Since faith is one, it must be professed in all its purity and integrity". Pope Francis/Pope Benedict

Monday, 7 April 2014

Sr. Jane Dominic Laurel is another victim of what Cardinal Newman called the "religion of the day"

Sr.Jane Dominic Laurel O.P. with friends
The silencing of Sr. Jane Dominic Laurel O.P., by her religious order and the fawning apology of the diocesan authorities brings to mind the words of the great John Henry Cardinal Newman on the "religion of the day" (Sermon 24). 

The empty, religious sentimentality of the Victorian Age, akin to a boil with pus, may be said to have developed into an enormous canker on the face of religion. Newman's prophetic words seem to have been written only yesterday. 

The Cardinal wrote: 

What is the world's religion now? It has taken the brighter side of the Gospel,—its tidings of comfort, its precepts of love; all darker, deeper views of man's condition and prospects being comparatively forgotten. This is the religion natural to a civilized age, and well has Satan dressed and completed it into an idol of the Truth.

As the reason is cultivated, the taste formed, the affections and sentiments refined, a general decency and grace will of course spread over the face of society, quite independently of the influence of Revelation. That beauty and delicacy of thought, which is so attractive in books, then extends to the conduct of life, to all we have, all we do, all we are. Our manners are courteous; we avoid giving pain or offence; our words become correct; our relative duties are carefully performed. 

Our sense of propriety shows itself even in our domestic arrangements, in the embellishments of our houses, in our amusements, and so also in our religions profession. Vice now becomes unseemly and hideous to the imagination, or, as it is sometimes familiarly said, "out of taste." Thus elegance is gradually made the test and standard of virtue, which is no longer thought to possess an intrinsic claim on our hearts, or to exist, further than it leads to the quiet and comfort of others. 

Conscience is no longer recognized as an independent arbiter of actions, its authority is explained away; partly it is superseded in the minds of men by the so-called moral sense, which is regarded merely as the love of the beautiful; partly by the rule of expediency, which is forthwith substituted for it in the details of conduct. Now conscience is a stern, gloomy principle; it tells us of guilt and of prospective punishment. Accordingly, when its terrors disappear, then disappear also, in the creed of the day, those fearful images of Divine wrath with which the Scriptures abound. They are explained away. Every thing is bright and cheerful. Religion is pleasant and easy; benevolence is the chief virtue; intolerance, bigotry, excess of zeal, are the first of sins.... 

Hence excitements are eagerly sought out and rewarded. New objects in religion, new systems and plans, new doctrines, new preachers, are necessary to satisfy that craving which the so-called spread of knowledge has created. The mind becomes morbidly sensitive and fastidious; dissatisfied with things as they are, desirous of a change as such, as if alteration must of itself be a relief....

Think of this, I beseech you, my brethren, and lay it to heart, as far as you go with me, as you will answer for having heard it at the last day. I would not willingly be harsh; but knowing "that the world lieth in wickedness," I think it highly probable that you, so far as you are in it (as you must be, and we all must be in our degree), are, most of you, partially infected with its existing error, that shallowness of religion, which is the result of a blinded conscience...

1 comment:

Freyr said...

Linked to this "religion of the day" is the subtle transformation of a religion which caught the imagination of slaves and the underclass to one which has become yet another ethnicity. Instead of learning the truths of the faith from preachers and teachers, one is expected to absorb them in some sort of osmosis. Instead of being joined to the Church through baptism one is "born" a Catholic. Instead of preaching the gospel anew to a new generation, for to many it really is new, we wax nostalgic over some lost Christendom. Is it any wonder that, deprived of the very truths of the faith which made it so revolutionary a challenge to the society of ancient Rome, we have descended into a comfortable respectability devoid of life.