Monday, 27 August 2012

This could easily turn into a rant

I was staying with a friend this weekend and we went to her parish for mass. The parish happens to be in the care of the Augustinians and everyone was invited to the mass for the feast of St Augustine on Tuesday, which will be followed by lunch.

The mass is at 12 o'clock.

I really don't know how to express my annoyance that parishes have daily mass at a time which anyone who works simply cannot attend. My parish, for all its faults, at least has mass at 7:30pm twice a week, which is just as well as it's at least 5 miles to the next parish and I don't drive. I once lived somewhere where there were 4 parishes within a mile and a half of my house, and all of the daily masses were at either 9 or 9:15am. One parish had mass at 7pm once a week. I will concede that mass at noon is marginally better than at 9:15am because one might be able to go during a lunch hour. I do feel that this verges on denying the sacraments to parishioners. Couple this with confessions only available for 30 minutes a week...

And then people talk about how there are no young people at mass. Here's a thought...maybe that's because at 9am, 9:30am, 10am and 12pm the non-retired are at work. I am flexible in my definition of youth...25 years ago my Mum was the youngest person at daily mass in the parish. Now she has a full time job and can only go occasionally: she's still the youngest person there.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Competing for a perishable crown

I watched quite a lot of the Olympics, although gradually less and less as the days passed; towards the end I had a bad case of Olympic fatigue. However, I did catch an interview with high jump medallist Robert Grabarz in which he was being quizzed on his recent dramatic improvement by the athletics commentary team. To paraphrase, Grabarz stated that his improvement in form was entirely due to a change of mentality regarding his training: in short he decided to put more effort in. Michael Johnson took slight issue with this and said it must be down to a new regime or something of the sort. Robbie said no, it was all about his attitude: if you go to a weights session with the intention of working really hard and getting the most out of it, then obviously it works better than if you just go through the motions.

Watching the Olympics I often found myself thinking of St Paul's words: Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. For many of the athletes, an Olympic medal is the highest possible achievement and they may only get one shot at it. These athletes put everything else aside to train, many of them speak of sacrificing their social lives, the food they like to eat, their lie-ins, holidays etc. Some take a year off work. And then it's all about that 30 seconds in which they race, jump, throw, whatever. All this for a perishable crown (OK, I'll admit that a gold medal endures longer than a crown of olive leaves), for a moment on the podium, and the satisfaction of having given everything, which makes such sacrifce worth it.

How much more, then, should I not commit to my spiritual combat and Christian life when the prize is so much more? And surely this same change of attitude is the starting point: every moment is an opportunity to conquer heaven.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Completely missing the point. As usual.

BBC news reports that a potential non-hormonal male contraceptive has been discovered. Proteins are responsible for pretty much everything that goes on in our bodies, so targetting the synthesis of the protein responsible for sperm motility could certainly be a way to cripple them. Aside from the pharmaceutical issue that said product is probably years, if not decades, away from the market (but hey, Male contraceptive pill a step closer is much more newsworthy than Male contraceptive pill still a really long way off) there are two statements which bear further comment.

"There is undoubtedly," quotes the article, "an urgent need for additional contraceptive options". Really? There is? This puts me in mind of a meeting I was once invited to sit in on in which it was decided whether new products would be funded by the NHS in that region. In the meeting I happened to attend, the contraceptive vaginal ring (NuvaRing) was up for discussion. In the red corner, a representative from the Family Planning Association. In the blue corner...oh wait...there wasn't anyone in the blue corner. "They need another form of contraception: they don't want to go on the pill and they don't like condoms," asserted the representative. A placebo was passed around for inspection and somehow the motion was carried, despite the fact that the faces of the majority showed that they couldn't get past the intrinsic ickiness of the ring: even if no-one's going to use it, we'd better make it available to them. I don't know who "they" are, but they weren't to be allowed to have children at any price. This brings me on to the second comment in the article which drew my attention: "it has been argued that the lack of a male contraceptive pill has contributed to the number of unplanned pregnancies".

Is that so? A few years ago "they" got NuvaRing: now (or supposedly all along) "they" need male contraceptives. Hmmm...something tells me that throwing contraceptives at "them" isn't working. And why not? Because unwanted, unplanned pregnancies are not due to a lack of access to contraception. Maybe if we take a few steps back from teenage pregnany and the chlamydia epidemic, it's more obvious that a lot of problems we see are due to a lack of understanding of, or belief in, the dignity of the human person, which is the logical consequence of not believing in God. Without God, without absolute truth, it's a challenge even to get people to admit something is a problem: apparently underage, extramarital sex is OK as long as it doesn't result in unplanned pregnancy. Dosing the population is easier to measure, and potentially quicker, than allowing faith out in public instead of confining it to the private sphere, teaching Catholic anthropology, teaching abstinence and chastity (to both sexes), promoting marriage etc, etc and it's well known that unless you can draw a graph you can't have funding.

In the film 17 again there is a scene in which three girls, who have been competing for the attention of Zac Efron's character, tell him that they've decided that he doesn't need to choose between them, he can have all three of them. He asks them how they expect anyone else to respect them if they don't respect themselves. To which they respond with something approaching horror that they don't want to be respected. That, I think, is somewhat nearer the root of the problem.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

I will not hide my faith

I've been thinking about blogging for a while, and the need to do so was finally confirmed after a conversation with my brother in which he told me that I needed to 'ighten up'. Lightening up apparently consists of laughing at a song which is both crude in its objectification of the human person and pro-choice.

I will not lighten up. I refuse to hide my faith in my own home, among my family. Some of them cling to a reduced Christianity, others have abandoned it altogether.

I was going to name this blog along the lines of "refusing recusancy" with the idea that the Recusant Catholics were driven into hiding. Then I looked it up, and I found that recusancy is a "refusal to submit to established authority: originally the refusal of Roman Catholics to attend services of the Church of England". Actually I do, and I do want to, submit to the established authority of the Church. What I don't want to submit to is political correctness, the culture of death in which we live, the dictatorship of relativism and the need to conform to the majority view of our secularist society just becasue it's easier.

This blog may just be an outlet for my own frustration, or it may be something more. I'll see what happens.