Wherein Fr. Blake hits a century

No, he’s not 100 years old.

My friend Fr. Ray Blake, PP of St. Mary Magdalen in Brighton, has a great post on his blog.  HERE

A friend of mine reports this conversation:
“Father, my boyfriend is depressed; I want you to talk to him”.
“Okay, can you tell me a bit more?”
“Yes, he left his wife and children to move in with me and now he feels guilty”
“So, what are you asking?”

This not so unusual a request. It is significant that it is a young man. I invariably get depressed young men, sometimes suicidal young men who want to speak to me about some spiritual problem, ‘I can’t pray’ or ‘I want to return to the sacraments’ or even sometimes, ‘I think I want to be a priest but…’ and then when one gets below the surface there is a whole series of broken relationships, sometimes even of children from discarded relationships. I suspect if you heard their confession none of this would figure, maybe simply, ‘Bless me for I have sinned, it has been X years since my last Confession in that time I have missed Mass over a number of years, I have been dishonest and I have been unkind at times’, maybe even I have wasted food or some other eco-sin. [Yep.]

What is often neglected, is any mention of sins against the 6th and 9th Commandment, [among others] that could be because of embarrassment, or simply as I suspect just sheer ignorance that these are totally contrary to the teaching of Jesus. In fact I have rarely married a couple which is not co-habiting, nor experienced embarrassment when they give a shared address. Admittedly a few couples are living together simply because it is impossible to buy a flat without two incomes, and some, a tiny number are trying to live chastely.

We believe in the Natural Law: sex and procreation outside of marriage, aberrant sexual behaviour, pornography, sexual fantasy, coupled with drug and alcohol use and hedonism, in general are chickens which must come home to roost. Again as the Holy Father has been saying recently the misery that so many children experience, because their parents are continually rowing or because of an absent father and in the case of boys the absence of an effective male role model, only add to feelings of guilt many young men live with. Brighton has a very high rate of male suicide, someone suggested to me recently one of the problems is those who might give help are feminised, which only adds to problem.

I get a bit concerned when priests of a certain age (which they are mostly) say, ‘we must be merciful’. The problem is that for the last 60 years we have done nothing else but be so ‘merciful’ that we have failed to be truly merciful and proclaim Jesus’ teaching, which is the ultimate and only real mercy, [Do I hear an “Amen!”?] or as Pope Francis says, ‘God’s final word is called Jesus’. For many young people, men especially, it is that they simply don’t know how to live.

Maybe someone needs to sit down and write a simple ‘Rule of Life’, I suspect such a document will not come out of the Synod! [Probably not.]

Fr. Z kudos to Fr. Blake.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. EoinOBolguidhir says:

    I was listening to one of Scott Hahn’s free, online audio course over at the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology site. Specifically, he was lecturing on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Corinthians. He speaks very eloquently of our disordered tendency to put God’s Justice and His Mercy in opposition to each other. I understood him to convey a near identity being shared by the two, so that where His Mercy is greatest, His Justice is greatest. His Mercy is not a “Get Out of Justice Free” card.

  2. Pigeon says:

    Pope Francis points out the interconnectedness of all life in the ecosystems of the world. Let us not forget that all moral laws are just as interconnected. If one species goes extinct, all will suffer. If one moral law goes extinct in society, all laws and people will suffer as well.

  3. GypsyMom says:

    Giving a pass to judgement of sin and calling it “mercy” is anything but merciful. What clerics who do this fail to take into account are the real consequences that result in this life from our sins , even if the “condemnation” of the Church and society is absent. As Fr. Blake writes, there is incalculable pain and damage that results to individuals and their families from all sin, but most especially sexual sin.
    A family member recently completed a job where promiscuity and drug abuse were unbelievably rampant. Most of those people had disastrous family lives, were clinically depressed, receiving counseling, and on prescription antidepressants. They were hungry for limits and truth, but at the same time, were so enslaved by their sins that they kept vacillating between trying to live better lives and being drawn back into their sins. Since there was no source for the guidance of strong and loving clergy where they were, they almost always fell back into their sins and destructive ways. Jesus came to save us from our sins because our sins DESTROY us! Our entire world is ready to fall off the precipice because we have abandoned God and His law of love. The ministers of God who think they are doing sinners a favor by not telling them that what they do will harm them will have a frightening time at the judgement seat of Jesus!

  4. THREEHEARTS says:

    Jesus of Divine Mercy told St Faustina Marie that even though I am mercy, above me is the Father who is Justice. Therefore mercy cannot be given without true justice shown and ably demonstrated for the sinful action, thus we do know compassion or pity must be in one’s mind. The Church teaches that also satisfaction must be made before complete forgiveness. There is perhaps an error in catholic thinking today that confounds us over the difference between mercy and forgiveness. Where is atonement and satisfaction in this lutheran thinking. It is like the recently translated scriptures there has been a dreadful rush to translate the Greek and Hebrew word for justification/justice as righteous. That is not as the psalm says God has set us on the right path, yet as the psalmist sang God in heaven is righteous. Or as Paul pointed out Abraham was considered justified. Ask yourselves when did Abraham arrive in heaven???

  5. pvmkmyer says:

    I think that simple “Rule of Life” father wants written was drafted a long time ago. It’s called The Ten Commandments.

  6. Hugh says:

    “because their parents are continually rowing” …

    I had no idea that the Henley-on-Thames Regatta has such a devastating influence on family life in the UK. :-)

    Seriously though, great article. God bless Fr Blake.

  7. WYMiriam says:

    “Avoid evil and do good” is a common exhortation for how to live — but how are we to know what evil to avoid, and what good we must do? Look to the Old Testament for the Ten Commandments, and the New Testament for the Beatitudes. And bang — there you have a rule of life.

    Isn’t God good, to make things so simple [note: I didn’t say “easy“!] for us?

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