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April 12, 2004

Comments

Peter Nixon

Megan's still awake too. She's come out of her room six or seven times so far this evening to ask me some terribly important question. My parents tell me she takes after her father.

I think your thoughts are good ones, and it's why the quote from Governor Ridge I posted earlier today struck me: "I'm the one who created the problem, because I've moved away from my Church on this issue." Ridge and Kerry may ultimately share the same policy position with regard to abortion, but they seem to experience the gap between themselves and the Church differently.

I suppose we're less inclined these days to take claims of authority--ecclesiastical or otherwise--at face value. There are some very good reasons for that, but were not as humble about the consequences as we should be.

I remember something that John Garvey, the Orthodox priest who writes for Commonweal once wrote: "The Tradition is bigger than you are and it makes claims on you far more than you can make claims on it." Garvey is, obviously, hardly an ultramontanist. His is contrary wisdom, for an age perhaps in need of it.

I think Megan may finally be down, and I better be getting that way myself. Good luck with the solitaire...:-)

Ken

In Brideshead Revisited, the father comes home to die after many years of living with his mistress in Italy. Someone objects when the children bring in the priest, who responds that he's never seen anyone not want him at the time of death. Sure enough, the old man gives a sign of repentance and receives absolution. Maybe that's the way of it as often as not, or was before we cluttered up the deathbed with a dozen tubes, needles, and pretenses.

Ken

In Brideshead Revisited, the father comes home to die after many years of living with his mistress in Italy. Someone objects when the children bring in the priest, who responds that he's never seen anyone not want him at the time of death. Sure enough, the old man gives a sign of repentance and receives absolution. Maybe that's the way of it as often as not.

Earl E. Appleby, Jr.

The Good Thief snatched heaven from hell in the last moments of his life. Let's pray that this gifted writer and wandering soul has done the same. While I am admittedly skeptical towards a clergy of skeptics, something--Someone?--tells me, "Why call a priest before death if he is not a priest?"

Requiescat in pacem.

Therese

Amy, well put.

Intellectual honesty would be nice on the part of more who disagree with the Church or who personally cannot abide by the Church's teachings. It would be nice if they would respect the tact that for those who believe in the one, Holy, Apostolic Church, the Church is the ONLY Place we have to worship. Those who dissent from Church teachings, who believe the Church has no special teaching or doctrinal authority, who no longer embrace an apostolic church but rather yearn for a democratic church where popular edict makes things right, who belive that sacraments are but symbols, the eucharist a nice get together and meal -- all of these people have other options for worship. There are many protestant churches that embrace such beliefs. The Catholic Church is the ONLY place those that hold to an apostolic church can worship. Why are they not intellectually honest and just realize they have parted ways? Why do they have to strive to conform the Church to their ways?

Colleen

"Why do they have to strive to conform the Church to their ways?"

I think maybe spiritual and/or intellectual pride? It seems far more honest and non hypocritical to be where Mr. Greene was at: knowing that you cannot or do not want to overcome whatever sin(s) own you but knowing that fact and acknowledging that there stands the Church (Jesus Christ=Truth) on the horizon waiting for you always.

I think that Mr. Greene had the God given grace that Mr. Kerry has not received... but maybe he hasn't asked for it? Maybe we could pray for Mr. Kerry's intentions.

Out of curiousity I wonder regarding Mr. Kerry's belief about the Eucharist... if it is what the Church says it is then it should give him pause for thought (and abstaining) and (stealing from Ms. O'Connor) if not, then the hell with it.

Whitcomb

Interesting post and links on Graham Greene.

One issue they raise, in my mind, is the futility of the church trying to censure certain writers or, alternately, trying to dictate to Catholics which books they should read or movies they should see.

I recall in particular the church's objection, in the 1960s, to "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" for its unsparing portrait of a dysfunctional, nay, disintegrating, marriage. This play and film, in the church's eyes, was about one step removed from being "condemned."

It has always puzzled me why the church would try to tell adults what to read or see. I suppose the thinking was (is?) that a book or film could undermine faith and thus should be avoided at all costs. Books can certainly change the way someone looks at the world and might lead or contribute to moral ambiguity or even rejection of the faith. But that is the risk you run. The alternative is pap--books that merely offer reassuring nostrums and do not grapple with moral questions.

A priest in my parish several years ago was, to many eyes, a great moral failure. He had a recurring problem with alcohol. He fell off the wagon many times. Last I heard he was drying out again.

He was not one to talk about his own problems; that would have been too touchy-feely for him. But why do I remember his Masses and homilies from five years ago, while the ones from two Sundays ago are but a dim memory? I suspect it's because God brought this man and his anguish to us in order that we might see Him. Rather like Greene's whiskey priest.


Couple of posters recount the

Whitcomb

No cliffhanger intended with previous post--just some scribble.

Mary Jane

I think there are a couple of issues at work here. The first is the abolition of Hell and Purgatory (I believe they closed down for business in 1968). Consequently, my present actions will have no eternal consequences. We all just go to some sort of "Happy Hunting Ground."

The second is that we really don't believe that there are things that are absolutely right or absolutely wrong. It's all a big "maybe" and "well, there are so many different circumstances..." Besides, if an absolute position would make anyone anywhere "feel bad," it's obviously got to go because I can't stand for anyone's feelings to be hurt. Greene's characters live with their sins, well aware that they are sins (and therefore can be repented of). We don't have any.

TSO

Pope JPII once wrote, "The present-day mentality, more perhaps than that of people in the past, seems opposed to a God of mercy, and in fact tends to exclude from life and to remove from the human heart the very idea of mercy."

And it seems as though if someone doesn't believe in mercy then they can't much believe in sin because otherwise the tension between who we think we are (basically good) and who we really are (sinners) has to be squeezed to a small, palatable distance.

Excellent post Amy, you've nailed it once again.

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