If Truth, Beauty and Goodness bring us to Christ, it is a miracle He survives our Lies, Ugliness and Evil.
But He is the thin thread that takes us through the maze of darkness.
Let's take a few examples.
- Bishops around the world have behaved at best like lawyers, CEOs, inept bureaucrats; and at worst like utter scoundrels. As Bill McClellan points out here, it seems only fictional bishops behave like Christians.
- When a Catholic celebrity causes a scandal by his antichristian behavior, the world outside the Church watches us. They watch us to see how consistent we are. Will be be true to Christ or will we get defensive and cover our wounded pride, circling the wagons and defending mere men, even at the cost of sacrificing (again) the Son of Man who saved us?
- The world expects us to be hypocrites, for the world realizes, at some level, that Christians are called to something that is, humanly speaking, impossible. To see a man shoot for the stars and fall flat on his face is perhaps disappointing, but to see a man claim that by lying flat on his face he is shooting for the stars is disgusting. And so when we busy ourselves by building elaborate sophistries that rationalize things like Lying, Lust and Torture, we stand as witness to our own foolish scheming malevolence, even while we pat ourselves on the back for being wise and simple and good. We have our reward and our reward is a secret contempt in the eyes of our neighbors - as well as the cold eternal winter of someplace more horrible than hell.
- In the movie Ferris Beuller's Day Off, in the scene where the kid kicks the car out of the window in a fit of fury, we realize something: it's not that Ferris' best friend's father doesn't love his son at all; it's that the father loves his car more ... which, of course, is not much of a consolation. Nothing hurts more than realizing that someone who ought to love you simply doesn't love you - even if they've promised to love you, or are bound to love you. Sometimes they love you to a point, but they love other things more - their car, their job, their house of cards, false friends who thrill them more than true friends do. And yet we know love is real. We know love is God. We know that if love ever really died out the whole world over, then somehow existence itself would end. But parents neglect children (even in the posh neighborhoods), husbands cheat on wives (in every kind of neighborhood) and friends abandon friends (everywhere). We live for love - all of us - but the light of love grows dim - as we prefer darkness to light, the better to cloak our evil deeds (John 3:19).
- Almost everything that happens at Mass, and I suspect at most Protestant services, is fake. We hear platitudes from the pulpit, and generally shallow ones at that. We hear music that wouldn't be played at a "gay wedding" much less at a Mass. We see ugly statues and art, unless the church has been denuded of anything artistic. We are surrounded by an architecture and an atmosphere that smells more like shopping mall than sacred space.
But somehow through all this, He survives. He and His Church should have died long ago. In fact, He did and It did, many times over.
And we die a little every day.
For this is part of what it means to be a Christian. He is held in contempt, and if we are true to Him, if we follow that thin thread that takes us through the maze, overcoming the monstrous Minotaur (for Christ is that thin and barely perceptible thread), we will know the cross as He did.
Be true to Him even if your bishop betrays Him. Be true to Him even if your spouse betrays you, your friends revile you and your dog leaves you. Be true to Him even if half the people around you are busy nailing Him to the cross while singing sappy hymns about how much they love Him.
Be true to Him, for this is what it means to be a Christian - fidelity through pain, through the desert, through absurdity, through contempt.
To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment. (1 Cor. 4:11-13)