Wednesday, March 14, 2012

You Like Me, You Really Like Me!...or maybe not

It has not always been easy being Catholic in this country.  From the early settlements of the colonies, English settlers took a very hostile view of those papists joining them in the new world.  It would take over 170 years before a Catholic would be elected to the presidency.  Otherwise, Catholics were to keep to themselves, shoulder outright hate, bigotry, and intolerance.  Then with the age of media, we were treated to some positive images of priests and sisters...singing and kindly.  We saw a Catholic Bishop, Fulton Sheen, have a hit TV show.  Then we elected Kennedy and something changed.  In a speech before Evangelicals in Texas, Kennedy basically promised that would not use his faith in the way he led, he would be a good little protestant dhimmi and be just like them.  No wonder the speech made Sen. Santorum want to puke.  He got elected and Catholics had an epiphany...all we have to do is chuck our faith if we want to be popular.  We could still retain the cultural identification as Catholic, we just didn't have to live any of it or publicly profess any of it.

Then, just off the heels of this epiphany came the sexual revolution.  We might have had problems with this or that teaching of the Church, but now we were free to just let loose.  What better way than to fornicate like bunnies and feel no tinge to that nasty old conscience! We could contracept our way into a new and freeing existence of  all the benefits of marriage without having to marry.  Women were told that marriage and family life weighed them down anyway, but why chuck that ball and chain and have to miss sex?!  When that stodgy old Pope Paul VI put out Humanae Vitae..well we just had in black and white just how out of it the Church was.  It wasn't just lay people either.  Many of those priests and sisters who stayed, after so many left, adopted this new 'freeing' mentality and , well, woo-hoo,  just went to town.  In fact the less that you could act or even look like one of those nasty old relics, the better.  Sure, some people got bent out of shape, but they were humorless puritans.

So we bolted from our faith, dumbed down...I'm sorry...breathed new life into the practices, and acculturated so much worldly wisdom,  that assuredly now they would like us!  65% quit going to Church much at all or completely.  It became fashionable to be a cafeteria Catholic, picking and choosing what teachings we liked or didn't challenge our favored sins.  Surely, the world would love us now!  Of course, the clergy decided that this would be a wonderful time to hand our detractors boatloads of ammunition (not to mention boatloads of money as well) and break their vows of celibacy with children, women, and men.  Okay, it was a small percentage of the clergy...a really small percent...but we bought the narrative that most priests had all the sexual restraint of a teenage boy in a brothel with his dad's credit card.  We bought the premise that most priests were gay or just really weird.  Surely, the world will like us now!  Our convents emptied out!  Our seminaries emptied out!  Surely the world would like as now! Yeah, not so much.

 Catholics are learning that you never negotiate with someone who wants you dead.  While those who abandoned their faith were lauded and gave themselves such non-offensive names like 'recovering Catholic" (get it?  Like a recovering alcoholic? because Catholicism is a disease?  Funny !  Oh never mind) and some became official spokesmen for the Church in the mainstream media and were trotted out like prize turkeys whenever a pope dared cross the pond and drop in.  All the better if a former priest of sister..better yet if a current one who just show how worldly they were in trashing the pope.   But for those who decided to stick it out, the attacks have been relentless.  The more faithful we are, the more they hate us, and we  have to happy with this. Really...happy?! The entertainment industry will continue to portray all clergy and religious as either dolts, Huns, gay, or criminals.   The media will continue to portray faithful Catholics as insipid, ignorant, intolerant, hate filled, half breeds, hypocrites, and nitwits.  The oh-so-smart academic types will continue to doubt our intelligence, our teachings, our rituals, and our faithful with little more than derision and scorn.  Maybe even the government will continue to try to strip away our rights.  SO WHAT!?  My attitude is : BRING IT!

History shows that whenever we are persecuted is when we grow.  When we take the moral high ground and stand our ground without returning their attacks with equal aggression, we prevail.  When we are forced to defend our ground, we have risen time and again to the occasion.  If this sounds defiant..well, that is the point! Truth be told, I don't want the world to like me and approve of me.  I don't need their stamp of approval.  I don't want to be the shape-shifting insecure about who I am person that allows the cool kids to dictate their likes and actions.  In Luke, the Beatitudes bless those who are persecuted and curses those who are liked and approved of by the world.  The Catholic who doesn't see their faith as something worth dying for is the Catholic who doesn't see their faith worth living for.  So to Hollywood...bring it on!  Music industry...bring it!  Government officials...hit us with your best shot!  Media...we're not scared of you!  We came before you, we'll be here long after you.  We have outlasted every kingdom, empire, and trend that has tried to destroy us.  We have survived every foolish self-inflicted wound with which we have struck ourselves.  That is because we have Christ promise that you would never prevail and crush us. We have the power of the Holy Spirit.  We know already who wins the war...and it isn't you!  So bring the grace of God, we're ready! 

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