When we demand that every last little thing be calibrated to our aesthetic liking, we run the risk of worshipping aesthetics, rather than the Lord they’re meant to honor. So, yes, make adjustments when necessary. If a better translation is available, by all means use it! But don’t be such a precious butterfly that you simply can’t abide to alight on something that tickles you this way instead of that way. Keep on fluttering, and you’ll never get to the nectar.
Modern Catholics sometimes preen ourselves on our stealthy infiltration of the secular world, by which we are constantly evangelizing our unchurched friends, when if fact all we’re doing is sitting around drinking beer and making butt jokes, which religious and secular people do in perhaps slightly different ways, but there is a lot of overlap. In other words, maybe your stealth evangelization is so subtle, there isn’t actually any.
So many people had lost beloved medals or crucifixes because the one little link that attached them to the chain just wasn’t strong enough. What a shame! And how baffling that Catholic jewelry companies so often make this mistake. It doesn’t matter how beautiful the medal is, how well-made, how expensive, how meaningful. It will only be with you if that one little link is strong enough.
It’s hard to resist the metaphor here.
Catholics ought, by rights, to be prepared to have things turned on their heads. Christ Himself is the great breaker of categories, up-ender of comfortable rules, the disrupter of plans. Sooner or later, Christ will toss you in the air to be sifted, your wheat from your chaff, and it is terrifying.
“I once saw a lady on a train,” said John Paul I, “Who put her baby to sleep in a baggage holder [a net above the seat]. When the little one woke up, he saw from above his mother sitting facing him so that she could watch over him. ‘Mamma,’ he would say to her.
“‘Darling,’ she replied, and for a long time the dialogue between the two did not change. ‘Mamma,’ from above, ‘Darling’ from below. There was no need for other words. ”
The internet, with its peculiar knack for putting private lives on display, has introduced me to so many people I never would have met in person. I now have a glimpse into so many lives, with their suffering and joys. It’s sometimes overwhelming, but also spectacularly instructive. Now that I’m aware, I can’t pretend not to be.
1. Sometimes, when you open a package of pork, it stinks like rotten eggs. You will think at first that it’s gone bad, but just let it sit for several minutes while the gas dissipates, and then smell it again. If it smells fine, then you’ve just witnessed “off-gassing,” which you get when pork is vacuum packed. You can also rinse the pork off, and that should get rid of the smell so you can go ahead and cook your dinner.
Lesson: Sometimes, all it takes for a crisis to become manageable is a little time …
It is an honor to be there, inside the church, under the steeple. But not all honors are easy to bear.
Photo via Maxpixel (Public Domain)
If He was capable of healing with a touch, surely He could have performed some other kind of miracle that would have changed everyone’s mind about Mosaic Law, or He could have made the man incapable of spilling the secret, or He could have done a thousand other things to get out of the bind the man made for him when he spilled the beans. The way He chose to do it is impractical and confusing, and it doesn’t make sense to me.
So why did he do what he did?
Image: Detail of Byzantine mosaic (Public Domain)
Some American Catholics haven’t learned a damn thing from our ordeal. Some American Catholics, when they hear about new victims of sexual assault and abuse by Catholics, are still dragging out all the old defenses:
Well, but look at all the good fruits.
Well, but look at all the energy we waste if we focus on the tiny minority.
Well, but we have to think of our reputation.
Well, but no one will trust us if we admit there’s a problem.
Well, why would you even dare to criticize us? Is it because you hate shepherding and want anarchy?
Well, but it’s just one sheep. It’s unfortunate, but . . . we’re in the fold, and we’re doing all right.
Photo via Pxhere (Creative Commons)