Yesterday’s discussion was an interesting one. For many years I have maintained what my forefathers, and indeed the forefathers of most Christians have maintained across a range of moral issue: no contraception; abortion only on those rare occasions when a mother’s life really is at risk; the indissolubility of marriage; no pre-marital sex – and so on. The fact is that whilst I have said (and acted upon) these things, the world has steadily moved in the other direction. I can (and as Mrs S will confirm, have done so) rail against the decline in morals and declare that the world is going to the dogs, but is there some point at which some kind of reality check would be a useful thing?
The parallel here is with that huge list of rule that those churches with canon law have. I am unsure what, other than the ability to say that with these rule I am not like other sinners without them, purpose is served by having lists of rules by which no one abides. I say this reluctantly, because obviously one purpose is to establish what is and is not good Christian behaviour; but if the preaching and rules are failing, does the failure lie with the world (as I tend to maintain) or with us?
Where is that change of heart which we say our Faith produces? If so many of our own people find it difficult to hold to the moral rules which we teach, then easy and tempting as it is to blame the world, do we have no part in this? It has always been easier to take the worldly view, and Christians have always warned against this. But is it, perhaps the case that without the sanction of the secular law, even our own people will not abide by Christian teaching? That seems to be the lesson. But then, if we look at the history of the people of Israel, it was always thus – the prophets were constantly lamenting their shortcomings, and predicting doom. So perhaps it was always thus?
If we cannot give the example ourselves in the way we live (as opposed to the words we say) of why the Christian way is better than that of the world, then our preaching will be in vain; we must live Christianity, not just preach it.
Not even in my most contrarian mood can I manage to reach the position of arguing we should abandon the right because people will not follow it – because it was always thus; the majority have always found it hard to follow the narrower path and easy to take the wide primrose one which leads the destruction. There are times I wonder whether that is the reality of the narrow gate – that unless one has that change of heart which allows one to take courage and live the Christian life, then salvation is lost?
We cannot, I think, frighten people into belief and good behaviour. We can only persuade them by our example. To be fair to the world, it is doing its part to show how ghastly its alternative morality is, and what its results are. So if we stand firm and live as we ought, then we set an example which others, despairing of the world, may well come to see is preferable.
David B. Monier-Williams said:
Yes, The Catholic Church has rules that are counter-balanced by the Sacraments, which when used lead to an ever improving Christian life that can be seen and used for others to follow. There will always be those that choose not to follows rules of any kind in any context. We do not nor will not change the rules to satisfy the world.
Conversion is mainly be the love you have for others…and it ain’t no quick fix.
Servus Fidelis said:
It seems to me that ‘rule books’ or judgments given by a Church concerning rights and wrongs, goods and evils and the such are there, not so much to condemn a Christian soul in this world but to allow a soul to see clearly where they have failed; where they have substituted a love of self for the Love of God, considered their own desires higher than their neighbors, and even preferred self-abuse rather than regard their own human purpose with the dignity that they have been given due entirely to the Love of our God and His willingness to undergo His agony and death on the Cross.
So the church has an obligation to lay out the obstacles for the laity that they should avoid. We will fail and then try again if we are like most Christians as we try to conquer one sin after another. That we are called to be perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect is a tall order that we cannot attain without the Grace of God and without a lot of effort from us.
If we say we love God above all else (which includes ourselves) then we should not be surprised when we are shown quite plainly that this is not so as we proceed to fail at one sin or another. We use all the right words and sing all the right hymns to get us impassioned but when it comes to daily living we constantly are shown that our love of self is disordered and our perceived love of God is far below that which is demanded of the Christian soul.
So that the ‘rule book’ is largely ignored is neither here nor there. It is there for those Christian souls who wish to get on the road to salvation and work on improving their lives by dying to self and sacrificing all for the love of God. It is a process and one need not judge the rule book by any set point in time: better to see the fruits of the saints over the ages if you want to judge its efficacy.
St Bosco said:
Our celibate clergy knows what is best concerning sexual activities of heterosexual couples eg, contraceptives. If the CC says its wrong……it must be wrong. Even if the couple has enough kids and cant afford more, my beloved CC says they have to have more of wind up in hell when they die.
Our clergy know what is best for married couples because they are experts on the subject.Thank you Virgin Queen
Carl D'Agostino said:
SALES “We can only persuade them by our example. ”
Probably more effective conversion technique and all the theology, rules, costumes, requirements and convoluted thinking…
Geoffrey RS Sales said:
I’d hope so – but some think not 🙂