23 November 2015

A snatch of autobiography

When the first wave of Anglican priests was in preparation to be admitted to the presbyterate of the Ordinariate, we all had to go, one by one, to a Church-run centre in Manchester for 'psychometric' evaluation.

During one of my interviews, the clergyman interviewing me asked whether there was any part of the Church's teaching that I had difficulty with. Bishop Newton had very strongly advised us all to be totally honest, so I said "Well, there is something. I have no trouble accepting it theoretically, but I do have problems internalising it, feeling it. To tell you the truth, I feel a little embarrassed mentioning this ... "

"Out with it", he invited, looking extremely interested, leaning slightly forward. So I explained.

"Particularly when I'm in a big, bustling crowd, I look at all those faces, all apparently with their own preoccupations, everybody pushing and kicking everybody else, and I get Big Doubts. I wonder if it really can be true that God has an individual and salvific and interlocking purpose for each and every one of them. I know, intellectually, that He does ... but .... well ..... particularly in the London rush hour ......"

"No no no", he replied, perhaps a trifle impatiently. All interest had now faded from his face. "I meant Sex".

I resisted the temptation to invent some ridiculously intricate sexual problem.

It had become clear to me that those controlling the process of 'evaluation' had little interest in grilling us to check that we were not closet Monothelites, or a bit dodgy on the question of Usury, or with tendencies to Palamism; but a great concern about our complete conformity to the Church's official teaching on all matters sexual.

I entirely applaud this. How different things would probably have been in, say, 1972.

But I have been puzzling, during this last Synod and in its aftermath in which many participants have been making their respective pitches for controlling the narrative. Why was it so recently deemed so important to check that Ordinariate clergy are 150% orthodox on all questions sexual, while, apparently, Out There some bishops and even cardinals are working day and night to rubbish the Magisterium on such matters? Why, during our 'formation' sessions at Allen Hall, did we have to spend our time being repeatedly, over and over again, drilled on "the post-Conciliar Magisterium", our adherence to Familiaris Consortio, and all the rest of it, when now, only a couple of years later, so many crucial parts of those same documents (in the view of not a few prelates especially in Europe) need to be dumped? At considerable expense, many volumes of teaching aids were provided for our edification from Maryvale ... is it now intended that we should all make a bonfire of them ... so much useless rubbish ...

I never did get an answer to my problem about the London rush hour. It is still with me.


Jacob said...

I share your problem, Father. Sometimes it's just very hard for me to believe that all the faces I walk past on the street are more than just mere faces that populate the world around me. It's a weird, strange thought.

Liam Ronan said...

I suspect, Father, that the schizoid treatment of Ordinariate priests by some in the Magesterium is somewhat akin to the Irish perception of all who were not native-born in Eire, no matter how many years in residence, as 'blow-ins'.

I have a neighbour who is 60 and has lived in Ireland since the age of 2. Born in Scotland, he is referred to as a 'blow in', i.e. not now nor ever will be truly 'from here'.

Theological shibboleth speakers all. Be grateful you don't talk the talk.

Kathleen1031 said...

Yes, that's the thing that gets everybody's attention, yes? How telling, only that topic was worth hearing about. I'm sure you are correct, if this was 1972, you probably would have been asked to make sure you were not too orthodox in your ideas on the topic. You might have been shown the door. I take it this person was making sure you were on the orthodox side of things? But then to see the viewpoints at the Synod...how odd life is sometimes. Some things we'd just as soon not know but there they are, forcing us to look at them.
It's so interesting to know your thoughtful question, the one that we all likely share at one time or another. Many times others don't look loveable to me, and it makes me wonder how God can keep track of us all, and, why would He want to, in some cases. Our souls must be beautiful, even if the rest of us isn't. Maybe after purgatory we shine like the sun.

khkcomments said...

I'm one of those faces.

John Vasc said...

Father, your rush-hour tube problem is one I feel daily, and I am so happy it's not just me. My only solution is to bow my head, think of Calvary, and say the Rosary invisibly, including all in the carriage in my intentions. However, any instinct to smile beatifically round at one's fellow-passengers must be stoutly checked, for fear of prompting a general stampede to the alarm handle...

Ben of the Bayou said...

Dear Father H.,

I submit to you that the frame of reference of this question may be not a little influenced by the religious indifferentism, noted by S Pius X to be characteristic of Modernism.

English Catholic said...

Father, speaking of usury, I'd be very interested to hear your opinion on this:


He argues that usury is any act of lending money for interest where the borrower is on the hook personally. (Which obviously includes all mortgages, credit cards, car loans, etc, at least in this country.) It is not merely charging a very high rate of interest, or lending to very poor people, or anything like that.

Of course, the Church teaches that usury is a grave sin, we all know that. The interesting thing is how we define usury. He goes for a very broad definition -- the one St Thomas and others used -- and argues it (to this layman's mind) convincingly.

He also points out that the liberals love to argue that the Church's definition of usury changed, and that as a result there was a de facto change in teaching. They claim this is a precedent for contraception, divorce, etc. Neo-modernism, of course, but even good trads seem to believe it about usury.

But the definition hasn't changed, he says. It's just that nobody pays it any attention any more.

Very interesting.

Mariana said...

"....so many crucial parts of those same documents (in the view of not a few prelates especially in Europe) need to be dumped"

This, and other things that need to be dumped, never ceases to amaze us converts. I hope it is the last gasp of cradle-but-hippie small c catholics.

AndrewWS said...

I endure the London tube and train crowds every weekday. They (towards whom I am indifferent or by whom I am inordinately annoyed) remind me that my lack of love for my fellow human beings makes my claims to love God bogus. As such, I should be grateful for them.