One consequence of the fall of man was the corruption of marriage and the eventual institution of legal divorce. Even in Hildegard’s day (12th-century) divorce and remarriage were common in Latin Christendom. Marriages were utilitarian and pre-arranged, and consequently, loveless. They facilitated alliances between noble families in order to protect their respective fiefs or wealth. When circumstances would change and an alliance was no longer advantageous, the nobleman would discard the wife who was the basis of the pact and form another one with a different feudal lord.
One of the best weapons the Church employed to break down feudal society’s marriage customs was its insistence on consent as the basis for a valid marriage. Girls in their early teens were considered too young to grant consent and arranged marriages precluded it. Invalid marriages were a problem for the nobility because any children produced in them would be regarded as illegitimate and unable to inherit. The people of Christendom finally accepted that it was Church law, not civil law, that determined the validity of a marriage.
In light of the upcoming final session of the Synod of the Family, with the “shadow synod” lurking in the background: closed-door meetings and behind-the-scenes strategy sessions to ensure success in their determination to overturn Church teaching on communion for the divorced and remarried. What came to my mind was a particular vision of St. Hildegard’s as recalled by Pope Benedict XVI, which in turn brought to mind a scene from Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
PAPAL ADDRESS TO THE ROMAN CURIA, 2010
The focal point of Benedict’s Christmas speech were the revelations of a new series of sex abuse accusations against priests which had surfaced throughout Europe during the year. Recall that 2010 was the “Year of the Priest”; Benedict laments the unexpected irony:
“…[W]hen in this year of all years and to a degree we could not have imagined, we came to know of abuse of minors committed by priests who twist the sacrament into its antithesis, and under the mantle of the sacred, profoundly wound human persons in their childhood, damaging them for a whole lifetime.”
Over at Bonfire of the Vanities blog Fr. Fox and his Archbishop, Dennis Shnurr, take a shot at the upcoming movie. The Archbishop had issued a statement to his priests:
The movie is a direct assault on Christian marriage and on the moral and spiritual strength of God’s people.We need to inform our people about the destructive message of this movie and to highlight the beauty of God’s design for loving relationships between a husband and wife in the bond of marriage.
I’m more inclined towards Fr. Fox’s wording:
This movie is filth; it is evil. I’m sure it’s pretty, and has lots of fine production values, yadda-yadda. I can think of no excuse for anyone to buy a ticket to it; or, for that matter, to buy the book. It is also intensely degrading, particularly toward women.
While Father might not see a reason to buy the book, a lot of other people did; what is worth noting is not only the book’s extreme sado-masochistic content, but its broad popularity. According to Wiki, it has sold over 100 million copies and was the fastest-selling paperback in U.K. history. Also, as I understand it, the vast majority of buyers are young women, who I suppose enjoy reading about the degradation of another young woman.
America has contributed quite a lot toward the perversion of Western society, The Kinsey Report, for example, which was a bestseller back in 1948, internet porn, …etc. etc. But the popularity of this thing strikes me as reflecting that our already-debased secular culture has reached a new low. If there is a chastisement, America should be first in line, (see previous post).