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Monday, 10 August 2015

Fast-Food Spirituality

Perhaps most Catholics do not know that some saints had to face the courts of the Inquisition and defend their writings, as well as their new orders.

Because of the numerous heretical writings and new orders, such as those spawning from the heresy of the Albigensians, some saints had to prove before Church officials, their true orthodoxy and obedience to Holy Mother Church.

SS. Ignatius of Loyola and Teresa of Avila had to submit to this type of investigation. Of course, as they were totally obedience and orthodox, their causes were upheld as good and true. That they were humble and followed the long teaching of the Church regarding waiting on God, proved their holiness.

What we find today is the opposite type of trial-the trial of those who are orthodox by those who are unorthodox.

Years ago, before Mr. Voris used the phrase, I wrote of the theology of nice, the prevailing religious opinion that peace, tranquility, and tolerance had become the stand of too many Catholics, including priests and nuns. The greatest good for decades in some areas, as Fulton J. Sheen noted as well, has been tolerance.

But, among Catholics, this religion of nicety means that difficult situations, or problems can never be brought up or discussed. The tyranny of silence has fallen over some parishes and even dioceses where one simply cannot bring up such issues as illegal Masses said daily by lax priests, or New Age spirituality being taught, or the heresies endemic among Charismatics. If one wants to help teach or correct errors, one finds that the vast majority of people in certain areas are unteachable.

One of my friends noted that people want short-cuts to holiness, and do not want to endure the work of study and the long journey to higher prayer and holiness. He told me that in this fast-food culture, people want holiness NOW, without the work.

And, if they are told that become a saint is hard and involves suffering, the conversation ends.

At one point in time, he was considering a Dominican vocation, (somewhere out east of here), and discovered what I saw in the vision of the Smarties, that those around him only wanted the consolations without the Cross.

We shall be caught up in the Cross whether we want to or not. Either we shall be crucified with Christ, sharing in His Passion, or we shall be one of those who stands and watches, even deriding those who choose to endure the long, painful way of the long teaching of the Church on prayer and penance.

Today, in prayer, it was clear to me that in order to be able to stand up against the disobedience and mediocrity in the Church, I would have to do more penance.

Most crucifixes depict a serene Christ, already dead. Few show the agony of the Dying Christ.

Those who want fast-food holiness or spirituality cannot endure the long suffering of purgation and penance.

There is no easy way to find God and be one with Him.

When I have tried to teach in the past, and I was thinking of this phenomenon this morning when contemplating the fact that those younger than I am do not relate to metaphors, I became aware, by 1982, at the latest, that my students no longer shared the same language in order to understand great literature.

For example, I was teaching a class on the Arthurian myths, and all my students, at ND had been valedictorians of their high school graduating class. And yet, one young woman did not know the word, "chalice". She had never heard it before we read the story of the Holy Grail. She was confused.

I told her what a chalice was, as we were discussing the text, and she said, "Oh, we call that the cup."

David Jones wrote about this sad phenomenon of the Western man and woman losing the common Catholic heritage, or even larger Western heritage of words referring to something in the common culture.

He described "the Break" in the consciousness of the West as occurring absolutely in World War I.

The "Break" now is obvious in the Church. Words no longer mean the same thing to Catholics. Concepts regarding the sacraments, or prayer, or worship do not resound with the same definitions as in early times.

We cannot share metaphors or, more seriously, theological concepts, or even basic religious truths as the language of Catholicism has become more and more distorted by either heretical or New Age interpretations, or by laziness.

A language of Faith must be reclaimed and this reclamation involves hard work on the part of those, like me, who want to teach the real meanings of words, or those who want to learn. The willingness to learn and not merely to get knowledge one's self is a sign of good will and humility.

Few want to learn. They want fast-food spirituality.

I have written before here on the fact that one cannot take short-cuts to holiness. First of all, as noted in the hundred of posts in the perfection series, one begins with and in orthodoxy.

If one cannot "pass" the test of basic truths of the Faith, one clearly has to go back to Square One.

When I was in the convent in the novitiate, I had to go back to Square One, as all women were treated the same, whether they had a degree in theology or not.

I found the test delightful, and I learned more and more going back to the basics. Nothing which is good and truthful can be boring.

But, then, I was always a cook who did everything the "long way", like making my own pie crust, making mayonnaise, not buying frozen dinners or much less frozen anything.

Like a good Montessori teacher, I taught my son to do things "from scratch" and to enjoy every slow step of the way.

In the land of spirituality, there are no fast-food prayers, or techniques, or ways to holiness. That was the teaching of the heretics over and over and over.

Unlike SS. Ignatius Loyola and Teresa of Avila who understood that prayer was a lifestyle and not a method. that prayer, as I noted in the Framing Prayer series, was more than mere adaptation, but a way of looking at life, those who want quick results, and who do not want to learn "the long way" will fall into deceit.

Satan has a common ploy to make people believe that they are holier than they really are. Fr. Chad Ripperger, in a talk I heard years ago and which is online somewhere, told a shocked audience that most people had not even begun to climb the ladder of holiness.

Prayer and study, quiet and simplicity, humility and self-knowledge.....a few of those key rungs on the ladder which bring us all back to the work of our lives-becoming saints.