I am the product of a different cultural environment than the one in which I live now. As a result, I may notice some things I do not say more rapidly, but perhaps more strikingly than others.
I seem to notice the de-Christianisation of this country in the way more and more people here simply look. If you are the PC, sensitive kind with the blue-haired daughter you can look away now, or read at your own peril.
Two words in advance: where I come from, the way we look shows our respect for others, and for commonly accepted rules of behaviour. It is not only that we want to look properly: by the way we look, we show others that we took care of appearing in front of them in the proper way, and that we share their same values. You may say that in Italy things are rather intertwined (we do like to look good, anyway) but you get the gist.
Together with this always went common rules of “appearance” which, shared by everyone, made the standard of decency and respect for others. People gladly submitted to these rules, out of a generally shared sense of what is good and proper. In fact, in those times there still was something like that: a generally shared sense of what is good and proper. It was a broadly Catholic society, you know…
When Christianity went out of the window, these rules were subverted like all the rest. Some examples among many:
1) the “drug addict” look. You know, half the head with the “Auschwitz cut”, the other half normal.
2) the “I wish I were a fag” look. This is the “as thin as I can”, “ephebophiles, look at me!” look.
3) the “I will make you look at my hair” look. Purple metallic, ivy green, cobalt blue. Everything goes.
4) the “I work for my tattoo man” look. Entire arms, entire shoulders, or the entire neck covered in tattoos. Grave matter? What’s “grave matter”? There is still some reaction here (cue the word “tramp stamp”: women are always the harshest judges of their sex…) but in general the epidemic is clear to see, and no sign of abatement.
5) the “stuck in 1968” look. Any or several of the above mentioned, but worn from people, generally women, clearly beyond Sixty. This, my friends, is what a life of marijuana does to you. I notice it far less in men, and I attribute this to the need of the old hags to carry on to the bitter and very, very ugly end an “emancipation battle” their marijuana-smoking male counterparts never needed to, ahem, “fight”.
As an addendum, I shall add the “Battleship Potemkin” look: strictly below thirty, 300 pounds or more, a belly protruding from the corners before the rest, and the attitude that says “I look wonderful as I am, and if you disagree you are a chauvinist pig”. This last comes with the small caveat that there is a small possibility that said battleship got to look that way out of sheer frailty and correctly identified rather than, so to speak, ideological gluttony. But all the others are entirely voluntary, and require time and money.
Now let us ask ourselves: how comes that our forefathers were so “judgmental”, and we (I mean: the others) aren’t? Because they were Christians, are we (I mean: the others) aren’t, is the simple answer.
In sane times, the “alternative look” immediately told them one had an alternative lifestyle; and being neither politically correct nor stupid they did not fail to notice, and to say it.
The fag look would have indicated to them one who is either a sodomite or, in case he wasn’t, creepy and outright worthy of mistrust.
The purple metallic hair would have been seen – and rightly so – as an obvious sign of rebellion to all that is good and proper.
The tattoos would have been seen as an obvious sign of godlessness.
Battleship Potemkin would have been seen as an obvious sign of gluttony.
Not anymore in the “time of mercy”. Today, being seen as “judgmental” is the only sin. Everyone is a good boy, or girl, or whatever he feels he is, until proven otherwise. When it’s proven otherwise, it’s “who am I to judge”…
Some of you might say that this is not so anymore, and that today so many good people look like bad ones; but I must disagree. The simple fact is that those very rebellions our forefathers rightly condemned are still there, but now they have become mainstream. Our forefathers saw them because they were smart; we don’t see them because we are stupid, and don’t want to look unkind; but rebellion still was, and still is; it’s just that the rebel does not even feel such anymore, merely up with the times. Nowadays it is mainstream that there is no right and wrong behaviour. It is mainstream that there is no bent or straight, no sacred or profane, no sinfulness or saintliness. It is mainstream that everyone can do whatever he pleases, “if he does, oh, not, oh, harm, oh, otheeers”….
Nowadays, Godlessness is mainstream.
The way people look simply reflects it.
The ridiculous outfit commonly going under the name of “Church of England” is considering changing its rite of Baptism.
The reason openly adduced for this is that as many parents do not go to church anymore, they are not properly informed about the meaning of certain words and the theological relevance of certain phrases.
Sin, for example, might be expunged. You see, the poor parents might feel insulted by the idea that they are sinners. Then, there is the thing with the submission to God; which, we are informed, is a sensitive issue; particularly with women, because Anglican women are even more allergic to any form of submission than Anglican men. Who does He think he is, this God, to demand submission of them? Pah! He should just try to get it from them, they will show Him as they did their husbands! Submission! Really?!
What is extremely funny to Catholics is, actually, perfectly natural to Anglicans. A wordly religion will adapt to the world without seeing anything strange in it. Today the very concept of sin is to be kept away from the customers faithful as if it dirtied them; tomorrow, the Cross might well go if they find it offends their sensitivity; the day after tomorrow, every mention of Christ will be expunged, less the family members of Muslim or Buddhist or other persuasion or of no persuasion at all feel offended by such an intolerant, “judging”, and clearly homophobic man.
The saddest thing of them all is that even Anglicans who care for God – and who rightly protest against the planned changes – are unable or unwilling to see what abject submission to the world their own shop incarnates and witnesses day in and day out. In this case, this abject submission is proclaimed quite openly, as the most natural of things. “Look – they say – we can’t ask a woman for submission, can we now? You got to be joking! Have you ever met our wives?”.
The so-called Church of England, an outfit that bears its absurdity and ridicule in its own name, capitulates to the world in the most natural manner. Which is what they have done since they were born, and the very reason for their existence.
We Catholics are living very sad times; but we know that the Depositum Fidei will, like a block of granite, resist every attempt at domestication. The Church and Her Truth will never die and will never be defeated. Not even a drunkard, homosexual, paedophile, communist Pope could change anything in the way the faithful – notice the word: faithful – understand and transmit Truth.
This is not so by the Anglicans and every other Protestant outfit out there. The storms of fashion and popular approval will always, at some point, sweep them away. What has become of the Quietists? Have you ever met a Puritan? How many Methodists or Quackers of young or middle age do you know?
The Anglicans will be the next to go.
Good riddance. There is no need for any religion of wordliness.
One of the main concerns of the Church in the last 50 years – and I mean, even from good, orthodox priests and laymen – seems to be to make the message of Christianity attractive, or easy to digest, or such that it would appear an improvement in one's quality of life. The idea seems to be that the world out there lures souls with the promise of fun and joy, and a list of prohibitions isn't really the best way to attract people to give Christianity their serious consideration.
I wonder whether the entire concept does not need a re-thinking.
As I see it, the entire idea of why we must be Christians does not revolve around the “fun” and “joy” of following Christ – though it might certainly be so in individual cases, and a life lived in faith has pleasures that wordly natures will never savour – but around our destiny if we refuse to do it.
Christianity isn't a “fun option”, or a “better choice”; similarly, atheism or unrepentant grave sin are infinitely worse than “poor choices”. It is no surprise 50 years of trying to persuade people of this have brought us to the level where we are now.
Christianity is, first and foremost, harsh. Harsh in the brutal commandments – not suggestions of “better choices” -, harsh in the consequences for those refusing to do so, harsh in the crystal-clear warning that no alternative ways are acceptable.
The main issue of the commandments is that God forbids the relevant behaviour. The fact that, say, marital fidelity will lead to a more serene life in the long term than a long string of love dramas outside of the marriage is secondary to the fact that marital fidelity is demanded, and it is demanded before any consideration of how good it is for one's life on the whole. It is demanded because God wants it. Period.
Christ doesn't seem to promise much fun anyway. A sword instead of peace, enmity even inside the family, hate and persecution rather come to mind. Yes, joy is also there, but notice even the joy of the martyr going to his execution is but a result of his unconditional and unquestioning acceptance of God's rules as such, and even when it hurts; the most so, when it hurts.
When we, therefore, spend our time wondering how to make Christ's message more attractive, I doubt we are employing our time wisely. This little blog never tries to sweeten the pill of Catholicism, though if you knew its author personally you would find him, in his private life, far more lighthearted and good-humoured than the unspeakable mess about which he almost daily reports makes him appear. Harsh rules do not make for dour people, but for people honest enough with themselves to recognise the Truth, and adult enough to deal with it to the best of their ability.
The simple truth is that Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and those who reject him to the moment of their death will go to hell; yes, they will go to hell, and they will do so even if they are the funniest, most tolerant, most helpful, generous, planet-loving, tree-hugging, cat-stroking, “inclusive” people around.
Not really fun, uh? How many of those approached with the “fun 'n joy” marketing method will ever accept it, provided they are even told at some point? They have started looking seriously at Catholicism because of the implicit promise of harmlessness, because of the untold assurance it will not spoil the fun. When they discover that Christianity, seriously intended, is a huge poop in the middle of their party, do not be surprised if they suddenly start “dissenting”, or say they felt “refused” by the Church. They will, though, feel “accepted” by the likes of Bergoglio, those for whom not to spoil the party – and be popular in the process – is the first and only Commandment.
A Catholic must, if you ask me, rather be promised toil, tears and sweat, with the possibility of blood; and must be told Jesus will recompense him with infinite generosity for all of them, whilst He will be terribly just (I wonder whether Francis knows the expression Rex Tremendae Majestatis) with those who refuse to accept Christ's not-at-all-fun rules to their last breath.
This used to be, in past ages, a rather normal thinking. No fun was ever promised. Life was seen as rather a vale of tears. The Seven Sorrows of Mary were common knowledge. Christ didn't smile from the Cross. The Cross was a calling, not a bad marketing instrument. A good Catholic had no expectation of a bed of roses. Consequently, he did not need the juvenile, stupid pursuit of an unrealistic happiness that today moves so many people not only to divorce and remarry, but even to demand that they be not seen as public adulteres, and even admitted to Holy Communion. Fools born of a fool, “fun” age.
The old mentality – the one without unrealistic expectations, and without divorces – worked rather well for two thousand years, saving countless souls.
Then the age of the aggiornamento began.
A world made for the stupid, the unbelievers, and the Jesuits.
Traditional Catholicism has always been very logical.
If God is the source of all that is good, it unavoidably follows that people are good in proportion of God's love for them. If God loves them more, they will have more of that most evident manifestation of godliness that is goodness.
Therefore, the saintliest men and women are such certainly through their own effort; but they make the effort to such an heroic degree because they are loved most.
This utterly politically incorrect, Un-egalitarian Truth has been believed by countless generations of Catholics without any problem. Ultimately, Padre Pio is vastly better than I am, because God loves him vastly more than he loves me.
If one does not accept simple truths like this, rebellion can't be far away, because then there would be something fishy or arbitrary in the way God selects his great saints, and one would feel treated “unjustly” at not being so loved by God as Padre Pio was; though how many would really want to have his lifelong suffering and tribulations is, I dare to think, a different matter.
God loves me, then, vastly less than Padre Pio. He clearly loves me – and all of us – with a love no human mind is able to imagine; but still, with a love vastly less strong than the one he has for Padre Pio; a love that was – had to be, if we are coherent – there before Padre Pio was born in the first place.
Once upon a time, things were very linear, very simple, and utterly logical. If saintliness is a gift from God coming from His love for us, my duty as a Catholic is to try my best to be as good as I can; so that the growth in holiness, once achieved, may be in itself the proof of God's love for me. Those whom he predestined, he also called, and justified, and glorified.
God first predestines some; and then, to the predestined, he gives ways to, so to speak, learn the trade of saintliness and become proficient in it. This, because he loves them more. If, therefore, one manages to become a saintly man this is in itself, so to speak, the proof of the pudding. If he weren't loved more, he wouldn't be saintly. His efforts at being saintly have been inspired in the first place, and subsequently crowned with success, because he was loved more.
Makes sense, right?
Well, apparently, not entirely. Or not for all. Or, at least, not for some.
The Bishop of Rome – the oh-so-modestly-driving, Mozzetta-shunning, feet-of-infidels-washing, friend-of-newsagents Francis – seems to either think differently or, more probably, seem to want you to think differently.
No,” he said, “you are not excluded! Precisely for that reason you are preferred, because Jesus prefers the sinner, always, in order to pardon him, to love him. Jesus is waiting for you, to embrace you, to pardon you.”
The idea here is not that the sinner must never feel excluded – of course he must not; what are we, darn Calvinists? – ; the message is that the sinner is, in some strange way not explained to us, preferred and loved more. Preferred, mind, not “even if a sinner”, but preferred as sinner, or better said preferred because a sinner.
One wonders. Extremely saintly people like Padre Pio – one who, even as a child, talked to angels like I talked to my grandmother – must obviously be loved so much less, and not preferred at all; because heavens, if one is so boringly good, what great desire will God have to wait for him, embrace him, and pardon him? Compare the great saint, if you please, with the drug addict, the alcoholic, the sodomite, or the child rapist. How much must God love them! Ah, if I were at least a coprophagous man (for you Greek majors: a shit-eater), I could certainly claim to be preferred to Padre Pio! (though, sadly, certainly not to all the pedophiles and sodomites out there)…
Let us leave the jocose world of the paradoxes aside, and let us examine the brutal truth of today's Catholicism. What we see – in Bishop Francis as in many others – is the unspoken desire to let people feel good, full stop. As we are all sinful, to let people feel good unavoidably becomes to let people feel good in their sinfulness. This goes, with an attitude than I can only call Jesuitical, so far as to imply that great sinners are, in some way, special: more loved, and preferred.
That this puts the very concept of morality upside down escapes Francis, because Francis isn't fine or smart enough for Beethoven, much less Aquinas. What counts for Francis is, though, not to be smart or even logical – almost no one is nowadays, so who cares – but to be popular, hip, modern, daring, and oh so refreshing.
This aim he has obviously achieved. Read his words again, put them in the luv and joy context of V II, and you will immediately realise what he has in mind is the awakening of the emotional, cosy feelings so typical of our times.
“Gosh, I must be loved so much!” , thinks the crack addict as he steers the next high…
As I write these politically incorrect words, I can almost hear the high-pitched whining of the bitches of political correctness of both sexes and none. They will certainly call me monstrous, because I lack the feeling and compassion for said drug addicts, & Co.
What they neglect to think, though, is that logic and Christian morals are nothing to do with… feelings; on the contrary, there is no religion on the planet as divinely logical as the True One. Wrong is wrong. Feelings about it are neither here nor there.
As for compassion, I declare that the emotional sissies – of both sexes, and none – do contribute to create the very problems they claim to be so compassionate about; if not with positive help and approval, at least with the implied acceptance and the complicit silence that make them accessory in the others' sin; whilst, no doubt, feeling awfully good with themselves, and undeniably saintly.
Bishop Francis belongs to this category of people and is, in fact, their undisputed torchbearer. Whenever he opens his, alas, Jesuit's mouth, you know something will be wrong somewhere, but he will sound good everywhere.
A Dolan without the gluttony. This is the … bishop of Rome we have. I am afraid a Francis with the gluttony might even be his successor.
Pray for Francis with all your heart. If not for love of him – not easy, I am sure – at least for love of Christ and His Church, of his guardian angel, and of his immortal soul.
From the inexhaustible, truly precious reservoir of traditional Catholic wisdom of Lux Occulta, a CTS booklet that is a bit different from the others I have mentioned.
The CTS Booklet Abiding Sorrow For Sin is an abridged version from an original work of Father Frederick William Faber, a notable Catholic convert of the XIX century famous among other things for being the founder of London’s Oratory and the author of Faith of Our Fathers.
Faber’s writing style is the one of his age and this booklet, though certainly accessible to everyone, is less easily readable – particularly for very young readers – than more modern CTS productions. Still, the author conveys his points with grace and persuasiveness and one understands how he could achieve spectacular conversions to Catholicism in his London years.
The main theme of the booklet is that true and lasting spiritual progress doesn’t have at its root a constant habit of prayer, or of penance, or of tranquil and ordered life deprived of stress. Whilst prayer and penance are certainly good, father Faber tries to understand how it was that he could observe people not lacking in either and still not able to, so to speak, jumpstart their spiritual life. Similarly, he observed that people whose life was blessed with absence of hectic did not show, as a rule, a tendency to be more advanced spiritually.
The key to spiritual advancement lies, according to father Faber, in abiding sorrow for sin. This abiding sorrow for sin doesn’t mean being permanently saddened at our and the human race’s sinfulness, but lies rather in the constant remembrance of our inherent weakness and sinfulness. Once acquired and exercised in the right way, this will become a habit of frequently reminding ourselves that we need forgiveness but at the same time constantly receive it, and the quiet knowledge of Jesus’ forgiveness being greater than our proclivity to sin will give us a constant sense of serenity and at the same time help us in our spiritual progress by gradually allow a “hate for sin” to grow in us. The message is simple and profound and whilst it will certainly already play an important part in the life of the one or other reader, there’ s no need to fear than anyone may read this booklet without drawing inspiration.
This booklet will require, perhaps, 15 minutes of attentive reading and the way his author presents his argument is not what we would expect today (he basically needs one-third of the work to make his main point, not very common in today’s instant information age); but taken with the right spirit and a bit of patience, this booklet will not fail to impress every reader above the age of thirteen or fourteen.