Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Lapsed Catholic

Those Catholics who describe themselves as being 'lapsed' are always in need of sympathy; the condition sounds uncomfortable, vaguely orthopaedic, like the sort of affliction that could be cured by an insole.
Or a corset.
There are others who seem to view Holy Church as being little more than a voluntary association, in their minds reducing their absence from it to the same moral level as refusing to renew their membership of the bowling club in Yetts o' Pitmuckle. This is not to be in any way derogatory about fine bodies like the Yetts o' Pitmuckle Bowling Club - although from what little experience I have of them, I can only remark that their proscriptions seem vastly harsher, and their liturgies infinitely more complicated, than those of the Catholic Church.
There are those lapsed Catholics who struggle to reconcile themselves to the idea of God. It would be an interesting study to see how much these Catholics spend on haircare products in comparison to those who are in communion - one vaguely suspects that the reason they feel themselves unable to believe is that they don't like the idea of someone, or something, else competing for space in front of the mirror. Such devotion to the cult of Alberto Balsam will sadly only be rewarded in one place - perhaps, as the saying goes, because you're worth it.
Such 'lapsed' Catholics would do well to remember that the only thing that happens when you take off a corset is the advance of middle age spread.
There are those who have not fallen but eagerly thrown themselves into the traps offered by reason. Given its adherents' absolute refusal to countenance anything that cannot be justified by reason, reason can only be said to be the most grossly unreasonable dogma around. If the reasonable man persists in the dangerous error of reasonableness for too long, he finds himself being so reasonable that he never says anything but slogans other people have thought up - or studying economics.
Readers of a certain vintage might recall a Tom & Jerry cartoon in which Tom seeks to trap Jerry with a clockwork she-mouse modelled on Mae West. The plot inevitably goes awry, Tom swallows the clockwork she-mouse and the cartoon ends with him hiccuping and saying 'Come up and see me sometime!' Reading any and all comment upon economic affairs now tends to invoke this image - 'We don't need less globalisation, we need more of it! (Hiccup! Come up and see me sometime!) 'Britain must join the Euro!' (Hiccup! Come up and see me sometime!) 'The Scottish Parliament must have tax raising powers!' (Hiccup! Come up and see me sometime!).
Close analysis reveals that this is indeed the correct level at which most economic comment should be parsed; and that Tom & Jerry, now apparently suppressed from British terrestrial television, will outlast The Pie in the Sky Fairy is a bet upon which one might almost be tempted to put money.
Reason is of God, but not God Himself - a very difficult idea for the reasonable to get their heads around.
If all this sounds harsh, then consider this - a Catholic can no more lapse than a kettle can change the purpose for which it has been designed. Kettles do not make toast, nor do they have any place in a car engine. They serve one purpose only. Telling a kettle to go and dig a ditch will not miraculously empower it to do so.
The lapsed Catholic knows that they are in error - yet they also know that God is Love and will forgive them if they approach him with a humble spirit and a contrite heart. Nah, too much like hard work. Got a few ends of bowls to play. Got to do my hair. Got to think up new and ever more creative ways of making other peoples' lives difficult.
Having been 'lapsed' myself, there was never any excuse for not being in proper communion with the Church except egotism. Many other self-described 'lapsed' need the benefit of that truth - that there is no excuse for the path they've chosen, which leads only in one direction.
Get over yourselves, and do what you have to do. Because you're worth it.


Blogger James Higham said...

I fear that your voice is one in the wilderness today, Martin.

17 June, 2009 16:37  
Blogger Martin said...

Perhaps it is, James. But I don't think so. Time will tell.

18 June, 2009 07:37  

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