I travel on the train a lot. Trains have their own little world, communities of fellow travellers (not often you get to use that term non-pejoratively). There are fairly rigid structures on trains. People stand in the same spot every day. And it's always funny when you get on the train and there are intruders - two guys going up to Dublin for some reason, a mother and daughter on a shopping trip and occasionally someone on their way to court. They have no idea the confusion they create by deciding to stand in the middle of the buffet car, right in the middle of someone's space. There's shuffling, strategic placing of bags and a standing too close in hope they get the message.
Sometimes someone just disappears after years of seeing them every day. Have they died? Retired or changed jobs? Sitting at home with a broken leg? Occasionally a new person becomes a regular. Perhaps randomly, perhaps someone's sister who can't quite decide which is worse, standing with her brother and his very peculiar train mates, or taking her chances further down the train.
There are some odd people. Or people whose behaviour can be odd. I'll mention three: Top Girl, Hat Boy and Impatient Man.
Top Girl gets on the train wearing a top. A fairly standard top, a plain coloured cottony top. Halfway through the journey she goes into the toilets and changes her top. It's not into a work top. It's not a better quality blouse. She doesn't cycle or run to the train. It's just another plain coloured top, from teal to lilac, from black to red. Intriguing.
Hat Boy is a hoverer, a lurker. He stands awkwardly on the platform. He stays near the end of carriages, not quite committing to one or the other. He uses the reflections in the windows and the overhead luggage racks to watch people.
Impatient Man behaves as if the train will go faster and arrive sooner if he pants and runs up and down the carriage. He must be first off the train, even if this means barging past people to get to the door. On one notable occasion he stood on the back of someone's foot and got a dig for his troubles. He has been known to lift people's cups of tea or coffee and just drop them on the floor.
Perhaps somewhere, there is a blogger writing about Catholicus Nua, the odd ball on the train. Who knows?
Once more the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, delivers the diagnosis, the analysis of the problems in the Church.
And once more he fails to deliver any suggestions for fixing things. Nor does he seem to be remotely aware of his part in the failure. Patsy Mc Garry writes:
Catholic teaching on contraception, cohabitation, same sex relationships, the divorced and remarried is “disconnected from real life experience of families – and not by just younger people”, said Archbishop Diarmuid Martin last night. In general, church teaching in those areas was found to be “poorly understood . . . poorly accepted” by Catholics in Dublin, he said at a meeting in Holy Cross College, Clonliffe. He was commenting on findings of a consultation in the diocese.
Every time the good Archbishop opens his mouth some sort of subtle nuance drops out. Where Cardinal Brady (God help us, has he still not retired?) back in 2008 managed to condemn same sex civil unions in something like clear terms, Martin, in a letter to the Irish Catholic wrote:
The debate about civil unions is precisely about a situation in which the mutuality of the sexes is no longer seen as something anthropologically unique and irreplaceable, but simply a cultural construct which can be adapted and changed. That is the central issue which the Church should be addressing in her catechesis and in her witness towards society.
No doubt the faithful in Rialto and Fatima Mansions were grateful for the clarity of that contribution.
So now Catholic teaching is disconnected from real life. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be. Christ has always made "impossible" demands on us. He wants hands cut off and eyes plucked out to avoid sin. He expects sinners to go and sin no more. He expects marriage to be for life. He wants us to love God and neighbour more than we love ourselves. Of course there's a disconnect from "real life".