Wednesday 13 November 2019

Just Try to be Holy?

I had a note from a priest who was feeling guilty about what he was saying to his flock. He read on a news forum the complaint of a Catholic who had spoken to a priest about these heartbroken times in the Church that the priest had said "Just try to be holy." The priest who wrote to me felt guilty because that's what he's been saying to people.

Priests have very little freedom of speech because they are, in short, the hands of their bishop. The laity can publish critiques of all kinds of Pope Francis's theology and not much can happen to us unless, of course, we work for an unsympathetic bishop. Bishops, of course, have a lot of freedom of speech, especially if they don't mind having their mandatory retirement letter accepted right after their 75th birthday.

Incidentally, I would not want any young man I loved becoming a diocesan seminarian before working for at least five years to save up a large sum to invest towards his retirement. Even if he has a lovely, fatherly, saintly bishop now, the chances are that this bishop's successors will not be as holy.

The priest noted that Cardinal Burke just keeps teaching perennial doctrine without criticising Pope Francis. I note also that the cardinal refrains from calling the pontiff names or demanding his resignation or being hostile towards him in any way. Cardinal Burke just continues on defending doctrine and accepting invitations to say the Traditional Latin Mass, red-faced and tired under all the heavy vestments we traddies heap on him. It blows my mind that his critics think he enjoys dragging a cappa magna around: vestments are the liturgical equivalent of a burkha, for they hide personal identity, and they are uncomfortable.

Cardinal Burke has suffered numerous humiliations under the pontificate, kicked from post to post,  his influence curtailed, and on top of that there is all the sneering from the left side of the aisle, which I hope he doesn't read. He does read LifeSiteNews, but then everybody reads LifeSiteNews. Whether they admit it is another question, of course.

Presumably Cardinal Burke also reads devotional works, and this is where my advice for the laity comes in--besides taking Cardinal Burke as a model: don't read nothing but the bad news. Read a lot of good news, including the Good News. Keep an eye out for the latest books by your favourite Catholic authors. This could be fiction by Fiorella de Maria or philosophy by Peter Kreeft. Go to the library or Catholic bookshop and find classic works by Catholic authors you haven't read before, like Alice Thomas Ellis or Rumor Godden. Walk on the wild side, and read a non-Catholic with some traditional values like Wendell Berry.  

Read your diocesan print news, not for the bad news, but for the mundane and the good news. Read about the pilgrimage, the children's concert, the high school's food drive for the poor, the parish's 150th anniversary celebration.

Go to Mass. Fast between midnight and Mass, if you can. Pray for Pope Francis, Pope Emeritus Benedict, your bishop and your pastor. Offer up sacrifices in reparation for both your sins and their sins. Support financially only those priests and bishops who teach perennial doctrine. Ask yourself what you can do to be a good Catholic, and do that. Focus on what you can do, and not on what you can't.

As you know, I did not throw Pachamama in the Tiber, and it never occurred to me to do so, even though I visited Santa Maria in Traspontina twice while the carvings were there. Much more offensive to me than Pachamama, as I was too busy on other stories to pay attention to the reported details of the October 4 celebration in the Vatican Gardens, was the racist, sexist, pornographic poster of an indigenous woman breastfeeding a wild piglet.*

I went as far as to examine how this disgusting object was attached to the wall (masking tape), but I never intuited God's command to me to pull it down and whisk it out of the church. It was always my hope that an actual Roman would do it, but really it was the job of whomever God called to do it. It seems that God called a young Austrian to throw Pachamama in the Tiber: certainly Tshugguel prayed long and hard about it.

What I did was my daily duty, which was to write about the Synod, and I worked overtime so that not only did the Big Stories get out, but also the little stories about who-said-what. I also went to Mass almost every day, and what got me through the insanity was going to Mass, doing my job, and enjoying my off-time as much as I could. I met with friends, and I made daily trips to a cafe-bar for a five minute croissant-and-cappuccino break.

The five minute croissant-and-cappuccino break was, by the way, a full-immersion into real Roman life. It had absolutely nothing to do with the Synod or the Vatican or the Amazon or this pontificate.   I stood out like a seagull among blackbirds, but this really didn't matter. It was the psychological equivalent of a hot shower.

If feeling terribly sad or worried by this pontificate, find your own version of my croissant-and-cappuccino break.

But that is enough from me for the housework has slipped while I have been ill and I have several articles still to write.

*Apparently this is not as unheard of as I thought, since there is a wikipedia entry devoted to the practice of inter-species breastfeeding, and rock star Tori Amos shocked America in 1996 with a photograph showing her pretending to breastfeed a piglet. I found also commentary suggesting that "America" is a "bigot" for being shocked. In defence of America, I am Canadian, in my late 40s, an expat, conversant in four languages, relatively cosmopolitan, and I was shocked out of my gourd.

1 comment:

  1. Hello Auntie,
    Thank you for all your good advice. There is a great deal of good sense in what you say. A bit of who I am today is patterned on things you have written, as back in 2012 I was a teenager who was single and was reading Seraphic Singles the blog, the new posts and the archives. I'm happily married now; attribute that to what you will: God, my husband's good taste, fate, or Auntie Seraphic.
    All in all, I greatly enjoy your writing; thank you for sharing it.