Monday, February 4, 2013
Where is the Catholic Drumbeat?
The Vortex episode of 1/31/13 was entitled, “The Drum Beat”. I’ve embedded it below, in case you missed it. As usual, Michael Voris made some good points.
The Catholic Church is having such a difficult time these days fighting evil, error, heresy, dissent, and so forth because all of these are constantly pounding the drum: the steady never-ending bang bang bang of the drum.
It never stops. Gay marriage is good. Homosexual rights are human rights. Abortion is a fundamental right. Contraception reduces unwanted pregnancies. Euthanasia helps people die with dignity.
Those are the bangs pounded out on the moral drum. On the theological drum, the beat goes on. All religions are basically the same. There is no hell. Or IF there is, no one is really in it. Women should be priests. Non-Catholics can receive Holy Communion. Everyone goes to Heaven.
Bang Bang Bang! It never stops. NEVER! And this is the secret to evil’s success in our contemporary days.
A literal steady drum beat resounds throughout this episode, underscoring the point. It’s quite annoying, and it illustrates very aptly what has happened in our culture.
It never ends. It’s understandable that when anyone in America is exposed to the never ending banging of the drum that they might eventually come to believe the rhythm and the tune being banged out because they never hear anything else.
It reminds me of some of the scenes in Madeleine L’Engle’s book A Wrinkle in Time. In the latter chapters of the book, the protagonists are in the city on the distant planet Camazotz where evil is centered. In one scene, they are brought before a man with pulsating red eyes, and there’s a pulsating red light following the same rhythm. Everyone and everything on the planet is forced to accept and follow the same rhythm. In a later scene, they are brought before a pulsating, living brain, and the steady beat seeks to enter their very beings. They begin to shout out various things they’ve memorized, like the Declaration of Independence and the Periodic Table of Elements, which don’t have the same rhythm, in order to escape the clutches of evil.
And what have we got to combat that steady drum beat? We have our faith, the Catholic Church, the one true faith. But as Voris asks,
Where is the Catholic drumbeat – everyday? Does anyone really think – seriously – that the lukewarm or easily intimidated are going to be able to stand in the fierce winds that blow 24 hours a day 7 days a week… armed with a drab, meaningless 7 or 8 minute homily that says next to nothing just once a week?
Indeed! For many Catholics, their faith has been relegated to Sunday morning. They don’t attend daily Mass, or pray the Rosary daily, or follow any other private devotions that would establish a counter-beat to the evil one pulsating in our secular culture.
I recently began reading the autobiography of St. Therese, the Little Flower; I’ve never read it before. I was struck by the saint’s description of her childhood in the second chapter. Just look at how the Catholic drumbeat was present in the lives of her family:
When I woke there were my sisters ready to caress me, and I said my prayers kneeling between them. Then Pauline gave me my reading lesson, and I remember that "Heaven" was the first word I could read alone.
…Every afternoon I went out for a walk with [Papa], and we paid a visit to the Blessed Sacrament in one or other of the Churches. It was in this way that I first saw the Chapel of the Carmel: "Look, little Queen," Papa said to me, "behind that big grating there are holy nuns who are always praying to Almighty God." Little did I think that nine years later I should be amongst them, that in this blessed Carmel I should receive so many graces. (p. 25)
Their faith was important to them. It was the center of their lives. Everything revolved around parish life and private devotions. Instead of the children saying, “Do I have to…?” when it came to Mass and special celebrations, St. Therese and her sisters relished these events. It was a disappointment to not be allowed to attend:
It was the month of May, 1878. My sisters decided that I was too small to go to the May devotions every evening, so I stayed at home with the nurse and said my prayers with her before the little altar which I had arranged according to my own taste. Everything was small—candlesticks, vases, and the rest; two wax vestas were quite sufficient to light it up properly. (p. 26)
“May devotions every evening”?!? Wow! And since little Therese couldn’t attend, she made up her own! It was that important to her. And it would not have been that important to her if it were not important to her family…and to the community that expected such devotions to occur. It was a matter of fact, a matter of life.
If only we could all see Sunday as the saint did! And I don’t think you have to be a saint in the image of St. Therese to have this appreciation. You do, however, have to have a liturgy that commands respect for Our Lord, and that is something that is sadly lacking in our parishes today. St. Therese says:
And if the great feasts came but seldom, each week brought one very dear to my heart, and that was Sunday. What a glorious day! The Feast of God! The day of rest! First of all the whole family went to High Mass… (p. 27)
It was something special, something to anticipate – not something to sigh over and “get it over with”.
Their home life, apart from parish events was strikingly Catholic, too. It seems to me that so very much of this has been lost!
I could tell you much about our winter evenings at home. After a game of draughts my sisters read aloud Dom Guéranger's Liturgical Year, and then a few pages of some other interesting and instructive book. While this was going on I established myself on Papa's knee, and when the reading was done he used to sing soothing snatches of melody in his beautiful voice, as if to lull me to sleep, and I would lay my head on his breast while he rocked me gently to and fro.
Later on we went upstairs for night prayers, and there again my place was beside my beloved Father, and I had only to look at him to know how the Saints pray. Pauline put me to bed, and I invariably asked her: "Have I been good to-day? Is God pleased with me? Will the Angels watch over me?" (p. 28)
Sigh. Here are the saint’s memories of her sister Celine’s preparation for First Holy Communion:
I was only seven years old, and had not yet begun school at the Abbey. How sweet is the remembrance of her preparation! Every evening during its last weeks, my sisters talked to her of the great event. I listened, eager to prepare myself too, and my heart swelled with grief when I was told to go away because I was still too young. I thought that four years was not too long to spend in making ready to receive Our dear Lord. One evening I heard someone say to my happy little sister: "From the time of your First Communion you must begin an entirely new life." At once I made a resolution not to wait till the time of my First Communion, but to begin with Céline. (p. 33)
Do we tell our children things like that?! “From the time of your First Communion you must begin an entirely new life.” Do we even know that, as adults? Do we adequately instill a love of the Eucharist in our children? Or do we let our daughters dwell too much on the pretty dress they will wear for the occasion, and the party afterwards? I can’t speak for all contemporary Catholic families, but I know I have not seen a St. Therese-type preparation among those I have known.
I’m not saying these things don’t exist at all. I’m saying we need to see more of it. It is our weapon against the steady drum beat of the Culture of Death.
Here’s the Vortex episode; the script is available here.