Sunday, March 11, 2018

Fr. Perrone on Virile Catholicism

Fr. Eduard Perrone, "A Pastor's Descant" [Temporary PDF link] (Assumption Grotto News, March 11, 2018):
Being a Roman Catholic in public as well as private life takes lots of courage. A religious person ought to avoid excusing his weaknesses. Whether at work, at home, or at school, or in public, one's Catholicism ought to be engaged so that others observing would be able to say, "So-and-so is a Catholic, a religious person." Christ needs to be brought unabashedly forward as much in society as in private life because He's the sole remedy for the illnesses that plague humanity. We have been conditioned to say and believe that our religion should be kept to ourselves alone. That's wrong. The Catholic Jesus is none other than the God who created the world, made mankind in His image, and redeemed all humanity by His sacred passion. As a Catholic you believe this. Whence then comes the self-indulgence in private and the sheepish withdrawal in public of our religious convictions? Is it doubted that Christ is true?

"Christ the Lion-Hearted"

Sometimes I think our piousness may get in the way of being bold Christians because it is used as an excuse to retreat and avoid being firm and forthright Christians. The Sacred Heart of Christ, though sometimes depicted in an all too-sentimental way, is truly a suffering, virile Heart. "Christ the Lion-Hearted," I would dub Him. Like Him, we need to be warriors for truth, not belligerent and rude, nor self-imposing, but principled and unwavering in our profession of the faith and in our deeds. It takes great strength of soul to be Christians, loving, but secure expositors of Christ. "Christ must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet" (1 Cor 15:25). We either support Christ's reign or else we inhibit it by silence, or compromise, yet more by capitulation. Our religion ought not to justify bashfulness, diffidence. Christ would be put to shame were we to withhold Him from our public life or ignore His moral law in private. The spirit of the martyrs needs to reenter the souls of men and women of our day, for Christ's sake, and for the sake of others' salvation. Let each one examine his conscience this Lent. In my private thoughts, am I a Christian? In my public life, am I an exemplary Catholic? One ought to hate a self-indulgent softness. I have a prayer I say when I put on my cassock, from Saint Paul, "Be clothed in the Lord Jesus Christ, and have no concern for the flesh in its desires" (Rm 13:14). The "flesh" there is what wants to recoil, to shrink, while Christ's 'clothing' is the courageous witness to His truth.

The notorious philosopher Nietzsche was right -- in a way -- in his claim that Judaism and Christianity make for weaklings. That's a distortion of the truth, but it's a valid indictment against those who make their religion an excuse for not being valiant and confident in faith.

Ah! the Psalms. "All my bones will say, 'Lord, who is the like to You?'" (Ps. 34:10). My "bones!" That's from Hebrew, meaning 'all my strength,' the backbone of our being. We need that kind of conviction as Christians, while hating what the Vulgate calls lubricum (Ibid. 6), that oily, slimy weakness that makes one slip and recoil from professing and doing what's right.

Some have charged that the vernacular Mass (in the so-called Ordinary form) has contributed to making Catholics effeminate, lacking virile strength of soul. (Ladies, kindly note that 'effeminate' means weakness of character and is no affront to your femininity.) The reason for that dour judgment about the "new" Mass is the evidence of the near disappearance of men from the sanctuary and the ubiquity of female lectors, altar servers, Communion distributors, ushers, greeters, parish committee members, as well as the lilting "praise music" songs, the background tinkling music, the swaying of upraised arms, the hand-holding, etc. No guts, little substance, only good feeling. With liturgies such as those an enfeebled expression of the faith and lenient softening of morals is a logical outcome.

Hate falsehood. Love truth. Practice valor and charity: Be a Christian!

Fr. Perrone

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