures and statues etc.
He was not alone on this idea, and probably it still is the way we are thought of.He thank God did study the faith and became a catholic after years of searching.
If becoming closer to other faiths meant in those days that we gave up our devotion to the Mother of God (that statement alone would make Anglicans and the free churches squirm
In the 60s 70s and 80s and 90s my parish had a very good ecumenical relations with all of the other churches, Methodist, Baptist, Bethal. etc. Things did change since Vatican 2, it was not Doctrinal but Pastoral.What we are speaking about is pastoral, and because things have been more illuminated in our relations with their churches, our Doctrines stay the same. Just because the relations with other churches has brought us together, it does not mean that the Catholic Church is teaching error when She proclaims the Truths of our Faith.
I seem to ,maybe wrongly, suspect where this discussion is leading!
Now we begin to get down to the nub of the issue-though I would still like my question regarding authority(canon law vs Lumen gentium for example) answering or at least the error of my ways illumining.
“At the start of the third millenium’ my late beloved predecessorJohn Paul 2nd invited the church to contemplate the face of Christ…….I would like to show, in the Catechesis I begin today’ how it is precisely the light of that Face that is reflected upon the face of the Church notwithstanding the limits and shadows of our fragile and sinful humanity..”
BenedictXVI Christ and His Church CTS2007
The notion that any human being on this earth is individually without sin has no place in the formation of a mind or heart set on Jesus Christ. We know this and should feel both the sting of it and the joy of our coming redemption. This means that there is little point in looking to the failings of the church with surprise.
I have no real memory of the past sectarian relations between Christian faiths in Australia and their associated do’s and don’ts from a Catholic perspective. I have either forgotten it or I have just been lucky to have been born a little too late for it. The church has come a long way since the Second Vatican Council and hooray for that! Apart from the Decree on Ecumenism, or ‘Unitatis redintegratio’, there is the ‘Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions’, or ‘Nostra Aetate’, which speaks of the recognition of and respect for members of the Jewish faith, as well as the respect for members of the Muslim faith, or any other faith for that matter. The church has broken new ground indeed!
The Sensus Fidelium today has moved in another surprising direction as well for some of us anyway. It is what some theologians are calling ‘Double Belonging’. And this is where any person has a well-defined belonging to their principle faith, while borrowing a prayer form or other practice from one or a number of other faiths. While I personally practice Christian meditation, and this is similar to any other forms of religious or secular meditation, its practice by me is not an example of Double Belonging. However, the attitudes to suffering and how I deal with it in my own life is partly a product of Christian and Buddhist thinking. I have remained as true to my Christian faith as possible, by not becoming a Buddhist or some sort of combination of the two.
You can find more out about Double Belonging by going here http://ncronline.org/news/double-belonging-buddhism-and-christian-faith. This is the story of one American theologian’s experience of combining some of the teachings of Buddhism to his Catholicism. He says that he and his Catholic faith have been enriched by the experience. So our faith has certainly come a long way since our more restrictive pre-Vatican II days.
I want to tell you all about an online search engine for the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) that I have just discovered. It gives you any part of the CCC in English or Latin. Go to http://overkott.dyndns.org/ccc-search.htm and save it to your Favourites. Cheers!
I agree with the thrust of your argument and have always supported ecumenism on the grounds that Christians of all denominations should celebrate what they have in common, particularly in many cases a common baptism. I also agree that Christians can learn from non-Christian religions, and have always regarded the suppression by the papacy in the 17th century of the so-called Chinese rites as a mistake. Nowadays it would be regarded as a worthy attempt at inculturation. The aim of the Jesuits was not to dilute the Faith, but to win souls for Christ.
That being said, ecumenism is not without its ironies and pitfalls, if I might be allowed to elaborate:
1. We were the last generation to experience the restrictions on worshipping with non-Catholics, but also the last generation to have been properly catechized; we would have had no difficulty in distinguishing between a Protestant eucharist and a Catholic Mass. Forty-odd years of sloppy and ambiguous liturgy and poor catechesis has meant that few Catholics can now tell you what the Mass is about.
2. There is a danger of succumbing to relativism, something that the Holy Father has always spoken out against.
3. The idea of respecting all beliefs sounds nice and tolerant; does this also apply to Satanism which under human rights legislation has to be regarded as a religion? A couple of years back a Royal Navy sailor won the rights to celebrate his Satanic rituals on board his ship; had I been one of his shipmates I would have been more than a little perturbed.
2. To a certain extent
Ignore that last bit hanging in the air. I was going to say that since 1962 both the CofE and the Catholic Church have suffered a crisis in confidence; this may give an added impetus to ecumenism, but is not the best basis for it.
If there is any danger in Double Belonging it is either non-existent or exaggerated. The definition of Double Belonging is that one does not dilute one’s principal faith but enriches it through the prayer, ritual, or philosophical considerations of another faith or faiths. In other words, so long as you are conscious of what you are doing, both correct knowledge of another faith and its small but sincere incorporation into one’s principal faith will not led to the relativism of Christianity or any other faith, but the enrichment of the participant and his or her principal faith.
That is the hope and the reality. If it were to lead to considerable blurring of one’s principal faith, not many would be comfortable with that outcome. It is strictly a personal matter in terms of what you are comfortable with and what you would agree with. I can’t see how you can principally belong to a Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, or any other mainstream faith, and touch devil or satanic worship. But to each their own John Nolan, we live in a free world.
The book that is discussed in the link in my previous post is ‘Without Buddha I Could not be a Christian’, (2009) by Professor Paul F. Knitter, and is published by Oneworld Oxford if anybody is interested. Paul Knitter is Paul Tillich Professor of Theology, World Religions and Culture, at Union Theological Seminary, in New York City. Thank you for your reply.
John, you may not need the Eucharist,as you have said so, therfore maybe you have something missing in your life as a catholic, and Christian mediation fills the void.
But don’t expect other catholics to feel that way., who in the Church can be fulfilled and satisfied with the Blessed Sacrament! Obviousley it is beyond your understanding, and I don’t judge you on that-it is a gift of faith from the Holy Spirit.
John Candido mentions the CCC.
Why do we not teach from that in our schools instead of the so called books like Here I Am etc ? Is that too catholic for ecunemism?
Or the Compendium ?
If one was to visit St Mary’s Church in Walsingham, one would think they were in a Catholic Church. where the Tabernacle is in the centre (although not the Real Presence)one would have to admire their devotion and not without their statues of the Saints. Our Blessed Mother, St Joseph, St Anthony and many more, also a place to light candles.one of the churches there, had exposition!
I as a catholic would not be ashamed to say to a non-catholic friend, that I would not go in with her and worship in front of their monstrance.I think she would understand.
That would be false ecumenism Nor would I bow down to Buddah.
We do have many Mystics in the Catholic Church-who mediated- we dont need to go searching into that to find our faith.
Just my opinion! Our children would be confused if they were taught all that when we have so much in the catholic faith for them, if they were told it, by their parents.
A note for Superview.
I would not need Canon Law to tell me that!
I practice silent prayer a lot John and was for many years involved in Meditative practices which were Taoist or buddhist in nature (before I was converted that is)
I have worked my way though De Mello’s christian practices in Eastern form and over this past few years have come to an apophatic understanding of God which basically reduces one to simply ‘sitting’ before God. This type of prayer tends to bring with it naturally enough comparisons with Zen.
However I do not practice ‘double belonging’ because I am simply interested in dragging this poor old heart as close to the fire of God as it will go-and hoping that perhaps some of that fiery love might warm me up a bit! So to come closer. I don’t much care how I do it but find adequate stores within the christian mystic tradition for my needs- though years of meditation may have helped me personally I don’t neccesarily believe that such practices are ‘objective helps’-this to me would smack of gnosticism.
Though methodology and discourse may seem to converge -and there is a real sense in which meaningful description is difficult-I am a christian from start to finish-as much as I can be and do not see that methodology has much to say about the roots of being-its not the shovel that determines the deep ore of the mine!
Superview comments on rules and laws.
We may have exhausted the subject on ‘Sunday Obligation’ ref. 3rd commandment!. His comment on March 30th 4.36, has kept me wondering , that is what he said in that post to quote ‘They are very keen on rules and believe that there can never be too many.They are especially qualified to make rules on sex’ unquote.
I am a little puzzled on his statement and would like to ask him if he would give me some more of his thoughts on this so that I can comment more, a bit more explanation is needed.
Thank you Superview, if you can oblige.
Superview, without being considered a ‘spoilsport’I will take it that your comment means that Holy Mother Church and her teachings on sex are in line the way Our Lord wants us to live our lives,that meaning ‘decently’ ,true love between a man and a woman in Holy Matrimony and to bring up our children (if blessed) in the love and service of God.
No sex before marriage, no extra marital relationships after, no pornography, especially allowing our children to watch light porn on T.V.. and above all chastity in the way we dress.
If we do that and many more of what the church teaches on ‘sex’ that doesn’t mean we still may end up as saints. But the world would be a little better.
Our Lady said at Fatima, ‘Many souls go to hell through the sins of the flesh’.
I will say it is a pity that the priests who abused children and the 70% who were homosexuals didn’t practice what they ‘should have ‘preached’.then we wouldn’t have had the scandal we have had to endure.
Maybe we needed that to bring us to our senses. We might hear more of it from our pulpits about purity and chastity and less about condoms.
Will we ever ‘listen ‘and learn?
Superview, I would be very grateful to you if you will enlighten me on your thoughts on the churches teaching on ‘sex’ as you maintain in your comment I mentioned above.
I appreciate if you need more time to think about this. But I really would like to know.