Sydney seems to have a hotter summer than I remember from my youth. There were hot days then of course, but it seems more unrelentingly hot now. Global warming? Or has absence disacclimatized me?
This trip to Sydney was planned in haste, a result of the slings and arrows of outrageous monastic life. This visit I find myself more engaged by the city’s colonial history. My reverend nephew—also sojourning in Sydney at present for some restorative rest with the family—and I have visited a number of colonial houses both private and public. For example, there was Elizabeth Bay House, a compact but grand house with now-lost extensive gardens, and Vaucluse House, more modestly grand and still with substantial gardens. The former is very much an house, the latter feels far more an home. My reverend nephew prefers the house, my reverend self prefers the home. Make of that what you will.
As a sequel to the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross the Church keeps the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, whose heart was pierced by the nails that pierced Christ’s hands and feet, and the lance that pierced the Lord’s side.
One of the most typical images for the feast today is that of the Pietà. The most famous representation is, of course, Michelangelo’s sculpture in St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. Yet his is very far from the only one.
It struck me at Mass today how powerful an image it is for the Church in its current crisis of sexual and physical abuse by clergy and religious, and the negligence, or worse, of some in the hierarchy in dealing with such abuse. The scandal of deposed-Cardinal McCarrick truly merits the label scandal, as it has become for many a true stumbling block for a peacefully fruitfully life in the Church. Who really does believe that so many of McCarrick’s fellow bishops and cardinals knew nothing of Uncle Ted’s activities? I suspect only fools and the terminally idealistic. Continue reading “The Sorrowful Mother Today”→
The mild Sydney winter seems to help me get my rant on. Ranting via a tablet, however, leads to many a typo. Swings and roundabouts I guess…
The last 24 hours we’ve been hearing about the change to the text to the Catechism of the Catholic Church proposed by Rome to reflect the current papal attitude to the death penalty.
To be frank, this does not particularly worry me per se. Church moral teaching once encompassed slavery, now it definitively rejects it. Church teaching has encompassed capital punishment hitherto, but the recent magisterium has not looked positively on it. My approach to capital punishment is conflicted. For example I can see a case for capital punishment to ensure public protection from a violent, murderous offender whose guilt is incontrovertible. Likewise, genocide seems to merit the ultimate sanction. Again, guilt should be incontrovertible. Continue reading “Death in question”→
Back from the dead! It has been a busy time. I am about to fly to Australia (in a few hours actually) to sneak in some holiday before taking up a new role in the monastery, that of bursar. If the new job does not kill me I suppose it will make me stronger. But there has been so little time to read, let alone write.
The Cardinal McCarrick affair is growing louder in the media. Christopher Altieri raises a point that merits pushing further: the failure is not just McCarrick’s but that of the American bishops as a body. How could no other bishop not have known? And knowing, how could they have kept silence? The denials just do not ring true. For many they may be true but such is the deficit the Catholic hierarchy suffers at the moment that few will believe them. After all, in England we had a similar case, that of Bishop Conry and his long-standing relationship with a mistress. It was very well known in ecclesiastical circles, even from his days in Rome apparently. Yet he was promoted anyway. Did any bishop protest at the time? The Conry case has one essential difference: his sin was with a woman, so a collective sigh of relief that it was not a minor encouraged silence.
What do you call brainstorming by the means of the social media? Is there a name or do we have to make one up? Suggestions are welcome.
Anyway, to the point, which is a rather uncomfortable piece of what you might think, not unreasonably, to be self-promotion. In fact, the fundamental point, my vanity notwithstanding, is to promote an idea.
These are the busiest few days of the Church’s year, liturgically at any rate. Yet it would be a dangerous sort of monastic life that did not often a sacristan and cantor time for reading and reflection, however brief.
There will be many excellent posts about these sacred days, so I shall leave it to my betters to provide them. Instead a providential piece of reading this morning, taken up by chance to accompany my breakfast, is worthy of sharing and reflection. Dom Michael Casey OCSO is an Australian Trappist, from Tarrawarra Abbey outside Melbourne. He is a writer on spiritual and monastic topics of significant renown, his wisdom tempered by common sense and the absence of cant or flowery piety. When I saw his name in the contents of March’s edition of The American Benedictine Review I knew I had found something to read over porridge and toast.
The article is really an interview, “We Have Lost the Love of Learning”; Michael Casey OCSO in Conversation with Bernhard A Eckerstorfer OSB. Its content and target readership are monastic but there are some universal principles nevertheless. What follows is a deliberately and unapologetically selective set of quotations which, however, do not suffer from the lack of fuller context. The selectivity is purely to highlight the points that resonate most clearly with me and seem to merit sharing. Continue reading “A Triduum Post Not About the Triduum”→
It really has been a turbulent time for sexual politics this past six months. Weinstein is but the tip of the iceberg. We have the #MeToo movement, and a growing list of prominent people accused of various degrees of sexual misconduct, though it is often hard to distinguish these degrees and so gain a proper perspective and sense of proportion. The mere publication of an allegation against a young actor has been enough to stop a BBC production involving him, and to have sections of a completed Hollywood movie re-filmed to replace another accused (but also not convicted) actor. True sexual assault in any degree is a crime to be deplored. However, “innocent until proved guilty” is now an endangered species in our society; clergy know that for them it is almost extinct.
In Britain there has been another side to this topical coin. Numbers of young men in recent months have been cleared of rape—in court, after a proper judicial process and testing of evidence. These men have had their names dragged first through the press, as good as declared guilty by the mob. Continue reading “When yes means yes”→