News Analysis

The best of the web: Maternal love, post-Christian Britain, catechising children

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The Stations of the Cross and a stillbirth

At Carrots for Michaelmas, Haley Stewart meditated on the Stations of the Cross – particularly one Our Lord being taken down from the Cross. As St Alphonsus Liguori wrote: “His Mother … received Him with unutterable tenderness and pressed Him close to her bosom.”

Stewart was reminded of a friend who suffered a stillbirth, and who sat with her baby daughter’s tiny casket before the funeral. “Being in the room it was impossible not to feel the immeasurable love she had for her child filling the air. You could breathe it in as you walked into that holy space where the curtain between earth and heaven was drawn back just an inch.”

At the same time, “You could feel the pain so deep it could simply not be borne.” That was what Our Lady must have looked like as she held Her Son. “The weight of grief and the weight of love – inseparable.”

What comes after Christian principles

Once, wrote Fr Ed Tomlinson at Father Ed’s Blog, England knew the truth expressed by Dostoevsky: “Without God man can neither flourish nor be free.” Christianity was central to the nation’s identity: it ensured human dignity, morality and a shared vision.

“Our legal system, once the envy of the world, was based on Christian morality and philosophy,” Fr Tomlinson noted. “Our universities, schools and hospitals were founded on Christian principles and named after saints.” Even Parliament’s buildings were “awash with sacred imagery to remind politicians of our Christian constitution and their Christian duty ‘to serve not to be served’ ”.

But since then, the country has acted as though “we could somehow jettison our faith whilst retaining the fruits of the faith: strong families, united communities, liberality, freedom of speech, tolerance, charity, care for the poor, et al.”

Today, Fr Tomlinson wrote, “the fraud is being exposed everywhere we look”. The Brexit negotiations had revealed a lack of “Christian virtues like tolerance and charity”.

Attitudes to the poor, meanwhile, have hardened: “Wages drop, food banks increase, prisoners are not forgiven and disabled people lose help,” he said. Those who preach about “tolerance” are keen censors, and a belligerent “snowflake” culture has taken hold. “I suspect Dostoevsky would stroke his beard and nod.”

Two images of the Ten Commandments

At Word on Fire, Leah Libresco explained how she teaches her catechism class about the Ten Commandments.

Primary school children are often sceptical of rules: they hear so many of them, and they change from teacher to teacher. So Libresco emphasises that the Commandments are for our good; they are like “guardrails” which “keep us safe” and stop us from falling into danger.

Moreover, the commandments help us to grow: for instance, “the commandment to honour the Sabbath … teaches us how to live in freedom.”

As well as providing a guardrail, “God’s law is vertical – a trellis showing us the way to grow to be like him, and supporting us as we draw near to him.”