Wednesday, 14 December 2011


''...I am not ok, and you are not ok.'' I think Mother Theresa said that. Some people who style themselves Christians (mostly nasty protestants) tend to think that as long as you're nice to people then everything is fine. No need to cultivate a sense of morality grounded in the Natural Law, a backbone, establish firm belief in the teachings of Christ's Church, attend Liturgy every Sunday, and humbly observe the liturgical feasts and fasts which envelope the seasons (nobody cares about months of sacred hearts or Joseph the working class git) - you know, no need to put on Christ as the Scriptures say. Everything is now, no need for a rhythm to life, fasting and feasting in due season; just go out every Friday for a piss up, hang on Saturday, spend money on Sundays, be nice to people, work, enjoy promiscuous sex with a series of life partners, get married in a registry office, get divorced (who cares about extra-marital sex, or the witness of Christ's Church? Since when did ''sanctifying grace'' come into marriage? It's just a civil contract between two random people who will probably fail to be rigidly monogamous, or later find some excuse to divorce), no need to put your moral and interpersonal proclivities to the test; no need to render obeisance to an established ecclesiastical authority, you can run your own moral life; take bits at random from various religions (like ''Karma''), and piece them together according to your own idle fancy. I often find that if it is hard to do, then it's usually the right decision. Not that this knowledge helps much when the time comes.

Of course given the morally dubious lifestyle I've chosen, I'm not really one to pontificate about morality, am I? Least of all to the many people out there who do not care for religion. Someone asked me the other day why I was so opposed to same-sex marriage - they often forget that I am a [lapsed] Catholic. Impossibility is something that doesn't enter their small minds. I believe that Marriage was instituted by God in the beginning of our innocence where a man and a woman establish between themselves a lifelong partnership, for their good, the good of the Church, the good of society, and for the procreation and upbringing of children. A valid marriage is therefore inextricably for two parties who are ontologically male and ontologically female, with no grey areas. No human authority has the right or power to ''redefine'' marriage in order to make concessions to pressure groups here and there in the name of ''equality.'' How could it be equal? Men cannot carry children, neither can women sire them; and surrogacy is no substitute. But God help the children who are raised by same sex partners. He alone knows what kind of psychological trauma and confusion they must be put to. Same sex marriage would bring the backbone of society crashing down, and I am not cynical or paranoid. This is why I do not identify with or support the LGBT movement - but I have my foot in both camps, apparently; doomed to forever straggle the two, in the knowledge that I'll never belong to either one. Oh well.

Unless I am quite mistaken most religious people are born into a religion and die in the same. Fr Chadwick was talking about this yesterday, that for them it provides stability, or something. For my part I am tired and bitter, lethargic in a wilderness of fear, uncertainty and disinclination. I still cling to the moral teachings of the Roman church, for they seem (for the most part) wise, grounded in Scripture, and in accord with my own conscience; but I have now no more real reason to adhere to them anymore than the relativistic moral teachings of any other mainstream Christian denomination. I went to Mass every Sunday for eleven years - this past year I have seriously let the side down. I used to blame my chronic lack of sleep, and getting up at 4:30am is no treat five days a week; but even upon waking I know this is not the reason. It's a moral and religious choice of the utmost import to which I make the wrong answer, where before there was no question. Do we go to Mass to render hearty thanks unto God, to partake in religious conduct of the highest order and ceremonial? Do we go to Mass to stand in the midst of the saints and adore the Eucharistic God at the sacring, and approach the Table of the Lord with a true penitent heart and receive that holy Sacrament? Or do we go to Mass simply to act as liturgical spectators, pronouncing judgements upon the follies, misgivings and mistakes of others, and afterwards congratulating one another over a pink gin or two? Such questions as these (and they are cogent) never used to bother me, and Mass attendance on Sundays and feasts was just ''the done thing,'' as was assistance with the preparation and serving of the Liturgy. Is it a sin to be too scandalized by others? I am probably the most intolerant person in England and generally take ill any meddling, but being part of a renewal process, in a tiny (albeit famous) corner of the West meant something to me - although I guess that the fruits of such small efforts as these are only measurable if you're in the correct place in the first place, although that is beside the point. I hate not being needed, or being of no accord.

I did have a point...oh yes. So what do I do now? I'm tired of this wood between the worlds and the sight of so many pools. I want to belong. The Sackville-Bagginses may be ignorant, prejudiced and generally disagreeable, but that can be said of all of us. We're all hobbits together, even if some of us like tweed and others cheap cable knit jumpers. It reminds me of that song the Silvan Elves made of the estrangement of the Ents and the Entwives when the Great Darkness came in the North. The Ents desired the wide woodland halls and the mountain slopes; the Entwives desired order, with well tended gardens and orchards. It is a strange and sad story, which Treebeard told to the hobbits Merry and Pippin when they escaped the battle of the Orcs with the men of Rohan. The last stanza goes:

Together we will take the road that leads into the West,
And far away will find a land where both our hearts may rest.

I hope this post is comprehensible. I just sat down and typed it, and have no inclination to go through and edit it.

Art: Ted Nasmith. A painting of Rivendell from a J.R.R Tolkien kalendar which is based on a watercolour Tolkien himself painted of that fair valley; a place where the regal history of Middle-earth is remembered by Elrond, master of lore, and the people subject to him. Lórien is different in the sense that the land itself seems wrought of that history, that it lives still, rather than consigned to the books. I guess this would be synonymous with the difference between liturgical study and living a truly liturgical life. The former is a praiseworthy feat and could render great service to Christ's Church, but becomes stagnant, almost evil, when it renders you bare of all charity, and bethought of bitterness.


  1. Patricius; the church doesn't need us, Jesus doesn't need us. We need the church.

  2. If I weren't an fat old troll, sure, I'd get "married". Maybe I should wear a burqa -- it might increase my odds. Drat! The burqa is illegal in Quebec.

    Anyway, what bothers me about "gay marriage" is that, at least for many gay men, it's state sponsored polyamory. Regardless of sexual proclivity, men aren't by nature monogamous. Heterosexual relationships (in theory) provide checks and balances to keep the man in the relationship. These checks don't exist in gay relationships. So, chances are two "married" men are still sleeping around. Handling petri dishes was hazardous enough in high school lab. Would I want to spend quality time with a VD culture, let alone sleep with him?

  3. You would make a brilliant Anglo Catholic. You could do the Tridentine Mass every day, have all the "smells and bells" you like and yet still disagree with the Pope... it's a win win.

    P.S. Glad to see a person putting the teaching of the Church over themselves... true sacrifice is rarely easy but it has it's rewards.

  4. Patricii, i do not believe at all that religion, esp. catholicism, is about obeying moral precepts. Christianity is foreall a liturgical and sacramental religion, thus Worship - celebrating the divine mysteries -comes first; dogma and moral teaching are secondary and tertiary. Marriage is not an absolute value: in the next life it won't even exist. And, as the Council of Trent states, the primary goal of marriage is the mutual support and affection which the two give each other. If one does not which to call the quasi-matrimonial relationship of two persons of the same sex ''marriage'', so be it, but i find it unjust to bedrugde such persons that mutual support and affection to which the Council refers. As for bringing up children, it seems not aboslutely necessary, but only more fitting, that children be brought in the same way as most children in a given human society, if only to avoid the social alienation or humiliation of the children. Nontheless, traumas abound in conventional parenting! I know from first-hand experience, what a hell heterosexual family life can be. Let us not be blinded by prejudice to the terrible disfuncionality of many conventional families, even religious ones! Ubi amor, ibi Deus est, regardless of biological gender, and the opposite is also true: Ubi non est amor, ibi Deus abest. A former professor of mine - a traditional Catholic! - Monsignor Bruno Gherardini wrote the following regarding the magisterium and conscience (this is just one paragraph out of the article):

  5. The limit of a magisterial intervention is in its technical formulation as well. In order for it to be truly magisterial, whether or not it defines a dogma, the intervention must resort to a formula that is henceforth rendered valid, which makes clear, without any uncertainty whatsoever, the intention to speak as “Pastor and Teacher of all Christians in a matter of Faith and Morals, by virtue of our apostolic Authority,” if the pope is the one speaking; or makes clear with equal certainty, for example in the case of an Ecumenical Council, through the customary formulas of dogmatic assertion, the intention of the Council Fathers to connect the Christian Faith with Divine Revelation and its uninterrupted transmission. In the absence of such conditions, one can speak about the Magisterium only in a broad sense: not every written or spoken word of the pope is necessarily magisterial; and the same should be said for Ecumenical Councils, quite a few of which either spoke not at all about dogma or else not exclusively; sometimes they grafted the dogma onto a context of internal diatribes and personal or partisan disputes, which rendered absurd their magisterial claim within said context. Even today we get a distinctly negative impression from an Ecumenical Council of indisputable dogmatic and Christological importance like the Council of Chalcedon, which spent most of its time in a shameful struggle over personalities and who takes precedence, over deposing some and rehabilitating others; dogma is not found in that Chalcedon. Nor is it dogma when the pope, speaking as a private person [in the book-length interview Light of the World], declares that “Paul did not see the Church as an institution, as organization, but as a living organism, in which everyone works for the other and with the other, being united on the basis of Christ.” Exactly the opposite is true, and it is well known that the first institutional form was structured by Paul as a pyramid precisely in order to foster the living organism: the apostle at the top, then the episkopoi-presbyteroi, the hegoumenoi, the proistamenoi, the nouthetountes and diakonoi [bishops, priests, leaders, superiors, advisors and deacons]. These distinctions among responsibilities and offices are not yet defined exactly, but they are already distinctions within an institutionalized organism. In this case too, it should be quite clear, the Christian’s attitude is one of respect and, at least in principle, also of adherence. If however the conscience of an individual believer finds it impossible to approve of a statement such as the one presented above, this does not involve rebellion against the pope or the denial of his magisterial authority: it only means that that statement is not magisterial.

  6. At the end of the day the Christian religion is about love, and it is to that end that the sacred liturgy is orientated.

  7. Albertus, I respect your views on same-sex unions. However, your views hint at an idealistic view of the way in which these relationships might work. On the ground and in the street of “gay villages” there's a great loneliness. These streets groan with a profound void of true affection that cannot be shouted over with slogans of “pride”. We gay people must admit that our lust is “looksist” and obsessed with youth. What many gay men call “love” is really slavery, a codependent bondage that will not outlast hairs turned mottled gray, wrinkles gathered about the face, and the inevitable weight accumulation of age. How many gay twentysomething and thirtysomething gay couples will struggle through their “marriages”, instead of leaving for some other studs when the sexual appetite fades?

    And so, what are we mere sexual dalits called to do? Upon the death of Ambrose St. John in 1875, Cardinal Newman wrote the famous line: “From the first he loved me with an intensity of love, which was unaccountable.” There is more to this paragraph, however. Newman continues: “At Rome 28 years ago he was always so working for and relieving me of all trouble, that being young and Saxon-looking, the Romans called him my Angel Guardian. As far as this world was concerned I was his first and last. He has not intermitted this love for an hour up to his last breath.”

    I interpret Newman's paragraph as a confirmation of the continual spiritual regeneration afforded by a chaste relationship between two men grounded in Christ and the sacraments, living “as the angels” per the Russian saying. Martha labored in the kitchen, but we are the Marys of the world: sitting at Christ's feet we called to the mutual enrichment that is a true love which is participatory in a similar way to marriage, but in some respects even more intellectually and spiritually passionate.

  8. Albertus,

    It makes no sense to compare dysfunctional heterosexual parents to "functional" same-sex "parents". Opposing same-sex unions does not mean one thinks broken and dysfunctional natural unions are somehow acceptable.they aren't, but inventing same-sex "marriage" does nothing to ameliorate this tragic problem.

    Would you give up either your mother or your father? I wouldn't. Every child needs a mum and a dad, and two mums and dads, no matter how caring, cannot replace them.

  9. JM - couldn't agree more. Thank you.