BY MICHAEL MULLINS
James Martin SJ of America highlights the spiritual rules from Daniel Berrigan’s 1981 book Ten Commandments for the Long Haul.
The now 92 year old New York Jesuit is a poet who is best known for a lifetime of peace activism. The commandments include:“Call on Jesus when all else fails”, “Don’t be afraid to be afraid”, “Keep your soul to yourself”. Martin writes:
Once, several years ago, I wrote to Dan when I was frustrated about something in the church and was tempted to, as Thomas Merton used to say, "blast off," i.e., speak my mind in not the most sensible way. In response to an agitated letter, Dan, who had himself known Merton, wrote me to counsel patience, and reminded me that I'm in this "for the long haul." I think his "Commandments" are useful in the church today.
Irish Catholics would no doubt have found Berrigan’s Commandments empowering as they participated in this month’s Dublin Eucharistic Congress. The Tablet’s Christopher Lamb notes that the 2012 Irish Catholic Church’s sense of humiliation is a far cry from the pride of 80 years ago.
The Eucharistic Congress in Dublin of 1932 has become a symbol of the Church in Ireland at the peak of its institutional power. One million people attended the final Mass; the streets of Dublin were lined with flags proclaiming messages of faith in a celebratory atmosphere. ... The Dublin Eucharistic Congress in 2012 is a very different affair. Conference organisers are delighted to be able to fill Croke Park with 75,000 pilgrims.
Cardinals and bishops have kept a low profile, mingling with pilgrims as one of the crowd dressed in simple clericals. No sign of any cappa magnas, Lamb says. Yet
Despite the anger there is an upbeat, positive and prayerful atmosphere. The congress has struck a penitential, healing note and the focus has been encouraging the faith of ordinary Catholics. It is too soon to say whether the Irish Church has turned a corner, but the congress is being spoken of as a 'significant curve in the road where we want to go'.
Probably the greatest shift in Ireland between 1932 and 2012 has been in the extent to which the state’s lawmakers take their lead from the moral authority of the Church. Brian Lewis blogs in v2catholic.com on “The role of the politician regarding permissive legislation”.
His starting point is the influence a politician’s moral convictions should have in determining matters of law and public policy. He says politicians are not called upon to vote upon the morality of abortion, embryonic stem cell experimentation, nuclear armament or euthanasia. He concludes that it is entirely compatible for a Catholic to hold that a particular kind of behaviour is immoral but that the state should not criminalise it.
In a truly democratic society, where a large proportion of the population does not see certain forms of behaviour, at least in well defined cases, as morally wrong, politicians may be justified in allowing, even supporting permissive legislation affording citizens the right to follow their conscience, even if it is erroneous. In such situations public order is best served if people are free to inform their own conscience and to act upon it rather than be forced to conform to the judgment of others.
Sentire Cum Ecclesia possibly concedes that there must be a line drawn between what is moral for Catholics and what is legal for all citizens. He links to Catholic Herald blogger Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith, who notes a legal loophole in the law in the UK but that has implications for gay marriage there, but not here in Australia.
In English law, if a marriage is not consummated, it may be declared invalid, null and void ... This is a very serious point – for England. In Australia, at some stage in the past, the law must have been changed, because according to this page, non-consummation is no longer a legal ground for annulment.
Finally the Liturgy Lines blog of the Liturgical Commission in Brisbane comments on a point of liturgical law. It suggests that it’s fine to use cheap cleanskin wine for the Eucharist, and even that using local wines could be preferable. No doubt it will make the Jesuits’ Sevenhill winery in South Australia glad that they diversified beyond their sacramental wine market some time ago.
A friend of mine who owns a winery recently offered to donate to his local Catholic parish several cartons of his wine to use for Communion at Mass. The parish priest told him that he could not accept his offer as only wine from Church-approved sources can be used. My friend found this very strange and I do too. Is it correct? ... Any wine made from grapes is acceptable, as long as it has not been fortified with non-grape spirits. ... The words become more meaningful when the hands that have made the wine belong to members of our parish or of our local community.
Michael Mullins, founding editor of CathNews, compiles this 'Blog Watcher' column every Monday.
Disclaimer: CathBlog is an extension of CathNews story feedback. It is intended to promote discussion and debate among the subscribers to CathNews and the readers of the website. The opinions expressed in CathBlog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the members of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference or of Church Resources.