One of the most striking practical differences between the Church of the past and the post-Vatican II one is an alarming fixation with “joy”. I cannot remember one homily from Archbishop Vincent “Quisling” Nichols and obligatorily read from the pulpit which did not insist on the concept. I also heard it mentioned from several NuChurch priests that the best way for Catholic to spread the Faith is to “give witness” with their “joy”.
This is, obviously if not explicitly, as opposed to vocally defend the Faith.
The image such inane waffling conjures (at least to my eyes) is of a bunch of not very intelligent looking men and women going around with a permanent grin on their face and in the meantime putting up with whatever error or abomination they see around them. This is in practice what happens on a daily basis, at least in what concerns the putting up.
Please contrast this with the clear message coming to us from traditional Catholicism: a sobering warning about the meaning and aim of life, and the terrible consequences of throwing away the only – if long – chance given to us. This obviously does not mean joy cannot have its place at the table of life; merely that things are a bit more serious and complicated than senseless feel-good waffle for the uninstructed masses (who should remain so).
This obsession with “joy” also has worrying new-age undertones as the dimension of suffering, on which the entire edifice of Christianity is built, is in this way all too easily downplayed or altogether forgotten. Christ died on the Cross for us, suffering unspeakable pain. Mary’s life was marked by a life of suffering not only in her (nowadays conveniently overlooked by NuChurch) Seven Sorrows, but on closer reflection in every day of her life with Jesus (ask a mother what it would be like to see her boy grow under her eyes, knowing he will be insulted, humiliated, tortured and sent to a most horrible death).
For centuries, saints and common people have offered their suffering to Christ, deposing them at the foot of the Cross with patience, humility and faith. It is easy to say that all this is not forgotten, but in reality this is what happens when joy, not suffering, is put at centre stage.
Then there is the already mentioned aspect of the easy capitulation on front of the world this “joy” thing drives to. I see it here in Blighty every day, with the priests’ and bishops’ call to “joy” and its “witness” substituting every call for serious cultural battle on the many, many issues on which the Truth and the world collide. It seems to me as if said priests and bishops would want us to believe this world is an amusement park (note: new age mentality creeping up again).
I thought it was a vale of tears.
From this “let us have fun with our joyous message” comes the utter silence in front of almost every abomination, in the childish illusion – real, or conveniently pretended – that the “witness” of “joy” will do the trick of its own energy.
Hence, also, prelates like Cardinal Dolan, a man who seems to insist in giving a public perception of himself as permanently exhilarated, no doubt a direct consequence of his so heartily felt “joy” (the wine at the Al Smith banquet must have been good, though..). In an occasional moment of jaw inaction he should be explained the meaning of the old adage Risus abundat in ore stultorum, and I am not sure at all the Cardinal is an exception to this wise rule of common sense.
It is time our Bishops and Cardinals take on the real issues on the table and point out that this life is, among other things, also a call to bear every suffering God pleases to send to us – or that we have merited through our sinfulness and stubborn behaviour – with a Christian attitude, in the firm knowledge that this life is a battle, not a walk in the park.
Enough with the feel-good waffle. Treat us as adults with a judgement to undergo and a salvation to obtain, rather than like children to be kept satisfied.