Cabiria’s Nights, And Elton’s Rebellion

I have written just a few days ago about the perception of the Catholic Church as the Barque bringing safely to the other shore the bad swimmers – and even the outright lazy seamen – provided they still make, sinner as they all are, the quantum of effort required of them. I have no illusion that the average Catholic in even very pious past times was not the type his contemporary Calvinist or Puritan would have considered an example. I have also no doubt that in past, more Catholic times most of the worst sinners were still Catholic enough to understand themselves as the sinners, rather than thinking they are the spotless victim and the Church the oppressive stepmother. Sixty years, and how the times have changed!

In Federico Fellini’s “Le Notti di Cabiria” we see the traditional Catholic religiosity at play: a small group of prostitutes goes in pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of the (if memory serves; don’t bet your pint) Divino Amore. There, among the huge mass of faithful – we understand the meaning of true “inclusiveness” here: the prostitute in the shrine, elbow to elbow with the saintly girl, with the chaste mother, and with the countless simple popolane – Cabiria asks the Blessed Virgin to give her the strenght to abandon her sinful life, and to choose a path of hope and wholesomeness. It will not be so easy at first, and the poor woman will be utterly betrayed in her naive hopes. But Providence – the same Providence who led her to visit the shrine – is at work in the darkest hour, and God turns even the wickedness of a most evil man to a good end, if we cooperate with His grace.

At the end of the movie – after a scene among the most celebrated in the history of cinema – we leave the cinema in tears, with the implicit, but still clear message that the young woman – betrayed and robbed, and almost killed, but now with a new hope in herself – will find the strenght to cooperate with Grace and reform herself.

We note here the following: Cabiria does not blame the Church for her sinfulness. She does not decry her “exclusion”. She does not call for a change in doctrine allowing her to receive communion. She does not consider the country “prostitutephobic”. Sinner among sinners, but more gravely a sinner than most (at least in those more innocent times, in which fear of the Lord was far more widespread), she realises in what need she is, and her supplication to the Blessed Virgin tells us that she already begins to really understand. As we all know, there is understand and then there is really understand.

Is Cabiria, then, “excluded”? No, of course she isn’t. The Church that succors all sinners does not leave her out. Fellini shows her to us in the middle of the multitude, from the saintly to the very sinful and from the very simple to the educated, all together in their tight spaces, all pretty much packed and pressed together as it was so common in those times; and still, not willing at all – least of all the good girl, and the chaste wife – to even imagine that the prostitute should be denied her moment “in front” of the Blessed Virgin. And there she is, the prostitute, in the middle of them; asking the Blessed Virgin for the strenght to change herself, rather than demanding that the entire world (and the truth) may change so that she may think she does not have to.

How different this attitude is from today’s. Today, we are right by default. We are all little wannabe-gods, and do not notice the folly of it. We are right by default. Therefore, if we are at odds with the Church, it follows that the Church must be wrong. Because lurv. Because “inclusion”. Because “mercy”. Because heresy. Because Satan.

Today, a person can publicly severe his ties from the Church because his being at odds with the Church makes, in his logic, the Church obviously wrong. It pains me to say so, but I have the impression that this attitude puts one in a worse position before God than the one of the shameful prostitute. I do not doubt both will receive a terrible punishment. But who, pray, will God punish more severely: the miserable wretch unable to overcome her weakness or the willful, vocal rebel against Him?

There aren’t many Cabirias nowadays. Not even in Catholic Countries, such as they still exist. There are, however, a lot of Eltons, Elton’s helpers, and Elton’s Priests. Heck, we even have Elton’s Cardinals, and something very similar to Pope Elton. Which is why, by the way, the real Elton is such a fan of the Evil Clown. Similia similibus solvuntur.

No, the allegedly oh so oppressive Church of pre-Vatican II did not “exclude”, at all. Her arms were always ready to embrace. She called prostitutes to mix themselves among the faithful, to take part in the same pilgrimage of the good girl, to stay in prayer near the chaste wife. But it was an embrace calling to repentance, not to rebellion. It was an invitation to embrace Truth, not to deform it. It was a reminder of the infinite worth of every soul, not a celebration of a sordid life.

Cabiria’s life was entirely wrong, and she was clearly bound for hell. But in those times a strong and charitable Church took care that the moral compass was not entirely lost, that the needle would still be visible, and point to repentance and redemption. Elton’s life is a moral bankruptcy much worse than Cabiria’s. He has trampled the compass and crushed it to little pieces amidst anti-Catholic cries of joy. He will have no other compass than the one made by himself, whose needle points firmly towards hell. He will consider it perfectly normal to say out loud that not he, but the Church is wrong. Fool.

Cabiria’s problem was big enough, but Elton is so deep in the dung he does not even smell the stink anymore. Cabiria could still see a bridge she did not have the strength to cross; Elton has destroyed the bridge, and now looks at the ruins with joy.

It would still be less bad to be a Cabiria, than an Elton.


Posted on November 10, 2015, in Catholicism, Conservative Catholicism, Traditional Catholicism and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. What you say, should be obvious to most Catholics, even young ones. Yet you sound like an alien from a different planet. How I wish an alien such as you moved into my neighbourhood.

  2. Vintage Mundabor. I am committing most of this to memory, and keeping a copy in my ‘wisdom file’. You help me get thru the day…thank you sir, and God bless you!


  3. An excellent analysis of the situation in the Church today. At least in previous generations, Catholics understood what sin was. Not anymore.

    It’s a good rebuttal to Fr. Ray Blake’s recent article titled, “What have we come to?” As a convert, perhaps he doesn’t understand why the Church has always taught (until the council) that sin separates us from God. Not that we can’t ever go back to Him. We can – but we have to strive to see that we are sinning. The Church used to remind us of what sin is. Nowadays, the only real sin is lack of charity toward others, especially sinners. ‘Peace-luv-mercy’ is all we hear from the pulpits anymore. No understanding that sin separates us from God’s graces.

    St. May of Egypt is one of my favorite saints. She was a prostitute of the worst kind before it was made apparent to her that she was sinning. After that she fled to the desert to live a life of penitence, and was found to be incorrupt after she had died.

    The life of St. John the Baptist provides a good reminder that pointing out sin in a clear manner can be unpopular.

    • At time I do not understand what the good man wants to say. I mean, in the sense of I (really) do not understand, not “I do not approve”. I think there are cultural nuances there that escape me.
      Anyway, I have read the blog post you mention, have not understood what it was about, and have decided to give my own take on the matter.

  4. I owe you an apology. When our friend Bergoglio took over – at a time when I was (for reasons best forgotten) a bit anti-trad – I welcomed our fluffy new Papa. I rather enjoyed the discomfiture of the rad-trads. I disliked ‘fanatics’ of your ilk. In fact, I’m still ambivalent about the Old Mass, and although I have more respect now for the SSPX I cannot envisage joining them. At the time I converted, as now, the sacred (Novus) spells spoken by the priest (in a charming little church in rural Gloucestershire) were good enough for me. I happily drank them in. I will not easily diss them. I am faithful. I am a Roman Catholic.

    With the Synod/Laudato double-whammy, however, the scales have fallen from my eyes at last. The former eats at the fabric of Christian morality, the other at doctrine. Increasingly, it has become clear to me that the only people the Pope despises are The Faithful – those people truly trying (and often failing) to live the Catholic life, to give glory to God worthily and treat their neighbour a little better than they did yesterday. No, I haven’t read Laudato but I have read commentaries on it that make it clear that this is all about establishing a one-world Authority (which will destroy the Church, of course) in order to ‘save’ The Planet and its wildlife. Of the Christian worldview there is nothing to be seen. This is Teilhardian Pantheism made flesh. Leftist politics is cool and capitalism is bad – despite the fact that Communism, where it held sway, never did anything for poverty except to make it universal.

    I’m sick of this bastard betraying Catholics, as he betrayed the pro-life lobby in the USA on his recent visit. We are in a war now, and the enemy is Within. We are well and truly in a ‘Smoke of Satan’ scenario. Belatedly, I geddit. It’s time to fight. I apologise.

  5. Amen!
    This, Mundabor, is why yours is among the handful of Catholic blogs I read daily!

    You show the true inclusiveness, the true mercy, of Catholicism in a sea of pseudo-Catholic distortions and heresies. There is no sin that cannot be forgiven, no weakness that cannot be overcome, even if it sometimes takes a lifetime. With God all things are possible. The only requirement is repentance. As long as I pretend my sins are not sins at all, but expressions of progress, or individual choice, or whatever lofty justification I may invent, I will never feel the need to submit to the cure the Church offers, even if my actual sins are relatively minor compared to, say, the prostitute.

    But if I stop pretending, if I face the true nature of my sinful acts, and if I desire as firmly as I possibly can to reform my life, whatever may be lacking in my weak human efforts, Christ will provide, no matter how serious my sins are. It may be painful and it will be hard, but whenever I fall, I just stand up and try again. Over time, I will improve, because practice makes perfect. However, like a child learning to walk, I will not teach my mother; my mother will teach me.

    Rebellion against her teaching means refusing the hand that held me and helped me back to my feet again and again. How will I ever learn to walk, then?

  6. whow.!what a post from AnthonyMunday!!

  7. On a technical note, a ‘moral compass’ does not have a needle, it is a notional ‘moral limit’ and not something held in the hand to tell us which way is north. It is like a ‘line in the sand’ or ‘a red line’ if you want to picture it as something physical.

  8. Catholics, help!

    I’m about to fall into temptation and commit a crime: post my priest’s picture together with his wife’s and child’s on facebook (though I’m still not sure if it’s murder or suicide). I need a slap on my face quick, before I press enter.

  9. I am not confused but disgusting. He’s two faced. One face acting like a mad dictator retaliated those who criticized his wrong doing. On other face he contradicted himself saying that God’s mercy is unlimited (no need for repentance). He’ll betray all those sodomites and adulterers who blindly follow and even worship him (his nature). Seems to me his ability to reason has become cripple and shut down, that he sounds unclear, lying and insane. His malfunctioning, I suspect, could be caused by directing and controlling of the dark force. He should realize that his and the gang’s souls are in great danger for “The time is now, the Deliverance and the Deliverer are at hand.”

  10. Great post….need to see this Fellini movie. I am also taken by a scene in another Fellini movie….Amacord…the scene is crazy uncle Leo climbs a tree and takes a leak….the Pope favors Uncle Leo and in the revised scene, the faithful are beneath the tree and he tells them it is raining. Or is it Satyricon? Always get my Fellini movies confused.

    • I never managed to see the later Fellini movies to the end, as I found them lewd, stupid, or both; but mostly lewd.
      I very much liked the earlier ones, first among them the trilogy of “le notti di cabiria”, “la dolce vita” and “otto e mezzo”.
      If you ask me, there was in Fellini a delicate poetry that went lost as he became older, but his stellar reputation almost forced him to keep making movies.
      When he died, I remarked he was decades late.

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