Impure thoughts about impure thoughts

From time to time it has been suggested on this Blog that the teaching Church has shown a kind of institutionalised distaste for the pleasures which accompany sexual expression. By chance I came across some notes I had written ten years ago on the subject. These notes were accurate as far as they go, but were they fair? And if they were fair, has the teaching Church thoroughly exorcised such attitudes? No cleric would express such words today, but do they still resonate in the ecclesiastical mind? And do they contribute in any way to the rule on clerical celibacy, or indeed on attitudes towards women?

Because the change has been so gradual one has to read a complete account like that given by John T. Noonan (Contraception 1965) to realize the extent of the changes in the Magisterium’s attitude towards the use of sexuality from, for example, Pope Gregory’s view that you could only have intercourse without sin provided you didn’t enjoy it to the rich personalist teaching of Gaudium et Spes which rejoices in sexual love as an expression of the bond of marriage.

Noonan tells us, in describing Gregory the Great’s Pastoral Rule:“Not only is pleasure an unlawful purpose in intercourse, but if any pleasure is ‘mixed’ with the act of intercourse, the married have ‘transgressed the law of marriage’.”

There is no doubt that if the doctrine of Gaudium et Spes had been proposed in former centuries it would have been roundly condemned, on the authority of Augustine, Aquinas and the general teaching of the Magisterium.  A meditation given to English seminarians in the later 17th century read:

“For the manner of thy begetting is so foule that the name, nay the lightest thought of it, defileth the purest minde, so that our B.  Sauiour refused none of our miseries but onely that; and the matter so horrid, so foule, that all other dung is pleasant and greatfull in respect of it; nay we dare not in discourse giue it a name, for our owne shame and others offence…” *

A well known textbook of moral theology carried, up to 1923, the description of intercourse as res in se foeda, a thing filthy in itself; the parts of the body were commonly categorized in moral theologies into the decent, the less decent and the indecent (partes inhonestae).  You can work out which.  The suspicion that anything to do with sexual pleasure is somehow shameful is not confined to ecclesiastics but it seems likely that this deep laid attitude inhibited the growing clarity of the Magisterium’s vision.**

In 1930, Pius XI published Casti Connubii, and there he made specific allowance for the use of the marriage act without immediate procreative intention. The use of the safe period was cautiously permitted and, although at that time its reliability led to it being called ‘Vatican roulette’, a barrier had been crossed. This did not prevent a number of authorities taking a dim view. For example, Cardinal Van Roey, speaking at a provincial council in 1937, not only listed the extreme moral dangers to which this practice might lead but suggested that it might only be offered “to onanists to wean them from their sin”. It was not until 1951, when Pius XII spoke to the Italian midwives, that internal criticism was quelled. Nowadays, the practice is proposed as a way of perfection.

*   English College of Lisbo (1663).  Quoted in ‛Spirituality and Sexuality’ Philip Sheldrake in Embracing Sexuality ed. Joseph A.  Selling, Ashgate (2001).  This is the least offensive of the two quotes given. Sheldrake says, of this and similar passages “…there can be no doubt that negative attitudes such as these ..have had a long and damaging effect on spirituality”

**  Taken from Two in One Flesh Part 1 Sands & Co  E.C. Messenger (1948).  The moral theologian was P. Noldin Theol. Moralis, and the phrase was excised from later editions.  Messenger also recalls the dictum of an old Latin writer though he cannot recall the source: Inter urinas et faeces nascimur omnes.  Following Gibbon I leave this in the decent obscurity of a learned language.

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125 Responses to Impure thoughts about impure thoughts

  1. Brian Hamill says:

    One day, many years ago, I came across a quote from Frank Sheed (of Sheed and Ward and one of the first lay theologians of the last century). It ran more or less, ‘Few bishops of the Church can get their minds round the fact that God is in eternal orgasm’. Quite a provocative statement in all respects I would have thought. He was married to Maisie Ward and had some direct experience to call on. It certainly puts the sexual act in a new, and truly sacred, light. What it points to is the full reality behind this Sacramental Act, the supreme, and indeed essential, gesture of the fullness of grace within Marriage.

  2. Peter D. Wilson says:

    I wonder how far the church’s former teaching might have been behind the once-common attitude that a wife is for duty, a mistress for pleasure.

  3. Quodvultdeus says:

    Even if I wanted I wouldn’t join your choir in praising the advances of the Catholic teaching on sexuality, as I find some false tones in your interpretation. I am sorry, but you do not – at least at times – read the notes properly.
    For instance, this passage:
    “…Magisterium’s attitude towards the use of sexuality from, for example, Pope Gregory’s view that you could only have intercourse without sin provided you didn’t enjoy it to the rich personalist teaching of Gaudium et Spes which rejoices in sexual love as an expression of the bond of marriage.”

    Do you really mean that GS 47-52 is all about “sexual love as an expression of the bond of marriage”?. And that the vision of the sexual life presented in GS is so full of joy, not shadowed by any concern about the vices that sexuality may cause? What about this:

    “N. 49:This love God has judged worthy of special gifts, healing, perfecting and exalting gifts of grace and of charity. Such love, merging the human with the divine, leads the spouses to a free and mutual gift of themselves, a gift providing itself by gentle affection and by deed, such love pervades the whole of their lives:(Matt. 22:37-40; Gal. 5:14.) indeed by its busy generosity it grows better and grows greater. Therefore it FAR EXCELS MERE EROTIC INCLINATION, which, selfishly pursued, soon enough fades wretchedly away.”

    • Quentin says:

      Sorry to be a nuisance, but I am not sure what point you are making. Are you praising G & S or condemning it? And this phrase “selfishly pursued, mere erotic inclination” doesn’t see to relate to anything I have said. Please explain.

      • Quodvultdeus says:

        It’s not a nuisance at all! Thank you for giving us an opportunity to have discussion on this subject. Regarding GS, I do praise this document, but not in the way you do. I disagree especially when you falsely put its teaching in opposition to that of St. Augustine and St. Thomas. You are certainly familiar with the two ways of interpreting the Council: a “hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture” on one hand and a “hermeneutic of reform” on the other (see eg: Pope’s address to the Roman Curia on 22 December 2005). I see the hermeneutics of rupture in what you have written, applied to the teaching on sexuality. You could do this only by overlooking the passages in GS showing bad sides of marital sexuality, like the one I quoted, and at the same time picking up from Augustine some statements sinuously and out of context.

        Why do you think the very first reference in the chapter of GS dedicated to the family life (GS part II, ch.1) links the teaching of the council with Augustine’s “De bono coniugali”, chapters 3,4 and 24 (PL 40, 375-376 and 394)?

        Augustine’s treatise is available here:

        I would strongly recommend that people expressing views on St Augustine’s doctrine similar to John Candid read it.

        GS refers to the teaching of Augustine regarding “matrimony, endowed as it is with various benefits and purposes”. So there is no contradiction. We may speak about different language, but “benefits and purposes” remain the same. Indeed, from the creation of Adam and Eve.

      • Quentin says:

        Of course there are many good and important things said in Augustine’s “On the good of Marriage”. Indeed Noonan quotes directly from Section 18 to reference Augustine’s contention that the purpose of the marital act should only be procreation (except for those too old to conceive). I hope he hasn’t developed his study of Augustine’s attitudes “sinuously and out of context”.

        Perhaps the problem here is that much has been written by many on these matters. And it is this which leads me to favour the Noonans of this world – rather than my own scholarship and – with respect – yours.

        My confusion about the quotation you present from G & S, “selfishly pursued, mere erotic inclination” arises, I think, from your assumption that I would approve of any such thing. It is precisely because we are body-and-soul beings that we are able to unite the expression of the spiritual and the corporal in our conjugal love, and reverence both. it was perhaps because of his own earlier experience, or the remnants of Manichean influence, that Augustine could not see how sexual desire could be sacralised”.Pax tibi.

      • Quentin says:

        However, I should add – for I have only just discovered it – an interesting essay by Finnis, in which he firmly criticises Noonan on his interpretation of Aquinas in this matter. It’s a pdf, and most easily found by Googling ‘The Good of Marriage and the Morality of Sexual Relations’.

    • milliganp says:

      Quodvultdeus, you link to Augustines work starts with an introductory paragraph:-
      Then follows the connexion of fellowship in children, which is the one alone worthy fruit, not of the union of male and female, but of the sexual intercourse. For it were possible that there should exist in either sex, even without such intercourse, a certain friendly and true union of the one ruling, and the other obeying.

      Augustine thus sees the perfect marriage as defined by the willing subjugation of the woman to the man. Shades of Stepford Wives. Augustine also has no place for the unitive benefits of sexuality.

      • Quodvultdeus says:

        Quentin, I do not know how my words can be understood as assumption that you “would approve of any such thing” as “selfishly pursued, mere erotic inclination”. I think exactly the opposite: you do not think about it at all, as if it was an invention of some murky theologians of the past. I repeat, you seem not to take into account that:
        1. erotic sphere in us has been wounded by the consequences of the Original Sin
        2. “Gaudium and Spes” does take it into account, and again you seem to not notice it.

        Augustine’s position is that erotic dynamics in man is permanently wounded by the consequences of the fall, as are our will and intellectual powers. He uses therefore an image of a lame man. The first parents used to “walk” perfectly well using their sexuality to fulfil God’s plans in the paradise, in this he refers to “the bed undefiled” (“torus immaculatus”) from the Letter to the Hebrew 13:4 (Cf. De genesi ad litteram, IX, 3.6; PL 34, 395; De civitate Dei, XIV, 21-24; CC 47, 443-448; De gratia Christi et de peccato originali, II, 35.40; CSEL 42, 198; PL 44, 405; Denuptiis et concupiscentia, II, 35.59; CSEL 42, 318[1-8]; PL 44, 414; Contra Julianum, IV, 11.57; PL 44, 765-766; ibid., IV, 14.69; PL 44, 772-773; Contra duas epistolas Pelagianorum, I, 17.34-35; CSEL 60, 450-452). But after the fall spouses use their wounded sexuality as lame men and women use their crooked legs. Walking is good, even if you have certain disability. Spousal sexual union is, according to Augustine, good, but it is handicapped.

        Thank you for respect to my views on the subject. I share very much the view of others who actually read Augustine, and not just quote passages out of context to “prove” how detesting towards women and sex Augustine was.

        Some comments on “sinoous” interpretation of Augustine’s teaching you will find in an excellent review of a book of K. Flesch, “Augustinus, Einfurung in sein denken” written by G. Madec in “Revue des Etudes Augustiniennes” 38 (1982) N° 1-2, p. 100-111: “Sur une nouvelle introduction à la pensée d’Augustin ” (pdf file: )

        Among the English speaking scholars I would recommend an American Dominican, professor of the Dominican Providence College, and former editor of „The Thomist”, N. Joseph Torchia OP, e.g. his “The Implications of the Doctrine of Creatio ex nihilo in Saint
        Augustine’s Theology,” in Studia Patristica XXXIII: 266-273. Papers of the 1995 Oxford Patristics Conference. Edited by Elizabeth A. Livingstone. Leuven: Peeters Press, 1997.

        And of course worth reading is any of the books of a late Italian author and editor of Augustine’s works Agostino Trape. There is an English translation of his biographical work: “Saint Augustine : man, pastor, mystic ” London : Augustinian Press, 1985.

      • Quentin says:

        Thank you for your leads. Just for the record, I am sadly quite familiar with the damage done through original sin to my erotic inclinations, just as I am aware that I can misuse my inclinations to eat through greed — and all the other aspects of my lower nature. Even St Paul noticed the tension. However, the Fathers did not condemn appetite or suggests that we can hardly apply it without at least venial sin.

      • tim says:

        Milliganp, “Stepford Wives”? More like St Paul. See yesterday’s daily reading (Ordinary Form of the Mass).

  4. Brendan O' Leary. says:

    I find this a rather complex subject to unravel with any degree of clarity, principlely because I see the Church as still trying to ” work-out ” in its own mind and daily life the consequences of Vatican 2. – if only we had more homilies and comments from our clergy and bishops on the meaning and difference between ‘ eros ‘ and ‘ agape ‘ and their corresponding union when body and soul are united in ones very being as befits the dignity of our species. The Holy Father in ” Deus caritas Est ” puts it thus ….. ” Should he aspire to be pure spirit and reject the flesh as pertaining to his animal nature alone, then spirit and body would both lose their dignity. On the other hand, should he deny the spirit and consider matter , the body, as the only reality, he would likewise lose his greatness. ” All I can say by experience is that marriage and the conjugal act realises that dignity and vindicates Church Teaching in every respect.
    However, I believe in past pontifications on such matters the Church has been too overcautious in denying the rightful place of ” eros ” in our lives. Perhaps with good cause as the early intake of Greek influences with their accent on the Pagan understanding of the word needed to be balanced by the Christian understanding of ” agape .” Unfortunately this integrated vision of the sexual person appropriate to the unity of body and soul until recently, never reached maturity ,and contributed to ( not resulted in ) a fossilised ” institutional church “. In this respect I feel that Vatican 2 is seeing a visible success.

    • Quodvultdeus says:

      Quentin, yes “the Fathers did not condemn appetite or suggested that we can hardly apply it without at least venial sin”. Neither Augustine condemned the appetite, as such. He taught the appetite was present in the first parents in paradise. (cf. É. Schmitt, “Le mariage chrétien dans l’oeuvre de Saint Augustin”, Paris: Études Augustiniennes, 1983, p. 97).

      The context is so important.
      1. Augustine had no juridical moral spirituality as we very often do have, i.e. his view of God was that of Saviour and not of the Judge.

      2. He developed his teaching on venial sin as part of the teaching on how the spouses may conquer the domination of bodily passions to grow in love “so old and so new”. He did not approach it in the way of the tariff penance which was began only in 7th c. by Irish and Scottish monks.

      3. Both Augustine’s theology and his Christian life were centred around liberating Paschal Mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection and of a Christian community formed by it, while we normally do not realise what it, i.e Paschal Mystery, has to do with our daily Christian life. Our Christianity is very often lived as individuals. Even spouses, if they do, they pray very often separately.

      • Quentin says:

        Perhaps the problem here is that you were not available to advise later writers on the subject (of which I really only give a hint in my post). Then they wouldn’t have said “This pleasure cannot be without fault” (Gregory epistles 11.64) or described the manner of begetting as so “horride and so foule” , or described intercourse as “a thing filthy in itself” or take the view that people should only be permitted to use the safe period because that might be better than onanism.

      • Quodvultdeus says:

        Normally you would expect gnostic authors to atack bodiliness in marriage. So I wouldn’t regard those few passages you refer to as Magisterial texts. At least you cannot interpret them in a gnostic way. There was a strong tradition of the Fathers and later writers, who form part of the infallible Magisterium, who emphasised ontological goodness of procreation and at the same time moral problems with sex, which you say, you are aware of – perhaps better than me as I have lived in celibacy all my life.

  5. Nektarios says:

    What can I say to such silly thoughts and thinking on sex, pure or impure thoughts, pleasurable or non- pleasureable, on Love, and so on.
    All I can say at this point is, Love has nothing to do with sex. Yes, you read that right!
    As I say, Love has nothing to do with sex. There may be sex in the manifestation of Love, but don’t confuse the two. Love is Love, and sex is sex.
    Love has no beginning or end, if it does, then it is not Love but something else. We call sex, love-making, for we think that is Love, but it is not.

  6. Brendan O' Leary. says:

    If I understand your direction of thought on this Nektarios then I could not disagree more. You appear to be perpetuating a kind of ‘ dualism ‘ which found its expression in the high Middle Ages almost down to today – which Quentin has alluded to – and David picks up in Frank Sheed’s rather provocative ‘ eternal orgasm .’ It is the very joining together of the sexual act in all its dramatic play with the perfect intention of love , in mutual giving , which encompasess the divine agape, that befits our dignity as creatures made in His image and likeness. Of course we fall short of that quite often but that is the ‘gold standard ‘ – a sign of contradiction to a world that would have it otherwise.
    This I believe replaces the ‘ shame ‘ – mirroring our first parents – that the erotic sexual act alone induces in both sexes. This is the direction that the Church has painfully endeavoured to get over to us in the pew since Pope Paul V1 ‘S ” Humanae Vitae “. Get this right and I think we will understand the place of celibacy in the life of the Church better and go a long way to eradicating misogyny in our mid’st.
    This I believe is the battlegrond which the Church at present and in the near future has to set out its beliefs if it is to become credible as the True Faith as opposed to its opponent in the field, the Secular Faith.

    • Nektarios says:

      Brendan O’ Leary
      Pleased to tell you, I am not perperuating a form of dualism, nor am I talking about some silly notion of Eternal orgasm. By the way, sex is not something eternal.

      We tend to get all tied up in knots about sex, the moral dangers and perfection of the sexual act and so on, so can we look at these matters slowly and much more simply?

      But to deal with this issue of dualism first: First, God alone created the universe and all that is in it and set it in motion till it reaches its end. The Universe is not ruled by Good and evil, God alone rules. Evil was not there in the beginning. So you see, Brendan, my dear fellow, there is no duality in my statement, and if you follow thorough what I am about to say, you will find no duality.but duality does exist.
      For duality to exist there needs to be a dichotomy. In man, duality exists in his thoughts.
      I like her or him, I want her or him, I like tis but I don’t like that. I need this, but I don’t need that,
      I believe this but I don’t believe that….. and so this list goes on and on.
      There is no duality or dichotomy in Love it is One… all the way through, untouched by our duality, and cannot be divided. I won’t labour the point any further but simply to sum it up
      Love has do dualism in it, but man does and his or her sexual life does have dualism.
      I will send another posting later so – to be continued…

      • Brendan O' Leary. says:

        If I have misunderstood you I apologise for my lack of presise learning. But I wasn’t refering to dualism in the strictly clasical sense. What I wanted to get over was, that there is a mindset in which I believe we can separate two components integral to the understanding of the whole – in this case Love. Whether you agree or not is your prerogative. As too “eternal orgasm” it’s David’s description and one which I would not ascribe to anyones use let alone your good self. Nektarios, I look forward to your next posting.

      • milliganp says:

        Brendan, don’t apologise to Nektarios, it is he who has limited dualism to a specific version. If you look up dualism on Wikipedia it is also possible to have amongst others, mind-body and body-spirit dualism, the latter is the probable root of what Nektarios implies. We would have to deny dictionaries and common usage if we denied that sexual love is part of love; This love has to be a reflection of Divine love since the sexual act creates new life made in the image and likeness of God.

  7. John Nolan says:

    Since nearly all the crimes which come to court have as their motive money or sex (or, if you prefer, avarice or lust) then those who are concerned with morality need to spend a lot of time dealing with both. The early Church Fathers and later medieval theologians were monastics, so their views on sex and women might be considered somewhat jaundiced, but the Catholic Church in general seems to have had a more relaxed attitude to human nature than the stern Protestants of the Reformation. We remember St Pius V driving all the prostitutes out of Rome as an example of extreme and unusual zeal.

    The Church cannot of course condone what is contrary to God’s law, for instance adultery and sodomy, and is equally bound to uphold the sanctity of marriage. But all this blathering about the joy of (marital) sex is irrelevant. Indeed the late Auberon Waugh once wrote to the effect that the thought of Father O’Bubblegum nodding approvingly over his shoulder would take all the pleasure out of it.

    In the meantime the (British) public’s attitude to sex is the same old mixture of prudery and prurience served with a large dollop of hypocrisy, as evidenced by the current media feeding frenzy over alleged goings-on at the BBC thirty-odd years ago.

    • St.Joseph says:

      What is an impure thought about an ‘impure thoughts’? We need to know that!
      Immorality takes many forms! Even within marriage!
      When I was 16 I travelled on the Tube from Highgate to the West end of London working for a year in Old Bond St. That was an experience!
      Most mornings in a squashed train, I spent most of my time using my elbows,heels or knees pushing ,as I called in an earlier post ‘dirty old men’ away from me.
      We did not run from the train screaming,perhaps we ought to have done.Also on dance floors.We used to warn our friends to refuse those who we had that dance with.
      All we had to do in those days and now ,is to look around any city, town, village to see the ‘muck’ I don’t mind calling it that- what is exposed to us in posters, papers, TV, books on shelves etc etc etc.
      At 21 I married and moved to a village in the West Country, made some friends and lo and behold there was ‘wife swatting parties going on.We can’t get away from it.All we need to do is ‘I could say turn a blind eye- but we can not do that as children of God no matter what religion we are.
      Sin takes many forms and our fallen nature makes us tempted if we are not careful, all we can say ‘There for the Grace of God go I.Even as Christians we are not living on an Island and we need to defend our Faith.
      I have just heard of a Channel 4 video to be shown in a local catholic School ‘Living and Growing’-year 6 10 to 11 years. Unbelievable.What it shows is not ‘love’ pure ‘sex’
      Not forgetting 9 million babies aborted in UK.

      I am with Nextarios on his comment.

  8. Brendan O' Leary. says:

    Your point about Protestant / Catholic is well taken as evidenced in the difference in tone and approach taken in say Italy and France today on such matters , often in sharp contrast to the U.K. I agree that all this ” blathering ” gets us nowhere in the context of todays events . The real change must come in how we see ourselves as Church in the sense literally, as the living Body of ChrIst, and not as merely another ” institution” in public life. That is the radical challenge that faces the Church of the future. I believe Saint Paul can provide the paradigm for such change. This multi- dimentional nature of Church which has attracted son many young people in these New Movements from the time of Blessed John Paul 11’s pontificate is truly echoing the early Church’s Christ – centred community of beleivers – the Local Church. This ” exorcism ” – as Quentin puts it – I believe is underway and Auberon Waugh’s attitude has been taken over by events and is now considered as outdated in as much as it is now only used as a caricature of Catholic life by comedians looking for cheap laughs at our expence.
    I disagree that sex in marriage is to be regarded as a purely matter of fact concept for the reasons I’ve given above . There are definite signs now that guided by our Bishops the doctrines of the Church on sexual matters are being taken in by the younger generation in the Christ – centred milieu called the Church. Because we are out of step with the rest of society is a good sign – but we’re not there yet !

  9. Brendan O' Leary. says:

    In its present evolutionary state – anthropologically or spiritually – I’m always amazed at how nonplussed society is at the scandalous sexual behaviour in others, celebtities in particular. Being shocked is understandable but the overpowering sexual urge in most of us, which is perhaps at times is overpowering strong in many of us should be of no surprise. The answer is to adhere to the habit of self – discipline that the Church and our own reasoning puts before us, and absorb the sanctifying grace poured out by Christ on his Church, which cements that change of habit and lifestyle. It’s no sin to be tempted – it’s how we deal with temptation.
    The Church is not immune, as it has painfully found out to the obsession with sexuality in the broader society, but again it provides the answer to the eros/ agape conjuntion in the area of marital love-making by promoting the Billlings Method – and what does that entail ? A mutual sharing and understanding of body functions and self – discipline. Talk about …. ” Gods’ megaphone to a deaf world. “!

  10. John Candido says:

    Quentin’s introduction is quite a lesson on the subtle evolution of the Catholic Church’s teaching on sexuality during the twentieth century, and throughout history. How very illuminating! I also find the following observation very interesting; the Second Vatican Council’s Gaudium et Spes ‘would have been roundly condemned, on the authority of Augustine, Aquinas and the general teaching of the Magisterium’.

    The Roman Catholic Church is absolutely subject to change and evolution. There is no doubt about that. The vast majority of its magisterial teaching is non-infallible. If its magisterial teaching is non-infallible; by definition that must mean it is amenable to change. It is also affected by the environment that it finds itself, simply because it, like every other organisation or person, does not exist in a vacuum. This is also known as the influence of its surrounding culture. There is no doubt about that as well. All of the protestation by conservatives that the church is charged with the safeguarding of the ‘pure and unchanging doctrines of Christ’, and therefore it has not got the authority and freedom to change any of these, is most certainly a bankrupt notion.

    For example, the idea of women priests is not negotiable because the church is simply not free to be able to do anything about this, due to convention and tradition, or that it even can be discussed by anyone, according to an order by Pope John Paul II. The reason that the church appears to be such an immutable rock face, is its historically conditioned culture of governance. It is probably the most moribund and antediluvian organisation of our times.

    I think that Quentin is also on to something important here as well. Some clerics are constrained to what they may say in matters sexual because they would be derided by contemporary lay people. Their constraint is generated by negative sexual attitudes that come from a melange of Socratic dualism, Manichean principles, and the malign influence of Saint Augustine. Augustine married the creation fable found in Genesis chapter one, with his doctrine of original sin. Original sin in combination with sexual intercourse has blighted sex and sexuality throughout the centuries. It is the origin of the thought of sin born of sexual intercourse, i.e. the original sin in all children passed via the channel of sexual intercourse. Saint Augustine is an anachronism that the modern world can do without.

    • Quodvultdeus says:

      “Original sin in combination with sexual intercourse has blighted sex and sexuality throughout the centuries.” So what is according to you proper, genuine teaching of the Church about the wounds inflicted on the human nature by the original sin. What is the reason for the soul and body suffering together as a consequence of the fall? As St. Paul writes: ” In my estimation, all that we suffer in the present time is nothing in comparison with the glory which is destined to be disclosed for us, for the whole creation is waiting with eagerness for the children of God to be revealed. It was not for its own purposes that creation had frustration imposed on it, but for the purposes of him who imposed it – with the intention that the whole creation itself might be freed from its slavery to corruption and brought into the same glorious freedom as the children of God. We are well aware that the whole creation, until this time, has been groaning in labour pains. And not only that: we too, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we are groaning inside ourselves, waiting with eagerness for our bodies to be set free”. (Rom 8:18-23)

  11. John Nolan says:

    John, in your book the Catholic Church is an anachronism that the modern world can do wthout. By the way, did you really intend to say that the Church has the authority to change the teaching of Christ? If this is indeed the case it would be interesting to know from whence this authority is derived.

    • John Candido says:

      ‘John, in your book the Catholic Church is an anachronism that the modern world can do without.’ (John Nolan).

      I never said that the ‘Catholic Church is an anachronism that the modern world can do without. I said that any remaining negative teaching and attitudes on sexuality are anachronisms that we can do without. I.E., the teaching of original sin has to go, Manichaeism has to go, Socratic dualism has to go, and any negative sexual teaching from Saint Augustine, has to go as well.

      ‘By the way, did you really intend to say that the Church has the authority to change the teaching of Christ? If this is indeed the case it would be interesting to know from whence this authority is derived.’ (John Nolan).

      Have you bothered to closely read Quentin’s introduction? The changing teaching of Popes on subtle notions of what is or isn’t permitted in sexual intercourse for married men and women is telling. What about the second Vatican council? Did you read about how the council would have been condemned by the past magisterium of the church, and by sundry Catholic notaries throughout history?

      The church has the authority to change the teaching of Christ in the light of modernity. Time stands still for no organisation or person. As time cannot be stopped, except by God, time inexorably changes almost everything. That’s why the Roman Catholic Church has changed its magisterial teaching throughout history through its many ecumenical councils, papal encyclicals, and statements by theologians, and members of the Curia.

      I take it that you have read the Gospel according to Matthew every now and then? What about Matthew 18:18?

      Jesus is quoted as saying,

      ‘And so I tell all of you: what you prohibit on earth will be prohibited in heaven, and what you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.’ (Good News Bible, Catholic edition, p. 1,367).

      Should I go on?

      • John Nolan says:


        “Should I go on?” Yes, of course you should, as you provide endless mirth. Your comment that the Church “has the authority to change the teaching of Christ in the light of modernity” is the statement that I have tried to wheedle out of you in two years of patient and dogged cross-examination. You obviously don’t believe that the authority of the Church is derived from her founder (the only logical conclusion from your statement) but does this mean that her authority is derived from a higher authority, or is merely sui generis? Answer on the back of a postcard please, and don’t hide behind hyperlinks.

      • John Candido says:

        You amaze me John Nolan. You are a perfect example of a man who has deceived himself without knowing that he has.

      • John Candido says:

        I am afraid that you are becoming a serious waste of time John Nolan. Produce proper counter-arguments and I will consider a reply. If not, then there is nothing that I can add to what I have already written.

  12. Brendan O' Leary. says:

    Even if what you say is correct John Candido, and that some have felt constrained in matters regarding sexuality derived from ” negative sexual attitudes ” today – and I believe you may be near to the truth in that respect; how does that negate the doctrine of original sin arising from Genesis ? The doctrine that our first parents eyes were opened to the consequences of their disodedience before their Creator ,breaking the bond with God conjoined in the eternal ” agape “, thus resulting in aparent shame on seeing their nakedness and thereafter subject to the reality of their sinfulness – still holds firm. This shame carried by all their descendants until the Christs’ redemptive act of salvation on behalf of mankind. Those who first received knowlege of God , the Chosen People could only abjure before Him and offer a ” scapegoat ” pleading for divine mercy.
    Can we not rejoice that the Church is finally seeing its way back ? Again post Vatican 2 we are truly seeing the fruits of the Spirit ! ….. ” O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam .”

    • Brendan O' Leary. says:

      Sorry! — before Tim picks it up, please replace ” abjure ” by ” adjure ” — Freudian slip ?

      • Rahner says:

        ” CCC. 390, will give the Church’s position which I fully hold.”
        In dealing with Original Sin the CCC is jumble of inconsistencies. It refers to a figurative sense in Genesis but then goes on to give a largely and crudely literal understanding of the doctrine.

    • Rahner says:

      “The doctrine …………still holds firm….”
      Are you seriously claiming that Adam was a historical figure??
      I would refer you to earlier Secondsight discussions of original sin……..

      • Brendan O' Leary. says:

        Before I get labelled a ” square – earther “, Rahner, I ‘d better make myself clearer as I did not exect to be picked – up on this. I use the narrative of The Fall in the Old Testament in the strictly figurative sense. CCC. 390, will give the Church’s position which I fully hold. We can all rest easy I hope !

      • Brendan O' Leary says:

        For Rahner – replace obvious mistake with ” flat – earther “………. I must be getting old !

    • John Candido says:

      The topic called, ‘Remodelling Salvation History’, is where you will find a good discussion of original sin and its many theological problems.

      After you have read all about Professor Jack Mahoney SJ, and his recent book entitled, ‘Christianity in Evolution’ in Quentin’s introduction, a lively discussion takes place after my first post on the 3rd February 2012 at 2:16 pm.

      • John Nolan says:

        I remember it well! Now, how about an answer to the question I asked you at 11:50 pm on the 27th inst.? Do not let your understandable amazement at the cogency of my argument stand in your way.

      • John Candido says:

        I might aslo add that all of the contributions before my first post in ‘Remodelling Salvation History’, are also worth consulting. There is lots of good material to peruse.

  13. Nektarios says:

    Brendan O’Leary.
    Regarding the classical Greek dualism of fillial, eros and agape love, please see they are in a pagan world seeking after definition of this word Love. The best they could do, was a descriptive dualism. As I have said several times before, the descriptive is never the actual. In this case however, the dualism is not a descriptive, but the workings of the mind groping in the dark.
    Now, I would like to ask, what is sex, where does this come from? Is it desire? Is desire Love? Has desire got anything to do with Love? What is desire? I am sure our more Scientific boffins on the blog will give us the chemistry low-down on what desire is sexually? Perhaps our more theological friends will give their definitions of desire and Love. Then the philosophical, the expert sexual epert therapists will give their take on desire and Love?
    I will stop at this point to see what we are all saying. Perhaps we will talk about pure and impure thoughts
    at the end. I wonder if dear Quentin realizes what `pure ‘ thought actually is? Is there such a thing?

  14. Nektarios says:

    I see we are back into the old discussion about Original sin. Keep your eyes on that guys and gals and you’re sunk into helplessness, hopelessness and darkness. The externals of the Christian faith, some of which is necessary, did not save us.
    This pre-occupation with the old nature, and its problems, takes our eyes off the new nature we have in Christ.
    Only in this new nature, or our life in Christ, are we to find what Love actually is, what that total movement consists of and does in us. Don’t expect your old nature to tell you about what Love and sex is, the old nature is still groping in the dark. (excuse the pun).
    I feel the reason we get hooked on the old nature, is it is still predominating and too active in our lives.

    Along come some who would tell you what life in Chirst is, or like, what it does and so on, but we love the scandal, the endless arguing on sex and morality. Well we must do or we would not spend much of our time deliberating it?. Our life in Christ is eternally more important to get to grips with, don’t you think?
    Question is, how are we going to go about it?

  15. Vincent says:

    I want to turn back to a phrase in Quentin’s post. “And do they (these attitudes) contribute in any way to the rule on clerical celibacy, or indeed on attitudes towards women? This seems worthy of discussion even if it is difficult to be sure about the sources of attitudes.

    It is of course argued that the insistence of celibacy, as a general rule for priests, is an example of elevating a quality, doubtless good in itself, at the expense of the needs of the Church. My view is that celibacy is a charism offered to some privileged people, but should not be required routinely of the secular priest. The regular orders are the natural home of the celibate.

    I don’t know about a general attitude towards women. I merely suspect a kind of madonna-whore outlook. Really, fear and immaturity is at the bottom of this. Who wouldn’t be afraid of those who can give you life – a debt you can never repay?

    Please don’t tell me that I can’t prove any of this. Discussion has to start somewhere!

  16. Brendan O' Leary says:

    Before I go to Sunday worship Vincent …. let’s start . Marian Theology, perverse ideas arising from immaturity in spycho-sexual matters arising from this theology. CCC. 773 …. and it’s possible corruption in a steadily ” institutionalised ” milieu over time ,which seemingly cultivates such perverse ideas arising within a somewhat ‘straitjacketed ‘ Church. This, an undeveloped notion I have harboured for some time and I suspect like Vincent, a certain ‘ immaturity’ which erodes spiritual confidence leading to ‘fear’ is discernable here which I hope this mature forum feels it can take up.
    Can I say in closing I am pefectly comfortable with The Catholic Church’s position on celibacy and therefore have no real strong feelings to the contrary. It’s Marian tradition , devotions etc. I believe has personallly given me a healthy framework over time encompassing the full acceptance of man and woman as equal and individual in the redemptive plan for us all.

  17. snafu says:

    What a palaver. The development in teaching sexual ethics over the centuries could not be more plain. The old guard can’t abide this, and they’re left denying it – frankly, looking stupid.

    The more enlightened brigade think that this development is all hunky dory. But at what price? Accusations of ‘denying the teaching of Christ’ abound.

    From my own perspective, if you think the centuries-old teaching is silly (it is), then why stop there? Personally, I have found my vasectomy to have been one of the biggest strengthening bonds on my marriage over the years. It’s *not* about individual acts being open to life. It *is* about what risks I put my life partner and children to as they age, what financial burden is imposed on me as potentially unlimited offspring come along, and what consequences a (relative) lack of intimicy would entail over several decades. No, sex isn’t the be-all-and-end-all. But it sure is important.

    So, I’ve admitted that I’m an evil-doer who’s a paid-up member of the culture of death. That’s fine, given a choice of two explanations:

    (a) some celibate men in Rome have hangups about sex
    (b) natural law arguments against contraception [that are universally ignored by laity and are so bad that Church officials won’t even publically endorse them any more] are sound.

    …I’ll take my chances on (a) being true.

    My ultimate point is that this debate doesn’t even begin to go far enough. The real end-point of the suposed ethical dilemma is *so far* to the left of the liberal Catholic position that really, you have no business claiming Catholicism is true any more.


    (Before the next commenter tries to sell me NFP – please be aware that I’m a multi-year veteran of that practice. Nothing gave us more pleasure than to give it up).

    • John Nolan says:

      Snafu, why don’t you simply post “I’m not a Catholic”? Membership of the club is not compulsory.

      • Rahner says:

        Baptism is an ontological change. Once you are baptised a Catholic you may stop practising but you cannot formally cease to be a member of the Church.
        In any case the teaching on contraception is not fundamental to the faith.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Interesting comment but not unusual, but as you say ‘it does not go far enough’ therfore I will oblige.
      No one sells NFP or our Faith.
      Jesus died for that’ freely’ he gave us our free will, whether one buys it or not.It is a ‘free’
      We ought not to try and estimate how many believe it or how many use it or by the priests preaching it in churches-they do not preach about abortion but 9 million have been aborted in this country alone
      You say that you are proud to speak about your vasectomy, but you ought ‘not’ to be proud that you are a paid up member of the culture of death! God is our judge.
      In situations where we are unable to follow the teaching of the Church, I believe the best way to live our life is in the fact that we all are not sometimes super human,but accept that fact and ask the Lord to forgive us, trust in Him. and not openly deny the church’s. teaching. We all have difficulties in our lives,but no need to deny the Truth.That is mostly where the sin is as well.


    • John Candido says:

      Well I am broadly with ‘snafu’ in his points about the ancient teachings of the Catholic Church on sex and sexuality. Welcome to SecondSight snafu! If you have just joined us, perhaps you could look at some past posts on sex and sexuality? You will find that we are a mixed lot on this blog. Viva la difference!

      • St.Joseph says:

        The church teaches Morals & Purity when speaking about ‘sex and sexuality.’
        I am still waiting for someone to say what impure thoughts are and how they are compatible with church teaching
        Can someone do that please.!

      • Quentin says:

        St joseph, you mustn’t take headlines too seriously — they are mainly there to get your attention. In this case they refer to the way we were taught in Catholic schools to avoid impure thoughts. To entertain them was, apparently, mortally sinful. Since we had them all the time we found ourselves likely to be cast down to Hell by the nearest bus which happened to run over us. This was a good way to turn the young into guilt-ridden fearful Catholics. Or to invite them to leave the Church. However some of us survived — and try to make sure that our young nowadays are taught more constructively.

      • Horace says:

        As far as I know the foundation of “Impure thoughts” is the following verse:-
        Matthew 5 28 “But I say to you, that whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

  18. St.Joseph says:

    Rahner, that depends on ones definition of faith.
    Faith is believing without doubt what Holy Mother Church teaches!Whether one practices it or not.

    • Peter D. Wilson says:

      st.joseph – It would simplify life greatly if if we could take your definition of faith for granted. As it is, “what Holy Mother Church teaches” in some areas (including notably the sexual) has changed substantially over time, and most of us are rather glad of it. For some it should go further (I am not among them). Perhaps you did not mean to imply “whatever Holy Mother Church teaches”, although that looks like your intention; if you did, it would be very hard to sustain except as faith in the Church rather than in Jesus – and it seems that the two have not always coincided. Our parish priest, for instance, maintains that the Church at present is not the one that Jesus founded, and in some important respects it is hard to disagree.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Thank you for all the comments.
        To answer Quentin first
        Horace’s reply I think say’s it all.It is not only the big things in life that is a danger to corrupt our moral thinking, we need to be awake at ‘all’ times.
        We are supposed to be perfect like Our Heavenly Father is perfect, or at least strive for it.I took your subject to be serious as it is the basis of all our followers of Christ..
        Peter Wilson.
        A lot of the faults were a lack of understanding of our faith.
        To me nothing has changed as far as morals are concerned.
        Perhaps you would tell me where it has changed in sexual morals within the teachings of the Church,and sin in that area is not sinful any more. That is what we are speaking about!
        Holy Mother Church has evolved in Her thinking on lots of issues since Vatican 2-in ecumenism and other aspects of her teaching pastorally but not doctrinally.
        As Jesus said when He built His Church on earth- goes ‘Whatever you bind on earth etc etc
        I believe that evolving in the Church has been in the way that we are all different.
        religions, we are black, white, brown, yellow, different nationalities
        We become one in the Lord in believing the one Truths in Love who He is..
        We are defending our faith by working to end abortion, teach the Truth about one man one women marriage, a society which is so corrupt who do not believe in God

  19. St.Joseph says:

    To finish my reply as it went for some reason.
    Peter your priest is a typical example of what I said.
    If he thinks he is in the wrong church, perhaps he in faith should find the True one.-be true to thine own self!

  20. Nektarios says:

    God does not want our arguments, theories, judgements of others, strident displays of half-baked beliefs;
    Is God concerned with all your sins, your moral picadlloes, your life in this world. He knows I am sure everything about each one of us, in fact I know He does.
    Salvation is not an assault course of religious and theological nit-picking and correctness, it is a gift of God, through the finished work of Christ to bring us Life in Christ and a new nature to go with it.
    What God goes want is your heart, what God does want to give you, is His life in you that overcomes the world, extracating one out of their old nature and death to that new nature with all its properties and potential.
    Why are we are arguing one with another topic after topic, returning to the same themes, and we are doing it again in this present topic? That is more telling than one realizes.
    What is the point of all this bickering with each other while are souls are in a poor state of health, but it is clear, our old nature is alive and still affecting us to the decree we discuss as we do?
    I know we have to fight the good fight till our last breath, but not on useless pointless, and repetitive arguments topic after topic, surely not?
    The Lord has called all of us to higher things, so let us ascend, climb that ladder. I feel we have been sitting around the same valley of dry bones for too long.

  21. Nektarios says:

    I see some typing errors, oh dear!
    line 8, goes – should read, does.
    Line 14, are – should read, our
    Thank you all for your patience.
    I will not be able to respond to anything for a few days, but wil be following the discussion.

  22. Brendan O' Leary says:

    Snafu- if you are there or in the hope you will stick with us ‘ mixed lot ‘ – and I hope you can ? What I am not hearing through you is your spouse /partner. My point about redemption is that we are all in it as equals and as individuals . It took my wife and I a long time to really get to know each other and to settle down to some kind of compatibility – me roman Catholic, she Angican. I learned a lot about my fellow ” man ” through my wife in fact she filled in some of the blanks. I hope she feels likewise. We have both been disappointed by certain attitudes of my Catholic confreres through our marriage, but the point is we have shared these disappointments and accepted them in life in good conscience.
    The fact is we all have, or had, or continue to have ‘ hang-ups ‘ concerning our sexuality. The point is as Quentin alludes to – is not impose them on the next generation. Who decides what we impose, is decided by us . What we do know of ourselves is to bring things out of the ‘ closet ‘ into the light of day so that the Spirit of God can shine a light on them , His ‘ church ‘ . Vatican 2 has made a good start in this I believe but there is patently some way to go.. Fundamental to this process is that we accept as a ‘ church ‘ the graces ( life changing insights about our existence ) offered by this ‘ light ‘ on the pathway to converting our lives to His plan for us as individuals and community. In a worldly sense it’s a ‘ win /win ‘ sitiation , with everything to gain and it’s free !

  23. mike Horsnall says:

    Ah.. the delights of the blogosphere…..whenever I read a strand like this I try and picture us all, each crossly pecking away at our laptops in our own little rooms-with the early winter sun shining brightly through the window….When is the Christmas party this year everybody and whose turn is it to buy the crackers??

    • St.Joseph says:

      Yes-nice pure thoughts of Jesus’s birth- which we can celebrate at Holy Mass with our family ‘not only our biological family’ but our family in the Church. Thank the Lord.

    • Quentin says:

      Good for you, Mike. Perhaps we should remember that those who thoughtfully disagree with us are our greatest friends. Lao Tzu, the Chinese sage, reminded us: “He who knows others is wise. He who knows himself is enlightened.” Rather more pessimistically, he also said: “He who talks more is sooner exhausted.” So I shall stop right here.

  24. John Nolan says:

    Yes, Mike and Quentin, we need to lighten up here. Lord Chesterfield in the 18th century made the wisest comment about sexual intercourse: “The pleasure is momentary, the position is ridiculous, and the expense damnable”. Too often what passed for Church teaching was risible – “treat your girlfriend as if she were the Virgin Mary” would ensure that she would not be your girlfriend for long. If you turn to the CCC you find a lot of waffle from G&S (that’s Gaudium et Spes, not Gilbert and Sullivan, although I suspect the latter might have a longer legacy) but there is nothing to suggest that V2 changed the Church’s teaching; the condemnation of masturbation, for instance, seems to lump the poor w*****s with adulterers, paedophiles and sodomites. Woody Allen made the wisest comment on masturbation: “Don’t knock it, it’s sex with someone you really love”.

    Of course unbridled sexual licence can be condemned as being not good for society, quite apart from the moral aspects. But having laid the law down as regards adultery, fornication, sodomy and incest, the church would be best advised to leave the sixth commandment alone for at least another hundred years.

    • St.Joseph says:

      We do need to understand when we discuss impure thoughts that we can not lump all men or women into one category (or have I got it wrong.) We know we all have desires-it is normal,or we would would not be human,but it is how we cope with it . There lies the problem. But all the excessive porn and so on which is taken for granted now does not help us if one is that way inclined-having no moral guidance.Sexual pleasure is with us and it won’t go away Those who control it within their marriage.and remain faithful under all circumstances -through sickness childbearing times etc are to be admired ( there is always confession if weak, God always forgives if one is really sorry-only through the Sacraments can we cope.That is catholic life.And it wont change.
      ‘Am I being too heavy now. for all you males!!
      Perhaps John Nolans comment on the church’s statement (Treat all women as if they were the Virgin Mary) I think men would have to be like St Joseph before that would ever be so.No one is expected to be celibate within marriage- we would soon die off as humans,, but treat all women with respect as ones own mother would be more appropriate.
      I am amazed how many men speak like 13 year olds as if sex is the be all and end all of life. It is a Gift from God with the right person whom we love,but is only a short satisfaction for a short time not to be compared with the everlasting presence of heaven-which we have a glimpse of on earth..
      I don’t think there is any thing -at least for me to say on this subject!

      • John Nolan says:

        Celibacy within marriage is a contradiction in terms (contrary to popular misconception to be celibate means to be unmarried) but the CCC has a lot to say about chastity within marriage, which does not mean abstinence from sexual congress. However, these rather abstract concepts don’t really connect with everyday experience, and attempts to ‘sacralize’ normal sexual behaviour, though worthy, seems to me at least to be a bit precious. The problem with most V2 documents is that they sidestep real issues and hide behind cant and sanctimoniousness. The liberal ‘spirit of V2’ merchants are similarly fond of pious platitudes, which is one reason why I have little time for them.

  25. Rahner says:

    “The problem with most V2 documents is that they sidestep real issues…”
    For example?

    • St.Joseph says:

      John Nolan.
      Thank you for the info on celibacy-I did know what it meant but there wasn’t another word I could use for no ‘sexual relationship’ in marriage.!
      I believe that Vatican 2 has been an improvement in the mentality of the narrow mindedness regarding sexuality in the church.
      I believe also that the sooner the better we see the sacredness in the act the sooner we will have married priests that- is catholic priests, not ex Anglicans.
      It is my thinking that it makes a mockery of marriage and belittle,s the sexual union and puts celibate males on a pedestal..
      We all whether single or married are the same in the eyes of God as people.
      Priests who remain celibate obviously when celebrating Holy Mass have to be holy, as we ALL do nothing extraordinary about, that and priests who are married are not in the eyes of God inferior It ought to be open to choice.
      That’s my opinion for what its worth., and forget about all the past100,s of years speaking about sex. It is a wonderful gift from God. ..
      I am not speaking about women priests-that is a NEVER no go area for me.

    • John Nolan says:

      Well, the Cold War was at its height and we had the Cuban missile crisis. However, the movers and shakers of V2 were more bothered about taking a wrecking ball to the liturgy and indulging in the facile 60s optimism that pervades Gaudium et Spes.

  26. John Nolan says:

    St Joseph

    Most men embark on a career and then get married. Even if the Roman Church were to further relax the discipline regarding clerical celibacy I can’t see many younger married men with the necessary education coming forward. Older married men with a career behind them are a different matter.

    • St.Joseph says:

      John Nolan.
      Thank you .I hear what you are saying.I have listened to my 19 year old grandson, just gone to Canterbury,my older one just left with a first class degree,and now working.
      2 different boys.
      The younger knows what he wants to do-also get married -he is not a modernist-he loves the Benedictine’s , has no choice,but understands authority..
      He is a holy person well suited to the priesthood, if given the opportunity to say Holy Mass but maybe it is not a strong enough vocation as he- I think would also like marriage.
      So there we are.! I don’t believe it just because of him.
      I firmly believe that a better understanding of fertility within marriage now, the church would with Gods Grace benefit from ‘catholic married priests’ maybe the time was not right in the past- or even Deacons to be ordained to celebrate Holy Mass..
      It would keep the ‘feminists, in line too!!!!!!!
      Money is not the reason. If a we had married priest I think it would be closer to God in as much as working together in a relationship as one family-not living a life of career, but putting there whole life in the church, not as a secular marriage, who demand secular things, cruise’s etc etc etc, My late husband a Methodist-not a catholic, always put the catholic church first, and never stopped working for it.He did convert 3 years before he died at 67
      I respect the church and always will do with decisions She makes, but marriage is a important vocation and will be seen to be a Holy State. more than it seems to be at the moment, when we read that so many catholic’s believe that artificial contraception is OK. Which would have to be the terms for married priests. Obedience.
      As it is for married couple now, but not all think so.I have been around long enough to see it all.
      It is Holiness that matters the most!
      Just my thoughts and I will concede to being wrong. when it is proven not so, and be Gods Law and not man’s.

      • John Nolan says:

        St Joseph

        Earlier this year I was present at the ordination of a married priest, Fr John Hunwicke, and in the Ukrainian Catholic Church married parochial clergy are the norm. I am not against the ordination of married men per se, although I see some practical difficulties. If a young man discerns he has a vocation but doesn’t want to be celibate he can marry before he reaches the diaconate, which smacks of having your cake and eating it. A married man with a family would need an additional source of income (eg teaching or a salaried chaplaincy). Married priests are to an extent ‘second class’ since they cannot become bishops. I can’t see Rome changing the rules on this, as it would be going further than the Orthodox does and ecumenical relations are bound to be further damaged. Permanent married deacons are of course in the clerical state, but if ordained as priests would have to be prepared to be sent where they are needed, which might be a large parish on the other side of the diocese. This would mean uprooting their families and changing their jobs.

  27. Brendan O' Leary says:

    Just a thought for our Church …………… any more testosterone in your coffee , sir ?
    Last Sunday morning, I announced before Mass that I would say a decade of the rosary for the intention of our Parish Community. Prayerful preparation before Mass is not a tradition in our parish. After a timid start by those who joined me , we got into what I perceived as a prayful rhythm – I rejoiced inside at what had replaced the usual Tower of Babel that preceded ourSunday Worship. Alas, when I had neded the usual prayers at the end of the decade and proceeded to add my further reflections. I suddenly became aware that the ” Tower ” had restarted around us …… I sloped away quietly. One incidence I know, but what does that tells us about the state of our Church ?

    • St.Joseph says:

      Brendan O’Leary.
      I will tell you a little story.I think I have told before
      In the late 70s as a member of the Third Order of Our Lady Of Mount Carmel, we started a Lady of Mount Carmel Rosary Circle in our parish every Thursday evening before Holy Mass.The Parish priest always joined us-but he walked up and down.
      He died in his 6o’s 1980. We carried it on with the new priest-it was a MSFS order
      Then the parish was taken back by the Diocese-it was only on loan-as the Bishop needed a priest.
      The new Diocesan priest entered in, guitar on back, first night removed altar rails-made us stand for Communion -under both kinds, or else we were insulting God if we didn’t.
      Told us that we were no longer able to offer the first decade for the MSFS order.,he was the first parish priest and it would not happen in his and so on and so on
      Most times it is not only the parishioners but the parish priest-at that time it was the re-ordering of the Churches-‘according to Vatican 2- which he did after a big protest-then took it on his own back to bring the builders unknown to any one and started knocking it about. A long long sad story which would fill a book.
      My husband was told by the Dean to mind his own b……business as he was not a catholic. …….
      We so need Our Blessed Mother’s help as always, we are like the Infant Jesus in Her arms to keep the church safe.So do keep up the good devotion to Her-they will come round in the end ‘with’ the priest’s support.Even if you are thought to be sanctimonious!

      • Singalong says:

        In our parish we are asked to be prayerfully quiet before Mass, but not dissuaded from being friendly and saying a few words afterwards, which I think is a good compromise. As usual with these matters I can usually see more than one way of looking at it. Sometimes I think of the crowds around Our Lord when He walked the earth, talking, jostling, arguing, laughing with each other.

      • Brendan O' Leary says:

        Thank God I have worked my way through that period of being too self – conscious , to be concerned about being labelled ‘ sanctimonious .’- only by accepting the graces which strenthen ones Faith. Sometimes it appears that the centre of our beliefs have been hollowed -out cocerning pray in the Church and a desceptively strong outer shell only hides a vacuum that is waiting to be filled by The Holy Spirit. I do so yearn sometimes for the attentiveness to prayer that surrounded me pre- Vat. 2 ! It seems we have to wait a little longer for ‘ the currant and the bun .’

      • Brendan O' Leary says:

        Iknow, in His own good time………. not in my mine or the neo – pelagians amongst us!

  28. John Nolan says:

    The PP needs to come out before Mass and shut them up. I’ve seen it happen and it works. Recenty before the Solemn Sunday Mass at the Birmingham Oratory a woman (let’s say that she was of an age where she should have known better) turned round to her friend sitting behind her and struck up an animated conversation. Both parties seemed to be oblivious to the fact that they were the only people behaving in this way. Had I been nearer I would have said something.

    • St.Joseph says:

      John Nolan.
      I see your point of having one’s cake and eating it.
      I said to my grandson 3 years ago when he mentioned it-that if he became an Anglican, got married had his family and then went for the priesthood-as I said to him’ Our Lady let’s people in through the back door-or over the wall’. I was joking!!!!As one has to with the youth. I think anyway.As long as they know one is!!
      He was not amused and said he would not give up his faith, he wanted to say Mass.which I admired him for.
      I don’t believe the priesthood to be a career, nor does he, perhaps that is why we have problems,climbing up the ladder in a secular sense instead of spiritual.. As for females too wanting to be ordained when it is not possible.I am not underestimating their love of the Lord-just their knowledge.
      When one marries-they go where their husband is needed or its necessary-I moved 100 miles away, never away in my life from my family to a furnished flat. I didn’t have to get married either. My husband moved from Harrogate to London at 21, where I met him. I am pleased he did at the time. One does for Love,especially for the Church-‘if and I say if’it is necessary.I suppose the Forces have to do it! I also had so many schools when I was young due to my fathers job all over the country. Not catholic either.
      That’s life at least I think it is.But I will say I was pleased when we stayed in the West Country, where I am now for 50 years.(Although I do have the habit of moving the furniture around)

      • St.Joseph says:

        P.S. My son stayed in Hertfordshire when he left Uni 24 years ago. I miss him and my granddaughters, but I can’t have my cake and eat it either.He is still a practising catholic and foundation governor in a catholic school-left on his own to carry on his faith with a good wife. he didn’t lapse thank God!.

      • John Nolan says:

        Joking apart, the priesthood should not be seen as a career but perhaps the possibility of preferment compensates for the sacrifice involved with accepting celibacy. By the way, married Anglican converts are not normally considered for ordination unless they were formerly Anglican priests The most prominent among them was Graham Leonard, former Bishop of London. He was unique in being both a Catholic priest and a Privy Councillor!

  29. Geordie says:

    John Nolan, you are lucky the talking is before Mass. In our church a couple of ladies of a certain age talk all through Mass and only stop when they get up to receive Holy Communion. We don’t say anything because they are getting on and we tolerate it. But it would never have happened in the past when the whole attitude towards the Blessed Sacrament was much more reverential.

  30. Geordie says:

    Quentin the time is still on BST. You need to turn the hour back.

  31. Brendan O' Leary says:

    Joseph, John and others ……. it’s like this , and in the interests of balance I will try and choose my words carefully . Although not as alarming as you describe your experiences post-Vat.2 a trend has developed which must cause the Church deep concern for the future of The Faith .
    Our young pastor is a convert from Protestantism, 12 years a Catholic priest ,with little or no hint given to our parish of having imbibed and carried over the Devotions to Our Lady which we have come to expect as a ‘ sine qua non ‘ if you like , of a Catholic priest. This is reflected in his homilies which, though generally scripturally / Christ – centred has never made any connection to my memory of a link between the Incarnation and the Mother of God and its place in Salvation History. I can only hope that this does not reflect badly on current seminary training – but of course doubts abound !
    Father came to us about two years ago, following a rather painful period which is still raw in peoples minds, but which with the co-operation shall I say of the whole parish and acceptance of the graces which abound in most of its parishioners , is in the process of being healed. Needless to say Father was given the dificult job of managing two parishes different in outlook and structure. I understood quite naturally that on the advice of our Bishop, it would be advisably to tread carefully, sensitive to the situation he had inherited.
    To this end I can understand partly why he turned down one of my proposals to engage the parish in a ‘ social justice ‘ issue which I personally felt would bring our parish together and bring further healing by uniting us under one ‘ Catholic cause ‘ – he believed it might bring back division amongst the parish. I thought otherwise. Further, I put his mind at ease by assuring him that I was not some ‘ loose cannon ‘ and would not take any precipitative action in the parish without consulting him first. By the way Father is perfectly amenable to other sugestions in that our parish calendar is full of social events which cerrtainly brings us together!
    Just recently, I proposed to a parishioner that after Mass sunday morning which ends about mid- day , that those of us that stay behind should say the Angelus. Incidently, that parishioner is one of a growing number of immigrants from the State of Kerala in South India , who have blessed our parish with their unaffected graciousness and their pious devotion to the Faith.
    Having approached Father about this my request was turned down. The reason ? He believed that Christ should be taken to the world directly after we leave Church and our hearts minds should be concentrated only on that belief.It has been a struggle to in fuse him with the Catholic tradition of Marian processions, and at times it seems he has no appetite for such expression of our beliefs. to the point that when a May procession was orgaised by us few , he openly admitted that he ” did not know what to do” and knew none of the hymns approptiate to the occasion. So it is not so much as being led as we are leading. I ho
    nestly do not know where to go from here to revive pray life in our parish. Outside of the Mass there are no other ” catholic ” expressions of our faith that are at present in our parish.
    Due to the shortage of priests in our diocese as many others this is not an easy situation to resolve with ease if my concerns were taken to our Bishop.
    I apologise for the pedestrian nature of my prose, but I am conscious of trying not to show in too bad a light a priest who does not fulfil the requirements of encouraging a prayerful comminity which is fundamental to the spiritual health of a Catholic cimmunity. And there frankly I am glad to finish what is for me is difficult to share with you even in this respected company. Anyway, with prayer and a firm resolution for the future in this Year of Faith , we still have the Mass !

    • Brendan O' Leary says:

      Just to compound the hisoric problems our parish has had to contend with – our parish priest but one left our community suffering a mental problem which please God , he is somewhere receiving lealing of a sort ,I hope and pray. He was a regular priest and a sincere man for all his mistakes ,due to mental incapacity. The priest before him – of the same order – a very late convert. Again, well- meaning but no interesr in personal catholic devotions ,to say it mildly. The priest before him of the same order, dying about 1980, was a priest recognisable ,although aging rapidly—- of what can only be described as of ” the old school ”
      Is it suprising that our parish is now almost devoid of parish prayerlife outside of the Mass!

      • St.Joseph says:

        John Nolan.
        Yes Fr Graham Leonard R.I.P.made a statement on the radio when women were going to be ordained in the Anglican Church. ‘That if he walked into a room he would feel the same about Catholic priests as he would about woman’s ordination.
        I wrote to him at the time. His secretary said he was out of the country.
        He later became ordained into the catholic Church.
        My late husband and I went to a Tridentine Mass about 30 miles from our home which he Celebrated very well.
        I also picked up a copy in Walsingham a very good article of what he wrote about the Blessed Sacrament-when an Anglican Bishop,so then I changed my mind on his sincerity,before then I was doubtful…
        I feel very sad when priests have left to become married- how the woman can live with their conscience I don’t know.!
        I suppose their love for the priest is stronger than their love for God.
        I don’t mean to be condescending or patronizing-just trying to understand it. I must be a big decision for them to make.

      • John Nolan says:

        Brendan, things are improving as the shadow of Vatican II recedes. Priestly formation (at least in a few seminaries) is better than it was, younger priests are notably more orthodox, traditional congregations like FSSP and ICKSP are setting an example. By celebrating sung Evensong and Benediction the Ordinariate are pointing the way to a revival of singing the Divine Office in common. Rather than unite behind ‘social issues’, petition forcefully for more Eucharistic Adoration. He can hardly refuse. As for the midday Angelus, the Holy Father himself recited it after the Newman Beatification Mass, and in Latin to boot. Do it after he has left the altar – I suppose he could go and sulk in the sacristy, but that’s his problem.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Brendan, thank you for sharing this with us.

  32. St.Joseph says:

    At my youngest grandson’s school, every day before lunch the children go into the church and say the Angelus. A little different to when my other 2 grandsons were there-the bell was ringing and I asked a young boy in the playground eating his lunch ‘what was the bell’ he said’ time for lunch’.!!!But the then priest carried on ringing it in spite of opposition. The young priest says’ a Latin Mass every Sunday., and celebrates Holy Mass with his back to the people.He has two parishes so he does say Mass in English twice at one of them-still with his back at the Consecration
    When my grandson made his First Holy Communion. a few months ago he placed a kneeler for the children to receive on the tongue., but someone came immediately after they had received the Blessed Sacrament (a woman) and removed it. to make a point I suppose.!!
    I rather liked his certificate-the Apostles were kneeling receiving the Body of Christ on the tongue .
    at the Last Supper.
    Oop’s I don’t want to cause any controversy here. Just making an observance.

    • John Nolan says:

      St Joseph

      “… with his back to the people” . An unfortunate turn of phrase, usually used in a derogative way by the NuChurch brigade. He is in fact leading the people. Do you say an officer leading from the front is “turning his back on his men”?

      • St.Joseph says:

        John Nolan.
        Please forgive my ignorance, but may I ask you :
        1st What is the NuChurch brigade.?
        2nd. Should I have said facing the East?.Because he wasn’t.
        3rd..As that is what he is doing-what difference does it make- what ever phrase is used.?
        4th.Leading the people where?
        5th.If I had said leading the people-would anyone have know what I meant?

  33. Singalong says:

    A few comments about Quentin`s post, after a few days of thought.
    My recollection of teaching and attitudes while I was growing up, is
    there was a lot more emphasis on making a choice between the religious
    life and marriage, than on information about sexuality, or much consideration
    of its moral status within marriage.

    It was allowed of course, and anything outside of marriage was not. How one
    arrived at the state of being married, and what one was allowed to do on the
    way, was quite a problem, and caused some soul searching and some extra
    visits to Confession, but eventually it happened.

    I remember reading about concupiscence and getting the impression that any
    pleasure involved was allowed, but it was considered to be more a concession
    to our fallen nature, than a blessing or a gift from God.

    The statements by St. Augustine and others, which you have quoted, must have
    percolated to non theological folk, to a certain extent, but it is hard to believe that
    our forbears really thought that it was sinful to enjoy their coming together.
    Mediaeval and later literature does not give this impression It is even harder to
    think that this was the teaching of the Church, and that it could have been
    changed so much in recent years.

    • mike Horsnall says:

      A few years ago I ‘fell in love’ with someone despite my being many years married. This very unhappy state of being very strongly inclined towards another whilst remaining staunchly faithful towards ones partner -typical of men in their late 50’s -caused me to seek counsel/absolution on several occasions. Because I would tend to discuss the issue- and the heartrending difficulty of it – with whoever was on duty at whatever retreat centre or pilgrimage I was on, I got to hear a span of opinions. I would say the advice/counsel/penance I received during the couple of years of that particular nightmare was, thankfully, not particularly censorious or condemnatory-actually quite the reverse and very helpful. Priests share our difficulties I found. Discussions on sexuality which do not acknowledge the reality of our lives- as lived and embodied – are frankly not worth having.

  34. mike Horsnall says:


    I read your post of Oct 30th 2.19pm with interest. I am a catholic convert training for diaconate at Oscott, my formation tutor there is, like me, an Anglican convert as is my current parish priest and was the last incumbent before him (married at that)! We do not form a special enclave I hasten to add and at Oscott (STMary’s College) we certainly do not lack in devotion to Mary. From what I can see however it is likely to be the case that Anglican/Free church converts, particularly recent ones of say 10-15 years or so will be not be instinctively inclined towards catholic devotional habits. This is not neccessarily through antipathy, rather that it takes A LONG TIME for the understanding and internalising of these habits to percolate down to the instinctual level, or even to that of the superficial competence required to lead. I notice the frank incomprehension of my cradle catholic buddies at seminary when I confess ignorance or indifference towards a particular practice they have venerated since childhood-Divine Mercy chaplets and the like ..I once asked a chap on who’s authority we prayed a certain novella and he practically refused to eat with me -but all I was trying to do was iron out a kink in my own understanding. Its a thorny issue but its not possible to rush the authentic uptake of prayer practices-we are dealing with mysteries in the end. Also I am afraid you will find the ordination of converts is a rapidly accelerating phenomenon currently in Britain-and likely to continue as such! Help the guy out where you can!!

    • John Nolan says:

      Praiseworthy though many of these devotional practices are, they are essentially non-liturgical, and entirely a matter of personal preference. The official prayer of the Church is the Liturgia Horarum. The Divine Mercy cult originated with JP II – when I was a child Sr Faustina’s writings were on the Index, having been placed there by John XXIII in 1959.

    • Rahner says:

      “when I confess ignorance or indifference towards a particular practice they have venerated since childhood”
      I wouldn’t be too bothered – much popular Marian devotion is an expression of a defective Christology.

      • St.Joseph says:

        The problem as I see it and that is some people don’t know the difference between Worship Honour and Devotion.
        I used to say to my late husband when I met him at 17 he 24 before he understood-‘ it is your protestant background’ when all the statues of Our Blessed Mother was smashed in the Reformation..You would not think as you do if it was you standing at the foot of the Cross in place of St John, and Jesus said John this is your Mother. He soon shut up.!!!!.

  35. mike Horsnall says:


    “…Sometimes I think of the crowds around Our Lord when He walked the earth, talking, jostling, arguing, laughing with each other….”

    Well said, just because we started out among the catacombs doesn’t mean we have to stay there!

  36. John Nolan says:

    St Joseph

    1. My uncharitable term for those who embrace every liturgical novelty and despise anything ‘pre-Vatican II’.
    2. ‘Ad orientem’ refers to liturgical east, which may not be the same as geographical east.
    3. To turn your back on someone implies disrespect.
    4. Leading the people in prayer and in offering the Holy Sacrifice. A common orientation has been the norm since the early Church.
    5. Put like that, probably not. I gave it by way of analogy. The priest stands at the head of the congregation. To have him facing the people across the altar, like an old-fashioned grocer or a celebrity chef, does alter the dynamic.

    • St.Joseph says:

      John Nolan.
      Thank you for making it clear,I must say I never thought of it like that!
      I always thought that a priest when celebrating Holy Mass was leading the people spiritually I didn’t think it mattered. All I remember when I was young-not being able to see what he was doing-even though I knew what he did in Personna Christi, and that Jesus faced the people on the Cross when He was crucified That is what the Sacrifice of Holy Mass is in an unbloody manner. Also it is why I thought since Vatican 2 it was abused so much when celebrated in a manner sometimes with disrespect unbefitting in proper worship to God our Father. Lest we forget , that it is also what IT is, and not a jolly party.!Also remembering how quick Mass was celebrated,one every 20 minutes in those days if I remember rightly.I know we had High Mass-but didn’t often go when young-maybe I was a nuisance and figitey.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Just to make a small comment to your earlier 1.13pm.
        I know we have to be friendly after worship,but most people can do it later with tea or coffee.
        I think there are people who like to spend time in prayer afterwards,especially as that time after receiving Our Lord is precious-the closest time we can be in His presence-He who we have received and He has received us.We do need a little silence in silent prayer.
        I understand that people don’t realise that and that is why it is disturbing-because they don’t.!!

      • John Nolan says:

        St Joseph

        I suppose that by changing the orientation the congregation could see the priest’s rubrical gestures, particularly during the Canon. Yet at the same time they removed these – by 1967 only one sign of the cross and two genuflexions remained. Priests then started adding their own rubrics and addressing the Eucharistic prayer to the congregation. Many still do, and it shows a deplorable misunderstanding of what the Mass is all about.

  37. mike Horsnall says:

    “I understand that people don’t realise that and that is why it is disturbing-because they don’t.!!”

    Yes it is a bit odd. Often though people catch sight of someone they were looking out for and just forget where they are or start out in a whisper and then just escalate! At our church every now and then the Parish Priest mentions it and everyone shuts up for awhile then it gradually escalates. Fortunately our church is fairly large so if one needs a quiet place to pray after the service one can usually find it. I’m up on the altar most of the time so it doesn’t affect me anymore but I used to prefer quiet around me…until of course I felt the urge to chatter myself! Sometimes someone is going through a hard time and needs a quiet word on a non coffee service of course-its not all malicious is it!

    • St.Joseph says:

      Correction to my comment
      1.53. my husband 21 not 24 by then he was well on his way to understanding Our Blessed Mother. I thought that if it would have interfered or been a barrier to my faith I would not have’ yes’ For my future children’s sake.
      John Nolan It took 44 years for him to be received into the Church, due to all the changes taking place-re-ordering of churches etc particularly with all the insults-bad manners and from those who wanted to put their own definition on Vatican 2.
      Before EWTN came onto SKY he endlessly worked voluntary for its distribution in the UK, and became a catholic 3 years before he died 2006 in a lot of pain but he received the grace to withstand it , he died peacefully at 67 with the prayers and Holy Mass from Mother Angelica and the Nuns- what a blessing for him and my children and grandchildren. My son and family too me away to Lourde for a long time and it helped somewhere he would have liked to have gone , hopefully he is in a better place now please God he wen’t to Fatima and Padre Pio’s canonisation-when he decided to be received into the church.I believe Our Lady was with him all the time on his journey.
      To whom it may concern!
      Too much defective Christology-so be it.If one wants to think that!!

      • John Nolan says:

        St Joseph

        Don’t take eponymous Rahner too seriously – he’s basically a Calvinist. The Church does encourage popular devotions, although for my part I have always preferred liturgical worship, possibly by being exposed to the Missa Cantata at the age of three in 1954.

        It’s interesting that your late husband, with a Protestant background, found the post-V2 Church problematic. One of the main ‘fruits’ of the Council was the dramatic decline in conversions. Yet another thing to take into account as we look back over the last half-century.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Mike Horsnall.
      Quite right-malicious did not enter my head|

  38. St.Joseph says:

    John Nolan.
    Thank you I have too many hidden scars to take anyone seriously-it washes off of me now. Try teaching NFP!! I kept to it because of my husbands support-taking me to Bristol University for 12 months and then Birmingham-even with him busy running a busy Licensed Trade.Better than most catholic husbands.
    I remember my brother when I met Peter saying’Are you not going to make him a catholic before you get married! I said ‘No in Gods own time when conversion is Conversion! A liberal priest asked me once ‘why I did not make my husband a catholic’ It was on the tip of my tongue to say,’ he would have been long ago only for people like you’! But as he was ‘ordained’ I would not say that to him .Always being brought up to respect priests. Nothing stopping me from thinking it though (that maybe included in impure thoughts!!!!)
    I too have always loved Holy Mass, Benediction as well. Without sounding too holy-but without it I fail to see how I could live. We are so honoured to be part of it all.We would not have Mass if Our Lady had said ‘No’ after all it is Her Body and Blood too. Lest we forget!.

  39. John Nolan says:

    St Joseph

    From St Bernard of Clairvaux’s sermon on the Annunciation:

    GABRIEL: We shall be set free at once if you consent … tearful Adam with his sorrowing family begs this of you, O loving Virgin, in their exile from Paradise. Abraham begs it, David begs it. All the other holy patriarchs, your ancestors, ask it of you as they dwell in the country of the shadow of death. This is what the whole world waits for, prostrate at your feet … Arise in faith, hasten in devotion, open in praise and thanksgiving.

    MARY: Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done unto me according to your word.

    • St.Joseph says:

      John Nolan.
      That is lovely!I have not heard that before. I worship at a Bernadine Sisters Monastery- Mostly retreats and ‘silence’.

  40. Singalong says:

    Mike, it is very good to hear of the support and understanding you
    received from priests and representatives of Christ in His Church
    when you needed it.

  41. St.Joseph says:

    Mike Horsnall.
    Sorry my comment in reply to yours, went not where I placed it.

  42. Iona says:

    John Nolan –

    “One of the main ‘fruits’ of the Council was the dramatic decline in conversions”.

    I was bucking the trend then, having become a Catholic (technically “reconciled to the Church”) in 1983.
    Though I received plenty of Instruction, I recall very little discussion about Devotions. I knew about the Rosary, though it didn’t appeal to me; however, St. Therese of Lisieux said although she had a strong devotion to Our Lady she disliked saying the Rosary, so I didn’t worry about it. St. Faustina and Divine Mercy I only encountered a few years ago. I love Benediction and Holy Hours, and always go to them when available.
    Practices that really make me feel uneasy, though, are those in which “merit” seems to be “earned” and even “quantified”. Like, if you die wearing the brown scapular you’re sure of salvation. A certain practice merits a plenary indulgence; done another way, it’s only a partial indulgence. The Nine First Fridays.

    • Peter D. Wilson says:

      Iona – Agreed heartily. It horrifies me every time I think that the appearance – surely not reality? – of mechanical pardon is still tolerated, almost as in the operation of a Buddhist prayer wheel. I’m afraid that the rosary comes uncomfortably close to it, reminding me of a no doubt pious nun encountered in my childhood who always put a heavy emphasis in one particularly inappropriate place in the Hail Mary with no suggestion that whatever emerged as words had actually passed through her mind. It seemed about as close to prayer as is the sand in an egg-timer.

    • John Nolan says:

      I’ve always found the Rosary too mechanical, although I love the Litany of Loreto. In the old days it was usually recited in English, but is much better sung in Latin. Liturgical progressives disliked Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction – one US seminary professor in the 1970s dismissed it as ‘cookie worship’ – but thankfully these crypto-protestant attitudes are dying out. I suspect that in most parishes Benediction is the only time they sing anything in Latin!

  43. Brendan O' Leary says:

    Just an illustration of why important prayfull devotions sanctioned by the Church are so important to Catholic life .
    Saint Francis Xavier and his Jesuits were said to have made 100, 000 converts amongst the Japanese by the late 1500’s A.D. The Faith was then outlawed by a hostile government and for nearly 300 years full scale persecution prevailed. With no priests – no Mass the world must have thought that The Faith had died out. In the ealy 1800’s a more enlightened dynasty came to power in Japan and allowed misionaries once more to evangelise. Going around they were astonished to find pockets of Catholic communities that kept the Faith alive, passing it on to the next generation. With no Mass, central to Catholic worship, they kept the faith alive by gathering together for traditinal devotional prayer …. and the chief prayer was the Rosary. For me that speaks louder than any theological treatise.

  44. St.Joseph says:

    I know how you feel.I believe we don’t say the Rosary easily. I have never been able to do so. It is easier in a group- We were never a Rosary saying family.
    I do my best as I know it is what Our Lady asked us to say . If we think of it as meditating on the Life of Jesus as it is a scriptural prayer – it makes it easier, because that is what it is., and the harder it to say I believe pleases God.!.
    The Brown Scapular. I was enrolled with my grandmother at 7 years. I wear, not because I am sure of my.Salvation-I would like to believe that it would take more than the Brown Scapular to save me from that if I was living in mortal sin. That is the understanding of it. I doubt if a murderer or someone knowingly committed a grave sin would wear one,if they did they would be soon reminded to confess the sin ,Common sense!! .I go to Mass daily as I am able to, I don’t think of it as indulgences on the First five Saturdays or nine Fridays- but to receive the Blessed Sacrament amongst other things, but mostly my communion with Him in Worship The highest kind we can give Him..
    I also believe strongly that any form of prayer that lifts our mind and heart to God is not a thing to be criticized by those who seemingly are uncomfortable with it.! That goes for all faiths..Not saying that you are.Just making a point!

  45. Brendan O' Leary says:

    Going back to Quentin’s central proposition – and very much post- Vat.2 – the very idea of ‘ institutionalising ‘ prayer is fast becoming , I believe a thing of the past. As has been hinted at amongst us by the ‘ changes ‘ in our current perception of Catholic Life – there is more of I believe an ‘ internalisation ‘ of prayer in many areas of our lives.
    This does not augur well for an agressively secular world !

  46. Geordie says:

    Iona, I should be interested to know where St Therese of Lisieux said she didn’t like saying the rosary. According to her own writings she said the rosary regularly even as a small child, often with her young cousin. Our Lady asked us at Fatima to say the rosary.
    For a number of years, especially in the ’70s, I gave up saying the rosary because it seemed like a prayer wheel. In recent years I have returned to the practice after I read a book about the rosary by a Methodist. I wish I could remember its title.
    There is an article on the rosary by Fr Kenneth Payne in this week’s Catholic Herald (26-10-12). The title (A rope to heaven) doesn’t appeal to me but the content is very good.

  47. mike Horsnall says:

    I’m just now working my way through a biography of St Therese but it makes no mention of the rosary either way. I like Karen Edmistens book: The Rosary-keeping company with Jesus and Mary. I’ve been getting to grips with the rosary on and off for the past four or five years but its only recently come into its own for me. I discovered recently that if one gives the ‘mechanical’ part of ones attention to the simple process then the allows the’ imaginative’ aspect to rest on the mysteries, something quite wonderful can take place underneath all of that. As if having occupied as much of the faculties as we can- then we become freer to enjoy the mystery of the deeper encounter. This seems rather akin to a kind of focussed meditation which allows the self to be occupied while resting on the deeper reality of our identity in Christ. In my limited experience the Rosary is thus worth revisiting and persevering with from time to time.

  48. Iona says:

    I’d have to re-read the Autobiography of a Soul in order to identify the Rosary comment! – It wasn’t when St. Therese was a child, it was when she was already in the convent. But maybe I’ve remembered it wrong.
    I do say the Rosary. It just doesn’t seem to do much for me.
    John Nolan – I am with you on liking the Litany of Loreto, – but have never heard it (let alone said it) in Latin.
    We sing the Missa de Angelis (Latin) in church on the first Sunday of each month – i.e., tomorrow.

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