“Well,” said the priest, “at least they go.”
By “go,” he was referring to Mass.
By “they,” he meant the people who dress like tramps, talk and laugh through Mass, and know nothing about the Church’s teachings. People who are pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, and pro-women priests.
“At least they go.”
Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi
The law of prayer is the law of belief.
“At least they go” would be a legit argument IF what they “went to” left no doubt about what they were participating in. So let’s state plainly what they are participating in at the Mass.
At the holy sacrifice of the Mass, you are participating in the unbloody re-enactment of the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, perfectly man and perfectly God. You are participating in the slaughter of our Creator. And when you accept the Eucharist, you are eating the living flesh of the resurrected Christ.
When you participate at the Mass, you take part in the most important act of your entire life.
Nothing is more important than kneeling at the rail and receiving Jesus’ body, blood, soul, and divinity.
The Mass is the most important event in your life. And it happens EVERY DAY!
But at the Novus Ordo Mass, which means most Masses after 1970, no reasonable person would assume something so universally and eternally urgent is happening.
Because the people who handle the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ, God and man, handle it like they’re handling fish in a seaside market. They toss it, flip it, stir it with their fingers (I’ve witnessed all of this). People in Hawaiian shirts hand the Body of Christ to young women in outfits that make me take notice for them to toss into their mouths as they walk away.
Like a Tic-Tac.
Like something procured at the 7-11 on the corner.
Like something to occupy your mouth as you walk back to the pew to kneel and pray that the priest hurries up and sits down so I can sit down and get out of here (after the puppet show before the “sending forth.”)
“At least they go” to a cheap sideshow at which no reasonable, uncatechized person would believe something important was happening.
Being Catholic Is Hard
I watched Navy SEAL Eric Greitens sell my son on joining the Navy. He didn’t tell my son how easy it would be. He told him how miserable it would be. Greitens told my son he will be yelled at by someone who, in many ways, would be my son’s inferior. Greitens talked about the pain of lack of sleep, the terrible people he’d be forced to live with in a giant room with no privacy. Greitens told my son that, after surviving boot camp, he’d go to a very difficult school, then to the fleet where he might very well die because a shipmate screwed up.
And that sold my son on the Navy.
Well, not that. Something else.
All that misery, Greitens told him, would be for a higher purpose. My son would be sacrificing for a greater mission. And young men need a mission.
Catholicism is even harder than the Navy. Trust me. I’ve done both.
Catholicism is socially limiting. The Church’s teachings are hated—_HATED_—by our society.
Being Catholic means you believe gay marriage is a travesty, “transgenderism” is an abomination, homosexual acts are sins that prepare you for hell, marriage is forever, life begins at conception, sex outside of marriage is a mortal sin, masturbation is a mortal sin, sex must be unifying and procreative (meaning the man must ejaculate in his wife’s vagina and both persons must be accepting of a baby that results from the act), artificial contraception is a mortal sin, sterilization is a mortal sin, missing Mass on Sunday or holy day is a sin. And I’m just getting started.
Being Catholic is hard, just as being in the Navy is hard. Just as bearing a child is hard. Just as getting your PhD is hard. Just as restoring a 1965 Mustang is hard.
Everything worth doing is hard! Writing this blog is hard.
But hard things are the only things worth doing. Because hard things serve a higher purpose, and serving a higher purpose is our mission. And man needs a mission.
Being Catholic serves the HIGHEST PURPOSE. That purpose: to be a kingdom for our Creator. To give to God what is owed to God, which is EVERYTHING.
The New Evangelization
People who say, “at least they go” are liars. They’re like salesmen who hide the product’s defects to get you to sign the contract.
When you soft-pedal Catholicism, you’re pulling a bait-and-switch.
At-least-they-go Catholics are unethical used car salesmen. They tell people, “wear your do-me outfit, take Communion despite your unconfessed mortal sins, don’t worry about disagreeing with the Church’s teaching on homosexual activity and pornography. Just let the Mass work on you.”
It’s a lie. It’s telling people “Catholicism is easy,” when, in reality, Catholicism is hard.
Harder than SEAL training.
Harder than your job.
Because it’s more important.
It’s the continual life, passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus, man and God.
Bishop Barron and others like to say that Catholicism is just the “privileged” path to heaven, not the only one. That’s bait-and-switch Catholicism. It isn’t true. But it gets people into the showroom like saying “we’ll finance everyone,” and “we stand behind every deal.” It’s hucksterism.
Catholicism is hard. It demands a lot. Mass every Sunday and every Holy Day of Obligation. Confession. (I have to write about Confession, my favorite sacrament.) Humility. (Have you prayed the Litany of Humility?) Unpopularity. Accusations of homophobia and worse things. No meat on Friday. (Yes, that’s still a thing, and not just during Lent.) Praying one hour a day. (Not required, but you won’t be Catholic long if you don’t. Trust me.) Turning off “dirty” movies. Sending your regrets to invitations to gay weddings, even if it’s your kid’s. (Catholics don’t attend gay weddings.) I could go on.
On top of these uniquely Catholic hardships, add the general Christian ones: love your enemy, visit the prisoners, feed the poor, clothe the naked, honor your father and your mother, keep holy the Sabbath, do not murder or steal or bear false witness, do not covet your neighbor’s goods or wife, do not slander, lie, or gossip. Do not take pleasure in another’s misfortune (which means, never watch reality TV). I could go on.
Being Christian—truly Christian—is hard. Being Catholic is even harder.
The world rejects you, just as you must reject the world (1 John 2:15). There are jobs you cannot take. There is money you cannot deposit. There are plans you have to make.
Being Christian, especially Catholic, is hard. But you can fake it.
To be truly Catholic, you must believe and do everything the Church teaches and Christ commands. You must forgive EVERYONE who beats you, robs you, cheats you, lies about you, hurts you, insults you, assaults you, fires you, kills you, rapes you, and rips you off. You must love everyone. Everyone. You must love Hitler and Stalin, Margaret Sanger, and Alysa Milano.
Most of all, you must eat Christ’s flesh and drink Christ’s blood, for it is true meat and true drink (John 6). And you must do so believing, not that it is bread and wine, but that it is the true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, man and God.
How can you do that standing up in a “do me” outfit, fondling it with your mere mortal hands?
The casual observer of the Traditional Latin Mass witnesses modestly dressed people reverently kneeling at a rail, silent, as a priest carefully places the Host on their tongues and a server holds a gold paten under their mouths (lest the Host should fall to the ground) while priest says (in Latin):
Corpus Dómini nostri Jesu Christi custódiat ánimam tuam in vitam ætérnam. Amen.
Which translates to:
May the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve your soul unto everlasting life. Amen
If “at least they go” to Latin Mass, then lex orandi, lex credendi will undoubtedly lead to more graces and a deeper understanding of the mystery of the faith.
But, if “at least they go” to the Novus Ordo mass, what they witness will, most likely, lead them to wonder, “why didn’t I just have bread and wine at a good Italian restaurant?”
Evangelize the Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth
The “new evangelization,” is hucksterism. It’s telling people “Catholicism is easy.”
Christianity isn’t easy in this world. Especially in the post-Christian world. Telling people it is easy is a lie.
Do like Eric Greitens. Tell people Christianity, especially Catholic Christianity, is hard. It’s a sacrifice. But it’s worth it, because it leads to everlasting life with their Creator.
And Never Stop Evangelizing!