If you believe those ensconced in popular culture, in progressive thought, in irreligious mindsets, in post-modernity, in the watered down theology of so much of Protestantism, tradition is anathema.
I saw someone on twitter comment that the sealing — with the wax, as is traditional — was all part and parcel of our church’s “medieval” mindset, and it annoyed me, because it is a kneejerk (and false) bit of approved grousing, put on for show; or because the commenter is too lazy to actually think but wants to play to an audience (the curse of social media, to which we all fall into at times!)
So, really, what is wrong with tradition, particularly when it is illustrative, evocative and meaningful, as the sealing of the papal apartments surely is? The sealing says: this place is Peter’s for the world’s sake, not for the casualness of our everyday. It connects us to our past; it reminds us that Offices transcend any man.
There is a brand of sourpussery that appears to be in ascendance, and some of it is rooted in the utilitarian mindset that values everything (and everybody) on usefulness: if this thing/person seems to be pointless to the day or doesn’t suit our idea of what matters, it is extraneous; it is wasteful; it should be stopped, or killed.
These same people, I am quite sure, do not think twice about secular excesses of pomp and ceremony. They’re fine with Olympic ceremonies with lavish, overdone opening and closing ceremonies — the bestowing of medals, and the playing of anthems. They’re fine with Super Bowl traditions and World Series drama. They’re glued to their televisions during Red Carpet Walks and the bestowing of statuettes, and they travel to Washington DC to be part of the crowd during presidential inauguration that sometimes extend over a period of days and culminate in dozens of balls.
And they’re fine with Mardi Gras, too.
The secular ceremonials of man are just fine by them, but let those Catholics honor their traditions…why, it’s perfectly medieval, misplaced, excessive, moribund.
The devil loves this game. All of those secular ceremonies and rites and spectacles keep us very distracted from anything but ourselves, and the rivalries, sports, movies and political theatrics that have captured our attention. They’re permissible and encouraged and approved of, because none of it trips our spiritual wires and turns our focus to heaven.
And that’s why he hates all of that showy Catholic stuff. If Catholics really loved God they’d go live in caves somewhere, like fifth century penitents.
But if they did, googlemaps would be there, scoping it out, and pilgrims would come, and traditions would begin, with rites and ceremonials. Because people like rites with meaning, and symbolic rituals, and humanity has always, always used both to help them refocus and reconnect with God.
Do read the whole thing. I think she's nailing some of the roadblocks so many put up when it comes to the acceptance of Catholic doctrine/dogma/tradition.
I have been urging family members of late to reconnect with their Catholic faith, to begin attending Mass anew, to use the tools God has given the Church to enliven and reinvigorate atrophied faith muscles and to date, I'm not seeing much, if any, success.
It's more than a little frustrating for me and I suspect, some of those family members are likely as frustrated with me.
I know my own weaknesses and foibles may be getting in the way. Hypocrisy sends a strong message and so I'm working hard to live the faith I believe in, to walk the talk, to let my actions speak louder than my words. Thank God for mercy and patience. And particularly forgiveness.
I allowed my Catholic faith to lapse for more than 40 years and now that I'm back, I'm passionate about others not making that same mistake. That passion, I'm sure, at times likely getting in the way of my goals. I want so badly for them to actively pursue their relationships with God in general but via a strong re-embrace of their Catholicism in particular. I do this because my own re-embrace has helped me cope with the struggles of life in meaningful ways, to see those struggles as part of God's plan and so, when I see them struggling I think, hey, it works for me, it'll work for you too. Trust me. Or better yet, much better, trust Him!
So what I'm attempting to do now more now than ever is pray about these things. Pray that perhaps reading The Anchoress' words helps. Pray that my Plainly Catholic posts helps. Pray that the Holy Spirit would use me, a broken (damned broken) vessel, to carry as much water to the thirsty (and those who know not what they thirst for) that I can, particularly to those who mean so much to me.
And so I'd like some of you regular readers to join me in those prayers.
I need all the help I can get.
So do my loved ones.