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Sunday, December 14, 2003

The Burbling Church, filleted and served with a bowl of split pea soup.

You owe it to yourself to read SAM's trowel work on an unusually-stupid idea from the once-Catholic province of Quebec, Trudeaupia.

Here's a sampler:

Consider a typical North American / European Catholic young man, moderately faithful, who feels some sort of gentle and hard-to-resist tug on his conscience to do and become more Catholic than he is. He looks around his community for men who have felt the same longing and tried to follow it. What does he see? Why, he sees Deacon Sauvageau praising La Soup au Riz à la Parisienne as better fare than the Blood of Christ, and Fr. Beaubien nodding appreciatively while Odette Mainville famously explains why the priestly life of the Mass represents the Church's failure to follow Jesus. In short, our young man sees the kind of idiot pusillanimity that he can easily accomplish on his own and without membership in the celibate Order of Melchizedek.

I suspect the difference might also depend on the elements that go to make up diamonds -- time and pressure. In Asia, Latin America, and Africa there are today martyrs, men and women who are murdered for following Jesus Christ. There is poverty, sickness, and war. There are demons who haunt the old religions (and some of the new ones) and use them to scourge humanity. There is no time for Christian weakness, ennui, and decadence because those things will get you (and others) killed to no purpose. In such circumstances the priest is an essential center, a living connection to the God-Man whose cataclysmic glory on the Cross is the only thing powerful enough to conquer the darkness. The priest must be strong and noble, not because strength and nobility are fine concepts that we praise because we don't know what else to do with them, but because they are essential survival tools which are more important than medicine, cookstoves, and a good knife. The priest in such circumstances doesn't have time to indulge the modern West's perpetual angst over human sexuality. He doesn't have time to natter and muse about alternative ecclesiastical modalities and biblical reinterpretations -- those things don't frighten Muslim armies, cow barbarian mobs, or help people whose children are dying of infections that get cured by over-the-counter medicine in the West. People are sick. People are starving. Life is lived on stark, hard terms that don't apply at the Universite de Laval, where the human mind has apparently become so emaciated that it can focus only on silly, insignificant things, such as whether Bisque de Crevettes is too rich for a self-worship services during Lent. In those troubled and frightful places, God is the only being who can possibly save men, in this life or in the next. It must concentrate the mind wonderfully on the need for priests who are strong and noble and self-giving because the people need strength, nobility and uncompromising love just in order to live (and die) as people.


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