Right now on Turner Classic Movies, one catch watch Where The Boys Are. Who had lead billing in this film was Dolores Hart. She was an up and coming Hollywood engenue of the Sixties,until she left “Tinsel Town” to become a ….. Benedictine nun. Over on YouTube I am watching the liturgy from Svyatagorsk Lavra, (roughly the Holy Mountain) à Russian Orthodox monastery in the Don Bass region of Eastern Ukraine.
Who takes on the religious life today, particularly as a cloistered contemplative? Yet, in nations once part of the former Soviet Union, Russia and Ukraine, we see monasteries forming at a surprising rate. YouTube has plenty of videos of Communist mobs at work, destroying the churches, the bells, and icons of Russia about a century ago. Now the churches and monasteries are resurgent, as the people reclaim what was taken from them by those atheistic heralds of “Progress”.
We think our materialistic, hedonistic culture offers greater appeal than the religious life. I use “religious” purposefully over the more appealing term “spiritual” “Religion has its origin in the Latin word for rope, where we get our word “line”. Religion ties us to the spiritual, to God.
The Church seems confused about its mission as a stronghold for the spiritual life. Go into a Catholic Church built post Vatican Two and look for the Tabernacle. Here is where the consecrated Hosts are kept. This is the Body of Christ., present in the species of bread. It may not make much difference to most contemporary Catholics who don’t believe in the Real Presence in the elements of the Eucharist. Search also for the Stations of The Cross, where Catholics retrace the walk of our Lord to Calvary. The Stations are a fundamental spiritual exercise.
What the Church is not is some quaint and quirky combination of “art museum and NGO”, as Michael Voris put it. But it is hard sometimes to recognize it performing its mission of assisting souls in getting to Heaven.
Rejecting the emptiness of Social Justice “wokeness” is counterintuitive in our time. Since the middle of the Nineteenth Century, we have been trying to “fix” the culture. Some things needed, desperately, to be fixed, slavery and other exploitative systems of labour, and racial segregation made for a good start. But what we carry into every new dawn of progress is the same old us. You know, the part of us that wants inexpensive consumer goods at the expense of human worth and dignity. There is a part in nearly all of us that relishes having power over others, and a part that denies our need for honest and loving interpersonal relationships. These are flaws and faults of human character that another law or government agency can’t fix.
Recently the Episcopate has been falling over itself decrying the “sin” of racism, as if the laity pays attention to them these days. Sorry, You Excellencies, you lost your moral authority a couple of decades ago. Covering up rape puts you at a disadvantage to counsel about anything. So the leadership, our pastoral fathers, give us stones when we need and ask for bread.
The Russians and Ukrainians know what the State tried to take from them. We, in this culture of religious “freedom” reject our Churches ourselves, with a little help from the larger atheistic culture and a lot of help from the spiritually dead within the clergy, who have failed at catechesis. Simply listen for the phrase, “I used to be Catholic but….”.You will see what I mean.
I can’t undo my life, a life where I wanted one foot in hedonism and another in spiritual life. Jesus Himself tells us, “No one can serve two masters, for he will either love the one and hate the other.”
Relentlessly our machines steal a little more of our human dignity. The film Metropolis becomes a little more prophetic every day. “Steal” isn’t the correct term. We give the machines our dignity, as we think the machines and our knowledge can assuage our fears over the things that we feel threatened by, environmental degradation, racism, nuclear war, overpopulation, rapacious capitalism, Marxist regimentation I’m not saying to ignore our God-given gift of intelligence or the tools it creates. We all have to make choices with what we have. A little mindfulness goes a long way.