Your Humble Servant spent this past weekend on the road, visiting a niece at a major metropolitan university and catching some live college football.
My hotel was a mile from a beautiful church filled with hand carved wood that had been built in 1870 by the mostly German immigrants of the small town that had been effectively swallowed by the city decades ago.
The neighborhood is now run-down, shabby, and looked deserted on Sunday morning.
The few congregants that showed for the 8:30 AM Mass were almost all elderly and female. The priest greeted everyone at the door by name. He appeared to be in his early 60's, with thin gray hair and a medallion hanging from his neck proclaiming "peace". He spent a couple of minutes with Your Humble Tourist. It turns out his great-great-great and then some grandfather had been a Mennonite bishop back in Amish country. I said a silent prayer of thanksgiving for the ancestor of his who had found his way Home.
I knelt in a pew behind an elderly gentleman in a light brown suit. His back was bent, but only partially because he was praying. The priest walked up the nave, patted the man on the back, and asked why his wife was not with him. The gentleman related how she had fallen the day before and could not walk. The priest said he would pray for her recovery and then walked into the sacristy to prepare to say the Mass.
(Look out! It's digression time. Whatever happened to vestibules? My parish's vestibule disappeared one Sunday when the Reader Chick urged us to greet each other in the lobby after Mass. That's when I realized my church had a lobby, like a hotel or the 16 screen cineplex nearby. It was too ugly to have a vestibule. Today's moronic architects can't produce vestibules. They're lobby kind of guys. Don't get me wrong. Our eight year old building is much better than most modern churches I have seen. Let me just say it possesses beauty insufficient to fulfill its purpose.)
All the altar servers and "Eucharistic ministers" were elderly women. The priest began the Mass by saying since October is Respect Life month, his homily would be concerned with "justice and peace". I felt a headache coming on. (For the temporarily non-Catholic in the audience, "justice and peace" are usually code for leftist politics in The Catholic Church.)
During the Gospel reading, the man in front of me began to wobble and sat down hard on the pew. I was not quick enough to catch him. He struggled to his feet, ignoring my offers of help. He was again unsteady and the couple seated next to him tried to help him sit. An usher appeared with a wheelchair (my guess is this sort of thing happens regularly in this parish) and, together with Your Humble Servant, attempted to help the man into the chair.
Eventually he was placed in the wheelchair and someone drove him home. After Mass, the usher told me the man had been a bit disoriented, but seemed fine. What struck me was the tenacity with which this octogenarian (nonagenarian?) held onto the pew while we tried to help him.
I asked the Lord to accept the Mass for this man and his wife, of course, but this really is not the point of my tale today.
After the Gospel was read, the priest preached his homily as promised. He talked about how respecting life means more than just opposing abortion. I held my breath, hoping against hope he would thunderously condemn artificial birth control, but the moment passed.
He praised the late Cardinal Bernardin and his "seamless garment". (More Catholic code, kiddies. It means "If you oppose abortion, you must also oppose the death penalty, because after all, ripping a child out of his mother's womb after chopping him to pieces is EXACTLY the same as the State lawfully executing a murderer for his crime.)
Then he riffed on the history of The Church and Trade Unionism and how the priests had stood with the workers as they organized in the name of better working conditions. I gave him a silent "Amen" for that. After all, I was the only kid I knew who wore a Solidarnosc button throughout my college years. (BTW, I was often accused of being a CIA stooge for this by The Forces of Progress.)
After this, the priest lost me. He launched into health care, increasing the minimum wage, saving the trees...you know, the leftist litany.
But even this did not bother me greatly. I have heard more leftist priests than I care to remember.
What got to me was Father's equation of leftist political goals with The Church's "realizing" its true mission after Vatican II. (I can't go into that here, kiddies. It would take too long and really piss me off.) Yes, "social justice" is all The Church on earth was meant to be about.
I have no doubt this priest is a good man, but he is dead wrong. The mission entrusted to His disciples (That's us, kiddies.) by Our Lord and Savior, the Son of God, is to save souls. And with all due respect to that priest and what must be a difficult situation in that dying parish, saving souls has NOTHING to do with minimum wage laws.
When is the last time you heard a priest mention sin, death, Hell, repentance, the Sacrament of Penance, Purgatory, or salvation? Don't answer. I know. Unless you are extremely lucky, or extremely old like that poor gentleman in front of me at Sunday Mass, you haven't ever heard any of it.
Vatican II was, and is, valid. But much like the US civil rights movement, it was hijacked by the totalitarian left in order to create an earthly paradise. Not the City of God, to be sure, but a paradise created in man's image, according to his defective will.
The entanglement of The Christ's True Church in leftist politics is not a sign of the Gospel being preached by example, it is a sign of weak faith and despair. Yes, despair.
Somewhere along the line, Catholics lost the will to fight Satan. (Yes, kiddies, the Foolish One himself still exists.) Instead of battling to save every single individual immortal soul they met, our priests, bishops, nuns, (You DO NOT want to get me started on the corruption and destruction visited upon our nuns!) and laity figured it was easier to worry about filling their bellies. You can tell if a man is full, after all. But you can't ever really know if his soul will get to heaven until he gets there. (Stay with me, you protestants! It'll be worth it.)
Of course, there's nothing wrong with true charity. Faith, Hope, and Charity - remember? (Funny how "justice" is nowhere to be found in that list. I guess God forgot that one, eh, Cardinal Bernardin? Sorry. He knows the truth now. May God have mercy on his soul.)
Loving one's neighbor as oneself does mean feeding and clothing and sheltering and healing others as Father pointed out in his homily. But the totalitarian leftists get even THE commandment wrong. They aren't about charity, they are all about government, which is all about Power, which is the opposite of Love.
They've given up on Charity just as they gave up on evangelization, conversion, salvation, purity, chastity, prudence, et cetera. And for what? The ease of letting the government take care of the poor, the hopeless, the helpless, the forgotten, the sinners. It is so much easier (and comfortable) to lobby your state rep or even march against the War Against Islamic Terrorists (I am not even going to get into that. You can imagine on which side dear deluded Father firmly planted himself.) than it is to hear confessions, or help an old lady die a holy death, or even hold an AIDS patient's hand.
Our priests are moral cowards because we are moral cowards. They know (or should know) which of their parishioners are divorced and remarried. Why don't they publicly refuse them the Sacraments? Scandal? Scandal, my eye! These peoples' immortal souls are in jeopardy and if their priest is afraid to help them, then who will?
NOBODY. That means they will go to Hell when they die.
That means they will go to Hell when they die.
One more time, for emphasis. Take it slowly now, kiddies. Weigh each word and consider its meaning carefully.
That...means...they... will... go...to...Hell...when...they...die.
When was the last time you taught a child he is not genuflecting to the altar or crucifix, but to The True Presence in the tabernacle? OH, RIGHT, I FORGOT! THE BLESSED SACRAMENT IS NOW HIDDEN AWAY IN A "CHAPEL" OFF TO THE SIDE, LIKE A CRAZY OLD UNCLE WE LOCK IN HIS ROOM SO HE WON'T EMBARRASS US IN FRONT OF OUR COOL NEIGHBORS! So, go ahead, Jimmy. Genuflect where and when you want, 'cause it's the thought that counts!
I fear souls are being lost in untold numbers in our own parishes.
And what of our missionary duty to the rest of the world?
There will be Hell to pay, kiddies.