A Catholic-themed opinion blog about various topics, including theology, philosophy, politics and culture, from a Thomistic perspective.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The English Tragedy

I love England. Its culture, history, landscape, accents, character, and the myriad other great qualities it possesses. But it is deeply tragic that England has been separated from the Catholic Church, and for so long, with never a truly meaningful reason for their disunion. The English people before King Henry VIII had a long, rich heritage of inspiring Catholic faith, even up till the very end with St. Thomas More, an exemplification of their capacities for holiness. Because of their estrangement from the Catholic Church, England has slowly seen a degradation in their moral and spiritual depth as a people. Fortunately, the Anglican communion attempted to mirror the Catholic Church, which gave them a sense of dignity that has gradually degraded over time. Now, they seem to be spiraling into near-libertarianism, permitting anything and everything. But, England is not evil, and is not completely immoral. They are still generally good people, as are all humans. They still have a conscience, decent social laws and remnants of their Catholic-esque sense of dignity - these factors guide the English people to be, for the most part, good. But their free permission of so many things - which then equates to the degeneration of their interest in things like charity - is tragic, and it ultimately derives from their separation from the Catholic Church. Naturally, immortality has existed in all cultures and human arenas throughout history, even in the Catholic clergy. So England being Catholic did not and would not prevent immorality. But without a reason or motivation to be moral, both in the sense of avoiding sin and acting charitably, especially when it may cause personal suffering or loss, requires a specific spiritual motivation that England lacks. And the longer they lack it, the less moral they become, as does any nation. Europe as a whole is falling into this pit that began to be dug in the Renaissance, particularly by the Reformation. There is hope, however. As I said England, and all of Europe, still has good people in it, many of which are spiritual even if they are not Christian. And recently, a large group of Anglicans rejoined the Catholic Church, which is truly a great victory for the Church and England. We can only pray that England's inevitable pitfalls from its growing immorality can be avoided and that it can be reunited with the Church, or at least to some sense of Christian morality and spirituality. God bless.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Purifications During Lent

As most Catholics are aware, it is traditional during the Lent season (the 40 days prior to Easter) to try to cleanse ourselves of sinful habits we have formed, particularly one that is most bothering us. All Catholics have such habits of course, even the most highly devout - even saints had sinful habits they had to work on. It is apart of being human; we all require salvation. And through admitting our faults and proceeding to work on them, we build our character and virtue, as well as our connection with God, one another, and ourselves in love.

I did not come to the Church from birth. I became Catholic through RCIA. Before that, though I did have some conscience taught to me by my parents, I had no religion; I lived as I wished, and was largely unrestricted. During this time, I was also primarily atheistic. I developed many sinful habits over that period that deeply wounded me and still haunt me now, that I must work on daily - things I am ashamed of, both visible and secret sins, and that I must continuously pray for God's help to get through and unlearn. I am still trying to find the best method to train the mind to forget these habits and replace them with virtuous living, and I pray everyday that I will be able to work through them and that anyone else dealing with such things - as all people do - may work through their sinful habits as well.

As an ongoing work, and as an opportunity to intensify my effort, I am trying to use this Lent season to purify myself of these sinful habits, erroneous mindsets and lifestyles that I have established. It is incredibly difficult, and requires constant diligence and force of will to overcome. By God's help, I feel I am making progress. But it invovles confronting my problems directly, face-to-face, not making a mistake and ignoring or avoiding it but facing it - otherwise, I will never understand my problems, and thus can never overcome them. This is particularly difficult, as these confrontations sometimes cause me to be deeply depressed or angry and sometimes lose sight of God. But once I have contemplated my problem, understood it, I then not only return to God fully, but in a deeper way, with a clean heart. As Christ said, "The pure of heart shall see God," and as John Henry Newman taught, our faith and character are strengthened when we face our doubts and habits, and overcome them. I attempt to follow this as best I can, with the prayerful guidance and aid of God and the saints.

In RCIA, I actually looked forward to being able to utilize the Sacraments and the direct spirituality they grant to repair my sinful habits. During RCIA, I realized what I did was wrong, but often lacked the spiritual support or personal will to overcome them. But since I have been fully in the Church, I feel the Holy Spirit's guiding hand in my life, aiding me with my prayers and intentions to be better, and I adore the cleansing, healing power of the Sacraments as the Body of Christ nourishes my body that is filled with the wounds of sin, and the water of my Baptism and fire of my Confirmation cleanse me of my habits. Many talk about this process as immoral, too difficult or undesirable, as a reason for them to not be Catholic. But to me, I longed for the chance to be rid of my sinful habits while in RCIA, and am deeply happy with the chance to literally pursue this desire as a full member of the Body of Christ.

I offer up my prayers in the fullness of my spirit for all those this Lent season struggling to live through, deal with and overcome their sins and sinful habits, and I ask the wonderful, beautiful, caring and gentle Virgin Mother Mary to intercede for me.

God bless.