Ash Wednesday, kind of.

Well its Ash Wednesday, and its my birthday so its a day of double mortification. I missed Mass because I was up till four in the morning listening to a Catholic who confessed he basically hates the Church. That and I’d also had about seven pints and the hangover was in the go back to bed range all day.

Anyway, against my counsel my friend has thus far decided to stay at a parish where there is a vicious, bordering on the cartoonish, lefty Priest/Nun combo and quite simply it is festering in his head. He needs to find a new parish with a good parish priest pronto. I don’t know whether he’ll read this, maybe I’ll tell him.

I’ve also recently been talking to an Anglo-Catholic convert, who hasn’t really converted if he is being honest about it. He basically thinks the Catholic Church has made everything up, is obsessed by sins of the flesh, its priests don’t want an informed laity and that as far as picking and choosing what to believe as a Catholic its perfectly viable since the clergy do it all the time.

The latter I do have a bit of sympathy for. Every time a priest decides to ignore the Church’s liturgy it sends a clear signal to everyone in the pews that doing your own thing is perfectly fine. But the Catholic Church does have a coherent systematic theology, something I’m not sure you can say about any other Christian group. Just because a lot of priests neglect to talk about it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Catholics have to educate themselves on what their faith contains, nobody else will do it for them.

I’ve been lucky to have never had a bad priest and I’ve been very lucky to have had a fair few exceptionally good ones. Three of the best preachers I’ve ever heard, three exceptionally diligent liturgists, not always with both disciplines in the same priest mind you but a couple of times they have coexisted in the same priest and the results are spectacular. I’ve also got to say that puritanism has never been part of the makeup of these priests or indeed any priest I’ve ever had.

One thing I would say is that a lot of priests do regularly over complain that people don’t go to confession. I think if people are honest with themselves, know their faith, they know exactly when they need to go to confession. To constantly go on about it is to suggest that their conscience is of little value. We should be worried about taking the blessed sacrament for granted but honestly a lot of people can’t see the point of confessing venial sins and I must confess I probably side with them on this one since avoiding the trap of the dreaded cliche ‘Catholic guilt’ is something to be recommended.

In other news I probably have been overly worrying myself about the Ukraine it seems, I go on the internet every six waking ours to check that World War 3 hasn’t started. Not that Europe will do anything significant to perturb Russia. We rely on their gas exports to keep the lights on and the Ukraine isn’t a NATO signatory. Quite simply the Crimea’s fate is sealed.

The question is how will this crisis end? how will the Ukrainian military bases be dealt with? nobody seems to have any answers to these questions. If the Crimea wants to be part of Russia (a point which is far from certain) then they need to have a free ballot on the subject not at the point of a gun. The west needs to take note for the future, China and Russia’s defense spending is going through the roof at the exact time it is falling everywhere else. Nobody wants a new cold war, but oftentimes wishing doesn’t make it so.

Also isn’t the Oscar Pistorius trial a bit depressing, how can it be a fair trial since it seems pretty obvious he did it in cold blood? shooting your girlfriend through the door of a lavatory is particularly cowardly, hanging is too good for him, I expect he’ll have a rough time in prison.

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