Some of you will have noticed that on the top bar of this blog a new section has appeared. The reason for it is that our reader Shane has posted on his blog the scan of a series of beautiful booklets published by the Catholic Truth Society in the Fifties. They truly give us an authentic testimony of how the Church pre-Vatican II thought and worked. The contrast with the praxis of today is, I must say, striking and lets us feel ashamed of the religious education most of us (and I most certainly) have received.
The first one of the booklets I’d like to introduce is “Tell Her You’re a Catholic”, a delightful short story explaining the old rules of the Church (and their profound rationale) regarding mixed faith marriages through the fictional interaction of a young couple, their best friends and the unavoidable priest.
I do not want to deprive you of the pleasure of reading this fascinating and well written short story yourselves. I will just notice a couple of things:
1) The cover shows a well-dressed man. I never can avoid to notice that when people took more attention to the way they communicated (much less vulgar language around, undoubtedly), they also took more care in the way they presented themselves. To be in order and to appear at one’s best where a way to show respect to one’s neighbours. It would seem stupid but it isn’t, listen to the language of many people nowadays and look at how they dress as soon as they are free from work obligations and you’ll soon see the link.
2) Several people in this short story talk and act in a way that today would be considered “uncharitable” and “judgmental”, when in reality it is exquisitely charitable. I am old enough to tell you that whilst this is a work of fiction, reality must have been rather similar – if probably less polished and faultlessly clear – to the way of communication therein described. Notice the contrast: when people were formally polite they knew they could talk straight, but today where vulgarity is spread everywhere very few people would speak with the openness of our fictional friends.
3) The problems, objections, hopes, possible solutions and real-life conflicts are exactly the same half a century later. It is nice to see that in the end we are the same people; we merely do not have the instruments past generations had.
When you have some fifteen or so minutes for yourself, you can do much worse than reading this very interesting short story. I encourage you to let the booklet circulate (it is a .pdf file that can be easily saved on your computer and sent around) and give your little contribution to the reconstruction of the brilliant Church of only two generations ago.
Last but not least: the rules of Canon Law about interfaith marriages have, I believe, been relaxed in the meantime. This makes this little story not less, but more instructive as divorce among Catholics has sharply increased, too. I can’t avoid thinking that if the mentality were the same today the results would be not necessarily less marriages, but rather less mistakes and more sincere conversions.
Once again, thanks to Shane for his brilliant work in defence of traditional Catholicism.