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The Catholic Church is not a place for respectable people

As Mother Teresa of Calcutta showed, the Church is for the unloved and the rejected

By on Thursday, 17 May 2012

Britain Hilary Mantel

Amid all the gloomy headlines in the newspapers there was one in the Telegraph on Monday which set my antennae twitching: “The Catholic Church is no place for respectable people, says Mantel.” My immediate response was a sigh of relief and the thought, “Thank God for that.” Otherwise, of course, I would be excluded from it – along with all the other sinners and disreputable characters, the tax collectors, the social lepers, the lunatics and the ladies of the night whom Christ came down on earth to die for. Phew! What a lucky escape. Imagine if I had been born “respectable”: what a fate.

Reading the small print underneath the headline I immediately sinned again: uncharitable thoughts aimed at Hilary Mantel, Booker prize winning novelist, member of the cultural establishment (she will be discussing her writing at the Hay Festival in June) and thus someone whose opinions must be taken with all due seriousness. It seems that she was raised a Catholic and went to a convent school, clearly a brutal and nasty place. No wonder she now says that the child abuse scandals demonstrate the “cruelty” and “hypocrisy” of the Church. In retrospect she thinks “I should never have been brought up a Catholic. Nowadays the Catholic Church is not an institution for respectable people.”
About the nuns of her childhood, “I thought they were among the worst people I knew.” Yet she is also prepared to say that “in a cold-blooded kind of way, as a writer I’ve had full value from Catholicism. It’s a great training in doubleness – this looks like bread but it is actually a man’s body… And that’s very much a writer’s way of thinking.”

I was going to write a full riposte to this highly emotive personal opinion when I saw that two Letters in yesterday’s Telegraph have done the job much more temperately and reasonably than I would have done: David Cubbon of Doncaster writes, “I’m a Catholic convert who was born into Methodism, was schooled in the Church of England and tasted atheism before being welcomed into the Catholic faith. Child abuse is not owned by the Catholic Church, it lurks in all large organisations involving children. All the Catholics I speak to abhor the actions of paedophile priests… My experience in the Church has only been positive. The priests in my parish are a force for good, and should not be denigrated unfairly.”

Robert Tickle of Bedfordshire writes: “I am sure that Mother Teresa of Calcutta, caring for the unloved and the rejected, would agree that the Catholic Church is not a place for respectable people. The Church preaches an option for the poor, not the respectable… Christians believe that it was those who thought themselves respectable, the Pharisees, who sought the death of Jesus. The Church is for all, especially those outside it, but the self-satisfied do not feel they need God’s help…”

I certainly do not want to describe Ms Mantel as a Pharisee but she needs to be more careful in future how she phrases her words when she talks to the press. I discussed her remarks with a friend (who went to the same convent boarding school as I did and who also emerged from the experience without feeling permanently scarred) and the friend said, “Why doesn’t she join the Church of England? It’s full of respectable people.” This is unfair. I have several Anglican friends and I am glad to say I don’t find them any more respectable than I am.

Ms Mantel also comments she would never call for a Catholic priest on her death-bed. Perhaps she ought to read Brideshead Revisited; the scene of Lord Marchmain’s death, assisted by a very ordinary Irish priest, would bring a tear to her eye. Who knows? She might decide she would rather not be so respectable after all.

  • JessicaHof

    Those Pharisees warned Christ where associating with all those disreputable people would lead. Ms Mantel is clearly of the same mind. I am not a Catholic, but how nice it would be if just once, someone could say something about the Church without mentioning a certain scandal which I am sure all Catholics abhor.

  • BAT

    I found her comments incoherent, though I feel very sorry for her. Anyone who suffers from the kind of debilitating physical and mental illness that Ms. Mantel endures deserves our sympathy, indeed our prayers.

  • aearon43

    I wonder if there is any other organization (well, somewhat mainstream organization) you can say that about in print and get away with it. One can imagine, for example, the howls of furious outrage that would result from saying that, for example, Islam is not a respectable religion, or Buddhism, or atheism, or saying that some other kind of group or belief (except for, maybe, overt terrorists) is not for respectable people. It’s odd that the Catholic Church seems to be exempt from the usual iron-clad demands for “tolerance” amongst our bien-pensants, but that’s fine with me, I’m sure she can handle the criticism.

  • Alban

    I would hope the Catholic church is for everyone.

  • JabbaPapa

    1) In the Most Holy Name of God, the people of Russia are consecrated
      to the Immaculate Heart of the Most Holy Virgin Mary.

    Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum.
      Benedicta tu in mulieribus,
      et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus.
      Sancta Maria, Mater Dei,
      ora pro nobis peccatoribus,
      nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.

    2) In the Most Holy Name of God, the people of Russia are consecrated
      to the Immaculate Heart of the Most Holy Virgin Mary.

    Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum.
      Benedicta tu in mulieribus,
      et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus.
      Sancta Maria, Mater Dei,
      ora pro nobis peccatoribus,
      nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.

    3) In the Most Holy Name of God, the people of Russia are consecrated
      to the Immaculate Heart of the Most Holy Virgin Mary.

    Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum.
      Benedicta tu in mulieribus,
      et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus.
      Sancta Maria, Mater Dei,
      ora pro nobis peccatoribus,
      nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.

    4) In the Most Holy Name of God, the people of Russia are consecrated
      to the Immaculate Heart of the Most Holy Virgin Mary.

    Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum.
      Benedicta tu in mulieribus,
      et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus.
      Sancta Maria, Mater Dei,
      ora pro nobis peccatoribus,
      nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.

    5) In the Most Holy Name of God, the people of Russia are consecrated
      to the Immaculate Heart of the Most Holy Virgin Mary.

    Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum.
      Benedicta tu in mulieribus,
      et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus.
      Sancta Maria, Mater Dei,
      ora pro nobis peccatoribus,
      nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.

    6) In the Most Holy Name of God, the people of Russia are consecrated
      to the Immaculate Heart of the Most Holy Virgin Mary.

    Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum.
      Benedicta tu in mulieribus,
      et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus.
      Sancta Maria, Mater Dei,
      ora pro nobis peccatoribus,
      nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.

    7) In the Most Holy Name of God, the people of Russia are consecrated
      to the Immaculate Heart of the Most Holy Virgin Mary.

    Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum.
      Benedicta tu in mulieribus,
      et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus.
      Sancta Maria, Mater Dei,
      ora pro nobis peccatoribus,
      nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.

    8) In the Most Holy Name of God, the people of Russia are consecrated
      to the Immaculate Heart of the Most Holy Virgin Mary.

    Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum.
      Benedicta tu in mulieribus,
      et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus.
      Sancta Maria, Mater Dei,
      ora pro nobis peccatoribus,
      nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.

    9) In the Most Holy Name of God, the people of Russia are consecrated
      to the Immaculate Heart of the Most Holy Virgin Mary.

    Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum.
      Benedicta tu in mulieribus,
      et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus.
      Sancta Maria, Mater Dei,
      ora pro nobis peccatoribus,
      nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.

    PATER NOSTER, qui es in caelis, sanctificetur nomen tuum. Adveniat
      regnum tuum. Fiat voluntas tua, sicut in caelo et in terra. Panem
      nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie, et dimitte nobis debita nostra
      sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris. Et ne nos induca in
      tentationem, sed libera nos a malo. Amen.

  • JabbaPapa

     Share please.

  • patritius

    I believe Oscar Wilde said that the Catholic Church is for saints and sinners. For respectable people Anglicanism will do.

    I would only add that the saints are safely dead.

  • theroadmaster

    Jesus came to call the lost sheep of the House of Israel during His missionary years on earth, and left His Church to collect the scattered sheep which were outside the sheepfold, in His absence.  The Lord ate at the table of tax-collectors and did not reject prostitutes or other marginalized people whose lifestyles put them outside the “respectable” circles of their time. Indeed, He viewed the genuine humility and penitence exhibited by some of these people for misdeeds in their lives as praiseworthy traits which were lacking in members of the ruling elites in the Roman-ruled Judea.  The Catholic Church has continued the salvific work started by Jesus by the missionary spread of His message to all corners of the earth, to gather in all mankind without regard for class, creed or ethnic origin.

  • Nesbyth

    I think Hilary Mantel has somewhat put her foot in it and will regret saying this. I am sorry her education at a convent school was not to her liking, but often schools are not to children’s liking, no matter what sort of school it might be.
     
    But what really surprises me is that Mantel, as an Historian, can be so subjective and so biaised to make such sweeping statements, that on account of her school experience and the recent priest abuse scandal,  the Catholic Church is basically rubbish. There are untold wonderful priests and nuns working tirelessly for their parishoners and/or for Charities. It is unjust to write off every Catholic Religious in such a cavalier fashion.

  • Lindi

    The Catholic church is ‘everyone.’

  • Lindi

    Hilary Mantel is not the last celebrity to ‘dine out ‘ , so to speak ,  on one’s education in a convent school. The shivering of excitement engendered in listeners is scintillating. The audience is tanatalised by a peep into an unaccessible world of another age. (My tongue is in my cheek ).

  • chiaramonti

    Mantel’s present pre-occupation is with Thomas Cromwell – the man who suggested to Henry VIII the dissolution of the monasteries, the hounding to death of numerous priests, religious and lay people simply because they would not accept Henry as Supreme Head of the Church in England. One thinks of the monks of the Charterhouse – 18 of whom died unjustly. And she would have us believe that Cromwell was “respectable!” Henry did make him an Earl.  In fact, as is well documented, despite his slaughter of many who are now saints in heaven, Cromwell returned to the faith as he faced execution. He announced that he died in the Catholic faith, not doubting a single doctrine thereof. Even “respectable” people, it seems, can taste the mercy of God.

  • Frank_lee

    The Public Order Act has been in the spotlight this week. I think Mantel’s comments constitute “insulting words” but I don’t expect her to be arrested.

  • Isaac

    There are (with two exceptions) *no* respectable people. This is also known as the doctrine of original sin!

  • Parasum

    “No wonder she now says that the child abuse scandals demonstrate the “cruelty” and “hypocrisy” of the Church.”

    ## They do. She’s bang on. The Church is unspeakably vile. So it is just as well that the infinite grace of Christ, the Head & Spouse of the Church, more than outweighs the horrors the Church commits.  As Frank Sheed pointed out long ago, the holiness of the Church is the Holiness *of Christ*.  Not of men – of Christ. The sin & vileness in the Church is what we contribute. Any good we do is by God’s mercy & grace, despite what we are & do by nature. The life proper to and (theologically speaking) typical of the Church, is Divine, gracious, holy, & good: it is wholly supra-natural; not natural to us, but from “beyond & above” us. It is entirely & always & in every way the gift of God. So the Church has two aspects – not just one. Unfortunately the bad stuff seems to be more obvious, because evil is showy & noisy; whereas grace is neither.

    “”…It’s a great training in doubleness – this looks like bread but it is actually a man’s body… And that’s very much a writer’s way of thinking.””

    ## Her Eucharistic theology is a bit sub-par :(

  • cephas2

    God help the poor woman but she is right about the Catholic church being no place for respectable people. My brief foray into Protestentism ended when the preacher told us that we were ‘saints who occasionally sin.’ I knew that I would never fit into that illustrious congregation. Thank God for the Catholic Church – surely the only true home for all us sinners. 

  • GFFM

    This column gives her far too much credit. Her attitudes and opinions are based on nothing other than a kind of hateful and haughty emotionalism. She is not interested in a reasoned rejoinder. So why waste more ink or virtual ink on the English version of Frank McCord?

  • JTLiuzza

     Indeed.  The only people who abhor that despicable scandal more than the victims and their families are faithful Catholics.  The “respectable people” who abhor the Church are downright tickled about it as it provides a wonderful bludgeon. 

  • Aussie Seminarian

    I find it incomprehensible that such as supposedly ‘educated’ person could spew forth such vile, ignorant rot. I was Ordained into a ‘respectable’ Anglican Diocese in Australia and now am training for Catholic Orders with 52 other disreputible men. I don’t claim to be share any notions of moral perfection, ethical superiority or anything even close to it but I am willing to give my life for my Lord and his Church, to strive for holiness and to teach the turth in love. In that spirit I suggest Hilary Mantel do some serious self reflection as to why she feels the need to insult and hurt many millions of good and faithful folk who want nothing more then to serve their God and love their fellow man. As to her blaphemous characterisations of the presence of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament I can keep a watch over my tongue and pray that she has a revelaiton of the love of God and look upon the one she has pierced.

  • karlf

    I really find it astounding that you people still believe that the creator of the universe is personally concerned about your petty ‘sins’.
    As I have mentioned before, according to you, God is currently watching as millions of children around they world suffer all kinds of horriffic afflictions, prolonged abuses and deaths, and does absolutely nothing to help them.
    Now, the only replies I’ve had on this topic have been along the lines that the terrible fates of these individuals are some sort of test that God sets for us. Incredible!

  • ms Catholic state

    Those seeking ‘respectability’ today will not find it in Catholicism.  As Mollie Hemmingway states….Jesus Christ would be banned from polite society today.

    http://ricochet.com/main-feed/Would-Jesus-Be-Banned-From-The-Grove

  • John Jackson

    Well done and thank you for this.  Your comments certainly speak the truth in love. 

  • Apostolic

    Mantel’s remark is as revealing as it is gratuitous. She is clearly a sick snob who is keen to justify shedding her Catholic roots. It also explains her bizarrely sympathetic characterisation of the obnoxious Thomas Cromwell (who next? Eichmann?), who died by his own methods, was friendless and universally unmourned. 

  • Apostolic

    Indeed so, although fortunately she never studied History, but Law (like her subject, Thomas Cromwell) and being a fiction writer she need not feel any duty to objectivity or factual evidence. Who knows how true her recollection of her convent education is? It may be true in her fictional imagination, but not true in fact.

  • Vince

    No it’s not correct. Read over your own post and you’ll find out easily where your reasoning is plain wrong, mainly  because it lacks the proper premise ; hence all the following nonsense that finishes with an astounding artificial opposition – which beside is logically flawed .
    Obviously the god you describe is pagan like, not Christian. So if you want to make us christians accountable for God, which is your right, at least inform yourself about what they truely believe in.

  • https://openid.org/locutus LocutusOP

    I suppose it’s easier to attack a fellowship which has among one of its central tenets “Love your enemies…Pray for those who persecute you”.

  • karlf

     How was the last sentence in my comment wrong? Please explain

  • Boo

    Every action against life, against the health (physical, emotional, psychological, financial etc). or freedom of another is not what God wants for us (including wearing a condom in a loving relationship, an act purposefully thwarting the conception of life and putting physical satisfaction as the paramount experience instead).  
    God does not delight in suffering.  God however does give us freedom of choice to do good or evil to one another.  You cannot say that God “does absolutely nothing to help them” because how would you know? It certainly does look like it sometimes but you don’t know how God intervenes (if we are allowing of it) or what comes from these things, even good that can come out of evil.    And if you believe there is a Creator of the universe, how would you – a created being, be able to understand what this Creator is or isn’t doing purely by observation as a limited human being?Terrible things do happen and it is hard to grapple with.  They happen because 1) we are free to act 2) There is cause and effect – actions have consequences.  We will however, all reap what we sow.  Eventually.  If not in this life, in the next. (I believe in an afterlife).  You can see this playing out in the basic actions like eating too much rubbish = ill health to bigger ones, – use your imagination!!  Some actions will have bigger consequences, some smaller.  
    But God is NOT just a casual observer, desensitised to us, like a big kid over an ant hill.  Give the Creator – (and look at the Creation closely as your evidence) a little more credit than that.

    Wishing you well. 

  • karlf

     Do you really have any understanding of the scale of the suffering and atrocities that are taking place as we speak?
    You are right that I cannot tell for sure whether God intervenes a little, but you are also right to say that it certainly appears that he doesn’t.

    Maybe you yourself should look at the evidence of creation – only in my garden right now chicks are being taken out of nests by magpies, young rabbits and pheasant  are being devoured by cats, buzzards and foxes, not to mention all that’s going on with smaller creatures – parasites, diseases etc.
    What about all the unimaginable suffering that comes from natural disasters – tsunamis, earthquakes etc? What has that got to do with freedom of choice? Does God intervene? I can’t see he does, but woe betide anyone who uses a condom!

  • WSquared

    Given the vile, ignorant rot that passes for “educated thought” these days, this should perhaps surprise none of us.

    When we realize that this sort of thing is as old as the hills, the shock value tends to wear off, though we remain aware of how prevalent this kind of thinking is and develop the sensitivity to confront it charitably.

    One thing that I do find curious about those who use the sins of others in the Church– grouchy priests, nuns with rulers, their mom, their grandma, their aunt, etc. etc. etc. (as per the usual cast of characters in that genre known as the “Nasty Catholic School” story)– as a convenient excuse to leave and/or slander her in public is that they often seem blissfully unaware that everybody else in the Body of Christ has had to put up with them and their sins in precisely the same manner (and in a larger culture where so many people truly think that never having killed or raped anyone makes you “basically a good person,” the subtlety of sin and evil really does tend to fly under the radar).

    One wonders if such attitudes arise from being ignorant of that interesting little part of the Mass that we call the “Confiteor.”

    There are no innocents here.

    Here comes the Catholic Church.  Here comes everyone.

  • WSquared

    Oh, she can indeed handle the criticism.

  • signum_magnum

    I think you will find that many of the world-wide sufferings you described can be found to have originated with – man. This precious gift of free-will I am sure you will have found is not always used as altruisticaly as one would prefer, but nonetheless it is exactly that; free will.

    Our Blessed Lord weeps at the sufferings of His creations, as often do we, but when looking for someone to blame for the iniquities of man, you are looking in the wrong place.

    God Bless you anyway!

  • karlf

     Ok, tsunamis and earthquakes aside, what about disease and deformity, blindness and other such afflictions, bubonic plague (how much suffering caused there I wonder) – created by man??

    Also, perhaps it would be better if God excused innocent children from his free will testing ground instead of using them as bait, as you are suggesting to be the case.

  • WSquared

    How do you know that God does not intervene?  He often intervenes in ways that we neither see nor understand, certainly not immediately a lot of the time.  And what Catholics mean by “God” is “the very energy of what it means to Be.”  So we’re not talking about one being among many or even the greatest of all beings.

    What you’re saying seems to be based on two things:  “I can’t see what good God is doing, because it is not immediately apparent to me,” and “why can’t people use condoms?!”  In the first, it is not at all true that suffering is necessarily bad or evil.  Suffering is inevitable in this world.  What is indeed a matter of choice is how we respond to it.  Using a condom and thus developing and reinforcing the attitude that “sex should only create babies when I want it to, and how dare it do so otherwise!” is inherently and objectively sinful and evil:  it is inherently selfish, and comes with the danger of reducing other people to objects and children to mere afterthoughts to be done away with so one can live as one pleases.  In the first scenario re suffering, God has room to act.  In the second re condoms, you’ve made it loud and clear that sex is All About You And What You  Want.  Selfishness has a way of adding up.  The very definition of sin is to turn in upon one’s self (that’s a pretty narrow way of seeing things).

    Furthermore, God can bring a lot of good out of intense suffering.  His larger aim is to gather all of creation to Himself, and He thinks long-term on both a micro and macro level.  Salvation is not necessarily always about prolonging anyone’s life here on earth.  Even the shortest of lives can have some untold good for those willing to see it, whereas we could say that you and I living in comparative comfort and old age is a wake-up call of sorts: that each day we are given presents another opportunity to get to know God better, to turn to Him ever more, and to love as He commands us.  To decrease so that the Lord may increase is to open one’s self up to that energy of creation.  It is to see deeper and more broadly than you’ve previously done.

    Now, I cannot for a moment imagine what other people suffer.  I know that most definitely suffer way more than I could ever imagine. 

    But even the smallest of sufferings when borne and offered up comes with the gift of getting closer to the Lord (perfectly human, perfectly divine), who has suffered far more than all of His creation put together. That much, we are reminded of in any Crucifix.  So one gets into the habit of offering up even the smallest of sufferings as a gift and sacrifice to God, so that we are able to bear the larger ones that do come to us (because I certainly have no guarantee that some intense suffering will not befall me later on). 

    To join that suffering to that of the Lord on the Cross reminds us that if we suffer with Him, He suffers with us.

    God bless you.

  • Apostolic

    Perhaps about this, but one is reminded about Winston Churchill’s response to Lady Astor regarding the relative values of drunkedness and ugliness. 

    It has to be said that, for all the accolades regarding the fictional biography of the ghastly Thomas Cromwell,  Ms Mantel has not been fundamentally blessed.

  • JabbaPapa

    Your knowledge of Good and Evil is your Original Sin, and all of our Original Sin. That is the source of the suffering that you feel, that we all feel.

    Free Will is in our very nature, and we live in a Universe that is so ordered that this Free Will has both meaning and purpose. Such a Universe cannot be a static one, where everything would be eternal and no damage would ever occur.

    And yes, I’m sure that we all understand the scale of it.

  • Fr.Thomas Poovathinkal

    SOME WOMEN THINK WITH THEIR FEELINGS. NEVER MIND, AFTER ALL WE ARE ALL SINNERS.

    IT IS FOR THE SALVATION OF SINNERS THAT THE SON OF GOD CAME.

  • Fr.Thomas Poovathinkal

    ALL TRUE SEEKERS GLORIOUSLY DISCOVER THE CHURCH OF ST.PETER AND LEAP INTO HER LAP OUT OF SHEER JOY TRUE DISCOVERY.

    THE NON-SEEKERS BEGIN AND END UP IN THE WORTHLESS INHERITANCE RECEIVED FROM THEIR FORE FATHERS.”THE OLD IS GOOD”, THEY KEEP ON SAYING TO THEMSELVES AND TO THEIR OWN KIND.

  • JessicaHof

    No doubt the Mrs. Mantels of the day were sniffy about Our Blessed Lady when she became with child by the Holy Ghost. The ‘unrespectable’ Church continues to venerate her, as Christians always have. Perhaps that, too, offends those who think we should now be beyond such fidelity to the universal tradition of Christians?
    http://jessicahof.wordpress.com/2012/05/18/mary-as-theotokos-the-tradition-of-the-church/ 

  • http://twitter.com/sanabituranima Sanabitur Anima Mea

    I, for one, wouldn’t want her to be. She’s rude and wrong, but it would be ridiculous to bring the law down on her head.

  • WSquared

    Karl, good things happen to bad people, and bad things happen to good people.  The Catholic Church does not teach that everything bad that happens in the world happens due to to our sins– that somehow, my being mean to someone throughout my life, just because I could, caused that tsunami.  In the book of Job, Job lost everything despite being righteous.  When he puts in the dock, God asks him, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. 
    Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? 
    On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone
    when the morning stars sang together and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy?”Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb?” [Job 38]

    Again, God does work in mysterious ways.  Natural disasters, disease and afflications are not created by man, but God does allow them to happen to bring about a greater good– a good that only He knows at a time that He knows.  It is not necessarily heartless of Him, for example, to have deprived, say, a person of their sight, whereupon that person chooses not only to live with it, but live gracefully.  Supposing that blind person also does awesome things that they might have never done in the past when they were taking their sight for granted living a life of “like, whatever.”

    Likewise, supposing you were wealthy or indeed poor, and in either case, you were always grousing about never having enough, and always selfish despite nonetheless having a lot more than you realize.  Then a tsunami comes about, and you lose everything.  You have to build from scratch.  And what’s more, so does everybody else around you.  All of you yoke together and help each other out.  In the process, you forget yourself.  You have become less selfish.  You’re on the way to learning to see everything in your life as a gift: other people, your talents, even your sufferings, for they keep you humble.  Being less selfish turns you away from turning inward upon yourself and looking outward toward God.

    Children who have been baptized have Original Sin washed away by water and Spirit and are initiated into the Body of Christ.  Children who die before being baptized are entrusted to the mercy of God.  Children who have been baptized and die before the age of reason the age of reason go to Heaven.  And who says that children are necessarily “innocent”?  Certainly at the age of seven, the age of reason, they are capable of not only grave matter, but mortal sin: i.e. committing grave matter with full intent and full knowledge.  They can also choose to turn away from sin and do good.  Again, the same thing applies to children as it does to adults:  they are to learn to love the Lord with all their hearts, all their minds, and all their strength, and that God gives us the opportunity to get better at it through both the joys and sufferings that come our way.  St. Maria Goretti was sexually assaulted and murdered, because she wouldn’t give into the man’s advances.  And she was twelve years old.  But instead of cursing him and cursing God, she acknowledged that the Lord was calling her home, and informed her assailant that she wanted him to one day be in Heaven with her.  That put the man on the path to conversion.  Again, the ultimate goal for everyone is Heaven– God’s perfect Love. No earthly comfort or treasure even compares.   Doesn’t matter how you get there; it’s whether you get there at all.  God challenges us to think broad and deep, to think big, and not small, as we will invariably do if we reduce what is real only to the material realm, and that which we can see, grasp, and comprehend immediately.  That is why patience is a virtue.  It’s why we must work on our relationship with the Lord day by day, hour by hour, for we know not the day or the hour when He calls us home.  We most certainly cannot see clearly into the hearts and souls of others, which is why we judge their actions, and not their souls.

    I would suggest that you read Flannery O’Connor’s short story, “A Good Man is Hard to Find.”

    God bless you.

  • GFFM

     I am so relieved that you know what God is concerned with. It takes a load off of my mind.

  • Fr.Thomas Poovathinkal

     

    THE GENERALITY OF MANKIND NOT
    PURIFIED IN IT’S HEART’S INTENTIONS AND GOALS IN LIFE IS ENVIOUS OF THE CHURCH BECAUSE
    OF ITS POWER WHICH THEY WANT TO TAKE OVER OR SNATCH.THE PRESENT-DAY IRELAND IS
    A CASE IN POINT.  BUT THEN OUR POPE SAYS THE CHURCH LOSING IT’S POWER WILL
    BECOME MORE AUTHENTIC. THIS IS HAPPENING SLOWLY BUT GRADUALLY.

     

    POWER CORRUPTS PEOPLE WHO DO NOT SEEK OUT THE TRUE GOD. THE
    INNUMERABLE NUMBER OF ITS EUNUCHS ARE THE SOURCE OF POWER FOR THE CHURCH. THIS
    EUNUCH POWER IN THE CHURCH WORKS AGAINST THE MIND AND INTEREST OF THE SON OF
    GOD THE SAVIOR WHO WANTED THEM TO BE EUNUCHS FOR THE SAKE OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD
    WHICH  HE USHERED INTO THE WORLD TWO
    THOUSAND YEARS BACK.

     

    THE CHURCH IS NOT NECESSARILY FULL OF SUCH PEOPLE WHO ARE MERE
    EUNUCHS. IN THAT WAY IT HAS SOME HOPE. ALL THE MORE SO BECAUSE  OF  THE
    PURIFYING FACTOR IN THE CHURCH – THE WORD OF GOD. THE WORD OF GOD IS SLOWLY BUT
    GRADUALLY BEING APPRECIATED AS THE FOUNDATIONAL REALITY OF TRUE CHRISTIAN LIFE
    AT LEAST BY A SMALL PERCENTAGE OF PEOPLE.

    THE WORD OF GOD, JESUS KEEPS TELLING US, “REPENT FOR THE
    KINGDOM OF GOD IS AT HAND.”

     

    SEE WHAT OUR POPE SAYS :

     

     

     

    The word of Scripture is
    not “an inert deposit within the Church” but  the “supreme rule of faith
    and power of life”. Pope Benedict XVI wrote this in a message to participants
    in the annual Plenary Session of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, held from
    Monday, 16, to Friday, 20 April, 2012 at the Vatican’s Domus Sanctae Marthae.

    THE SPIRIT OF THE PHARISEE NEVER CARED TO LISTEN TO GOD’S WORD AND REPENT AND
    THUS THEY EXCLUDED THEMSELVES FROM THE KINGDOM OF GOD. SUCH HAVE BEEN MANY OF
    THE LEADERS IN THE CHURCH, BUT THE TIME OF THEIR GLORY IS FADING AWAY. THIS
    AGAIN  BRINGS US MORE HOPE.

     

     

  • http://twitter.com/EyeEdinburgh EdinburghEye

    therwise, of course, I would be excluded from it – along with all the
    other sinners and disreputable characters, the tax collectors, the
    social lepers, the lunatics and the ladies of the night whom Christ came
    down on earth to die for.

    But not the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.  As your post on 14th May made clear, we are the people whom respectable Catholics such as yourself exclude from your church: the people whom you cannot bring yourself to believe “Christ came down on earth to die for”.

  • http://twitter.com/EyeEdinburgh EdinburghEye

      The “respectable people” who abhor the Church are downright tickled about it

    It takes a truly self-satisfied person to make a righteously poisonous comment like that.

  • JTLiuzza

    The article uses the term “respectable people” to demonize Catholics.  Isn’t that obvious?  Where, then, are the self-satisfied and righteous here?  The self righteous poison comes from those who use grave sins of Priests against innocents to bludgeon a Church that they abhor anyway.  They’re almost gleeful about it.  Despicable.

  • martin.terrell

    If these comments are true, they rather diminish Hilary Mantel’s claim to be a serious writer.  A really good writer can understand his subject matter and have an empathy for the people he writes about. I don’t see how you can write seriously about 16th Century England without having some understanding of why people thought and behaved as they did. 

  • http://twitter.com/EyeEdinburgh EdinburghEye

    Interesting that you seem to have changed your mind so fast about the Catholic Church being for disreputable people. You were arguing with Isabel on the marriage-even-for-disreputable-people thread that there’s absolutely no basis for the Catholic Church to allow for Christian morality to include LGBT people.

    Wonder how many other people who were arguing on that other thread that the Catholic Church ought to righteously exclude and denounce LGBT people with be self-righteously arguing on this thread that of course the Church is inclusive?

  • http://twitter.com/EyeEdinburgh EdinburghEye

     Where, then, are the self-satisfied and righteous here?

    I was reading their comments on the marriage thread. Self-satisfied and righteous people were arguing that not only should LGBT people be excluded from the Catholic Church, they shouldn’t even be allowed civil marriage.

  • http://twitter.com/EyeEdinburgh EdinburghEye

     Odd. I didn’t notice much loving or praying going on in Francis’s blogpost on the 17th: denouncing, hatred, and malicious stories.