Magpies and Modernists


September 30, 2013 by lucieromarin

Weather like today’s always drives me to the freezer section of the supermarket, where I wander about trying to look like I’m unused to being there (because I’m always at home cooking from scratch with ingredients from my own personal organic vegetable garden.) Everything’s thirsty. Plants look up at me pleadingly, all parched and pathetic, thirsty for water. Magpies are thirsty for blood, and have started their annual dive-bombing of all humans fool enough to leave the house without sunglasses and hat. (The article isn’t lying; they really will peck at your eyes. A magpie once stabbed my eye, and only by two millimetres and the grace of God did I escape blindness). I’m thirsty for water, tea, and fruit juice (and, now, remembering the bird, vengeance.)

I do not find this weather conducive to charitable thoughts (see above v-word), so I was pretty surprised to have one strike me – the spiritual equivalent of a knockout blow from a spring-crazed cracticus tibicen.

I was just walking along and thought – wait a minute, a whole bunch of modernists were actually roadkill, too. And the ones that weren’t…have to be forgiven.

How’s that for a thought? I’ve heard some great sermons about forgiveness, and plenty about the evils of modernism, but I’ve never heard anyone unite the two thoughts and invite us to forgive them for what they’ve done. I mean, I can see why it would sound like a big ask. It’s not just the heresy and sacrilege; it’s not just the shunting of Our Lord off to the side in a tabernacle that looks like a space-pod, while His place at the High Altar is given to mirrors from public bathrooms (true story; I saw it): there’s the ‘art’, the vestments, the architecture, the music, the betrayed parents, the betrayed children, the bullied religious sisters and brothers, the bullied priests, the turning of the liturgy into an endurance test, and the fact that they got paid for this. All those hours of our lives wasted! – forced to listen to drivel, to look at hideous stuff, to drive forty kilometres just to get to a sacrilege-free Mass, forced to turn for answers and authority to people who were never meant to be authorities in the first place, but who found themselves in that position because the real authorities were busy making everything ugly and ushering people away from the Blessed Sacrament (unless they were non-Catholics, in which case, welcome!) as fast as they possibly could…ugh. I can see why it never occurred to anyone to suggest forgiveness.

But there it is – the command from Our Lord Himself, and no exceptions made. I guess that’s why I needed to be struck with the thought that many modernists were themselves victims of bullying or neglect (or worse) – and they’ll never get an apology from those who drove them to it.

I’ll tell you a story. A religious sister told me about the bullying that began in her religious house when some sisters turned modernist and decided to abandon the habit for lay dress. It was relentless. At one time, there were only four sisters left still wearing the traditional habit; they walked into a room, and all the other sisters turned their backs to them. Eventually, one of the four came to her in tears, saying, “I’m sorry. I just have to give up. I can’t take it any more.” In other words, the adoption of lay dress came about in this convent, not because religious women suddenly felt the warm light of freedom and liberty shining into their souls, but because they were bullied into it by their peers.

I knew an elderly priest who was locked out of his religious house at night as a way of punishing him for wearing the clerical collar. I usually only think of him as the one bullied; now I wonder how many of his brothers chose this willingly, and how many consented only because they were themselves afraid of being locked out?

Well, I can’t really order anyone to forgive. But I think we should try. Then we can see what happens!

3 thoughts on “Magpies and Modernists

  1. Chris says:

    Well, great pity about the clerical dress. People get bullied out of it for all sorts of reasons. A colleague (sorry, Anglican but catholic for all that despite the ineluctable cry of ‘heretic’ from all you good Romans) wears his clericals faithfully – the full black, I mean, and was seated comfortably at a parish function when a (lay) sister from the local flock pointed an accusatory digit at him (the digital age, the very pre-modern one has always had its inherent dangers) saying ‘it’s you people who dress like that who are paedophiles!’
    Another I saw in a shirt and tie, breaking a habit (ha!) of decades said he had stopped going public in his clericals after being spat upon.
    I wear mine stubbornly to resist those dreadful implications. At a synod in Goulburn last month a clearly distressed woman of a uncertain age sought pastoral counsel and a blessing because of it.
    I haven’t resorted yet to batik clerical shirts or anything like as a gesture to post-Vatican 2 neo-conventions.
    When can we expect Pope Frank to relax the clobber even more? Or is he just a bit too modern for you poor souls lying in the gutter on the highway to liberal hell?

    • lucieromarin says:

      I admire any clergyman – Catholic or otherwise – who wears his clericals in public these days. I really think it takes courage. I know one Catholic priest who was struck across the face by a complete stranger and another who had two men try to push him onto the train tracks; I also remember an article by the wonderful Anglican Father James Murray, about the highs and lows of the collar. He received daily abuse on the train because of it, but he also had great adventures because of it. Meanwhile, His Holiness and I probably have different opinions about the liturgy, but…a liberal? I’m not so sure.

      • Cojuanco says:

        Aye. Though many American Catholics, still thinking The Ecclesiastical Emergency is still ongoing have been trying to trash and defy the Holy Father, despite sane people trying to calm them down. Unfortunately, for many of them, they seem to think American conservatism and Fifties nostalgia is the same as orthodox Catholicism (though in regulated doses, they’re not necessarily incompatible), and that people who don’t fit the paradigm cannot be orthodox. That’s another compulsion among many Americans (not just conservatives, but a lot of people who grew up here) – they think because they have the ability to kill us all, everything must be like in America, or should be. Francis is not like that – neither was Benedict, but many conveniently ignored him.

        What I’m getting at is that “liberal (in the latter-day sense, not the sense condemned by Pius IX)” and “conservative” should be left to describe political movements primarily. The distinction in Catholicism has historically been between the orthodox and the heterodox, or those in and out of communion.

        Sorry for the rant.

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