What is it about Puritanism that causes the red mist to descend where so many Catholics are concerned? This apparent antipathy is quite hard to fathom given that Catholicism, with its great ascetic tradition, has much in common with the Puritan vision of the Christian life. Thus both traditions are concerned with living a godly, righteous and sober life and from abstaining “…from the passions of the flesh that wage war against (the ) soul” (I Peter 2: 11). Along with the Puritans, Catholics would also acknowledge that separation from the world is the necessary preparation for fellowship with God (Ezek. 20: 34). Moreover with the Puritans they would concur that they must eshew any defilement which could ultimatley debar them from the life everlasting and the beatific vision of God (cf. II Cor. 6: 17-18).
It does seem that whenever a Catholic endeavours to uphold and promote a high standard of morallity, e.g. by denouncing certain TV shows or films for their unwholesome and offensive content he is accused of being a* Puritan* prude or a joyless prigg - in short someone who is attempting to impose his view of what is morally acceptable and permissable on everyone else. Sadly appeals to history and Sacred Scripture go unheard.
As a recent convert from the Church of England, I must confess that I am deeply saddened by the number of Catholics, even here on CAF, who never tire of defending that which is morally objectionable - even issues such as ladies and young women dressing immodestly (eg mini-skirts and low cut tops). It seems very fashionable nowadays to finely nuance certain issues by insisting that they are not so black and white as they seem, but are, in fact, very grey areas about which equally devout Catholics can hold differing opinions on without being disloyal or disobedient to their Church. They seem quite satisfied and happy with many questionable worldly pursuits and fashions and are quite incensed when they are gently rebuked or even mildly critisced. Why? Their usual response to any criticism is a very arrogant and vehement declamation about Catholicism not being a Puritan religion and that there cannot be any “blanket rules” regarding morally reprehensible TV shows, films or novels or women’s attire etc.
The Puritans were very other worldly (something for which they should surely be commended) and I can only assume that because so many Catholics today are evidently very this worldly that is why they hold the Puritans in contempt.
Is it not time that we once again saw the Puritans as a positvie force and worthy champions of high moral standards, rather than the legallistic kill-joys that they are normally portrayed as. Do they not call us all to renewal in our age of failing vision and moral permissiveness? Do not these much maligned saints of old send a vibrant challenge to those who follow Christ in these very difficult and decadent days?
Warmest good wishes,