Gentle regrets

«Danielle was beautiful, with a pure soul, a quick mind and artistic talent; she also kept her virtues hidden from the world. We had lived together on and off for several years, but shadows had fallen across our life - shadows for which I was much to blame - and marriage came about less as a final decision than as a remedy for all our mistakes. This too, was a mistake, as I knew it. But a mistake blessed by the Church has a kind of sublimity. Indeed (such was my inner thought) it is not a mistake at all, since the vow would compel the commitment. This strange reasoning took increasing hold of me, as I attended the obligatory lessons with Father Napier of the Brompton Oratory, by way of preparing for the sacramental - and sacrificial - act. (...)
My attitude to the Church whose rituals I was prepared to borrow was still not the attitude of a believer. I too was a thief, and the marriage that I stole one morning from the Oratory faced me thereafter with an immovable acusing stare. At last I disposed of it, and was duly punished. My years of guilt were clear proof of the Church's view of matrimony as an eternal and indissoluble tie. Subsequent attempts to obtain an annulment were rightly rebuffed and for two penitential decades I wandered among jeunes filles en fleur, spoilling their bouquets

«But then Basia was young, and her first need was to confess. I learned that the order in her soul was not innate but acquired, and acquired by swimming constantly against the current of sensual desire. She had visited England as an au pair to a Pakistani family, had been seduced by the husband, and had come back to Poland with his baby inside her. She had lived thereafter in the full consciousness of her body, knowing that it must be ruled and guided. She confessed to her unchastities with chaste and reverent words. And she brought home to me, then and subsequently, what is perhaps the most important truth conveyed by religion, and one that Monsignor Gilbey, incidentally, had built into the foundations of his life - the truth that sex is either consecration or desecration, with no neutral territory between, and that nothing matters more than the customs, ceremonies and rites with which we lift the body above its material need and reshape it as soul. In so far this thought survives in our modernist culture, it is in some garbled version of the panegyrics of D. H. Lawrence. Basia phrased it in the pure, simple, liturgical language of her church, and showed through her emotion that she had re-made herself, so as one day to give herself entirely. Perhaps she should have been a nun; but it was too late for that. Now her first thought was to encounter the temptation that I presented, not to flee from it, but to vanquish it. For the crazy idea had also come into her head that she could help me to salvation.»

A comunicação de Roger Scruton estava inserida num painel que tinha por título Cepticismo e Conservadorismo, eu não podia estar à espera que viesse falar de Danielle ou Basia ou qualquer outro dos seus "gentle regrets".

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