Friday, 6 June 2014

Further Reflections

This morning, I wrote this post responding to news reports of a horrible discovery in Ireland. I was pleased to read this, by Caroline Farrow which makes the strong case that the picture is nowhere near as bad as first reports might have indicated. For this I am thankful to God and if I, myself, was too quick to believe the worst, I must ask God and my fellow Catholics' pardon for that.

The fact remains, however, as Farrow herself acknowledges, there was a culture, a culture to some degree fostered by the Church, in which real injustice to women who fell pregnant out of wedlock and, even worse, to their children was not merely done but was made to seem virtuous.

In his excellent book, Orthodoxy, G.K. Chesterton wrote about the way in which individual Christian virtues, stripped of their proper place within the over-all moral life, can become monstrous. As I said a few weeks back the essence of the virtues is that they are those habits which help us to live our life to its fullest. For this to happen, however, each virtue needs to fit within the overall context of a virtuous life, taken outside  of this context, it is easy for a single virtue to become demonic. As the old scholastic maxim put it "corruptio optimi pessima est" - the corruption of the best is the worst.

Catholic blogger, Mark Shea gives, what seems to me to be an excellent discussion of a culture where chastity, which, let me be clear, is a real virtue, was elevated above virtues like justice and charity.

Faced with this, other words of Chesterton seem highly apropos:

O God of earth and altar,
bow down and hear our cry,
our earthly rulers falter,
our people drift and die;
the walls of gold entomb us,
the swords of scorn divide,
take not thy thunder from us,
but take away our pride.

From all that terror teaches,
from lies of tongue and pen,
from all the easy speeches
that comfort cruel men,
from sale and profanation
of honor, and the sword,
from sleep and from damnation,
deliver us, good Lord!

Tie in a living tether
the prince and priest and thrall,
bind all our lives together,
smite us and save us all;
in ire and exultation
aflame with faith, and free,
lift up a living nation,
a single sword to thee.

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