Daily Archives: April 10, 2012
I sometimes try to look at my blog with the eyes of a person who sees it for the first time, and try to imagine what would be his reaction. Insofar as these exercises can be made with any reasonable accuracy, I would say the first impression must be of an overload of Catholic imagery (and text; but I think the imagery will at the beginning impress itself in the mind of the reader faster, and stronger).
Some might say this is overkill, and might even put off the – perhaps – timid potential convert desirous to learn more of Catholicism and put in front of a massive barrage of Catholicism.
I disagree. Let me tell you why.
I grew up in Rome, a place with a simply terrifying concentration of baroque churches. In those years, people didn’t do “subtle”, and everyone entering a church was literally brought into another world, and run over by a massive wave of visual, tactile (the holy water), olfactory (the incense), aural (the music) experience. This must have seemed rather massive even to those who were accustomed to it, and absolutely inconceivable for, say, the travelling Puritan.
If you think the Church of the times made her churches less Catholic in order not to shock the Puritans, you’ll have to change your mind. The fact is, in those times Catholicism was proudly asserted, not camouflaged in order not to give offence, and probably the very idea of being less overtly Catholic so that non-Catholics would not be put off would have been considered strange at best, and heretical at worst.
Catholicism is very image-laden, and directly linked to all our senses. It is not a cerebral, abstract religious experience. Catholicism wants to carry you away and assault your senses with the smell of the incense, the beauty of the paintings, the spiritual power of the music. Catholicism properly intended is, in fact, never ashamed of being Catholic (a phenomenon you observe every day in England’s churches).
Is this shocking? Probably, but it is a salutary shock. Will an assertively Catholic blog please the Puritan eye? Probably not. Will he be put off by what he sees? Hopefully not; but frankly, his problem. He might start to think, though.
If you enter the Chiesa del Gesu’ in Rome, or the church of St. Ignatius not far away, you immediately understand what I mean. Shock and awe are, in this case, truly appropriate words. There is nothing of “inclusiveness” there. Rather, they are so brimming with Catholic imagery and, truly, choreography you understand no alternative to Catholicism is even conceived.
Without hoping to even imitate the splendour of the Jesuits (when they believed in God), this little blog aims at doing the same: overwhelm the casual visitor with a massive show of Catholicism with no pretence of “inclusiveness” at all, but rather serving the entire Catholic tiramisu’ without worrying about the calories.
This is why Papal Rome will stare at the visitor in the face, whilst the sweetest portrait of the Blessed Virgin I could find online (and what a pleasure it is, every time!) will immediately terrify the evangelical unfortunate daring to enter this den of shameless Popery ;). Plus, if the poor chap has overcome the shock he will be bombarded with a rather long series of Popes, a Vatican flag, & Co.
Will this put people off? Has Catholicism ever advanced (spiritually, I mean) by refusing to be Catholic? Is it really productive to tone down, and dumb down, what Catholicism is in order for other people not to be “discouraged”? On the contrary, the visual, olfactive, tactile and auditive elements of Catholicism are so important that Catholicism cannot be conceived without them; then Catholicism is a complete experience, carrying away all of you in its stride.
Is it a surprise, then, that the madness of Vatican II attacked all of these elements? Gone are the stoups with the accustomed, cold touch of the holy water immediately reminding me I am in the house of God, and in His presence at the tabernacle. Gone is the wonderfully spiritual, awe-inspiring music, substituted for sugary children songs. Gone is the splendour of the paintings and painted glasses, now making place for more or less abstract, often ugly, more often childish, most often vaguely stupid kindergarten imagery. Gone is the incense, no one knows why really. Probably it wasn’t cool, or new enough.
When the smoke of Satan entered the Church, it tried to kill the touch, smell, sound, and vision of Catholicism. It did so by persuading the naive it be good that Catholicism denies itself and become its contrary; hey, if you want to convert a thief you may want to learn shoplifting, lest he be put off by your honesty. Satanic.
This is why this little blog will continue to be unashamedly Catholic, and laden with Popes, Saints, flags, churches, Blessed Virgin, and the entire Catholic enchilada: because Catholicism is a sensory experience as much as a spiritual or intellectual one. When you enter a Catholic church (properly decorated) you enter in a different world, and are immersed in a total Catholic experience. This church might shock the Protestant, but is more likely to make him think than the V II half-heretic outfit trying so hard to be Protestant, or in some way “cool”.
Lets us claim back our Catholic patrimony, and show it without any coyness.
Shock and Awe must be our aim.
Like our ancestors did, when they believed in God.
Reblog of the day
I have never written about a beautiful Catholic publication and Internet presence, Christian Order, so it is a particular pleasure to do it today.
Apart from the extremely orthodox views reflected in the editorials (which you can all read online), what I find particularly enjoyable is the very clear, wonderfully politically incorrect, no-holds-barred way of presenting the argument. If you think that this blog is too harsh, you may want to pay a visit.
Christian Order’s January 2011 editorial is one of those pearls. It is very long and deals with several issues, but if your time is counted I’d ask you to focus your attention on the second part, “Tragedy”, because there is really no other way to describe the present situation in Arundel and Brighton’s, and in Westminster’s diocese.
Tragedy, Part One: Bishop (alas!) Conry declares, before the Papal visit, that Pope Benedict
May well be relieved to…
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Let me say first I am glad WordPress allows me and people like me to blog in freedom and anonymity at zero cost. I think it is good for democracy and good for Catholicism.
Having said that, there are things of WordPress I really cannot understand, let alone stand.
I have, therefore, decided to make my own personal list of grievances. If someone who blogs with Blogger wants to add the list of his own “Blogger” grievances, perhaps I’ll see the neighbour’s garden is not really greener. Or perhaps it is?
So, let us see:
1) Some months ago they decided to have a standard typeset only people with eagle’s eyes can read. If you want to set your own typeset (and your own dimensions of said typeset) you have to pay extra. Bad. I now make extensive use of the “zoom” function of my browsers, something which alters the beauty of my site 😉 and is uncomfortable to use.
2) There is a continuous push to create new blogs. Why, I can’t really understand. Most bloggers are amateurs and if you want a blog to succeed you have to spend a lot of time on it for a long time. This encouragement to create new blogs seems rather childish to me, and certainly leads to nothing in the long-term.
3) Talking of childish things, WordPress patronises you by setting “objectives” for you that you never set for yourself, or told them to set for you. “This is your post number 1088; next goal is 1090”. Why? Am I such a child to have to be motivated to do something I am doing of my own initiative, and in my own time? What do these people think, that we are kindergarten children in constant need of being motivated?
4) Again on the same line, the “encouragements”. “You have written so and so many posts. Great!” How do you know? The posts could be, actually, first class manure. And why should I be interested in the opinion of a computer about my blog posts anyway?
5) Everytime I visit a “Blogger” blog, I admire their elegant, rotating “blogroll” section, with the blogs listed in order of who has posted last. It is beautiful, instructive and even entertaining, and made in a pleasant visual graphic. With WordPress you can try to tweak the system to do the same, but you land with an unseemly balk (a new section of your blog) for every one, and if there’s a way to really do it properly it’s too complicated for me and, apparently, for pretty much everyone else on WordPress. It should not be so difficult to take the bets from “Blogger” and offer one’s own version to one’s own users; something easy to use and set up.
6) If you don’t write a caption under your image, the text tends to be too near the image for my liking. A minor bug perhaps, but it always bugs me 😉
7) The editor doesn’t “learn”. Foreign words and Latin words, or names of people, are caught as mistakes time and again. A waste of time it would be, I think, rather easy to correct, or perhaps I am doing something wrong myself here.
8) No choice of spelling. WordPress blogs are spread all over the planet, but they insist on everyone using American spelling. I am a stubborn guy and insist with the English one, as good as I can. Words underlined in red everywhere.
9) You can’t schedule reblogs, and they are rebogged without the tags, which you have to add manually. Reblogs are good, though.
10) The little thing with the balks at the top of the page just doesn’t make sense. “You had 120 site views per hour for the last 48 hours”. I wish.
To end on a positive note, I like the way WordPress protects freedom of expression. This blog serves rather strong fare, but after more than 1000 blog posts only once has WordPress blocked it (a genius PR man of a bishop threatened to sue because the wrong photo had been put in the page, clearly by mistake. Clearly, a petty man with nothing sensible to do and a great desire to make himself important. As they say in Italy, “arms stolen to agriculture”). I am in no doubt WordPress are bombarded with requests from perverts and other “liberals” to block my, and many others, blog posts. Nope. By all its problems, the old U S of A are a great, great Country.
You would think a traditionally Catholic country like Ireland – a country which, if memory serves, had its own basic school system provided largely by the Church for a long time – would not care for politically correct bollocking, at least considering there are no dramatic divisions in the midst of society as far as religion is concerned.
You would, wouldn’t you? Well turns out you are (once again) too smart for the Irish Government. From the article linked I learned two things:
1) The Irish government wants to keep children away from Catholic schools, and calls its “inclusive” model “educate together”.
2) The parents disagree.
Funny, isn’t it? “We cannot enlarge capacity in the Catholic school”, says the Government, “because there are enough places in the school parents do to not want to send their children to”. Isn’t it a beauty, the Irish democracy, where the government tells the citizen what they have to want, and provides for them protecting them from their unhealthy desires?
Also, I wonder where the supposed rage against the Church, all too often portrayed like a bunch of predatory evil men, has gone. We have here a situation with 150 places a year in the Catholic school, 260 baptisms a year, and an overwhelming desire to send the children to be educated in a Catholic way. Shock! Horror!
“I want my kids to say their prayers in school, before lunch, before class, as I did.” says a good mother. I am sure she represents the opinion of many in the community.
“Educate together”, take a hike.