Rampage - a very sad and ugly man who posts on The Hive - recently let lose with a stream of vindictive, sick and nasty comments towards me and other Catholics. He questioned our reality, disparged our religion and otherwise intimated that we are not really Americans. Sadly, his view point is nothing new in the United States, where 'patriots' once threw the marble stone sent by The Holy See to the government to commemorate the building of the Washington Monument into the bottom of the Ptomac River (they were ok with stones from every other country - just not anything from The Papists).
This man, again sadly, considers himself a progressive. Alas, he is but another link in a chain of hatred and bigotry that stretches back to Nero. He is a blood brother to those who threw us into fires and arenas with wild animals, who raped our women and slew our men in an attempt to stamp out that which is Holy - Holy Mother Church.
The Catholic view of anything is guaranteed to bring both admiration and hoots of derision from the general public. Recently, Archbishop Jose Gomez, who had been archbishop of San Antonio, Texas, since 2005, was named coadjutor archbishop of Los Angeles on April 6. As coadjutor, he will succeed Cardinal Roger Mahony, L.A. archbishop since 1985, when he retires next February at age 75.
Archbishop Gomez, a Mexican-born, naturalized American, was asked whether he was a Liberal or a Conservative. His answer? “Neither”, he stated. “I am a Catholic”.
Essentially, the Archbishop was expressing the dilemma of the average American (especially WASPs) to be able to put a specific political label on a Catholic. We run the gamut from outrageously Conservative (think William F. Buckley and his hosting daily Mass in the chapel he had especially built in his home) to the rabidly Liberal (like Nancy Pelosi, who made the mistake of trying to convince the public that St Augustine would have been pro-abortion) and all the gradients in between. We have demanded that books be banned from public libraries and marched in civil rights demonstrations all over the world, taking our share of bullets and rocks from those who think we should just shut up and not upset the status quo.
Some of our priests have been exposed as pedophiles while the majority have stood up for justice, only to be murdered because they would not allow a government, a mob or an ideology to destroy a people. Are they remembered for that or reduced to a snicker and a cheap punch line? We have been martyrs and saints, sinners and thieves. Some of our nuns have been abusers, while others have been raped and murdered by those who demand the opportunity to humiliate a religious woman, attempting to destroy her by violating that which she has given to God. They have also given their lives to educating the young and caring for the poor. It was a religious sister who aided in the founding of AA by helping Dr Bob Smith start an Alcoholic Ward (in secret – she put the alkies’ beds in a closet so the administration of the hospital would not know they were there).
Always, no matter what, we have been examples of two things: what The Church teaches and how Her people put those teachings into practical application on a daily basis. Some of us have been horrible examples, while others have shone the Love of God so brightly they have lit up the darkest areas of the planet, revealing how man treats man when God is ignored and what happens when one of His children shows up with a smile, a prayer and a hand to lend in help.
It is clear today that those who have chosen to follow the teachings of The Church to the best of their ability are the true outlaws of modern American society. We are at the vanguard of a counter-cultural movement that has, at its core, the message of Faith, Hope and Love. We are called, without exception, to speak Truth and then take the punches that come with it. We are called, without exception, to look evil in the eye and call it what it is – Evil…and then let Evil take the form of petty, stupid name-calling, rants and racist remarks. We are compelled, without exception, to love those who seek to injure us. If we talk the talk we are not believed. If we walk the walk, we are called “holier than thou”, or “idiotic” or worse.
The ability of human beings to think for themselves, to use reason to discern the existence of God simply through the observation of nature, is the foundation of hope for every believer. More so for the Catholic, who has taken the blows of lies, derision, misunderstanding and flat out faulty thinking for centuries. It is no wonder some of our greatest saints have not gotten along with people. St. Jerome did not translate Holy Scripture into the Vulgate while in the dessert because he liked the heat. The fact is, once one is committed to a Faith that demands the use of Reason, it can become very difficult to deal with those who like to answer your thoughts with the adult equivalent of pulling down their pants and showing you their bare buttocks…and then calling that an argument.
Today, as we watch our leaders struggle with questions of economic recovery, war, environmental ruin and world domination, Catholics are called to something more. We are called to service. We are called to do. We are, after all, Americans and as our President recently reminded us we come from a tradition of ‘Can Do’ when faced with problems. As Catholics, we must be willing to add the power of a Sacramental Life to our American Heritage and responsibility. We have to expand on ‘Can Do’. We need to add ‘Can Do – through prayer, penance and practical action’.
All over this country, warriors of a different sort are fighting for the integrity of our great nation. You may never hear them or see them, and if you did you would probably dismiss them as unimportant or powerless. You would be wrong. For through their prayers, their sacrifice, their penance and their reverence for Truth, they are protecting YOUR right to bare your bum. It is hard to believe, I know. Every time you throw a verbal stone, every time you go out of your way to deliberately hurt someone you don’t like or you disagree with politically, it is some little old lady in Ohio praying her nightly Divine Mercy Chaplet that keeps you safe.
How are you going to thank her?