There are few things as disorienting to me as having about 15% of a blog post which I simply MUST write swirling around in my head, while I have no concrete idea what the post is actually about.
This could get interesting, since I’m not really sure where it’s going. Hang on, though – might be someplace good. 🙂
First thing: I saw this picture the other day. In my head, this picture is captioned: “A different kind of Super-Hero.” And I love it. Here, look:
I mean, honestly. You ever feel like that little red kid? I’ll admit, I’m not really good at superheroes, I don’t even know who he’s supposed to be (if you do, feel free to share). But he isn’t exactly, ya know, fitting in.
One of the other tumbleweeds in my head are the Catholic baptismal promises. Specifically the beginning part:
V. Do you reject Satan?
R. I do.
V. And all his works?
R. I do.
V. And all his empty promises?
R. I do.
It’s funny, if I recorded my talks you could probably hear different ideas evolving, and one of the things evolving lately is this theme of Satan’s empty promises.
I, being a nerd, like to Google random things. Just now I tried “Satan’s empty promises Catholic.”
No, really. You should try it, it’s fun. I got some good results, like an archived homily from EWTN. I like the way it gets started, quoting paragraph 391 of the CCC: “Behind the disobedient voice of our first parents lurks a seductive voice, opposed to God, which makes them fall into death out of envy…”
“A seductive voice…”
I’m becoming more and more convinced that one of the biggest empty promises of Satan evident in our modern culture is silence. Not the holy silence born of being wrapped in the cloister of Carmel or the weight of the Consecration at Mass…but the godless silence of a people too terrified to speak in the face of grave evil.
One silence comes from being immersed in the Presence of God.
The other kind of silence comes from elevating an ideal into the place of God and becoming immersed in the filth that surrounds such idolatry of the heart. Tolerance, co-existence, fill-in-the-blank-with-your-choice-of-mush-brain-mealy-mouth-liberal-replacement-words, whatever.
The “tolerance” being sold by the world today never satisfied anyone’s soul, and how could it? Our souls are consumed by a hunger that can only be sated by one Source. There’s an older name for turning a blind eye to evil, and it’s more correct than what people prefer to call “tolerance” these days: being lukewarm. And, feel free to check Revelation 3:16 on this, being lukewarm is not exactly the kind of behavior which gets a seal of approval from Scripture.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, one of the most well-known people to meet death in a concentration camp, put it this way: “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
But not to speak, not to act…it is so very, very easy. We fear offending or hurting others, we fear losing friends, we fear running into trouble. Fear is a great instigator of silence, and fear is spoken to our hearts in a very, very seductive voice.
“But perfect love casts out fear.”
I actually looked up what specific verse that is, and it turns out it’s 1 John 4:18. Part of the fun of looking up verses is seeing the different translations, and the Douay-Rheims version is a gem: it uses the word “charity” instead of “love”.
Since I’ve already busted myself on the fact that I’m a nerd and like looking things up, check it out:
I. Like. That.
Just to pick out one of the many things I feel like writing about after I read that, I’ll go with the last: “the root and foundation” of all Christian virtues.
I would like to take this moment to remind us all that one of the things the Church requires before recognizing a Saint is proof of their heroic virtue.
Heroic. As in, outstanding. Above and Beyond. Valiant. Stalwart. All aflame.
It is too tempting to resist quoting Chesterton at this moment, so I won’t resist: “The act of defending any of the cardinal virtues has today all the exhilaration of a vice.”
My friends, what is a Saint, but a different kind of hero?
Different, that is, than what the world tells us heroes are made of. I mean, hey, I’ll watch The Avengers right along with the next person, but seriously, could Ironman really hold up against, oh, say…St. Ignatius of Loyola?
Virtue that requires the heroism of rejecting Satan’s empty promises: silence in the face of grave moral danger, or settling into mediocrity instead of embracing a life that dares to obey the commands of a Savior who “came to set the world on fire”.
It’s not enough to be a “nice” person. I would seriously doubt the credibility of anyone who ever tried to tell me that Jesus Christ was a “nice man.” Nice says “not offensive.”
It doesn’t say “hero.”
And heroism, my friends, is what is required of us. So let’s do it. Let’s be that different kind of hero, the ones that don’t “fit in” with this culture.
I think a great place to start might be throwing ourselves into some of that Holy Silence, sinking into the Ocean of Mercy that is the Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Swim in those depths and you cannot help but catch that holy fire, the fire of Christ’s love which He meant for us to spread. In His Presence we will not be able to resist being pierced by the agony of the love that drove the saints to the heroism which springs from that Divine Source.
The silence that comes from love of Christ will teach us to reject the empty promises of a fear-full silence, and His grace will enable us to respond heroically, as someone like St. Francis Xavier did when he was told to “Go, and set all afire.”