Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Ballad of John & Yoko

Let's say you meet this guy, possibly the coolest man you've ever come across.  Radical, brilliant, yet straightforward, unafraid to speak truth to power, yet at the same time kind-hearted, warm, and understanding. Always has time to listen, and always comes up with the answer.  The kind of man you want to be, or to be with.  The kind who inspires, who brings out the best in you.

There's just one problem:  his wife.

He's madly in love with the woman, but you can't stand her.  For one thing, she's hopelessly old-school.  I mean, her most stylish outfit looks like it was all the rage, around the time Columbus set sail.  Today, of course, you look at her and hear "Super Freak" playing in your head.  Any moment now, you expect Mr. Blackwell to come back from the dead, just to berate her.

And it's not just the style that's out of date.  She's got all the old prejudices we associate with bygone days, too:  racist, sexist, culturally chauvinistic:  all frilly dresses, Evelyn Waugh novels, and classical music--a world where everybody seems so very, very . . .white.  >.>

And the things she lets her kids get up to . . . don't even go there!  Things you wouldn't even mention on a family blog.  Always someone diddling someone else, literally, politically, or financially.  Talk about dysfunctional families!

Worse still, she's a hopeless control freak.  Always telling you don't do this, and her husband wouldn't like that, quoting things neither you nor anyone else you know ever heard him say, or spinning his words to suit her own questionable motives.  You just know she's full of it.  She's got to be!

In short, as much as you love this guy, you think his wife's a backward, ignorant, licentious, hate-mongering @#$^#$%!

So you go around and tell everybody that.  You say it on TV.  You write books and YouTube videos about it.  They go viral.

Eventually, it's going to get back to her husband.  How long do you think you'll remain friends after that?  Do you think he'll just dump her, forget all his wedding vows, and stick with you instead?  Do you think he'll just say, "No prob; sure, she's my wife, but we can agree to disagree about her character.  No skin off my back?"

Or would his reaction be more like this:

Right.  So why, O vaunted disciple, do I come across things like this?

And it's not just rapper-prophets, either.  The attitude permeates our culture today, up to and including people who call themselves members of the Church they don't believe in.  WTF?

The problem, at least some of it, lies in our tendency to view the Church as an institution--a sort of world government and multinational corporate monolith genetically hybrid in some Frankenstein experiment gone awry.  In anything you read, even by the most religious, orthodox, faithful Christian writers, it's hard to find anyone who doesn't refer to the Church as an "it."

In the words of a former president, let me make myself perfectly clear:



This is why after Mass, we used to pray:

O God, our refuge and our strength, look down with pity on Thy people who cry to Thee; and by the intercession of the Glorious and Immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of God, of St. Joseph her Spouse, of Thy Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and all the saints, in mercy and goodness hear the prayers we pour forth to Thee for the conversion of sinners, and for the liberty and exaltation of our Holy Mother the Church.  Through the same Christ our Lord.  Amen.
Yes.  The Church is a She.  And you thought we were all so sexist!

Why the Blessed Mother here?  Because she's the type and emblem of Holy Mother Church, begetting Christ in all who believe (yes, even those not in full communion, though I promise, the closer you keep to her, the more Christ you'll have in you).  I'll have more to say on this in future posts, maybe August or October.  For now, since it's the Feast of the Visitation, let's note that the first thing Mary does after the Holy Spirit begets Jesus within her is share Him with others, starting with her own family.  We know He's there, because John the Baptist leaps in the womb, and St. Elizabeth says, "whence is this to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" (Luke 1: 43).  This also fulfills Gabriel's prediction that John would "be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb." (Luke 1: 15).  Hence, even in their embryonic stages, already Jesus is saving souls, and John is proclaiming the Messiah.  Take that, Planned Parenthood!

But I digress.

What I meant to point out was that we see in Mary's bringing Jesus to the world upon the Spirit's entering her prefigures exactly what we just celebrated at Pentecost this past Sunday.  The Holy Spirit comes along, and all of a sudden, the Church goes from running scared to in-your-face evangelization--just like that!  So then, if you need an image of the Church to hold in your mind, don't think of a building, or your local congregation, or even the Pope.  Look to her as the New Eve, the mother of all the living, and as Christ himself said, "Behold thy mother" (John 19: 27).

So don't go trying to wield the Bible against the Church.  You've a better chance of poisoning a snake with its own venom.  It was the Church who compiled the Bible:  you wouldn't even know what the Bible was without her.  And the Bible's just the beginning.  If the Good News were a blog, the Bible would be the part you read before the jump.  If you click away after reading just that, you'll look like a nut, running around with a plastic pail full of water and telling everybody you've got the whole ocean in there.

The Church gets all of her Divine Husband's pillow talk.  You'll find it in the papal encyclicals, council documents, the writings of the ancient fathers, and the Doctors of the Church.  The whole faith is gigantic!  You'd get lost in there, if you didn't have the guidance of:

The Church is Christ's Body and his Bride.  She is the New Jerusalem of Revelation 21: 2.  It is she who knows Him better than anyone, to whom He opened His Sacred Heart on a lance and His mother's on a sword, "that out of many hearts thoughts may be revealed" (Luke 2: 35).  It is she who, from the beginning, hung on His every word, and wrote down for us so many of them.

In fact, the Bible says that the Church, and not itself, is "the pillar and ground of the truth" (1 Timothy 3: 15).  And Jesus Himself said to the nascent Church (i.e., His apostles), "He that heareth you, heareth me:  and he that despiseth you despiseth me" (Luke 10: 16).  Furthermore, He told them that if in a dispute someone "will not hear the Church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican" (Matt. 18: 17).

Oh, and if you're tempted to say, "yes, but the Church went astray ages ago," then you really don't much like Jesus, do you?  You've made void His word that the gates of hell should not prevail against His Church (Matt. 16: 18).  You've tried to divorce the Bride from the Bridegroom.

Of course, that's not surprising nowadays.  The last century was the age of the Great Divorce.  Everything got divorced, not just people.  Objectivity from art, narrative from literature, tonality from music, philosophy from truth, faith from reason.  Why not Christ and the Church?

Well, because


Have ye not read that he who made man from the beginning made them male and female?  And he said:  For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife:  and they two shall be in one flesh.  Therefore now they are not two, but one flesh.  What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.  (Matt. 19: 4-6)

You can't mean that Christ should forswear Himself?  That He should violate His own first and foremost covenant?  If God did that, He wouldn't be God; God wouldn't exist.  In which case, Jesus can't be the Son of God, sharing in a nonexistent Divine Nature.

In other words, if Christ should desert His Church, He is (or was, 'cause if he's not God, he's dead) either a snake-oil salesman or a whackjob.  If that's the case, I wouldn't trust anything He said, no matter how pretty it sounded.

But we "religious" folk hold that God does exist, that He took on a human nature in the Person of His Son, wherewith He redeemed us by His Cross and Resurrection, sending the Holy Spirit among us for the sanctification of souls.

 . . . And He does't like you dissing His Missus.


1 comment:

  1. We are the Bride of Christ in the Church. She is our Mother, Holy and Human and more! The Church is alive! Despite her patronage of sinners and bad or poor catechesis through out the ages/ She still is here today unlike man made forms of institutions and governments that fall due to politics and whims of men. The only reason that the Church cannot be destroyed is because she is not made up by mere humans, she is Loved by God.