Tuesday 28 July 2009

The Irrationality of Dawkins...

Have a look at the transcript of a discussion between Richard Dawkins and David Quinn (with thanks to the CTS for alertineg me of this.

Tuesday 21 July 2009

Terry's problem...

Many (eg Fr Finigan, James Preece, Damian Thompson et al) have posted about the odd fact of an employee of the Catholic Church charged with supporting marriage... attacking the Church's teaching on marriage.

I think the heart of Terry's problem is to be found in this revealing sentence: "We all have something to add and, ultimately, we all have to make our own minds up about the paradigm that works for us."

Here he reveals his philosophy: subjective and relativist. That is simply not compatible with Catholicism or any serious Christianity, for it denies the teaching authority of the Church, the authority of Scripture, the authority of Christ, the authority of God...

Thursday 16 July 2009

Sola Fide?

I was chatting with an evangelical protestant friend a while back and (I can't remember what I'd said to provoke it) he suddenly commented: 'Careful: that sounds like you can be meritorious!'

He said it in that jokey way we use when we correct someone who we know has used a turn of phrase that is inadvertently heretical. It didn't occur to him that I might think any action of a mere human could have merit, in the sense of contributing to his salvation. That was such a basic error, in his mind, that it was unthinkable that someone halfway intelligent could believe it.

For he has been brought up on the doctrine of Sola Fide - one of the great battle cries of the Reformation.

And why was it a battle cry? Precisely because Catholic teaching was, is, and ever shall be that in fact we can contribute to our own and others' salvation: we can perform actions of real merit. This Luther reacted against: even to the extent of altering the Bible (adding the word alone where St Paul says we are saved by Faith); and condemning the Epistle of St james as an Epistle of Straw!

Of course we are saved by Faith - but not by Faith alone. Without Charity, for example, we are lost. The Catholic belief is that we are saved by grace alone: everything is a gift from God. But one of His gifts is the honour and dignity of being able to cooperate with Him in our salvation, and in that of others.

The principle way in which we do this is by the offering of the sacrifice of the Mass, both for the living and the dead: this was at the heart of what Luther and subsequent Protestantism attack. Their Communion Services are explicitly of no merit: which is one of the many reasons why until very recently Catholics were not permitted to attend them: a discipline I believe could usefully be reinstated.

Sola Fide is strangely unBiblical: try to think how many times Our Lord points out that it is what we do (give these little ones a drink in my name) not just what we profess ('many shall say to me Lord, Lord...') that gains us entry to the kingdom of Heaven...

Wednesday 15 July 2009

Prayers Please!

Of your charity pray for the repose of the souls of Geoff Wilkinson and his daughter Victoria, who died following a sailing accident on Sunday.

Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis.

Pray too for Geoff's widow, Catherine, and their two surviving children.

Sunday 5 July 2009

Obligation, obedience and love

Further reflecting on this, I think that another reason for the obligation is that it offers us an opportunity to be obedient.

This is a very unfashionable virtue today, but one we are constantly told that Christ Himself exercised: obedient unto death...

I believe obedience is actually a necessary component of love: wives obey your husbands, for example. The submission of our own will to that of someone else is so hard for us -and so good for us.

Obligation or Love?

In a response to a recent post of mine on Holydays of Obligation, a reader has suggested that obligation is the wrong idea, as we should go to Mass out of love for Our Lord.

It seems unanswerable, but in fact I believe it to be profoundly misguided - and the reason is this:

The Catholic Church is a Church for sinners; for would-be saints who are very much 'work in progress;' and sometimes that progress is rather slow...

In her wisdom, Holy Mother Church has laid down certain minimum obligations to help us. Of these the Sunday (and Holyday) obligation is the most obvious.

Of course we should want to go out of love; but some of us don't always feel that way - and if we drift, we deprive ourselves of grace and others of our presence and support, and it is easier - far easier - to drift into sin almost unnoticed as we see things in an ever more worldly light.

I compare it to my marriage vows: of course I love my wife, and in my better moments would do nothing to hurt and everything to support her. But the reality is that there are times when I would gladly bean her with a frying pan or simply walk away. The vows help: they help me to stay true to what I really want, long-term, even when in the short term I might prefer something - or God forbid, someone - else. Yes, I should stay faithful out of love; and indeed, measured over the long term that is what I have done. But in the short term it has been the dreadful prospect of breaking the vows and shattering the marriage that has sometimes helped me walk away from temptation - and I don't think I'm unique in this.

By the same token, there have certainly been periods in my life when I have gone to Mass out of obligation - but that has kept me within reach of the Church - and led to reconciliation and further outpourings of grace to help me on my slow progress...