My marriage was a mistake

There I was, repairing this fiddly little gadget when I lost my screwdriver. I knew that I had used it not a minute before, but it had disappeared. Frustrated, I asked my wife if she had seen it. Within a second she picked it up from the very spot where I had put it down. How annoying! Her eyesight is no better than mine so something in my brain must have rendered it invisible. If there is a neurological explanation for this I have yet to track it down. But some of our more common errors are easier to explain. Ironically, they often lie in faculties which are normally useful to us.

In order to understand the world we need to make assumptions based on our experience. If we had to start all our judgments from scratch we would never reach a conclusion. And that requires us to use stereotypes. Take hairy students, the Irish, tall people, or the bespectacled as examples. Each one of those may trigger assumptions in our mind which affect our judgment. Why, for example, are tall men over represented among senior executives, or those who wear glasses seen as intelligent? Our society is rightly sensitive about racial stereotyping but we forget that everyday stereotyping can be equally undesirable. And this, in turn, reminds us of the potential errors when we allow our moral views to be formed by the company we keep.

I recall the “Windrush” influx of West Indians after World War II; at that time gross racial judgments were approved by the most respectable people. Early in the 20th century the desirability of eugenics was taken for granted. In more recent history attitudes towards homosexuality have altered the boundaries of acceptable comment. But, if we stop for a moment, we may remember that our immediate culture is a dangerous source for our own views and behaviour. Next year, we may all be thinking something else. Yet our instinct for conformity is born of evolution. It promotes the unity, and therefore the success, of a society. Today we don’t have to look far for examples of societies courting self-destruction through lack of unity.

Sometimes our judgments are based on single incidents. We may for example have been involved in an accident with a reckless BMW driver and forever afterwards hold on to a prejudice against such owners. I once knew an Evangelical pastor who borrowed a book from me and never returned it. My wariness of evangelicals, however unjustified, remains. Our judgments can even be inherited. When it came to light that the woman I was planning to marry was actually an actress, eyebrows were raised. An 18th century forebear had married an Italian actress, and was cut off without a franc. That awful warning is in our family genes.

The dangers of inherited judgments can apply to tradition. At a time of development in the Church it is essential, but often difficult, to distinguish core values and principles from those whose form or essence are merely the outcome of habit. And the considerations of natural law must remain open to our developing understanding of human nature itself.

It is often the most routine activities which lead to mistakes. This happens because our familiar procedures are programmed into our brains. We switch them on and leave them to their own devices. Watch me making breakfast: my eyes are glazed. Don’t try to help me – break the sequence and I am lost. The danger here is that our lack of conscious control prevents us from recognising changes in circumstances. We have many unconscious sequences through which we carry out quite complex procedures. Driving a car, for instance, provides several examples. While these little programs may be necessary, we may not notice a change in conditions which requires a change in our action.

How hot is a bowl of water? Take three bowls: one of cold water, one of hot water, one of lukewarm water. Soak your left and right hands in the hot and cold water respectively, then plunge them both into the lukewarm. To the left hand it feels cold; to the right hand it feels hot. This experience reminds us that, typically, our judgments involve comparisons. And that means that we can only validate our conclusions when we have validated our starting point. Until we have some degree of knowledge about our assumptions, our experiences and our prejudices, we can hardly hope to make good decisions. We may not eradicate the influences which can skew our judgment, but we can at least take them into account.

Accepting the vulnerability of our own judgments is not a comfortable experience. We may find ourselves obliged to change our minds. And, since we live in a world where error abounds, going against the grain will not make us popular. The thinking person walks alone.

(published in CH, December 4)

About Quentin

Portrait © Jacqueline Alma
This entry was posted in Bio-ethics, Catholic Herald columns, evolution. Bookmark the permalink.

66 Responses to My marriage was a mistake

  1. Brendan says:

    ” .. some degree of knowledge … validation of starting point .. ”. I agree these must be present if through ” our experience ” we are to make assumptions resulting in ” conclusion”.
    Nietzsche , a man of his time proposed… ” Insanity in individuals is a rare [ it ? ] thing, but in groups , parties , nations, and in some eras it is the rule. ”
    We are in the ‘midst of such an era. As Quentin posits…” if we stop for a moment , we may remember that our immediate culture is a dangerous source for our own views and behaviour. ”
    This is the very reason why I chose this blog ( the only one ) to present my views and receive a fair hearing in intelligent and rational company.
    We know the lesson of history when a ‘ spurious/half-baked view ‘ translated into the misuse of power can perpetuate a ‘ lie ‘down through the generations . The worst example of this is the infiltration and virtual take-over of established pillars of society : the academic world, the Church, the media , political parties , etc., by person/organisation promoting such a ‘ gospel ‘. Sounds familiar ? Quentin has the last sentence.

  2. tim says:

    It’s much easier to identify the influences that skew other people’s judgements. But then ‘skew’ here means primarily that they do not align with ours. I take it as a rule that you should not explain to someone who disagrees with you why he has such unsound ideas until you have shown satisfactorily that they are unsound. Am I to apply such a rule to my own views?

    My own prejudice is against change – others’ of course is for it. My prejudice is based on experience in my profession – most new ideas don’t succeed. Only a few do – even if some quite dramatically. In my mind, the arguments for any significant change need to parallel those for a just war – perhaps including removal of injustice or other important detriment, as well as a reasonable chance of success. If I have adopted a particular attitude or custom consistently over a period, without perceiving a problem, maybe it is rational for me to persist with it. The argument is stronger if the custom is one widely shared. Obviously this is only a starting position, and can suggest only where the burden of proof lies. The burden of proof may be shifted in various ways (for example, by showing that I am blind to problems that others can clearly see). But in the face of new challenges (I think) I owe some respect (even loyalty) to positions I have consistently maintained,

    Another view would be that this is insufferably smug.

  3. Brendan says:

    Moving quickly past your last remark ,Tim. In your refreshing frankness , you say .. ” My prejudiced is based on my experience in my profession … face of new challenges etc …. ” – would that include hoping to maintain a position of self-respect in possible trying/ adverse conditions ?

    • tim says:

      Well – I hadn’t thought of it like that. If I constantly changed my views, I think that would be bad for my self-respect (and others’ respect for me, probably). But equally it would be bad for my self-respect if I felt I was clinging desperately to a position for which I could no longer advance a rational defence. Faith (I say) is not clinging to a position for which there is no rational evidence (as some critics claim) but not abandoning a position which one has accepted on reasonable evidence at the first sign of difficulty (whether the difficulty is of conflicting evidence, or not intellectual at all, eg threats or promises). The professional experience I referred to is of a different kind – namely that most new inventions fail, either technically or commercially.

      • Brendan says:

        Am I right in thinking you are something of an inventor ; not necessarily finding yourself in conflict with work colleagues with opposing opinions , ethically/ morally ?
        Now I can say that in my estimation you don’t appear smug

  4. Hock says:

    A fascinating subject for the ‘blog’ but one, like many others, that soon gets enmeshed in the moral maze. I think Tim’s quandary of loyalty to a fixed position on one hand to smugness on the other is an apt summary of what lies before us.
    I live within 15 miles of a similar sized town to mine and yet there is a evidence of a joint prejudice from us to them and vice versa. I often reflect on this when I see the news and how difficult it is for us to remember our joint humanity and the accident of birth.

  5. Nektarios says:


    I am a little at a loss to decipher what you are really driving in your preamble. I can but select a few
    of your quotes and comment a little.

    Yet our instinct for conformity is born of evolution. It promotes the unity, and therefore the success, of a society. Today we don’t have to look far for examples of societies courting self-destruction through lack of unity.

    Our instinct for conformity is born of evolution? Is it really? That is a contradiction in terms. Surely, with instinct contains our whole nature – well not quite if one is truly a Christian, a Child of God.
    Our nature is one that is fallen from its first created state with all that that implies.
    You add the one of the effects of that fallen state, ‘societies courting self-destruction through lack of unity.
    As a Christian and as a Child of the Living God, one has a new nature, a new birth of the Spirit
    giving us a totally different life principle where we are in this world but not of it. Yes, we still have the old man, that old nature to contend with, but at least their is now a contending instead of being totally under its power with only death at the end.

    Your piece reminds me of the seasons. Since the Fall, the whole of creation in Nature attempts to remedy what has happened and each year it puts forth its buds and flowers in the Spring, in the
    The summer the fruits develop and the trees grow, in the Autumn, the growth stops mostly and the trees leaves put on their glorious colourful dying and fall to the ground. Then Nature returns to winter and prepares to try again in the Spring only to return again to winter. No wonder the whole of nature groans awaiting the manifestation of the Children of God, for then it knows it will be delivered from this endless and pointless situation.
    It is too late to write more at the moment

  6. Brendan says:

    I find myself largely agreeing with you, Nektarios. Ultimately , Our Lord came to ‘ free us ‘ from our flawed human nature . Although , at the same time ” our instinct to conform ” ( with its accruing benefits ) is a result of ‘ historical ‘ evolution largely while operating in our flawed nature , rather than as a consequence of our ‘ biologically natural ‘ evolution’ as created by God.
    This is a materialistic view which sees natural law as somehow dependent on change of human nature over time , and is to be considered and not fixed.
    For the Christian; natural law is Gods Law ‘ written in mans hearts ‘. The ‘ evolutionary ‘ change in human nature’ is of of a quixotic kind consistent with a fallen world. We see this all around us in the obvious chaos , against Gods natural order -‘ same -sex ‘ marriage , co- habitation outside marriage; replacement of the natural reason for marriage for procreation by other purely material reasons. Acceptance of homosexuality and other deviations from the ‘ natural ‘ as being normal. … one could go on.
    I conclude that the driving force – as I conclude from my first post – has come very much from certain aspects of academia in our universities and institutions in hijacking on the ‘ norm ‘ by persons wishing to promote this wholly materialistic view in society at large… with catastrophic consequences, in accentuating the chaos.

    • Nektarios says:

      Oh so God did not create man ,did He, He created an evolutionary process whereby man would eventually emerge, is that the argument. Where is there historical proof of such an evolution? It is certainly not a biblical one. God only states that he created man, male and female. He does not indulge our curiosity of how He did it. I fail to see it.

      I proceed to your last paragraph. Brendan, and here I can agree with you almost entirely.
      Now we see clearly the effects of the natural man in his blindness, darkness, helplessness, sorrows fears and so on trying their best to live out their short lives with the chaos that they and others are making. We see just how wicked, clever, he is, how rebellious against God he is. Lawless!

      The only cure for all this is the message of the Gospel, not the message of the Gospel redefined in evolutionary, philosophical, psychological secular, humanistic terms. Here lies the confusion to much thinking in Christian circles today where it is so self centred, anxious, fearful, and there are so many keeping that way who should know better.
      I assert only this, that the answer to mans problems is in Jesus Christ and the pure, faithful, historical presentation of that Gospel – and nowhere else!

    • Brendan says:

      Come, Come Nektarios ! By ‘ historical ‘ evolution I was taking about the effects socio-anthropologically speaking , where for better or worse human history has brought us to our present state – with no reference to our Divine origin.

  7. G.D. says:

    ‘Until we have some degree of knowledge about our assumptions, our experiences and our prejudices, we can hardly hope to make good decisions.’

    Yes, and even more than knowledge is needed.

    We need to learn how to let go of (die to) all our own ego assumptions – our thoughts images ideas – in an attempt to accept a change & healing of attitude for the better.
    To allow (in Christian terminology) God’s Spirit to infuse us with God’s ‘attitudes’. To open our eyes and heal our blindness. To see what is ‘just and right’. What is life giving.
    And, yes, this does bring awareness of things that threaten our self satisfied ways. (Scarey stuff sometimes). But also realisations of good and joyous changes that seem to just happen without one realising.

    The enclosed system of mankind – our own perspective within the psyche, collective &/or individual – can not affect this change, only alter the patterns. The seeming changes are only of a cosmetic kind. History repeats itself, day by day, because we hang onto the safe guarded defences, ways and attitudes (assumptions) of the ego.
    Three things are needed ……..

    1. There needs to be spiritual revolution, as in metanoia. Which, it seems to me, is occurring in society in our days despite, or even because of, the catastrophes around the globe. The great sufferings seem to be touching, and opening, the hearts and souls of people.

    2. There needs to be openness to an ‘other’ to help and guide this process.
    People who have opened up to their own unconscious prejudices (assumptions), some of which are against their own goodness (the ‘shadow’ is not only dark) can guide and affect others in as far as they have ‘healed’. Indeed, we (as Christians) are all called to do so – love your neighbour (those closest to you on the journey of life) as yourself.
    Yet, we can only give what we ourselves have accepted. Only attempt to guide others as far as we have walked ourselves.

    3. The most important. We all need to be personally open to the experience of Spirit in ‘deep silence’, devoid of ALL OF OUR OWN assertions & ‘assumptions’ for ill or good. This, i believe, is the only way to affect the real change needed of letting go, dying to self, and taking on life as created by God.
    Silent Contemplation (inner silence) is the only way. In whatever form is right for the individual. Although, i would assume physically sitting in periods of silence is the way to do it.
    A continuous process that lasts at least a lifetime, of course.

    The more this is realised (acted out) in society the closer we will get to being united (and diverse) in Love.

    And (apologies to N) i assume, this can happen if a person does or doesn’t believe in a God. The indwelling life of the Spirit is applicable to all ( or they wouldn’t exist ) who learn to accept and imitate Love, free from self(ish) attitudes.

    How moral someone is according to my standards, from my assumptions, is not really the problem, none of us are good enough morally, but how beneficent someone is.
    Yes we must assert what we are, what we believe, but not condemn others in the process.

    Did not Jesus say ‘Prostitutes & tax collectors ……. ‘ well today he might say homosexuals and refugees …….

  8. Brendan says:

    I like the ” …right and left hands in the cold water ” .. analogy. Life never fails to surprise. ” We may not notice a change in conditions , which requires a change in action. Take parish life as a Christian within a structure which has survived despite the great storms of life , for centuries ; the accretions, acquisitions , evanngelism, the incalculable benefits to society at large .. etc.
    Making collective decisions ( rightly or wrongly ) in a structured institution ( The Church ) worldwide having implications locally – while producing the adhesive to support a sound structure overtime by consensus – is our common experience. In our flawed state ‘ the danger of inherited judgments ‘ locally can skew the Church’s mission from above when ‘ changes ‘ are not taken into account. This is I believe what Pope Francis wants to set in motion post-Synod ; by the action of Gods grace in the Holy Spirit in the lives of Catholics in their parishes ….in this Year of Mercy.
    ” To live is to change , to be Holy is to have changed often. ” – Newman.

    • Quentin says:

      I did not repeat here the old story of the Jesuit and the Benedictine, but it is a good reminder of the left and right hand example.

      We are told that the Jesuit and the Benedictine discussed the disadvantage of not being able to smoke while saying their daily office. They resolved to consult their superiors.

      The Benedictine’s request was: Father Abbott, may I be allowed to smoke while I am praying?

      The Jesuit’s request was: Father Rector, may I be allowed to pray while I am smoking?

      You may guess which one got the positive answer.

  9. Galerimo says:

    Thank your for the post. Yes I think my marriage too was a mistake. A marriage however and it was mine and so was the mistake. Turns out what was really an act of hostage taking became a marriage for me. It hasn’t stopped amazing me ever since. I just had no idea how true the words were at the time. I love you.

    By contrast with the vulnerablilties of our own judgments and the awful necessity for change my take on the topic is the enormous amount of truth and wisdom in what we say and communicate. The overstatement trumps the assumptions any day.

    Just kneeling down to say my prayers and thereby directly and immediately reaching into the essence of Love and all reality in all its personal fullness may be based on a lot of assumptions on my part but even more amazing is the vast truth of it that hardly even reaches my consciousness.

    Faith even unwitting faith blows the mind. Or more politely moves mountains.

    The truth of those words I said to my wife when I told her i loved her was just the start of a whole unfolding of the statement that I didn’t know the meaning of. Never mind the false assumptions on which the statement was made (I tell myself), the truth of what I said has impacted on me every day since. Never mind the false assumptions now look at how true and good and profound it was.

    I think all of scripture is like that. An overstatement I mean. There just seems to be more to it every time that’s not just God talking.

    I think that is why faith comes by listening. The truth of what we say runs quickly on from the false assumptions on which the statements are made into the flight of powerful wisdom – it is just that it takes such a long time to catch up to it or realise it.

    The person who gets down to pray, realises what the truth is of what they are doing as it so blown away by that and then gets up again without saying a word, knows what I am trying to say.

    “O my God”. It is more drawn from you than uttered by you.

    Look up from the assumptions and inculturation. There is more truth in what we say than we can know.

  10. Brendan says:

    By memory , one of my first recognition of false ‘ inherited judgement ‘ on my part was as a child – which I recognised years later. My maternal grandmother ( my real memories of which were when she was in her late 70’s ) I saw as a cantakerous , stubborn old woman with an unshakable ‘faith’
    who gave my docile, loving mother a lot of trouble. To many youngsters of my generation post- Vatican ii she appeared ‘ neanderthal ‘…….although in her sweeter moments of simple winsomeness, she was ‘ our gran ‘. She died when I was in my early teens.
    Gran ‘ , born in Wales was from a ‘ respectable and devoutly Catholic ‘ Irish family of humble means , who moved from the coast to the valley areas at the very beginning of the last century. Her first job was ‘ screening ‘ mined-coal at the top of a the pit.
    Many years later when my curiosity in my family roots preceded a life-time hobby , my mother gave me an example of what early life was like for a respectable Catholic woman bringing up a family – distant from her own family roots – among’st co-religionists in her peer group ; who illiterate/ semi-literate as most of them were – largely originating from South-west Cork.
    Picture a diminutive young woman ( she was never much over six stone in her life ) smartly dressed in her Sunday finery who regularly walked about 4 miles to Mass – sometimes unaccompanied – running the gauntlet through a group of rough , abusive Catholic Irishman aimlessly lounging on street corners. With many other anecdotes I began to draw another picture of this woman.
    How could I have gotten this ‘ inherited judgement ‘ of the time so wrong ! I only hope that I have inherited some of that undiscovered ‘ grit ‘ that I so scorned in an unenlightened time.

  11. Geordie says:

    “Judge not lest ye yourself be judged”
    “Avoid bad company”
    “Birds of a feather flock together”
    “Love you neighbour as yourself”
    As a child I found it difficult reconcile these statements. How do you know which people are bad company and which are good without judging them? How do you love them if you have to avoid them?
    Years ago we had to be careful about our relationships with Protestants. My father was a convert to Catholicism. Most of my relations were Protestant. At school I was taught by an Irish head-mistress that Protestants went to hell. I believed this and worried about my kind and gentle aunts, uncles and cousins; then my father found out what I was concerned about and told me that the head-teacher was talking rubbish. It was a shock for a small child to think a teacher could teach rubbish.

    • Vincent says:

      No doubt your Irish head-mistress was herself taught that as a child — and had never thought about it. I fear there was much evil taught by Catholic authorities in the old days. Thankfully it is rarer now.

  12. Brendan says:

    ” .. when someone is entrusted with a great deal, even more of that person is expected .” – Luke 12:48.
    Coming too quick to judgement in ones ignorance may be a sin. But in unbridled pursuit of power ; persons, whole institutions , nations , can inherit judgments ( as Vincent says ‘ taught that as a child ‘ ) from above – in all innocence taken as truth. There is then one/many who is culpable more for the perceived ‘ sin ‘ who subverts a truth ; invents and propagates it so that a person, then whole institutions and eventually whole nations inherit its belief.

  13. Nektarios says:


    Is that how faith , that gift of God works?
    I see we do the same overtime, we tend to make our experience the arbiter of truth. So keen are we to be right, but not at the cost of our experience.

    Faith, that gift of God to His people, is funnily enough not all about us at all. It is about God the Fathers plan of Salvation for we poor sinners, helpless blind, often hapless, proud ,arrogant, intellectual, clever, inventive at the linear level, yet can be spiritually dead as a Dodo. Hence the need for faith.

    When we put ourselves and experience at the centre of our lives, we become a little authority, a little god to ourselves. Then we accrue some knowledge and that little knowledge makes one proud and puffs one up. All that has nothing to do with real faith.
    I know this is what happens in so-called real life, but it is not faith.

    As I said faith is not primarily about us, but about God and His plan of Salvation. It is about giving us through the finished work of Christ, something we never knew before -spiritual life. God has pre- determined in Himself before the world ever was that in Christ, we would become His children.
    Give them His name, family privileges as Children of God, and pleasure evermore at His right hand.

    Oh this faith is Apostolic teaching, This is what the early Church believed and died for and the Church today believes, though many have gone astray, leaning to their own understanding.
    The world needs the message of the Gospel, not the rubbish that is religiously poured out in the media and in churches today. They do this because when they should have spiritual power, they have none and hide behind any facade they can find.
    The glory of the Church is not the Church, nor indeed we imperfect beings in it, but Faith, that gift of God and the message of the Gospel and of the Apostles, the glory of the Church is God in the midst of her – be careful not to jump to conclusions – for many a church is dead, lifeless, faithless.

    So lets be clear when we speak of faith.

    • St.Joseph says:

      I watched a talk on those who call themselves ‘spiritual’ and who dont consider themselves to be religious’.
      It made sense to me, as far as they are concerned.
      People who think like that have no committments and do not have to think about what is right and wrong in their lives. Jesus said to St Peter ‘ Upon this Rock I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH’..
      I dont understand what you mean by the rubbish that is religiously poured out in the churches today.
      I can agree with what you say about the ‘media.

      • Nektarios says:

        St. Joseph
        Anyone who is truly spiritual, is also religious.
        Let me ask you something, was Jesus pointing to Himself when He said, Upon this Rock I will build my Church? You have had it drummed into you that it was St. Peter and many a RCC use it like a get out clause.

        The RCC leadership thought in the past and thinks today, that its members know nothing at all about the Christian faith, and so they its members have to put all their trust in the Church.
        I am sorry to tell you, the Church has never saved a single soul, only God does that.

      • Vincent says:

        That St Peter was the rock on which Christ built his Church does not need to be drummed into anyone. It is quite clear from the change of Simon’s name to Peter, meaning rock. I can understand the inconvenience of this to some. but there it is. The Church on its own saves no one, but the Church as the appointed channel of salvation clearly does — or Christ would prove to be extremely confused when he taught this..

      • St.Joseph says:

        You are quite wrong to suggest that I have had my faith drumend into me by the Church with the knowledge that what Holy Mother Church teaches comes down from St Peter!
        We as Catholics receive the Holy Spirit when we are Baptised and have the God given Grace to interpret what the Church teaches through our God given conscience and are able to discern what is right and wrong.
        The Rock of Peter is the authority given by God so that we can assure the real presence of Jesus in His Church, and not to be carried away by every passing whim that enters the mind of Man what ever over centuries suits their conscience.

  14. Brendan says:

    Nektarios – I share the sense of frustration that St. Joseph seems to have with you : your summary dismissal of religious broadcasting in the media.
    From the first line of you reply to my last post I knew you had somehow misunderstood the whole
    piece. From a ‘faith ‘ perspective, let me make it clear for myself , that it is subservient to anything and to no created thing.
    ” Man does not live on bread alone , but on every word that comes from the mouth of God ”-Matthew, 4:4.
    I made no reference to God -given faith , but only made reference to the fact that He expects the privileged position that man/woman finds themselves ( given to them by God ) to be repaid by giving and doing of their best , to those less fortunate or to their dependents. I had in mind here in the context of my piece, information and knowledge.

  15. ignatius says:

    Hello Nektarios,
    On a roll I see.
    “The RCC leadership thought in the past and thinks today, that its members know nothing at all about the Christian faith, and so they its members have to put all their trust in the Church…”
    What is this?

    • Nektarios says:

      A statement of fact.

      • ignatius says:

        Hi Nektarios,

        Would you care to back up your observation that my local bishop thinks I know nothing at all about the Christian Faith please? Its just that when I have spoken with him thats not the impression he gives me. I’m not sure how you know what our archbishop has said to us regarding Christian faith either, as far as I know you haven’t been at any of our discussions. So I’m not sure that your ‘statement of fact’ is any more than words.

  16. Nektarios says:

    Peter was an Apostle along with the other Apostles, all who had authority, not just Peter and then there was the Apostle Paul who also had such authority.
    But the authority they had was not the mere ecclesiastic authority claimed today. That is only claimed because of the lack of authority the Apostles had.

    Secondly, if one carefully goes through the Epistles of Peter for example, you will see the authority he had was of a very different order than what the RCC claims for itself.
    Need I go into all the abuses of the RCC down through the centuries? Shall we talk of the most unchristian behaviour carried out on the these isles and in Ireland not to mention elsewhere in the world.

    Shall we walkabout all the ecclesiastic divisions created in the RCC that deprives its members and abrogates and has accrues power to itself? Why has RCC done this, if those did not believe
    its members really did not understand the faith at all, and so were made dependent on the clergy to tell them. This they have done to a point, but it has been corrupted and not God has the authority, the power and the glory, but this edifice they have built called the Church.

    Shall I remind my RCC friends, and it gives me no pleasure to say this : The RCC lost the Reformation in Europe because it was so corrupt. The tragedy today is, this same corruption and ecclesiastic, intellectual power-mongering has caused Protestantism to go largely the same way and is equally powerless spiritually.
    That is the difference between the Apostle Peter and this rag tag ecclesiastic organisations that
    are spiritually powerless, if not spiritually dead.

    • Vincent says:

      It is certainly true that our understanding of the papacy in its role as the ‘rock’ has developed over 2000 years. Despite good, bad and mediocre popes, it has never imperiled its function. But that is what rocks are for — to keep strong through foul weather and fair.

      The Reformation taught us two things. First, the need to reform many unfortunate aspects and attitudes which had accrued over time. So we accept that the Church mist be constantly in a state of reformation. Second, the fate of the Protestants taught us that reform always has to be within the Church — outside the Church leads towards a slow death. If you look at the last few popes: John 23, Paul 6, JP2. Benedict, Francis — all different men with different gifts, and each one (to change the metaphor) giving a touch to the tiller, and so correcting the course of the barque of Peter.

      • Brendan says:

        Nicely said Vincent.

      • Quentin says:

        I notice that Vincent has put in a typo. I think I can mention this precisely because this is a rare slip for him (and knows I am writing this). This gives me the opportunity to mention the value of having your copy read back to you before posting. I use a (pc) program called READPLEASE 2003. FREE. Not only do I spot slips of different kinds but it gives me the chance of second thoughts. (If you download, check that you’re not being offered additional programs you don’t want. Often happens with free downloads)

  17. ignatius says:

    Feel better now?

    • Nektarios says:

      Not really, as I said I took no pleasure in posting it.
      What the intent of it was, for us all to look afresh at the faith we say we have. Have we got saving faith?
      If so what is the nature of that faith? Is our faith deficient, lacking power, wisdom and understanding? Is it Biblical OT and NT and following the teachings of the Apostles?
      There are many millions of people who say they have faith and believe. So I feel it necessary to ask what do they mean by saying they have faith and believe.
      I think this goes someway to answering dear Brendan too.

      And to St. Joseph – My wife has recently, of her own free will joined the Orthodox Church and is happy. We can agree there is no perfect Church Institution, that is self evident. So I hope you will believe my good intent as explained to Ignatius above.
      Wishing you the a happy Christmas and good health as you are daily in our prayers.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Thank you.
        I do believe that your intentions are good and spoken in charity.
        My husband was a Methodist,and he bacame an RC 40 odd years after we met after a great deal of soul searching ,however always came to church..and had his conversion at the Canonisation of St Padre Pio, 3 years before he died.
        Wishing you too and all on SS a happy Christmas. and for your daily prayers
        Thank you..

  18. Brendan says:

    Nektarios – Please. don’t bring Protestantism in on this , you are going so well on Catholicism !
    Look ; there is corruption all around in every shape and form – since the ‘ Fall ‘ to present times , and will be in the future – you remind us so often. How to deal with that in our sphere of understanding ? Expose it , yes ( in the footsteps of The Master ) , in a rational evidence-based factual way.
    In our fundamental state , do not suppose that I or you , or anyone can simply ride a ‘ hobby horse ‘ to death beyond its short space of life .. . for in rational terms it is the death of anything including the argument.

  19. St.Joseph says:

    I seem to remember that you mentioned some time ago that your wife is an RC.
    Charity begins at home I always was taught.!

  20. Brendan says:

    Happy Christmas Nektarios , and for the appropriate time also your wife.

  21. Brendan says:

    As the joyous season of Christmas once again approaches , and for a significant number of our planet this looks forward to The Second Coming in its eschatological sense ; perhaps the full horror of an example of the corrupting influence ( since the prelude to WW11 ) of ‘ inherited judgment ‘ can be seen in the grotesque phenomenon of the so-called ‘ ISIL Caliphate ‘ ( Islamic State of Iraq and Levant ) who’s acts of depravity are enough to ‘ make ones blood run cold .’ For many of us see in its preparedness ; the age old work of the Devil.

  22. John Candido says:

    Please watch where you are going to source ‘ReadPlease’ from. You could be inadvertently placing malware on your computer. If anyone is interested in downloading ‘ReadPlease’ one safe site to download it is on the ‘Softonic’ website.

  23. Nektarios says:

    As the story of our Lord’s Birth is retold, it is necessary for mankind that it is. Earlier we discussed a little about Saving Faith, do we have it; what is it exactly?
    This brings me to look at something else on faith, I am afraid the RCC does not believe in, and that is Assurance of Salvation.
    From my understanding of the RCC position, it is this, it is impossible to have Assurance of Faith and of our Salvation apart from the ministrations of the Church, Prayers, lighting candles, confession and even then with indulgences, they say Salvation is not assured. One may have to spend time in Purgatory. So even in death and after death, there is no such thing as Assurance of Salvation, heaven and eternal life.

    Then what is the Gospel all about, what is the birth, life, teaching and death of Christ all about apart from those who have it can have and experience blessed Assurance?

    The RCC view of Assurance of Faith in Christ and His finished work, is therefore made null and void if Assurance does not exist? After all it is one of those doctrines the whole bible OT and NT, the Apostles, the early Christian Church, down to today believe and affirm. So why does the RCC insist that blessed Assurance is not possible apart from the RCC ministrations?

  24. Horace says:

    When I was young things were much more simple:-
    :Who made you? “Gpd made me.”
    :Why did God make you? “God made me to know him, love him, and serve Him in this world and to be happy with him in the next” . . . .
    [penny catechism]

  25. John Candido says:

    I cannot recall ever hearing of the phrase, ‘My Marriage was a Mistake’. Interesting phrase nonetheless as it behoves everyone to be humble; marital disputes are the subject of negotiation where possible and so it comes and goes with the territory of ‘correcting’ your mistake in marrying in the first place.

    Marriage is such an awfully difficult relationship that it takes a couple of heroes to keep it going along on an even keel, year after year. Which partner or spouse would consider their marriage to be the greater ‘mistake’? That is the question spouses should ask themselves. As a single man who never married, I would have to say in all honesty that never marrying may in fact be my greatest mistake. Is it my greatest mistake or is it my greatest achievement? You can never really tell, can you?

    • St.Joseph says:

      John Candido.
      I thank God every day for my 2 children and ask the three that I lost to pray for me.
      I dont know what I would do without them.
      I count my Blessings.

      • John Candido says:

        Steady St.Joseph! Priests, brothers and sisters don’t marry either. The church calls it celibacy; I call it hell on earth!

      • St.Joseph says:

        John Candido.
        I am speaking about myself
        MY Vocattion.
        Obviously Religious have their own calling. They also have a choice. God gave us all a free will!!

      • John Candido says:

        It is a free choice for some priests, brothers and sisters who take celibacy on, but not all. The human element of maturity and social pressure are a part of the mix of decision making. And whilst it might be a free choice at the start, it certainly isn’t a free matter afterwards, is it?

  26. St.Joseph says:

    On reading the info on contraception etc by the Orthodox Church.I am surprised there seems no firm teaching one way or another.. Just a little confusing.
    It seems to me that there are no NFP teachers to be found..
    Can you enlighten me on those issues
    As you have married priests I would have thought that to be more important and taught explicitely!

    • Nektarios says:

      St. Joseph

      Some priests are married, many are not.
      On the matter of NFP within the Orthodox Church, I am sure there are those who know about it, practice it, but there is no hard and fast Church statements about it. I guess they think that is not the business of the Church directly.

      Like everywhere else, the clergy have to deal with such issues.

      Here is a little joke for you.

      I asked a lady from Ireland, ‘And how many children do you have?’
      ‘Eight, she replied.
      ‘Eight? stand up and take a bow, oh on second thoughts lie down and take a rest. I am so glad you stitched up the hole in your husbands pyjamas…. well you know what they say,
      a stitch in time saves nine.’

      NFP the old-fashioned way?

  27. tim says:

    Brendan (December 10, 2015 at 10:31 pm): sorry not to come back before. I am not an inventor – but I have experience of working with inventors. Thank you also for acquitting me of being smug – which sadly may have the effect of making me more so.

  28. tim says:

    … and to pursue a detail in your original post, Quentin – I too am constantly putting things down in full view and being unable to find them. My wife and my son have no problem in pointing them out to me. I think it’s part of growing old, and I speculate that there is a straightforward neurological explanation – which could be found if it were thought worth investigation.
    Happy Christmas to all!

  29. tim says:

    John Candido (December 17, 2015 at 10:06 am)
    The same applies to marriage (or at least to marriage as understood by the Church). Once you have made any permanent and binding promise, you are not free to revoke it.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Marriage as understood by God!!

    • John Candido says:

      ‘The same applies to marriage (or at least to marriage as understood by the Church). Once you have made any permanent and binding promise, you are not free to revoke it.’ (Tim)

      I understand this matter regarding the permanency of the sacrament of marriage as the church has traditionally espoused it for centuries. It is a fine ideal to live up to and for those who have successfully navigated its pitfalls and difficulties, for both marriage and celibacy, they have my complete respect. I have a bias towards ameliorating or if possible preventing suffering where it can be ameliorated or prevented, for either spouses or priests & religious.

      I do not support celibacy as being a reasonable request of individuals that want to serve the church and would like it to be abolished as soon as possible for the diocesan priesthood in the western rite Catholic Church. I view celibacy as an infringement of a person’s human right to marry. This provision would be for the support of the Catholic Church generally, and the dire paucity of candidates for the priesthood. Related to these considerations but an even more important matter flowing from them is the availability of the Eucharist for the entire world through the mass.

      I am sure that this is a complex matter that involves canon law and theology, marital cases, and the input of psychology and psychiatry where needed to elucidate human issues relating to full and free consent and aspects of human maturity or human pathology, as the case may be.

      Everyone acknowledges that Catholic marriages fail; spouses separate in the best interests of themselves and their children, and Catholic marriages also lead to divorce. Divorced Catholics are free to remarry under secular law and then have to contend with being counselled by their parish priest or bishop, to sincerely address their internal forum or conscience about receiving the Eucharist as a remarried Catholic with a second or even a third marriage.

      It will be interesting to see where the current synod in Rome about the family will settle these issues for the Catholic Church, or hive them off for various periti to produce a report with recommendations for the synod to consider at a later date.

      • St.Joseph says:

        John Candido.
        You actually surprise me with your thoughts!!! Very interesting. It shows you do!!
        Can I ask you one question where you seemingly have not given it much thought.
        You say you never did marry. I would like to know your thoughts on ‘celibicy for unmarried catholics’ or for none
        Do you believe in sleeping around

  30. John Candido says:

    ‘Celibacy for unmarried Catholics & do you believe in sleeping around?’ (St.Joseph)

    No I do not believe in sleeping around, or using people up for selfish reasons, usually known as ‘one night stands’ with different women, or a series of ‘one night stands’ with the same woman. What I do believe in is a long overdue, thorough review of sexual teaching by the Catholic Church, as our knowledge of sexual matters have moved on since the Middle Ages.

    I acknowledge the need for single Catholics or Christians generally to develop their own sexual ethic. Lots of people would have heard of this. As the church advises any single person to follow total abstinence in sexual matters as a contemporary teaching based on centuries of Augustinian ethics, this simply fails at the starting gate and cannot be considered by educated people as either legitimate or reasonable.

    My own sexual ethic is based on the need to absolutely stay clear of any married women. This is absolutely not-negotiable for me. The question then becomes one of what behaviour do I allow myself when I might be pursuing or dating any single woman, and this of course assumes that I have their consent and trust, and any decision to act sexually is a mutual decision. Here lies the difficulty St.Joseph. Much depends on what the other woman will consent to or allow.

    For anyone to think that it is both reasonable and a requirement of Christian living today, to abstain from sex between two single consenting adults, who have initially become friends and have fallen in love later on, and with or without any overt desire to have sex with each other in the first place, is not being realistic or compassionate towards their situation.

    Think about it for a minute. Do you really think that it would be possible today to ask adult couples who love each other to abstain completely from sex, despite the commonplace availability of contraception and who freely and mutually consent to that sex occurring between the two of them as mature adults, and who do so privately?

    Is this a selfish act or a loving act? It is really difficult to answer this in all truth but I would give them the benefit of the doubt. It mostly depends on the sincerity of their intentions and the genuine presence of real love between them.

    I would also say that it would not be an overwhelmingly important issue to be worried about as the world has far more urgent matters to attend to, and I would treat this as none of my business and so should everyone else.

    Then there is the issue of should they live together before getting married. For some couples this is a sensible precaution, and for others it may lead to avoiding this in preference to premarital counselling before taking the plunge and marrying. Again, there are no easy answers and much would depend on the couple in question. I used to think that it would be preferable to not live together before marrying, but I am not so sure today.

  31. St.Joseph says:

    John Candido
    Phew.That is a lot to discuss.Just one question regarding contraception where you mention.
    Are you thinking about condoms, or those which cause abortfacients, or precautions from disease, which condoms are not really 100 % safe.
    These are valid questions to be taken into account when single people’ fall in love and don’t wish to get married. Pertinent to non religious as well as religious.
    You are quite wrong about the Church not moving on since the middle ages.
    How do you make that out?
    We know more about relationships now than ever! Perhaps those who do not wish to know are blind to the fact.It suits them!

  32. John Candido says:

    St.Joseph, I think that I have more than answered all of your questions regarding the development of a private sexual ethic as a single Christian adult. I don’t care to answer any of your specific questions about condoms as I find them to be nosey, none of your business and the inordinate focus of fundamentalist obsessives.

    • St.Joseph says:

      John Candido.
      This is not a question of being ‘nosey’, but a question of ‘ethics’
      And we know the dangers from the ‘failure of contraception’ resulting in ‘abortifacients and abortions’.
      You like so many are ‘hiding behind the truth’.
      This is why the world is as it is!

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