The Faith is supposed to be comprehensive, fertile, life-giving. It is catholic in the sense that it encompasses everything. Like a great work of literature, it includes the heights and depths of human nature, the wonder of creation, the beauty of passing fancies whispered silently, the shock of stunning realities shouted loudly. It is complex, where everything interpenetrates or foreshadows everything else. It is beautiful. It is terrifying. It is awesome. It is heaven and hell, the earth, the cosmos. It is a mystery, like life itself.
But we make it into a neutered puppy, crated up throughout the day, making sure it "does its business" outside the house. The Catholic Faith - indeed the Holy Trinity - has become a toy, a tool, or worse a club that we join to beat others over the head with.
It is supposed to perfect our nature, but we use it to kill our nature. We use it to cut off even our healthy and natural reflexes.
As a blog reader wrote to me concerning the Archbishop Carlson situation ...
When otherwise good people rationalize away the scandal, and write lengthy essays telling us to not look behind the curtain, that's what I don't like. They aren't disputing the facts: they are just trying to tell Catholics why they shouldn't be outraged.
In other words, we don't want to be real about this - or about anything. Our Faith serves not as a bridge to Love, not as a challenging and thrilling way to engage the tragedies and comedies of our very existence, not as a means of making life better and of caring for others, even at the cost of our own self-sacrifice, but as a shield: as a barrier or a diaphragm to prevent conception, to block conception in the intellectual sense, to prevent us even conceiving of anything that might trouble us.
Galileo wrote to Kepler ...
Oh, my dear Kepler, how I wish we could have one hearty laugh together! Here at Padua is the principal professor of philosophy whom I have repeatedly and urgently requested to look at the moon and planets through my glass [i.e., telescope] which he pertinaciously refuses to do. Why are you not here? What shouts of laughter we should have at this glorious folly! And to hear the professor of philosophy at Pisa laboring before the Grand Duke with logical arguments, as if with magical incantations, to charm the new planets out of the sky.
See no reality, hear not reality, speak no reality.
But could I not write to my readers ...
Oh, my dear Readers, let us laugh at human folly! The archbishop's press release refers to two pages in his deposition that it claims exonerate him. But his staunch defenders refuse to look! They won't click on the link. They refuse to see that the linked document gives the lie to the press release. The pages in question show that the archbishop was not confused about his answer, nor was he quoted out of context, as he staunchly claims. Indeed, the whole deposition - the entire context - reveals far less than Christian behavior on the archbishop's part. But that would be "looking behind the curtain". And instead we circle the wagons and charm the truth off the internet, the way the old philosophers tried to charm the new planets out of the sky - the ones that disturbed their precious ideology.
So even the Faith itself becomes just another means of contraception - of blocking the concept of the truth and of aborting its coming forth into our lives.
May we renounce this temptation. If we deny the truth of any situation - whether it be the truth of the solar system that a telescope reveals, or the truth of sin and human nature that a scandal reveals - we push others further away and we deny the very purpose of our Faith.
The Catholic Faith is not an ideology; its purpose is not to defend our prejudice, nor is it to make life simple, to make it and our neighbors something we can manipulate and control. It is the path to the Truth, to Him who is the way, the truth and the life. And like God Himself it is a living, sometimes dreadful thing.