Halloween was cold and rainy, like most of late October. The winds blew hard and the morning suddenly looked and felt like November, the coldest day so far, the leaves stripped early from most of the trees. A leaden sky bore down on the world all day. I love all weather, except the most extreme temperatures, but I must admit that November is my least favorite month. In Michigan, where I grew up, the sun was a rarity, the sky grey and brooding.
But I must say that the discovery, in the last few years, of Sierra Nevada’s seasonal Celebration Ale has given me something to look forward to with the arrival of the eleventh month. It is an IPA made with freshly harvested, not dried hops, and it is delicious. I just drank my first six pack. Check it out if you are unfamiliar with it: After the Synod
Let me get this straight. You can be a weapons manufacturer and no one is going to ask you to refrain from receiving communion in a Catholic parish. You can found a corporation of mercenaries and you will be invited to speak at the Acton Institute. And you can receive communion. You can be a multimillionaire politician and take up with an aging Catholic choir girl. get your two previous unions, which you destroyed by your infidelity, annulled and marry your new honey in the Church, no problem. Bishops will attend your reception. If you are a politician who wars against labor and the poor by his votes you can receive. Or one who zealously promotes abortion, a tragic and violent solution to a crisis. Or you can be a businessman who pays his workers poverty wages while living in luxury. And of course if you are a couple who are not obeying church teaching regarding birth control you are not going to be interrogated in the communion line. If you are a former head of the CIA under GW Bush, who has not only overseen a policy of torturing captives but has defended said policy in the Wall Street Journal you not only can receive communion but you will be asked to give the commencement address at a prominent Catholic university, one which touts its Catholicity. And they will give you an honorary doctorate.
So what again is the problem with not asking questions of same sex companions and those in complicated families, of assuming good will of everyone in charity?
Me, I don’t think anyone over the age of seven should ever receive communion. The rest of us are too messy. The Romans communicate everyone who meets the canonical standard but not the most worthy of all, babies and small children.
Rumors of Schism?
It is getting weird, folks, with bishops and cardinals openly criticizing Francis and well-respected commentators like Ross Douthat suggesting that the time is nigh for conservative Catholics to take on the pope, if not to bolt altogether. They frequently use St Paul’s rebuke of St Peter as a precedent, though that is a strange choice: Peter was rebuked for not being openly supportive of extending a welcome to those who did not observe Jewish law, while Francis is criticized for extending a welcome to those who are in canonically problematic situations. On the plus side, it is nice to see conservative Catholics getting beyond the superpapalism that long marked that corner of the Church, a tendency only too familiar to me.
But to traditionalists who value theological and liturgical constructs that, however beautiful, are mostly human, this pope has opened the door to the opposite, and very protestant error. This is going to be interesting, and could mark the birth pangs of the era of Vatican II, which has only begun.
Apophatic Bumper Stickers, Inc.
I am going produce a line of apophatic bumper stickers. I do not fool myself into thinking that this is going to make a lot of money, but here are a few:
* YOU DON’T KNOW SHIT
* GOD IS NOT AN ASSHOLE
* NO REALLY, IT’S NOTHING
* ALL KNOWLEDGE IS TENTATIVE
* ALL YOU KNOW IS THAT YOU DON’T KNOW
And this one, from Firesign Theatre:
* EVERYTHING YOU KNOW IS WRONG
Painting by Guy Stevens