Image from Liz Ablashi Vecteezy.com
Within the American church, we seem to be caught up in a game of spiritual whack-a-mole. In the arcade game, the player bludgeons each mole with a sledgehammer as he pops up his head from the ground. The more moles hit, the more moles surface and at an increasing rate of speed.
Earlier this summer, Taylor Marshall encouraged a few thousands angry followers to let Bishop Barron know their state of mind. Whack! Bishop Barron replied in his official capacity explaining the mortal sin of calumny…Whack! This week, Fr. James Martin provided his followers with Bishop Callahan’s contact information, encouraging them to let the Bishop know their anger with the preaching of Fr. James Altman…Whack! Reacting to the barrage, Bishop Callahan publicly admonishes Fr. Altman…Whack!
I confess to almighty God
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have greatly sinned
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done
and in what I have failed to do…
(The Confiteor of the Holy Mass)
In the spiritual life, what doesn’t happen is as important to notice as that which does take place. No Whack-back from Fr. Altman. There is a model of holiness to this worthy of reflection in our own life. On the other hand, absent is the voice of an authority to inform the whackers that calumny is mortal sin…”what’s good for the goose is good for the gander” as the old saying goes. There is no moral relativism to sin; it simply is what it is.
Meanwhile, outside of the church today is Grandparent’s day. For months, our elders have been whacked, forced into lockdown in nursing homes, retirement communities, and their own homes. They literally die alone, with no friends or family there to comfort them, no anointing from the priest, no funeral to hand them off to Jesus for eternal life. Those remaining are suffering deep depression and anxiety. Certain facilities continue to suffer Covid-19 infections despite of lockdown and mask wearing, and infestations will tend to be centered in these few while most others are Covid-free. Yet no attention is brought to why these centers are hit: the poor care these facilities provide our elders and the undignifying state of life they had prior to the pandemic. Although our elders are the ones at greatest risk with Covid, per a Univ. of Pennsylvania study only 1% of Covid funds went to elder-care facilities (in their region). Instead, some cities are moving our infected elders out of the communities which they call ‘home’ and rounding them up into Covid-19 assisted living facilities. Such displacement typically brings much anxiety and desolation as they are in strange facilities surrounded by faces of strangers. The ‘rounding up’ of targeted populations of people brings a societal shudder as memories of this in oppressed societies surface–the Japanese round-up in the US; the Jews in Nazi Germany, the gulags of Russia, and even the round-up of Catholic priests by the Chinese government today. All of this risks exposing our elders to a worse disease: the false ideology of having a duty to die. This is the mostly deadly as it diseases the spirit and risks to separate them from the God they may have worshipped their entire lives. They are a mere step away from becoming test subjects for future vaccines, knowing this experimentation could lead to their death, and are told it is for the greater good that they do so. https://spectator.org/the-bioethicist-pandemic/
With all of this happening, we might expect that the organization officially sponsoring Grandparents Day would raise up Americans to an outpouring of love for our elders, encourage sending cards to nursing homes and conquer despair with random acts of kindness. Instead, this organization has chosen to use Grandparents Day to solicit memories of racism. The callousness and insensitivity of this is beyond expression.
We are each responsible for what we have done and what we have failed to do. The American Catholic church pioneered hospice care, adult day care, and many other aspects of loving the aged. Yet we remain silent. It seems silence is its own type of ‘whack’ and perhaps a more deadly one.
“Christ says many times: ‘Watch’ (Matt. 26: 41). Perhaps also from the Gospel it passed into the tradition of scouring. In the call of Jasna Gora it is the essential element of the reply that we wish to give to the love by which we are surrounded in the sign of the Sacred Icon.
The response to this love must be precisely the fact that I watch! What does it mean, ‘I watch’?
It means that I make an effort to be a person with a conscience. I do not stifle this conscience and I do not deform it; I call good and evil by name, and I do not blur them; I develop in myself what is good, and I seek to correct what is evil, by overcoming it in myself. This is a fundamental problem which can never be minimized or put on a secondary level. No! It is everywhere and always a matter of the first importance. Its importance is all the greater in proportion to the increase of circumstances which seem to favour our tolerance of evil and the fact that we easily excuse ourselves from this, especially if adults do so.” (St. John Paul II to the Polish people 1983)
Circumstances outside of our control have rendered us underground in certain ways, but nothing prohibits us from popping our head up to speak Love (for Truth is Love as God is Love), to show kindness, to share the beauty of our Faith. After all, the worse that can happen is that we occasionally are Whacked(!). In the greater scheme of things, an occasional pop on the head is inconsequential and in fact necessary. As soon as one is whacked, many more speakers of Truth rise up and all the faster.
We need to follow our Saint John Paul II’s lead for a transformation of conscience to grow a true solidarity movement in God. As he told the Polish people, “look around you. You are not alone”.
Let your Spirit descend
Let your Spirit descend
And renew the face of the earth, of this land.
(Saint John Paul II)[i]
Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam 😊