Thursday, August 30, 2018


For those of us who care, events are falling thick and fast. I wondered if perhaps we who care are living in a tiny self-referencing bubble. It seems to me all the people around me would simply blink at this, looking on the Church herself and Christianity in general as irrelevant, and so finding scandal within her, especially about homosexuals, a smirkingly comical irrelevancy within an irrelevancy.

But I may be wrong. There the headlines are, not shrieking but present, out in the world at Drudge and Yahoo. "Pope refuses comment." "Cardinals named deny," etc.

The events as they came to my attention, in order over the weekend (and now we are approaching another weekend), were:

Illinois attorney general Lisa Madigan will investigate Chicago diocese: Cardinal Blase Cupich welcomes. The hen investigating the henhouse, I thought; these two liberals will come to a very satisfactory understanding.

Then that story vanished. Vigano says Benedict tried to discipline McCarrick, Francis rehabilitated him, and then for whatever reasons, McCarrick essentially appointed Cupich and Tobin (of Newark). Ho ho, Cupich in the hot seat. Maybe. Tobin, who in some pictures looks unfortunately a bit like Wolsey brought straight back and infuriated from Tudor England, now off to a synod on young people, the faith, and vocational discernment. I hope that will be the last tone-deaf thing the American Catholic church does for a while. 

Then Father Robert Altier's magnificent homily at St. Raphael's in Minnesota from a few days ago, run twice in two days on Relevant Radio. I listened spellbound in the car before going grocery shopping and then listened again the next day (today). "Do you understand why all you hear is fluff 'n' stuff instead of good homilies?" he asked. Men who don't live Catholic morality will not teach Catholic morality.

But "the Virgin Mary's work has begun," he thinks. "Jesus is sending his Mom to clean the room."

And we must join her army, Bishop Barron agreed. He must be thanking God, if Cupich shooed him, conservative Thomist evangelizer, out to wacky California to make the best of it, that the best of it has been good. His Word on Fire ministry grows from strength to strength as far as I can see, and he in obedience has Chicago in his rear-view mirror.

And what do we do? "Join her army," "become the greatest of saints, to tower, because of these times, over the greatest saints of the past"? That was Father Altier's message. How to become so? By staying put, of course, or joining, by prayer and fasting and raising voices. But always be measured and charitable, as Bishop Barron's example shows. The Lady cannot make use, I don't think so anyway, of meanness and griping and interior wrath that does nothing. Like mine.

Amid all the stew of news and reports and ideas about launching committees and streams of comments on the Catholic websites' comment boards, I had a thought which is probably sterile and wrathful so I didn't put it out there. I'll put it here, where no one will see. I thought, a purge of the Church could start, and could make extraordinary progress in two weeks, in one: only let the Holy Father order that all priests in all parishes all over the world preach a homily, next Sunday, averring that homosexual activity is sinful. Not the people, not the inclination, the activity. We live in a secular culture for which homosexuality is the helmet of faith and the breastplate of salvation. Let the Holy Father command such preaching, and in two weeks you would see weeded out the men who can't choke out the words, and the faithful, soldiers (maybe unknowingly) in a different army, who can't choke down the message.

But here I'm being wrathful and proud. How do I know? Maybe lay-led committees investigating McCarrick -- even though he has already been truly found out and set aside -- are better. Maybe Cardinal Tobin is a very fine man whose prayers I am not worthy of. 

And I was thinking at Mass this morning (the feast of St. Augustine -- our good Father skipped any homily at all, maybe he is planning a bombshell of some sort of his own for Sunday and desired to save his energy) -- I was thinking, you really cannot decide how you will act to become a greater saint, to "tower like a cedar of Lebanon over a shrub," as Father Altier quoted Louis de Montfort. That alone is ego. You must still yourself, somehow, to a core of obedience to a Master, and to right action and right words. The Divine Office, for the hour of None, has this Psalm,

My soul is weary with longing, day and night, for your decrees (Ps. 118 (119): 17-24

Another thought. Years ago I remember hearing of veterans of World War II, that they tended to look back and say, of course in those days everyone either joined or knew they would be drafted. But whatever your anxiety, you didn't want to sit out this fight. "Everybody was going -- you didn't want to be the one who missed out." I think this may be like that.    

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