Crossing the Chasm of Faith & Praxis
December 2015By Chene Richard Heady
Chene Richard Heady is Associate Professor of English at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia. His articles have been published in Touchstone, Renascence, The Catholic Digest, and other periodicals.
Late one Friday afternoon in the spring of 2001, my fiancée and I sat on a backless couch in a priests dusty office in an angular church in Columbus, Ohio, undergoing premarital counseling. The priest, a monsignor nearing retirement, had always struck me as the embodiment of the best of Irish-American Catholicism. His impeccably orthodox homilies proudly proclaimed the ideals of the faith but were openly skeptical about our ability to live up to them. Try to shock him and you would just get a raised eyebrow, one more line on an incredibly furrowed forehead. It was impossible to imagine him raising his voice or running his Masses a minute over or under his standard time he was Hilaire Bellocs ideal priest.
Most of that afternoons counseling session went exactly as I expected it to. The monsignor delivered sage and world-weary advice about resolving conflicts and handling finances in his cynical mid-American wheeze. Then we came to what is for many the question. Do you understand the Catholic Churchs position on birth control? he asked.
Yes, I , I replied, leaning forward. I was about to exposit my own ideas about human sexuality and set them before an older, wiser, and obviously more objective authority. I imagined I was about to learn something.
But the monsignor immediately cut me off. You already gave me the answer I needed. Dont tell me about it. I dont want to know; conscience and all that. Its just on the list of things I have to ask.
You have two options:
- Online subscription: Subscribe now to New Oxford Review for access to all web content at newoxfordreview.org AND the monthly print edition for as low as $38 per year.
- Single article purchase: Purchase this article for $1.95, for viewing and printing for 48 hours.
If you're already a subscriber log-in here.