Uh, no. I am lucky to get out of bed for Mass on Sunday morning. (He must be selling something.)
When one considers how vastly different our modern society is when compared with the society in which our parents and grandparents lived, as recently as the 1950s, I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that this “interesting” time in which we live is an epoch that is between goodness and evil and, it would seem steadily drifting away from the former and toward the latter.
Okay. Now I know he wants money.
You and I cannot stand by in silence as challenges mount. We must take our places in this struggle and peacefully do our part in the cause of truth.
How much is it going to cost me?
This is why I need to find 100 comitted Catholics [what’s with this guy and typos?] who will stand with me in “fighting the good fight” by becoming a member of the Envoy Institute of Belmont Abbey College…
By becoming a member of the Envoy Institute — you can do it today for as little as $10 per month (about the cost of lunch for two) — you will directly participate in the Envoy Institute’s robust outreach to our culture, you’ll directly help preserve the Catholic identity and faith of countless Catholic young people…
Where do I sign up? Wait a minute! No thanks.
I close the browser.
Of late I have been dissecting all aspects of cultural Catholicism: the imagery, the laziness, the Voodoo of making deals with God and then breaking them. For most of my sentient life, I have counter-posed Catholicism to the world, even though that was not how I was raised. I was raised a church-going, cultural Catholic. Catholicism primarily informed the rhythm of life in a very low key way. While I went from crazy fundamentalist to strange spiritual seeker, reversion to normal life has driven me to choose once again the Faith of my childhood. While some people con-vert, and others re-vert, I think at this point I am in the process of di-verting. As I have put it before, how can I keep the Faith without the Church being all up in my business?
This is not merely due to sloth, but to the hashing out of very complex intellectual questions. Belloc is famous for saying that Europe is the Faith and the Faith is Europe. The only problem with that equation is that the terms are ill-defined. What was Catholicism for the average believer fifty, a hundred, a thousand years ago? What is on the books only tells part of the story, and often the most distorted part. Really, my investigations of what my family really believed and how they passed on their beliefs have been most enlightening in this regard. They lived in a world of life-and-death vows, miraculous statues, and “spiritual” illnesses that we don’t even have names for anymore. At best, we try to superimpose a shadow of that mentality on a world that has completely changed.
This is where I realize that Renaissance philosopher Marsilio Ficino and my grandmother have a lot in common. For those who have not had the benefit of reading the Florentine magus, a paragraph of his can include references to Christ, Jupiter, Hermes Trismegistus, Moses, the Muses, Aristotle, and St. Augustine; all in harmony, side by side. For a person in Ficino’s time, Catholicism was a seamless veil that covered everything he thought and Catholicism itself was covered in the veil that is the full breath and depth of the world of Beauty and Ideas. It reminds me of my grandmother’s small altar next to her television, where the Christ Child, a charismatic prayer book, the Virgin of Guadalupe, a liberation theology Bible, and smutty telenovelas all seem to form an organically whole worldview. Nothing is out of place, and no one is left thinking that one thing needs to explain the other.
I suppose I found some parallel thoughts on Cristina Espina’s blog, Sancta Sanctis. I quote a snippet from it:
I’m not sure whether it’s ironic that I can now also say I have no reason for being Catholic. Bring me every argument in favour of Christianity and I’ll have an answer to it. I mean, how do you think I became a quasi-gnostic neo-pagan in the first place??? I wouldn’t have been seduced if it hadn’t been sound. I was also later seduced back into the Catholic Church–not because Catholicism also seemed sound, but because it felt right.
I am nowhere nearly as pious as she is, but I think I know where she is coming from. I have seen so many “committed” Catholics do, say, and believe so many bizarre and disturbing things that I have come to the conclusion that it is almost better for your soul to not take your religion very seriously. Or, to put it more bluntly, if religion is becoming a way for you to be a better asshole, it is best if you just dump it altogether. God doesn’t need to help people be worse jerks than they already are.
The philosophical morale of the story is to put more faith in the things of God than in the skill and understanding of man. Going to Mass once in a while is better than going to Mass under the pretext of being the “last good Christians on earth”, or of social conservative engineering. Openly expressing doubts about this doctrine or the other is better than living in a Potemkin fortress village the walls of which anyone can see through. A soccer player making the Sign of the Cross before coming on the field is far better than the social critics who think that a Puritan God showers His decent bourgeois elect with earthly blessings. In “cultural Catholicism”, the thing is primary: not one’s perception independent of it. The symbol, in all of its earthiness, does not change. How you believe in it and how you employ it does.
I am just trying to get back to the point where having a Child Jesus next to your T.V. seems perfectly normal. Some months back, the radio in our car stopped working. While in a church here in New Orleans, my wife decided to light a candle before a relic of the Curé d’Ars so that he would fix it. Lo and behold, within a couple of hours, it came back on miraculously.
“Thank you, Curé d’Ars,” she said, “now I can listen to my Prince CD’s.”
Now that’s real religion.