Yesterday, I managed to get to St. Joseph’s in Denbigh for the second part of the catechetical series “Creed, Code and Cult” which I have mentioned previously. The first talk set out the many difficulties which the Church faces in proclaiming the evangelim vitae in the modern world immersed as it is in the culture of death. Alan based his talk around Venerable Pope John Paul II’s encyclical of 1995, Evangelium Vitae. I am quite familiar with this document as it provided the basis for a dissertation I wrote while at university, but even so he brought out some aspects which were new to me. For me, if I had a criticism of his analysis, it was the element of “conspiracy theory”. I do not prescind entirely from the possibility of a conspiracy of evil at work in our world. Indeed, I believe that there is one, directed by Satan, to undermine the Church from without and within and to draw man into the web of evil. It is simply that, by and large, I think the tools of evil are, on the whole, entirely unaware of the real “source” and have no idea that they are part of any “conspiracy”; often they are acting from what to them appear altruistic or even “good” motives; or they do not consider their actions from a moral perspective at all, but as pure “science” (included in this definition might also be sociology and psychology, as well as the natural sciences). And those actually on the “inside” are very few or even zero. Satan does not need to disclose himself in order to wreak havoc: remember, he is not trying make disciples but to destroy Man and, ultimately, even those men who have assisted him in achieving this end. If he can do this without in the meantime giving anything away (in fact he has nothing to offer) he will. And because he has introduced sin, concupiscence into the world, it is straightforward for him to do so. I therefore doubt that there is a world-wide anti-life conspiracy centred on the Rockerfellers. But at any rate this was only a secondary, implicit theme of the talk. The main point, that there is a culture of death whose tentacles reach everywhere within and outside the Church, which is institutional as well as individual, is certainly convincing when one looks at the evidence.
The second part of the talk, the “positive” was about the Church’s response and used the image of St. Juan Diego’s vision of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and the miraculous tilma bearing her likeness, as a paradigm of that answer. (I learned a considerable amount about OL Guadalupe from this part of the talk which was fascinating.) I’m sure there will be a full report on Alan’s and Angeline’s website Torch of the Faith.
I should also mention the very kind hospitality of the parish of St. Joseph’s and Fr. Ian. The parish church is modern and there is no parish hall, but what is done with the facilities available is really pleasing: well stocked repository, bookstall and library along with (on the day) tea and coffee and a very generous buffet lunch all in a sort of anteroom to the church itself. Although we didn’t make it in time for Holy Mass, it was pleasant to see the altar furniture arranged in the “Benedictine” style, a large crucifix of a traditional design overlooks the sanctuary, and there is a communion rail (I wonder if it is ever used?). We also enjoyed a cup of tea and some interesting and stimulating chat – I may write something about some of the topics which came up in a general sort of way later on – once the morning was over.
The next installment of Creed, Code and Cult takes place on December 11th, beginning with the celebration of the Holy Eucharist at 10am; the first talk is 10.45am. I seem to have more readers from the United States that I do in Wales, but of course, anyone in the vicinity should come along. The theme will be “Theology of the Body” (I have many positive and some negative views on this, I cannot say “innovation” but I want to, of the Venerable John Paul II). Following this, the series will continue in the New Year after a break. Unfortunately, I can’t remember all the themes; however, there is one on the Liturgy (the “cult”, I suppose?) which is always a minefield to tackle and full of areas for discussion, which is one reason I look forward to it.
Thanks, of course, to Alan, Angeline and Fr. Ian and helpers, it was a most enjoyable day.