1. I received an email from a reader who, like so many others, was victimized by faithless, unbelieving Catholic clergy in her youth. She was dating a divorced Protestant man, and long story short, the priest was gung-ho about them getting married, and referred to the annulment process as “this Catholic shit”. The boyfriend thought this was hilarious and “this Catholic shit” became a punchline for ribbing. Thankfully, that marriage did not happen and the reader is now happily married. Yay!
2. But this brings up several points. First is a question in my mind, and as you know, I’m not much for asking questions here. I prefer to answer questions, inasmuch as I can. But this one question is one that has always mystified me, and continues to. I cannot understand why in the world someone would become a priest or a nun if they didn’t believe any of it. That is like hating children and becoming a school teacher (but we all can probably remember teachers in our elementary and junior highs who clearly hated children, but there they were). Or hating beets and becoming a beet taste tester. I guess some certainly did it for the sex, and I’m not being facetious. Since the Asteroid hit, sodomites of both sexes have been aggressively recruited, and many western seminaries turned into de facto bathhouses. I reckon the lesbians just flocked together. I had a friend years ago who had a brother who was a priest, a Capuchin Franciscan. He told me that the priest brother joined up for the “retirement benefits”, as he was “way too smart to actually believe any of that shit.” RETIREMENT BENEFITS? You dedicate your life to something that you don’t actually believe in so you can get the RETIREMENT BENEFITS? I remember very early on in my reading my way into the Church having gone to Christmas Eve Midnight Mass in downtown Denver, wherein Mozart’s Coronation Mass was the setting, performed by the Colorado Symphony. It was glorious. Anyway, this was one of the first Masses I had ever attended. The next time I saw the priest brother of my friend, I asked him – get this: “What is the significance of the ringing of the bells?” Well, the ringing of the bells is done at the consecration of the Eucharist. Guys, I could not have possibly lobbed this priest a bigger grapefruit than that. His response? He shrugged his shoulders, grunted “Idunno”, and RAPIDLY changed the subject. You know, because the Cool Kids… are in it for the retirement package?
3. This also brings up the point that we all, I think, probably understand, but it needs to be formally stated. One of the features of this sick, twisted society is the whole business of people wallowing and luxuriating in sin as a bonding mechanism. This is how oligarchies, both macro and micro, function. On the micro level, we all remember social cliques in high school. Remember how the acceptance of smoking and/or sexual activity was used as a social litmus? “Yeah, she smokes. You’re cool with that, right?” “Yeah, she has sex. You’re cool with that, right?” Either you’re fully in favor of the sin or you are socially cut-off. You are UNCOOL.
In the adult world, it is, “Yeah, they’re having an affair. You’re cool with that, right?” “Yeah, he’s gay. You’re cool with that, right?” “Yeah, it’s all a ponzi scheme. Stupid muppets. Heh. You’re cool with that, right?” Because to ratify sin, to be “in” on it, makes small people feel special, and perhaps more to the point, ELITE. Because to believe oneself to be above the Law is, in a sense, to believe oneself to be above God Himself.
This “elitism” also manifests today in terms of aesthetics. People, desperately trying to make themselves “elite”, now luxuriate in ugliness, and cast themselves as morally superior in doing so. They declare things that are objectively ugly – and yes, beauty is an objective reality because it is a constitutive quality of God – as beautiful, and then imagine themselves as “elite” because they are beyond God Himself and His “peasant” aesthetic. One has to consciously pervert one’s mind to hate beauty and celebrate ugliness. But that is precisely what this culture is all about, and why there is almost no beauty in art or architecture any longer, and why much of the popular music of today is, in fact, dissonant, hellish noise.
I am reminded of a new construction church in Denver which recently installed stained glass windows. Instead of installing beautiful windows with images of Our Lord, the Angels and Saints, and edifying and catechetical scenes from Salvation History, hideous, post-modernist windows were commissioned and installed. These windows are not just ugly, but violently so. They contain clashing colors, and jagged, angry, chaotic, random shapes. And the priest who commissioned them goes on and on about how beautiful they are, and all of the people who want to fit in and be thought “cool” and “smart” nod in agreement. Because we know better than God Himself what is and what is not beautiful. Disregard the Natural Law written on your hearts. Disregard objective reality. Wallow in ugliness and call it beauty and be one of the ELITES. Wink.
4. It occurred to me that perhaps a way to describe the Law, and the reason why Our Lord says, “If you love Me, keep My Commandments”, is this: The Law simply tells us how NOT TO HURT GOD.
Every single item of the Law, every single sin could fit into this formula:
If you do ______________, it will hurt Me.
If you don’t love Me, it will hurt Me.
If you don’t go to Mass, it will hurt Me.
If you have sex outside of marriage, it will hurt Me.
If you lie, it will hurt Me.
If you steal, it will hurt Me.
If you don’t forgive your enemies, it will hurt Me.
If you are indifferent to the eternal fate of others’ souls, it will hurt Me.
The Law is simply God telling us the things that we do that HURT HIM. And isn’t that what we are supposed to do with each other? If we have a friend or family member or spouse that is hurting us, aren’t we supposed to tell them? And if we are hurting in some way someone we love – even if inadvertently or through ignorance – shouldn’t we WANT to know so that we can stop hurting them? How then could God, our Tremendous Lover, NOT tell us the things that we do that hurt Him? And how could we possibly, possibly ignore Him?
Psalm 118, a declaration of love for the Law, is simply this. We love the Law because it helps us to hurt Our Blessed Lord less, and love Him more.
5. It occurred to me during my Rosary the other day that we should envisage ourselves standing in line at the Judgment with our enemies in line ahead of us such that we can see them standing before Our Lord, but NOT hear what is said. Then we see the result of their Judgment. They either are carried up into heaven, or carried off down to hell. Now, here is the exercise: Imagine your enemies. People that you despise. People who have wronged you and/or others, and have incited wrath and anger inside of you. Let’s use, as an example, a public figure we all agree is truly despicable and has committed grave public sins. I’m coming up with Anthony Weiner. Man, that guy makes my flesh crawl. What a horrible, horrible person. Okay. So Anthony Weiner is standing before Christ being judged. Two questions:
1. Am I rooting for Anthony Weiner to be saved?
2. If I see Anthony Weiner carried up into heaven, do I celebrate this, or does it make me angry?
If we are, at any point, rooting AGAINST the salvation of any human being, we’re in serious trouble ourselves.
If we are embittered by the thought of a sinner achieving the Beatific Vision as “unfair”, we’re in extremely deep trouble ourselves.
I shall henceforth make a mental list of my enemies and imagine them, one by one, just about to be condemned to hell, until I am able to feel the horror of their loss, and beg Our Lord for clemency on their behalf.