It was refreshing to read in the edited text of Archbishop Hart's address on, "The rights and responsibilities of laity in the Catholic Church", a reference to leaving the Church to do our thinking for us.
For those of us who were brought up in the forties and fifties, it was very evident that the Catechism of the time, in its simple question-answer format, did not leave much room for thinking outside the rather narrow parameters within which Catholics were expected to practise their faith. There certainly was an emphasis on obedience, and even an inclination to regard thinking on matters of faith and morals as a process that was expected to lead to very specific, approved outcomes.
Could the claim be made that many church leaders and followers were more concerned with the letter of the law rather than the heart of the law?
It was clear that, prior to the Second Vatican Council, a hostile attitude to what was considered unquestioning obedience by the laity resulted in widespread defections from the Church, a trend which the Council's recommendations seemed unable to stop, and which has since continued. It is probably no coincidence that some of the Church's most vitriolic critics are lapsed Catholics.
It seems to me that there has now been recognition of the need for good example through prayer and good works by clergy and laity, a process, which as Archbishop Hart has stated, will enable us "... gradually, yet persistently, to change all of this temporal, passing world so that it comes to reflect God's will ...".
Such change may well not be significant within our own lifetime, but even at this point in time, there is evidence of such prayer and good works having a positive effect throughout the world.
My main concern is that so many deprive themselves of Our Lord's presence within them through their absence from Mass. Yet, by the same token, might not Our Lord be requiring from us, who are privileged to enjoy His presence, continued prayer and good example, as our mission for the salvation of the souls of others? This, surely, will be the best way to reflect the love of Christ within us for all His creatures.
To that end, let us not focus on criticism and blame for current malaises, but rather let our example and conduct reflect the presence of God within us. We can then trust in Him to do the rest.
Croydon North, Vic