Catholics are not Puritans

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I was mulling this over earlier today, as I was thinking about aperitifs and drink recipes. I was also thinking about various heresies, beginning with Gnosticism and continuing to this day. You know the ones I mean - the ones that see the material world, including the human body, as inherently evil and debased. As Catholics, we take literally the words in Genesis that God say what He created and that "It was good". To these heresies, the Incarnation was truly a scandal - that God should be born of a woman, born in blood and sweat and water, born helpless and dependant - and still be God.

To the Puritan, it may also have been a scandal that Jesus the anointed, the messiah, the christ, ate food and drank wine. Jesus was not a vegetarian or a teetotaler. He enjoyed the material gifts of food and drink, and often shared them with the disciples and apostles. He appreciated this material gift enough to give it to us as his Body and Blood, the Eucharistic thanksgiving.
Temperance is a virtue - and we are called to be temperate and thoughtful in our use of God's gifts to us. We are called to respect the natural law and the ordinances of God - and that may mean that for some or at some times, total abstinence from the goods that God has given is appropriate. A drunkard should not drink alcohol - an unmarried person should not engage in genital activity - and similar boundaries can be placed upon just about every licit activity that human beings engage in.
But sexuality is not evil. Alcohol consumption is not, in and of itself, a sin. Enjoying one's food is not animal cruelty.


When you grow up in a typical Irish-Catholic family in a typical Irish-Catholic parish, you find that you have extremely little in common with the Puritains (especially at wakes), and yet still you feel intimately close to God.

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This page contains a single entry by alicia published on September 15, 2003 10:37 PM.

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