Page 2, 3rd July 1953

3rd July 1953
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Page 2, 3rd July 1953 — CATHOLIC EVIDENCE
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CATHOLIC EVIDENCE

Answers to your Questions

A recent answer explained the existence of divorce amongst pre

Christian Jews as being because, without the inspiration and assistance of Christianity, they could not be expected to maintain the high standards of God's full plan of marriage. But sures this applies as much to the pagans of today; yet the Church regards pagan marriage as valid and permanent, with resulting difficulties when married pagans become Catholics.

rr HE answer was misunderstood. No mention whatever was made of "inspiration" or "assistance." What the answer stated was that, before the restoration by Christ of marriage in accordance with the fullness of God's plan, the imperfect form of "marriage-admitting of polygamy and divorce-practised by His people was permitted-was not against His commandments. In other words. He left his people in ignorance of the full nature of marriage; He gave them no explicit coalmandment which would have turned their breaking of the natural law in this matter into a definite, sinful disobedience towards Him.

But Christ's declaration concerning marriage removes this ignorance; the true nature of marriage-whether sacramental or not is that it is permanent and monogamous, and those who believe Christ's word cannot ignore this truth even if they wish to do so.

Naturally, ignorance excuses from guilt now as always. Non-Catholics who in good faith make use of divorce laws today are objectively breaking the natural law just as the Jews of old were; but, as then, their ignorance prevents them from being sinfully disobedient towards God, Whose law in this matter they do not know. But, since it is for the honour of God and the real good of all men that the natural law should be kept, the Church cannot fail to protest against and resist as much as she can agy legislation which encourages the breaking of that law rather than the keeping of it. As to converts married when pagans, it should be noted :

1. From the time of their conversion they do have the full knowledge of God's law, and whatever help being a member of the Church can give; 2. The Church recognises that not every contract going by the name of "marriage" outside the Church is truly a marriage : it is not one if either of the parties never intended it to be a life-long partnership-but of course sufficient evidence needs to be given of such invalidity in something that was called a marriage; 3. There is a special .pronouncement by St. Paul (I Cor. vu, 15) about those who are baptised while their husbands or wives remain pagans. This "Pauline privilege" might be explained as follows : Baptism really is entry into a new life; It is a really new beginning. But if anyone has a just claim on the baptised personas a husband or wife who is willing to continue the marriage-this new life gives no justification for ignoring such a claim : if the marriage was valid under the natural law, the claim stands. But if there is no such claim for the reason that the pagan partner will not continue the marriage, the Christian is free to carry out thc full logic of his rebirth into a new life.

Hopkins' Poetry

Stk-However the case lies, for or against Hopkins as a great English poet, I fear that his obscurity will always debar many from giving him a fair trial. To such persons 1 would say : Try at least two of his poems; both concern Our Lady. One is called "The May Magnificat" and the other "The Blessed Virgin Compared to the Air We Breathe." Even with these two poems I think one has to persevere and a single reading will not suffice. Hopkins aimed at compression, concentration; that was at times his undoing for it landed him in obscurity. But in the two poems I have cited-and of course others, we all hive our favourites-the genius of the poet triumphs not only in its initial impulse or "inspiration'' as we call it, but in its completed art-form or expression. And when one thinks of contemporary religious verse in the 19th century during the lifetime of Hopkins (1844-1889) I think all will admit that his own verses are like a glimpse of Mount Everest! C. G. Mortimer. 2 White Buildings.

Lee-on-Solent.




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