Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Don't Break the Ten Commandments Anyway

In case you are wondering why traddies like me tear our hair and rend our garments and throw ourselves out the window into the snow and roll around wailing and generally making a spectacle of ourselves, it is because of homilies like this:

(Source: Vatican Radio)

"‘Brothers, call to mind those first days’: the days of enthusiasm, of going forward in the faith, when you began to live the faith, the anguished trials… You don’t understand the Christian life, even the spiritual life of each day, without memory. Not only do you not understand: You can’t live in a Christian way without memory. The memory of the salvation of God in my life, the memory of my troubles in my life; but how has the Lord saved me from these troubles? Memory is a grace: a grace to ask for. ‘Lord, may I not forget your step in my life, may I not forget the good moments, also the ugly; the joys and the crosses.’ The Christian is a man of memory.”

"Hope: Looking to the future. Just as one cannot live a Christian life without memory of the steps taken, one cannot live a Christian life without looking to the future with hope… of the encounter with the Lord. And he uses a beautiful phrase: ‘just a brief moment…’ Eh, life is a breath, eh? It passes. When one is young, he thinks he has so much time before him, but then life teaches us that those words that we all say: ‘But how time passes! I knew this person as a child, now they’re getting married! How time passes!’ It comes soon. But the hope of encountering it is a life in tension, between memory and hope, the past and the future.”

"‘Not taking risks, please, no… prudence…’ All the commandments, all of them… Yes, it’s true, but this paralyzes you too, it makes you forget so many graces received, it takes away memory, it takes away hope, because it doesn’t allow you to go forward. And the present of a Christian, of such a Christian, is how when one goes along the street and an unexpected rain comes, and the garment is not so good and the fabric shrinks… Confined souls… This is faintheartedness: this is the sin against memory, courage, patience, and hope. May the Lord make us grow in memory, make us grow in hope, give us courage and patience each and free us from that which is faintheartedness, being afraid of everything…  Confined souls in order to save ourselves. And Jesus says: ‘He who wills to save his life will lose it.’”(My emphasis.)


Saints have died rather than commit a mortal sin. It is possible to live your whole life without committing a mortal sin. Perhaps some people allow do themselves to live a half-life marked by dreary little venial sins instead of following Martin Luther's advice to "sin boldly," but others who have perpetually kept the commandments must certainly live brave and noble lives in which they are humbly aware that they, too, may fall into serious sin. Heaven knows how many really good people have fallen into sexual sin, for example, or have given into temptations to shoplift.

Also it is possible to live a full and happy life by remaining among decent God-fearing people. Of course, it is actually difficult to be around such people all the time. Many of us in the West have to go to school or work in places where the reigning religion is sexual permissiveness. The challenge then for the Christian is to show the love of Christ to his or her fellow students or co-workers without being compromised or causing disgust. 

We should be afraid of sin. Sin is awful. Sin can make us less than beasts.  

The world--especially as it is presented to us by advertisers--has some very messed up ideas about virtue and vice. Courage is not wearing the racy dress but wearing the modest dress. Indulgence is not eating the delicious pudding but never abstaining from puddings at all. 

Enough of the counter-homily, but really. This is why trads cry.

Update: A more charitable reading of this homily is not that the homilist was encouraging his hearers to court occasions of sin but that just keeping the Commandments is not enough. I am not sure who his audience is--mine is usually Catholic laywomen who interact with non-Catholics and CINOs every single day--but it could be some timorous Job-type who worries about sin the way a guy with OCD washes his hands. But how many people like that are there? Oh dear.

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