Monday, 29 July 2013

Old Treasures and New

In living (though aging) memory, Catholic children in the Netherlands were afraid to receive Communion if they had accidentally swallowed something. I remember refreshments still being consumed just before the Bishop arrived (late) to celebrate Mass at a formation centre for priests, deacons and pastoral workers.

After the Second World War, Catholics declined to rent cheap apartments because it would entail living under one roof with people of the opposite sex and not of the same family. More recently, a cohabitating man with two children approached the Bishop to ask about becoming a deacon, and was surprised to hear that he should marry (though quite ready to do so). No one had ever told him.

Casuistry, according to Fr. Cessario O.P., ‘came to a screeching (though unpublicized) end about fifty years ago’. Many strictures went with it. Few people would want all of them back. On the other hand, to what degree can a priest rely on the old moral theology, if so much of it was too narrow to be applicable now? To what degree can he rely on pre-Tridentine moral theology? What thoughtful person will sort out overly lax and overly fussy from right judgments about human choices – not merely as a series of judgments ad hoc, but referring back to first principles about the human person, virtue, intellect and will? Speaking not only about the recognizable human virtues, but also the resilient-yet-fragile divine secrets which we call the supernatural virtues?

And equally importantly: now the supporting institutions and mindsets have all collapsed, who will be brave, wise and loud enough to proclaim to all God’s people where the kingdom of charity draws its outer boundaries?

Every scribe who has been trained (instructed) for the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.

1 comment:

  1. Cf. R.R. Reno's excellent article: