Sunday, November 19, 2006

Saturday Nov 18th
To the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (5-6 St Matthew St London SW1 - and look up their excellenmt website too) for a meeting of their general Council They have some excellent new material lookiung at the distress and problems caused to women who have been goven abortions. In a few years' time, people will look back on what we have allowed to happen over the past three decades and be disgusted: the deliberate killing of babies and the trauma caused to women who were told that this was something useful and neccessary and they should not feel bad about it......

On to the Carmelite Church in Kensington where several young couples from across London were gathered for a Marriage Preparation course. My task is to give a brief talk about the Catholic understanding of marriage. What we really need to do is communicate the Church's teaching on this, and indeed on a number of simple and straightforward issues - God, prayer, Christ and the salvation he offers. The problem is that the majority of the couples are not just muddled and ignorant about the basics of Christianity - they are also absolutely confident that they know a great deal and simply want some formulas ("anger management" "communication skills") for having a lifelong happy marriage and no divorce! So we are trying to do so much in communicating with them at this stage: they are attending the course because at least one party in the marriage is (sort of) a Catholic.....and actually they are often potentially deeply interested in the Faith......but it is only possible to offer a sort of overall vision of it while also attempting to emphasise those aspects which relate directly to marriage....

There are some superb materials available for marriage preparation, but it is hard to get to grips with some of the neccessary essentials in the atmosphere of confident ignorance. Usually they end up saying very sweetly that they found my talk terribly moving, inspiring etc....but I don't think it has really tackled issues for them at a deep level. Or they want to challenge me on something that is not really relevant but is probably a way of asking questions about other things, eg they will say "Why is the Church so against gays?" or even come up with something about the Spanish Inquisition.....

The toughest thing is tackling the fact that of course most are openly living together. This time, I failed to handle this well: generally I do convey the Church's message and a suggestion of a deep need to rethink such a relationship (sometimes, this can evolve in some discussions afterwards about when/where to get to confession etc......). But today: no. During a discussion session on "What qualities/virtues do we need to develop in ourselves for a good marriage?" one - very agreeable and pleasant - chap spoke about the fact that a cause of tension with his fiancee was that he liked to have a computer in their bedroom, while she thought it should be in the living-room.....the notion that there was any remote embarrassment about their living arrangements would have been unthinkable to him. And another chipped in with a similar topic concerning snoring!!

Caught the train to Mother's, and after the usual chat and glass of sherry and sense of welcome, we watched together the excellent "Witness to Hope" video about Pope John Paul. Now, there was a man who communicated the Faith.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Joanna, Just wanted to tell you that I watched the first segment of your EWTN series yesterday & loved it. Very accessible & welcoming explanation of some things I've always wondered about (eg. The "Christmas is really just the Winter Soltice" etc). Thank you for the diligence & joy you convey about our Faith!

Anna T. said...

Please mention again the publication that you write for. The Catholic Herald? I would like to read your column. I live in the USA. Thank you for your enjoyable and always thoughtful blog!