Contemplata aliis Tradere

A meagre contribution to the mission and work of the Order of Preachers: my reflections, thoughts, ideas and the occasional rant on matters mainly theological, philosophical and ecclesiastical, drawn primarily from my reading and experience of life and the world. Striving to be always Catholic, firmly Christian and essentially Dominican, flavoured with dashes of Von Balthasar.

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Location: Oxford, United Kingdom

A son of the English Province of the Order of Friars Preachers (Dominicans); born in Malaysia but have lived in the USA, Singapore, the UK & the Philippines for varying durations. A pilgrim and way-farer, a searcher for Truth on the journey of Life... "Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine, There’s always laughter and good red wine. At least I’ve always found it so. Benedicamus Domino!" - Hilaire Belloc

Saturday, June 18, 2005

I have to get this off my chest...

Two things which I saw or heard about yesterday made me sad... they seemed to me a reflection of the relativism or religious-indifference which pervades too much of modern society. We will all have things which irk us and by and large, I often let it slide - I certainly don't blog about it! But this bugged me all night (!) so I think I need to get it off my chest!

1. Tom Cruise announces his (third) marriage to Katie Holmes... This may surprise some of my readers, but I was a 'Dawson's Creek' fan. I was not keen on the immorality portrayed (and one can debate on whether this was just verisimilitude or encouragement) in DC but I thought some of the lines on friendship, parental relationships, teenage angst etc were brilliant and I loved the Wilmington, NC location. So... I was naturally curious about Holmes' career and was pleased to discover she was Catholic.

Now, it appears she will enter into an irregular marriage and worse still, she has declared her intention to become a Scientologist. This so called "religious philosophy" is a man-made cult which rejects the divinity of Christ (reducing Him to some kind of enlighted soul), rejects the Triune God (instead leaving it to the individual to discern the Energy of the Soul) and rejects doctrines like eternal life (but going for the depressing cycle of re-incarnation). Ultimately this 'church' rejects the salvation offered us in Christ.

Tomorrow's post will highlight the joys of Christianity and the optimism of Catholicism in contrast to such self-deluding systems of belief. I feel that somehow the Church has failed her because she does not seem to have grasped this. If we cannot be a sacrament of salvation and people leave the Barque of Peter for something as annihilistic as Scientology, something is wrong!

It is a crying shame to see Katie Holmes publicly choose to fall into apostasy. To choose Tom Cruise (who himself is an apostate!) over Christ... it's a premonition of our Lord's words in tomorrow's Gospel: "But the one who disowns me in the presence of men, I will disown in the presence of my Father in heaven." (Mt 10:33). Let us pray for Miss Holmes and her conversion to the Truth and the One who alone brings salvation.

2. The second thing that bugs me, and it was triggered by seeing it on a very public and live television program here in Britain, is the use of Rosaries as a fashion accessory. Over the years, the Rosary has indeed been made of all manner of materials and can be very beautiful objects indeed. But they are not decorative. They are sacramentals; an aid to prayer and a symbol of Our Lady's closeness.

My objection to this is the uncaring secularisation of religious objects and places. This creeping secularisation aims to make profane what is sacred. Church buildings converted into pubs or night clubs, religious furnishings and art chopped up and used to re-fit pubs, religious art seen as mere museum pieces, great cathedrals and church buildings viewed as mere museums or architectural gems... Secularisation sucks the soul out of these objects.

Moreover, the use of the Rosary - which bears the image of Our Lord crucified, the sign of our faith and salvation - as a fashion accessory is a mockery surely of the Christian faith. I recall a few years ago, a designer made shoes with Arabic verses from the Quran as decoration, and the Muslims (rightly) made such a fuss that he withdrew them from sale. But it seems people wear a symbol of our faith with no compunction. Are designers really so uncreative that they have to resort to using religious texts and sacramentals?

This kind of disrespect has truly reached an apogee with people attempting to sell a Consecrated Host on Ebay! What annoys me about that saga is that it took Ebay weeks to pull the Host off the auction site after complaints from Catholics but it took only 2 days for Ebay to respond to complaints of sales of the 'Live 8' concert. Where's their sense of proportion and respect for religious belief?!

The fact is people don't care - they tread roughshod over our beliefs and what we hold to be sacred... and I fear sometimes the people who started this trend were Catholics themselves! Witness the wholesale vandalism of church interiors, shredding of Latin missals and dumping of vestments and other liturgical accoutrements. And this is say nothing of the dismantling of theology and Catholic culture by clergy and religious! All these (documented elsewhere or part of our own experience) point to the shocking secularisation within the Church. When we ourselves seem to clamour for secularisation or pedestrianise our liturgy, is it surprising when society follows suit? Can we actually blame them when we, the Church, are the Sacrament of Salvation?

A comment made by the then Cardinal Ratzinger a few years ago struck me. He said an institution loses credibility when something which it once held as the most sacred or revered is then suddenly discarded and disregarded. This comment (which I can't locate the original of today) was made with relation to the Liturgy and in particular the pre-conciliar Roman rite.

May Our Lady, Queen of the Holy Rosary, pray for us!


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