Daily Archives: January 10, 2013
I have been reflecting on how much technology can do, and has in fact done, for us conservative Catholics.
I have already written where I grew up your typical Catholic books available in a bookstore would be sugary V II fare utterly unpalatable Vittorio Messori waffle. The advent of the Internet made an entire pre Vatican II world widely available, rather than the preserve of those already in the know and ready to scout (and pay) for the right material, perhaps from foreign countries and in a foreign language. I remember the time when one considered himself lucky to live in a big city, with a couple of bookstore for foreign books at prohibitively expensive prices, nowadays I am upset if I have to pay postage…. Actually I do not pay either anymore, than I love the Kindle.
Then came the forums (or fora, if you want to give yourself a tone), another hotbed of conservative Catholicism allowing a vast amount of people to connect as easily as never before, and even to discover how many we are in the first place. I actually arrived to the conservative discussion boards after having started to access the literature now available, but for many the path might have been the contrary one.
Then came the individual blogs, for me a rather recent discovery and another endless source of information. This time, and through a series of circumstances I had neither foreseen nor desired, I become an active user of the medium and an insignificant but still active voice on the blogosphere. Great fun and, once again, only possible thanks to recent technological developments.
Then came (for me at least) the social media, and Twitter in particular, where I discovered that another army of good Catholics was already fighting the good fight when I was still thinking a tweet is a sound made by a bird.
The last frontier is perhaps, more at an individual level, the advent of the small tablet in the 7-8 inches category. Whilst,say, you can download many applications on your smartphone to pray the rosary, the fruition of such tiny apps is not everyone’s cup of tea, whilst a relatively large IPad (or competing product) is already too large and heavy to escape a specialised or enthusiast’s use.
The mid-sized tablet changes all this. They aren’t really (much) bigger than many breviaries of old and are probably lighter; the use of applications like, say, those to pray the rosary or read the bible is a completely different world from the tiny smartphone app, whilst the easy portability makes of the thing a rather obligatory accessory at least if you live in a country where coats and winter jackets are of common use. It really changes the way you enjoy your app, and (say) to be able to pray your Rosary decade whilst having in front of you a decently sized picture of the relevant mystery greatly increases the experience.
This shows us technology can not only be good for our life in general, but can even greatly help the advancement of sound Catholicism: without the Internet we would probably not even know that we as a group exist and are so numerous.
Being born and bred in Italy, I have known the strange expressions used by some Protestants only later in life. One day, a young Canadian man asked me whether I had a “personal relationship with Christ”, and I must have looked at him in total disbelief. He proceeded, then, to explain Proddies have quite a buddy in Jesus. Great fun of course, and no “relationship” problems at all, considering the chap also proceeded to inform me he was “saved”, which caused another puzzled look before he explained to me he believes, therefore, well, he must be saved, must he not….
I wasn’t an observant Catholic in those long gone days, but even I would have answered, on demand, that when I die and not before I will know if I’m saved; and no, Jesus had never invited me to breakfast up to then.
These and other funny expressions (memorable the one of the two chaps talking with each other about when they had “met Jesus” during an English course in England, and you really start wondering whether they put something strange in the water…) are now rather familiar to these ears and do not cause a puzzled silence anymore, merely a mild amusement.
Still, I would like to spend two words about the radical consequences a different way of thinking about Christianity leads to.
I do not doubt many of these Proddies are very well-intentioned, and even less doubt the more zealous among them probably outdo most Catholics in their everyday practice of Christian values. Still, their thinking is potentially poisonous, and their attitude not only wrong, but very dangerous for their soul.
A “personal relationship” with Christ forcibly means the abandonment of all those traits generally not considered as part of a friendship: punishment, for once; fear, most certainly; awe and humility, in most cases. We feel comfortable with our friends because we see them at one level with us, we know they have no power to order and discipline us, and we are sure they would never decree we have called eternal torment on ourselves and this is therefore what we are going to get.
Predictably, the temptation will be massive, for all such “friends”, to end up seeing Jesus in the same way. At this point there will be no limit to the extent one’s relationship with Christ can be “personalised”, as very good friends will endure quite a lot in each other. At this point, also, Jesus will have become something scarily similar to the “imaginary friend” some lonely child are told to create for themselves: the pure fruit of an excited imagination, only they call it “Christianity” because of their imaginary relationship with… Jesus, their imaginary friend.
In this we see, I think I can safely say, the working of Satan, of whom it is rightly said he will be ready to let go a few if he has hopes of getting his claws on many more: the strange concept of the “personal relationship” with Christ will still allow some to live a saintly (if erroneous in their belief) life, but many more will be in great danger of damnation as a result of the “bespoke Christianity” they have tailored for themselves; this will in turn lead to be “friendly” towards every abomination; whether seen in other “saved” ones, or directly practiced.
Compare, please, this home-made chaos with the superior – because Divinely ordained – wisdom of the Church, providing her sheep with a set of rules no “friendship” can challenge, and another divinely ordained structure (the Church) to, inter alia, take care things stay that way.
Which does, of course, not mean you can’t relate to Jesus in a very personal way; merely that this “relationship” will not be anything “personal” in the Protestant sense, because it will be rigidly contained within the Catholic understanding of suchlike a “relationship”, in which the two “buddies” are substituted by the King , Judge and Sovereign Priest on one side and the subject, judged and faithful on the other.
I am rather scared (and scandalised) when I read of Catholics talking of Luther and other “reformers” as “men of God“. Men of Satan, more like. Their “novelties” and “reforms” cannot but be a door open to Satan to try to take away as many souls as he can; a process the more insidious when the relevant founder of the heresy led – apart from the heresy – an irreproachable life himself (not the case of Luther, for sure; Calvin more like).
The combined action of the early “reformers”‘, their descendants and the paw of the Devil then causes a situation where Christianity is spoken about in a way people grown up in Catholic countries cannot even recognise anymore.
And what about you? Are you, erm, “saved”?