Monday, November 09, 2015

What have we come to?



Anthony Andrews as Lord Sebastian Flyte, Jeremy Irons as Charles Ryder, and Aloysius:
What have we come to? I had a letter recently from a parishioner telling me he had fallen in love with another man and therefore wasn't going to be coming to Mass anymore!

The Gospel yesterday in the Old Rite was the wheat harvest sown with zizzania (translated as cockle), the owner tells the servants that rather than weeding out the weeds, to leave them until harvest time, 'lest the wheat also is lost'. The Second Vatican Council spoke about a 'universal call to holiness', what we seem to have difficulty with is coping with the fact that not everyone wants 'holiness', or at least wants to delay it until the last moment, or simply feels they are incapable of it

In the past we dealt with this by accepting people were at different places in their spiritual pilgrimage. Now I wonder if we have lost that flexibility. Ronald Knox's remark about the possibility of leaving an umbrella safely in any church, of any denomination, except a Catholic church, because in a Catholic church it was bound to be stolen, because Catholic churches are full of sinners, once contained a lot of truth. I remember certain London churches and certain continental churches that seemed to be full of ladies of certain character and men of  certain 'exotic' tendencies, all at the back or behind pillars or in side chapels praying with intensity, and slightly more reflectively 'pray for us sinners, now and the hour of death'.

One of our parishioners remembers as a young boy being told by the Parish Priest not to accept sweets from the then rather elderly Lord Alfred Douglas and another, now dead, told me that his mother didn't think it "safe", presumably in the modern sense of 'safeguarding', for children to come here on their own "because of the strange people who go to 'Mad Mary Mags'". If their parents didn't come with them they were sent to the posher and safer Sacred Heart Church next door in more select Hove. Graham Greene used to come here when he stayed in Brighton, he was friends, along with Belloc and Chesterton. with Mgr Wallis, who was Rector here until his death in 1950. I can well imagine that on a Sunday not only Rose but most of the characters from Brighton Rock turning up here at Mass. Maybe even Pinky came here at Christmas and Easter.


Brighton Rock | UK | 1947 | 92m
We have always taken it that the God 'tolerates' sin in the Church, and sin in its members. It hates sin but loves sinners and yet is formed of men and women who are sinners. In the inter and post-war Catholic novels of the great age of Catholic literary converts, who often had an ambiguous relationship with God themselves, there is a deep sense of the divided self, Sebastian Flyte deeply in love with his German lover and yet ultimately finding a relationship with God, that is quite saintly but which occasionally falls disastrously apart but he he always returns again and again, to care for the sick and to live alongside the brothers in the monastery that have taken him in. It seems typical of the light and dark motifs of Catholic literature and spirituality of those years, and tells the true story of Catholic pastoral care of those years.

There is a sense that the Church can live with ambiguity not only in the laity but in the clergy too, One is reminded of Greene's 'whiskey priests'. Perhaps the critics of the pre-Concilliar Church are right that we reserve 'holiness' for specialists, for religious, for monks and nuns. I remember ages ago being told by elderly Jesuit that being a secular priest was 'a profession' whilst being a religious like himself was a vocation. He reflected an older spirituality in which 'vocation' was essentially a call to holiness, and the usual place to find it was in those who had purposefully rejected the world, and deliberated embraced the evangelical counsels. 

The Council was obviously right that all by virtue of their baptism are called to holiness, and that once baptised, all should receive the sacraments of initiation, including Holy Communion and continue to receive Holy Communion week by week until united to God in Heaven after death. 

The older idea, still prevalent in Orthodoxy and certain declining branches of Protestantism, and amongst more ultra Traditionalists, that people should receive Communion only rarely, and then only after confession and a period of intensified fasting and penance, was the norm up until Pius X. In pre-Reformation England the norm was for Communion once a year, following Lateran IV's precept of reception at 'Easter or there abouts'. The confession, penance, prayer and rigorous fasting of Lent was the period of preparation. Lateran IV was trying to correct the 'abuse' of people never receiving Holy Communion, or doings so only once in their lives.
Though Vatican II was theologically right, was it pastorally right? What seems to have happened was that we became less tolerant of sinners. I have always wondered about the interpretation of I Cor 11:27-32:

27Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. 28But let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of the chalice. 29For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord. 30Therefore are there many infirm and weak among you, and many sleep. 31But if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. 32But whilst we are judged, we are chastised by the Lord, that we be not condemned with this world.
What does verse 30 actually mean? 'Therefore are there many infirm and weak among you, and many sleep', could it be that Paul equates infirmity and weakness -and many sleep, a euphemism for death- as being something we experiencing today, that somehow a unworthy reception of Communion leads not to physical illness and death but to a spiritual one, a complete loss of those who cannot live a holy life.

In practice, if everyone is to receive the Eucharist, does it means that there is no room for the prostitute or the gay man or adulterer unable to control his sexual desires or the alcoholic or the wife beater or the paedophile or the murderous God hating gangster, or the simply confused, or just plain ordinary sinner with a divided soul who loves the idea of God but is too damaged to fully embrace him.

We are indeed all called to holiness but yet whilst virtue might indeed be growing in us like a rich crop of wheat, the zizzania flourishes too and maybe, until harvest time, it dominates. The problem is we see the weeds and God sees virtue. We are not the best judges in our own cause. At one time we much of deathbed confessions, we don't very often nowadays.

Catholics have never been smiley faced Protestants, happy in the blessed assurance, we have been more realistic knowing that God's grace is all. Until recently we have never been a 'holiness cult' but a Church of sinners. I fear accommodating VII's teaching of 'universal holiness', we either exclude sinners who are unable to live virtuously, which means excluding those in need of Christ or else we turn a blind eye to sin, pretending it doesn't exist, which means excluding Christ, as some seemed to desire at the Synod. The problem is that sin is writ large in our consciousness and so is virtue, by stressing holiness, and having the expectation of holiness, has the Church become a place which no longer welcomes sinners?

Is there a place in today's Church for the man who washes the wounds of the diseased and lights copious candles, faithfully tells his beads, yet has a penchant for a particular vice and then goes on a bender, throws his beads in the dustbin and a few weeks later, horrified is found kneeling outside the confessional or weeping before the statue of Our Lady? Is there place for the priest addicted to drink, or maybe nowadays porn, who claims he has lost his faith, yet is actually heroic in his fidelity? Is there a place for Saint Mark Ji Tianxiang, the opium addict, forbidden the sacraments for thirty years, yet had the courage to die for Christ?

50 comments:

Paddy said...

Brilliant post, Father. A sermon in itself and something of a pick-me-up for a wet Monday (at least it is wet where I am in Ireland!).

The Riopel Family said...

Thank you Father. I needed this.

philipjohnson said...

Fr.Since Vatican 11 people(and Priests)have lost the call to repent of ones sins!Confession is rarely mentioned in the modern church and we have the spectacle of all receiving Holy Communion and few going to confession.To receive Holy Communion one MUST be in a state of grace and free from Mortal sin-otherwise ones soul is in peril of Hell beckoning.Cannot people control their passion and sinful ways?The drunk,the homosexual,the adulterer and the like?Lord help us .Good post Fr.God Bless.

Left-footer said...

The answer to the question in your last paragraph is, I hope, a resounding 'yes'.

Radical Catholic said...

A very thoughtful post, Father. Allow me to add my two cents:

Vatican II, whether intentionally or not, contributed substantially to the demise of the comparatively broad Catholic culture previous generations took for granted. It may perhaps seem paradoxical at first, but in emphasizing the new-found desire to "engage the modern world," Vatican II was effectively a concession of defeat in the culture wars. The new strategy was to re-position the Church as standing above local cultures - at the price, however, of abandoning Catholicism as a culture in its own right. Anyone doubting the veracity of that claim need look no further than to the many statements coming out of the recent Synod as regards "adapting Church teaching to local culture." This has the curious effect of widening the gap between people's everyday lives on the one hand, which is now clearly in the domain of secular culture, and their spiritual aspirations on the other, which effectively turns Catholicism into a lofty - and in some cases incompatible and unrealistic - ideal. The emphasis on personal holiness - which, as you note, goes back at least to St. Pius X and his reaction to Modernism - can only be effective in the context of a broad Catholic culture; once there is a workable alternative to Catholic culture - or once the Church abandons her role as culture bringer and takes to "dialoguing" - it becomes an invitation to abandon the Church to the grandmothers and social misfits, i.e. to those who feel estranged by the local secular culture.

At least, that's how it appears to me.

Sadie Vacantist said...

I didn't receive at the weekend because of on-going battles with addiction. Even though I was technically "sober" Saturday evening ...

I do recall, many years ago, confessing to an old Jesuit about involvement with a separated woman - "the most beautiful woman I'd ever met". He told me to get rid of her. I protested but complied. Within two weeks she was forgotten.

This synod's issues could be resolved by simply reversing P10's ecclesiology which has stopped working. Holy communion is a gift and given that I'm in an "irregular relationship" with addiction then reception of communion means I am abusing the gift.

This is not self-indulgent violence on my part nor even humility. It's just a statement of fact of which I am not proud.

Paolo said...

Sorry, father, I don't understand your point.

fortissimo said...

Wow! That deserves the widest-possible readership.

Nicolas Bellord said...

I suppose the whole idea of the spiritual struggle has been lost i.e frequent lapses and frequent confession. Not surprising when we are told that all will go to heaven anyway and there is no such thing as a mortal sin and we are not sure what the priest in the confessional believes in anyway. Religion has lost the taste of salt.

Frank Karwatowicz said...

As you know I am a layman, but it seems to me that the priest in the confessional who hears, in his judgement, a genuine act of contrition, then he is bound if that is the word to forgive and tell the sinner “go and sin no more,” even if that sinner keeps committing the same sin again and again. How to cure that person from his addiction is another matter altogether and is not part of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I don’t expect psychotherapy or psychoanalysis from my confessor even though he may ask question which relate to frequency, etc. as that may have a bearing on the penance if any.

David said...

Beautiful post. I tend to think that due to the current practice of frequent communion, people think that there is no point in going to mass unless they can receive, and in fact, you kind of stand out if you don't go up to the communion line. Honestly, in the current milieu there is something almost heroic about going to mass week after week without going up for communion.

Mike Hurcum said...

I am sure Paul remembering Judas and his fateful suicide when he wrote First Corinthians. We must consider the early thoughts of the Apostles who as reformed Hebrews knew that the soul that sins dies, (Ezechiel 18:4)which to their knowledge Christ never denied.

Unknown said...

You are so spot on.

Drusilla Barron
http://lovedasif.com

Fr Ray Blake said...

Caimbeul,
I didn't published you first comments for the reason published in the sidebar.
I haven't published your last comment because it sets out to be insulting.
I shan't publish your future comments because I shall not read them.

Michael Leahy said...

Thank you, Father, for a great essay. There is much food for thought in it and much that is reassuring and hopeful for those of us who fall somewhat short of holiness.

What seems to be increasingly prevalent nowadays amongst certain "organised" groups of sinners is a pride in their behaviour which they seem unwilling to accept as sinful. This is in many ways worse than the sins themselves. Better it is to be humble and remorseful for one's sins no matter how many stumbles.

Palincor IG said...

I saw an example recently, a protestant one, of how the idea of 'good people only allowed in the church' can really rile those who are made to feel they are not one of the 'special' ones: on a noticeboard of a united reformed church down the road here in Portsmouth, a group had a sign "Discipleship Church of (Special) Redeemed Christians of God". Ok, I put 'special' in that name in brackets, since that's what it sounds like. I ccan't tell you how furious that made me feel, though I expect there are some Christians of genuine goodwill in there.

Jacobi said...

Father,

Why in heavens name should that man not come to Mass. Why should he even think in those terms. This sums up so much of what has gone profoundly wrong on the Post-Vatican II Church.

I remember quite clearly, part of a group mostly from the same Catholic school, going to the university dance on Saturday and trying to get off with the nurses from the nearby hospital. And also the natural acceptance of going to Mass next morning, one or two of us, not just me - but not to Holy Communion. Well you know what I mean? That would simply not normally have occurred to us?

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass has now effectively been protestantised into communion service for all by the Relativists. That is at the base of the whole ambiguous, ugly mess that is afflicting the Church at present

Holiness is to be sought by us sinners. How we get there and how long, is another matter. If in the meantime we slip up, that is where we rely on the Mercy of Christ - and Confession.

But above all it is not wise to reject that Mercy by insisting on the right to receive Holy Communion regardless, and be seen by one and all to be doing so

That is not what St Pius X meant in Quam Singulari.

Mark you, now that I am an “oldie” I do try to improve on “once a year and that about Easter or thereabouts”

Unknown said...

Good article.
(The 'umbrella' story was Ronald Knox, rather than Chesterton, in 'The Creed in Slow Motion'.
In the chapter on 'Mark II' of the Church, 'Holy', I believe...)

Robert said...

Very true. Modern society has also become very judgemental. I agree with everything you say apart from your calling for less frequent communion. The sinner needs food for the soul. I also would not restrict communion toe the remarried. Leave it toGod.he is big enough to defend his own honour.

Fr Ray Blake said...

thanks, I'll change the name.

Robert said...

I believe in confession but go about twice a year. It is like going to the dentist.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Robert God has soken - do you really belive, Jesus' teaching on marriage till death is debatable, or capable of being changed?
What else would you disposed of?

Lynda said...

The man who wrote to you ought to know that sexual relations of any kind between persons of the same sex are depraved and an offence against God, oneself and the other person. Love is doing what is objectively for the good of the other. Love is abused by terming a sexual relationship between two men as having anything to do with love. There may be some affection or purported care but that is destroyed by the unnatural behaviour, in thought, word or deed. Imagine the other person as one's son - how would you want him to behave and be treated by others? Love means you want to do whatever you can to help that soul attain holiness and Heaven.

The filth we are drowning in is the result of a general apostasy from the top of the Church down to the bottom.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, come to our aid.

Sandpiper said...

All manner of depravity confronts the pew sitter these days. Transsexuals, same-sex couples and their illicitly conceived children, chronic contraceptors, syncretism, porn, unbridled materialism, gluttony, universalism, etc. Society embraces all of it and at least in my experience nothing is ever taught from the pulpit regarding the evil of these lifestyles, belief systems. Our current pope is exacerbating the diabolical disorientation. It seems that the only thing that can get us back on track is supernatural intervention. Akita, anyone?

Fr Ray Blake said...

Lynda,
I am sure he knows that, what I expect he doesn't know is the depth of God's love for him and therefore the depth of the love of true believers.
How will you show that love?
The problem is one of hope, not just a realisation of sin.

G said...

"the prostitute or the gay man or adulterer unable to control his sexual desires or the alcoholic or the wife beater or the paedophile or the murderous God hating gangster"

♩ ♪ "One of these things is not like the other ... "♫ ♬

Diana Johns said...

Father, pardon me for saying so, but you seem to be missing the point. It says the angels will separate the wheat from the cockle. Please tell me you're not jumping on the adultery and sodomy bandwagon. These sins ruin the lives of real people. Think of all the poor little boys and teenagers who had their lives destroyed by the clerics who loved to commit sodomy. Who had a "weakness ". Maybe the attitude of accepting sin in the church for the past 60 or 70 years has brought about this disaster we are living now.

BrazilianJoe said...

Yes, Father, it seems to me that a heroic life is banned of/by this NuChurch. How pathetic is a vain struggle to live a virtuous life, with all its endless ups and downs ... How pathetic is having the hope to someday being able to repeat with Saint Paul: I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Forget it, they say. We are losers from the get-go and always we will be. It is pretty much a protestant mindset, isn't it? What saddens me most is seeing how the Eucharist has been transformed into just a symbol of 'inclusiveness', or even worse, into a fetish - from remedy to venom.

linda said...

Chronic contraceptors, really??? With all due respect, this chronic pew sitter needs to get out amongst them and show more love and less judgement.

linda said...

I'll pray for him/her as I do so for myself and the members of my family who fit those descriptions listed...

Fr Ray Blake said...

DJ
I am not. Acceptance by the Church of human weakness does not mean either ordination to the Episcopate or the reception of Holy Communion, my argument is the Church needs to be broader. My suggestion is the Church has become narrower, and will be even narrower if we follow the demands of the Teutonic bishops which the Holy Father seems to be anxious to do.
We are part of the Church, even if we rarely receive Holy Communion - reread what I said!

Physiocrat said...

Fr Martin Thomson once came to the church and preached. This is part of what he said.

The teachings of the church are hard, and we know you won't keep them - and the confessional box is over there. [points]

I suspect the decline in confession and the practice of receiving communion at every Mass is one of the reasons why people with sinful inclinations (all of us) are staying away.

One can still make a spiritual communion without receiving. I suspect the de-sacralisation of the liturgy is one reason why people are less inclined to, combined with the one-hour rule. If anyone ever asked, I would just answer that I had something to eat before Mass as I was too hungry to wait, though really we should have the confidence to take the view that it is nobody else's business whether one goes to communion or not.

As for your young man in love with another - he can still be in love without having sex. It is not compulsory, though it is probably a good idea to avoid an "occasion of sin" - another useful concept that has been forgotten.

Clare Short said...

This is a post not so much about the universal call to holiness, but about pride. Holiness is something we must all strive for, lets not argue about that - but for some, pride is the biggest spiritual temptation that must be overcome. This is equally as ugly as addiction or adultery, and must be treated with the same charity. Love the sinner not the sin - even the people suffering from pride.

Palincor IG said...

If I've understood correctly, the point is no-one is outside God's mercy.

geneticallycatholic said...

I have been pondering your provocative post, Father. Sin and holiness...existing in the same person which, with the exception of Our Lord, and His Mother, they do.

So, for the rest of us, could it be the proportion of sin, and the proportion of holiness that exists in a person? I figured that I can define sin: mortal sins that sever our relationship with God, and venial sins, which hurt the relationship, but do not sever it.

But how does one define holiness? What is it? Is it the first commandment?
I googled 'the first commandment', and one of the first items that appeared was the link to the Vatican's site: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s2c1a1.htm, and the catechism of the Catholic Church. Interesting, sin and holiness are there in a nutshell. (CCC 2084 -CCC 2141).

I shall continue my ponderings on sin and holiness, using those the above cited CCCs.

By the way, what sprang to my mind when I read your post, was St. Peter's saying: Depart from me, Lord, I am a sinner. Peter recognized the Holiness of Our Lord, and his (Peter's) own sinful condition. Then there was Our Lord's merciful response - giving hope: Do not be afraid, from now on, you will be fishers of men.

This made me think about the nature of sin and holiness. I will continue to ponder.

George said...

The fire and brimstone Catholicism (mainly in reaction to the heretics running the Church today) is just as much part of the Devil's plan as the actions of the heretics themselves.

Think a second time about what Fr. Blake writes.

The good people of the Church today all almost all Jonahs praying fervently for God's justice to crash down upon humanity.

It's quite clever of the Devil. Convince the world to get lost in vice. And then create such a "bittergeist" amongst the faithful remnant as to close the door of hope to the Church to the fallen away. Brilliant.

Sandpiper said...

You are both wrong. I know the depth of God's love and promote unencumbered fertility among those of childbearing age within my own sphere. My point is that Catholics are facing a corrupted culture and corrupted churchmen and women in leadership positions and it seems only supernatural intervention will set things aright.

Jacobi said...

@ Sandpiper,

What you describe is close to reality. But a bit blunt !

So much comes back to this 100% trooping up in smiley disciplined rows to receive the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ - regardless of whether we are in a worthy state. This has got to stop!

My guess is that in the average UK Pauline Mass congregation, about 40% are in a state to receive Holy Communion, and that means 60% are not. Just as in my youth!

Fallen Human Nature does not change.

That 60% estimate is reached by using knowledge, observation, experience, and my God-given ability to judge.

But remember, we have the Holy Ghost, so don't panic!

George said...

"I know the depth of God's love"... is this blasphemy or heresy? So hard to tell sometimes.

"...only supernatural intervention will set things aright." The "supernatural intervention" already happened 2,000 years ago, and has been ongoing since, chiefly on the altars on Catholic churches.

Believe it or not, even during these dark times the Church's mission goes on. Salvation goes on.

At any rate, bravo to Fr. Blake for attempting to articulate something so profound that only the best literature can attempt explain.

viterbo said...

"Sweet the yoke and light the burden'.

Sinners seeking holiness/salvation are the Church. The ambiguity wrought upon every parish by VII (novelty/Protestant doctrine) and the Novus Ordo (novelty/Protestant worship) is what poisons the well of the would-be Catholic soul.

"He says, with a conscious laugh, "I suppose I am very heretical," and looks round for applause." 'Heretics' by Chesterton. A conscious laugh is no longer necessary before the applause.

Nesbyth said...

This is a highly perceptive article as to what has fundamentally changed since VatII. It's the attitude to the Blessed Sacrament, which is seen as an automatic entitlement at every Mass, received standing up after shuffling along in a queue (the Biscuit Queue I've heard it called).
This is all made possible by the "jolly parish get-together mood" of the Protestantised Mass
and by the disbanding of the 3 hour fasting rule, which as a poster (Physiocrat) has already mentioned.
There is no sense of awe and very little of the sacred in the way Communion is distributed in the Novus Ordo, nor in the new Eucharistic prayers nor in the Offertory prayers.

Gillineau said...

Perhaps people are staying away (the murderer demographic is, I too have found, largely evident by its absence these days, which has made Mass much less exciting, to be honest) because the vernacularised Mass has made Church teaching (and Christ's teaching) much more widely understood and people don't actually like it. The demands of Christ and the Church are hard, way hard, but when everything was said in an incomprehensible language (by a man with a thick Irish accent often enough), nobody knew that. So all sorts would turn up thinking 'I'm no saint but I think I'm ok here'. Now they know they're possibly not. Democratic politics has the same problem - as it has increased in comprehensibility, so it's participants have fallen away, as we now know that democracy is a smoke screen for corporate powermongering by an oxbridge/ ivy league elite and not for the redistribution of power and associated rights.

Arfer said...

First time reading, keeping my powder dry
far too lapsed anyway ..

two comments
1) were i to wait till I was holy enough, I'd never go up for the Eucharist

2) phillipjohnson's post has irked me

and I ask ask Father Blake to try to find a widget stamp called
"holier than thou" , to which he might be able to add to nauseating comments like:

"Cannot people control their passion and sinful ways?
The drunk,the homosexual,the adulterer and the like?

whom does phillip believe Christ came to save?

Scott said...

Let me suggest that you might be irked because you missed the main point of his comment: Everyone going to communion, almost none going to confession. Our Lord came to save sinners as you suggest, but He didn't come to pretend sins aren't sins as much of modernity is doing.

Physiocrat said...

Arfer, that is why we have confession. God loves the repentant sinner most of all.

Luke 15 : 11-31.

You can always unlapse and experience that love. It is there waiting for you now.

etheldredadrey said...

Hello Father, I am Orthodox, but I find your blog a great spiritual finding for me.
Similar ideas have been expressed by Orthodox priests here in Eastern Europe, usually blamed non surprisingly by many that they borrowed the ideas via ecumenism alone, that the Church it's corrupted because of the end time - to let anyone come to Church. The Orthodox point of view on homosexuality is that it's a "shameful sin", named as such by St. Paul and St. Peter in the New Testament - a sin so grave, that God is ashamed of such a person, abandons them to their demons to be consumed. However this all the more reason to help them for us baptized people and the Church.
My personal point of view is that to presume God's position and judge them we only repeat the root of all evil - the original sin (man thought of being God and was sent away for this pride; Christ brings a new hope of forgiveness for a new Adam in hope to never repeat this mistake again). Practicing non judging is crucial for a Christian, and is one of the points that I feel the Church is different than the modern sects of Christianity where the phrase "The Saints shall judge the world!" is used without cease, while in Church (and I don't believe it's a "method" of mind control from the priests, I think it was revealed repeatedly by the Holy Spirit through the Son) thinking about your own sins rather than the other's is a continuous teaching.
Every time we feel tested I think we are indeed. It's not that God created sinners to test others who can refrain from those sins, He can test us in way we can't imagine and He is said to do so in the end, but if the situations occurs and we have to decide again, same choice in Garden of Eden now in a sinful world of our own making, He is definitely watching. We received full forgiveness in baptism after all, what do we do with our cleansed soul? Keep it in the closet?
Because He saw how hard it is, close to impossible, to make the right choice outside of Heaven, He came to Sacrifice.
But the conscience aspect of the Eucharist I think it's expressed very clearly in the New Testament, and we can't run from it.
The press gets a lot of money and influence from twisting this into their own agenda and links every forgiveness in Church to controversial scandals, while people even Christians applaud them for their vigilance and amazing show. Times hard without doubt.
I think we live not necessarily to become Saints (Orthodoxy believes Grace to be initially Created and Faith only resurrects in our souls and this concurs with my beliefs), but to reconcile ourselves with God through Jesus Christ.
I am a woman, I can't go to Church in a certain period of month be it Christmas or Easter or personal tragedy, anything, I know that, I never break the rule and it doesn't anger me at all for this rule to exist. But a person so sick in sin, if they choose a Church over other places, to close the door to them makes no sense. If they want the Church to say it's not sin, it's normal, then of course I am against change, but one has to hear these words like the coughing of someone with a cold. With all the civil freedom and opportunities offered to them today, including strange religions like satanism, witchcraft, completely tolerant with what they do, even seeing spiritual power in their sins, if they come to Church, I think it's something.
I will end with a great steal from a priest(even though there's so much talk of it, officially the Church never discussed the Apocalypse, Second Coming, or anything like that): "If you believe we live in Apocalyptic times, why don't you behave according to this?"

TheOther said...

As one of those sinners who has stopped going to Mass for years now (but still believes in all of what the Church teaches), who indulges in sexual sin often (gay), but who still prays the rosary, I can tell you that the impression I get from the Church is not so much one of closed-doors and mean judgmental people, but apathy. People in general don't care.

If I wanted people to affirm me, I'd become Episcopalian. But given what Episcopalianism has to offer, what the hell is the point.

Fr Ray Blake said...

My prayers

TheOther said...

My heartfelt thanks. I'm in great need of it.

Kate said...

Dear TheOther,
I was just reading how prayers from strangers count a lot. My children and I will say a rosary for you this morning. It would be amazing if you became a saint.