Sunday, July 10, 2022

Eat Dung, Get Sick

"Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever modest, whatsoever just, whatsoever holy, whatsoever lovely, whatsoever of good fame, if there be any virtue, if any praise of discipline, think on these things."
~Php. 4:8

The Christian life calls us to vigilance against the works of darkness and the wiles of the evil one. Too much filth has been unleashed in the Church to afford anymore negligence, naivete, or head-in-the-sand Pollyanna-ism. 

This, however, must be balanced by an equal, if not greater, focus on wholesome things; as St. Paul says, our thoughts should be turned towards the true, the modest, the just, the holy, the lovely, the virtuous. We are to be children of light (Eph. 5:8) and out minds should be turned towards the light. The things St. Paul proposes for our meditation are subjects that ennoble us—they elevate our intellect, shaping it according to the designs of God. Elsewhere Paul tells us that part of faith is having a "resurrected" mindset; if we have been resurrected with Christ, our minds, also, ought to be raised: "Therefore, f you be risen with Christ, seek the things that are above; where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God; mind the things that are above, not the things that are upon the earth" (Col. 3:1-2).

To do otherwise is to damage our faith. We can only focus on the works of darkness so much before the shadow falls over us, as well. Saruman was corrupted by looking through the Palantir. He did so at first only to gain intelligence about Sauron, to be educated about the enemy's activities; but eventually it bent his mind towards darkness, causing his fall. 

Consider now what media you consume, whether secular or Catholic. Is it always focused on exposing some evil somewhere? Is it ever dwelling on the deeds of malicious agents? Is it scandal-mongering, ever purporting to be doing the dirty-work of chronicling the train of abuses and perverse deviations of the modern Church? There is certainly a place for this sort of reporting, but does the media outlet exist only to peddle scandal? And is this all you consume? Is this the entirety of your spiritual diet? 

While it is important to be "wise as serpents" about the goings-on in the Church and world, existing primarily on this sort of diet is harmful in the long run. Like Saruman gazing into the Palantir, it warps your ability to see things properly—to see things as God would have us to see. It can make us skeptical, jaded, and cynical, ultimately causing our love to grow cold. The epistle from the Traditional Latin Mass today tells us, "Be ye of one mind, having compassion one of another, being lovers of the brotherhood" (1 Pet. 3:8). The brotherhood, of course, is the Church. Do you love the brotherhood? Do you love the Church? That is, when you think of the Catholic Church—not as you wish it to be in some golden past, but as it actually exists today—is it an object of desire? Is it something attractive that moves the will? Despite the problems, despite the warts and sores, do you possess a deep and abiding affection for your first love?

I am not naïve about the Church; I know that the Church does a lot to push people away. It is undergoing some kind of catastrophe, and seeing it is like watching helplessly while one's own mother goes through a slutty, drunken, embarrassing midlife crisis. I do not suggest the Church isn't culpable for a great many things. But, that being the case, why on earth would you want the scope of your vision darkened further by drinking even more deeply of the sludge? Yes, the air is poisoned, but the poisoned air means that we must build up our immunities that much more. To do anything else is to gamble with our faith.

Remember, people who lose faith don't just stop believing. They stop loving. Then, their love having grown cold, the hope that keeps them anchored unravels, and hope being dissolved, faith dies. This is why St. Paul urges us to meditate on that which is good and pure and wholesome. It is the spiritual equivalent to eating a balanced, healthy diet. But if you eat dung day in and day out, don't be surprised if you get sick.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yep. And can I add: steer clear of those who consume that media. The trad scene is filled with the gossip of it at homeschool picnics, family parties, church coffee hours. Be they joyful one. Channel Chesterton.