WITH REGARD to Paul Cave. "rules" and the love of God, if our love of God and our neighbour were perfect and our wills totally reconciled to the will of God, then it would indeed appear unnecessary to submit to any "rules" designed to govern our conduct whilst on earth. If this ideal state was realised in us, then we would behave precisely iB God wants us to behave. in perfect knovvledge of His will.
Because most ia!' us are imperfectly reconciled to the-will of God. He has told us of certain laws which govern our existence in this life. which collectively are known as the moral law.
These are as much a part of total reality as the physical laws which govern our existence, but which are more obvious. We soon learn that it is unwise to pretend that physical laws don't exist.
We don't learn quite so easila, that to pretend that moral laws don't exist is also damaging to ourselves and to others. Because God loves us and doesn't want us to get hurt or to hurt others. He tells of these laws, and He tells us through His church.
I presume that these are the "rules"
hich Mr Cave is mainly talking about. It is precisely because these laws are not immediately obvious to fallen man. that God. out (Jr His great love for us. has spelled them out so that we can live by them in obedience in the first instance, but constantly seeking to grow in the wisdom of why God has made such laws.
If we do not liye by these laws in obedience then we are unlikely to grow in the wisdom of God in making them, but in the wisdom of the world. and we all know the world's opinion — on artificial contraception for example.
"Mr Cave says that the Gospels cry out the words of Christ to the Pharisees to stop being rule-bound. It is important to note however, that Our Lord is not criticising them for keeping the Commandments but for wrong motivation.
Effectively He is telling them that the should keep the Commandments out of love for Him.
leVe. perhaps. are in danger of taking that a little further by assuming that as we think we love God, the Commandments or some of them no longer apply particularly if our conscience does not appear to raise its voice.
With respect to the words attributed to Cardinal Heenan "If they're really following their conscience in the sight of God. which is all that matters --". I would seriously. question whether or not that is all that matters.
If a doctor aborts a live baby. in good conscience (which is perfectly feasible) could we really say that that is all that matters? If we were that baby we might not think so.
The abuse of moral laws affect others in addition to ourselves whether we can see that or not. and a true conscience, properly informed by the teaching Church will confirm the wisdom of God's Commandments not deny it.
Obedience to God's laws does not restrict freedom but provides it. "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
It is perhaps worth noting that the Antichrist is described in Thessalonians 2 as the lawless one. What laws other than the Commandments of God would he like to discredit? Do we see the beginnings of this era in the diminution, which is currently being subtley developed. of the laws of God. by letting it appear that there is no absolute value in them. no black. no white. but only a sort of subjective value which depends on the state of the conscience at any particular moment? The Church does teach primacy of conscience, as in the final analysis it is that which decides our guilt before Almighty God. hut that teaching does not conflict with the reality of objective evil which is the flaunting of Gods Laws.
The churchteaches us what is objectively evil so that our coosciences may be informed with regard to reality, and she teaches us infallibly.
God's laws are the laws of love. There is no conflict between them and love of God and of our neighbour. Jesus came. not to take away the law but to fulfil it. as He himself has told us. If we do not fully possess Him, His laws will help us to do so. There is no other way.
A. J. Gates Cheltenham.
WE ARE IN an economic depression rivalling those of the twenties and thirties. In those days the Church seemed to concern itself with alternative social structures to those based upon Capitalism and Communism.
We had thinking people like Eric Gill. Fr Drinkwater and others who propounded the gospel of distnbutism in the columns of the Catholic periodicals of those days. Where are the distributists today? Has the movement faded away to be buried for ever when it is most needed?
Donald 0 Jay Worcester.