Iceland’s churches are filling up fast
In 1994, Iceland’s Catholics made up just one per cent of the population, wrote Lea Müller at the Reykjavík Grapevine. But today, thanks partly to Polish immigration, that figure has risen to four per cent. The church that has seen the biggest rise in attendance is Landakotskirkja in Reykjavík: it “is sometimes hardly able to accommodate the large numbers of people who flock there”.
Fr Jakob Rolland, the priest at Landakotskirkja, is encouraging Icelandic Mass-goers to register, as the Church receives government funding per head. He also hopes that the government will take more notice of Catholics’ political values on matters including abortion and marriage. “It’s highly interesting,” Müller writes, that “the Catholic Church flourishes in a country that is one of the most progressive in the world – and it doesn’t come without conflict.”
How Quietism led to a disastrous reaction
The way the Church dealt with the heresy of Quietism “has deeply undermined authentic mystical theology down to the present day. It has had devastating consequences for the Church that simply cannot be exaggerated,” wrote David Torkington at Catholic Stand.
What was Quietism, the school of thought condemned by the Vatican in 1687? Its founder, the Spanish priest Miguel de Molinos, seemed to encourage people to pray completely passively: “to do nothing but wait on God’s action in total silence”.
Fr Molinos’s followers “were not only encouraged to do absolutely anything in prayer, but to do nothing about temptations either, including sexual temptations that could only be overcome with God’s grace. Whilst awaiting this grace they had to be endured, or as it was shown at the court where Molinos was condemned, they were enjoyed on a grand scale.”
But the problem with Quietism went deeper: it seemed to back up the Protestant reformers’ view that our own efforts are useless. The trouble was that, once the heresy was condemned, it led to an overreaction by what Torkington called the anti-mystical witch-hunters. “Any sort of prayer that taught people how to be still and quiet, how to remain recollected and remain quietly open and docile to the Holy Spirit, had to be stamped out.”
Even St Teresa of Avila and St John of the Cross went out of fashion – and the mystical tradition suffered a great setback.
What does perfect contrition look like?
At the Hermeneutic of Continuity, Fr Timothy Finigan explained an oft-misunderstood term: “act of perfect contrition”. If someone commits a mortal sin, they “may be disgusted afterwards by the ugliness of their sin”, and fear God’s punishment. That’s certainly enough to go to Confession and be forgiven – but it’s “imperfect contrition”: it can be improved upon.
Perfect contrition is when someone is sorry because of “the love of God whom they have offended, or the passion of Christ to which they have contributed”. It doesn’t mean that “the person has made a perfect prayer, or that their contrition is absolutely spotless and cannot be any better … The word ‘perfect’ in this context means that the contrition has hit its proper target.”
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