Friday 10 July 2015
Smelling of the Sheep
I am a known to be a Traditional Catholic in both morality and liturgy, but I have never claimed to be faultless in either area. In terms of liturgy there were times in the early years when I walked among the congregation to preach; when I moved the Pax to the end of Mass, and had more than the necessary number of EMCH’s on the sanctuary. Only when Redemptionis Sacrametum was promulgated and the people asked for oddities like danced communion processions and pop sings did I realise we have gone dreadfully wrong and produced a liturgy that was designed to entertain; one that kept the congregation occupied as though they were small children.
In terms of moral sin I have a critical tongue; I should be less slothful and more prayerful, though I have not committed what many consider to be the worst of sins. I have not, for example, committed murder; I have not broken my vows of celibacy with man, woman or child, I have not taken part in violence or bee involved in theft. Being a Traditional Catholic I am often viewed, it seems to me, as someone who does not live in the ‘real world’ (as non-believers have said to me) and do not ‘smell of the sheep’ (as liberal Catholics might now say). That could not be more wrong; such ignorant views are highly irritating. I am Traditional because I have seen the ‘real world’ at close quarters and been deeply affected by it.
The truth is I have lived among the ‘smelly sheep’ all my life. indeed, every single one of my siblings is divorced, a much-loved cousin has been in a cohabiting homosexual relationship for over 40 years, and 90% of my nephews and nieces have fallen prey to the drug culture with all the crime, family disturbance and illness that goes with it. I must then, smell of the sheep more than any other priest I know, yet the assumption that I am Traditionalist (and ‘rigorist’) because I don’t know the ‘real world’ or ‘smell of the sheep’ appears to continue.
I am aware that the smelly sheep can converse and joke with people, and that they regard this as ‘being sociable’, but they are inherently anti-social in that they ignore the law and take meds and drink that destroy family life by their irascible, agitated, and dysfunctional behaviours while destroying their own mental and physical health. They are living examples of the Culture of Death.
What most Catholics mean by ‘we must “smell of the sheep”’ means ‘to walk alongside them in their difficulties and find ways to help them out’. I walk with such sheep unavoidably, and I do seek ways to help them out, but that does not mean telling them that their second or third marriage; their cohabitation or their drug abuse are simply a weakness that can be absolved and knowingly, willingly continued while they receive Holy Communion. That does not help them out of the s....t; it keeps them there. This is exactly what the so-called ‘Kasper Proposal’ would do, and it is not what God wants for them and it is not what I want for them. I am disturbed that so many clergy do.
I want for them a stable relationship that is based on love, not lust; marriages that do not result from an ‘accidental’ pregnancy; an intellectual ability and a will unclouded by the haziness and distortions of drug abuse so that they can make truly free choices. Sadly, so many are involved in drug abuse and non-marital relationships that there is a kind of mutual affirmation among them that where they simply tell each other they ‘are OK’; that they are just ‘like everyone else’ (which is true), and that I am just ‘a religious nut or bigot’ (which is not true). It is sad that so many Catholics -even among the hierarchy- appear to think the same.
Today’s problems of marital breakdown, homosexual activity, drug abuse, thieving what they think they have a right to have etc, arises from an evil seed: that seed is the lie of Satan that ‘life is about being happy’. ‘God wants you to be happy’ he tells them, then puts pleasures in front of their faces that distract them from authentic happiness (which is a state of being). He presents to them the passing pleasure of free sexual activity, highs from substance abuse etc., with the result that they go from pleasurable experience to pleasurable experience without the ever knowing the happiness of the stable relationship, or the freedom of clear-thinking free from the haziness and distortions of drugs.
Society must get back to marriage between a man and woman wherein their offspring are cooperatively cared for by both progenitors; we must get back to helping the sheep to seek happiness rather than passing pleasure (which is self-indulgent hedonism) because such self-indulgence disturbs both the family and society. The Church must raise her voice for the family at the Synod, not further undermine it by seeking ways to get around it. It is not that I (or any other traditional priest I would think) do not want to smell of the sheep; it is that we don’t want the sheep such as my own family to smell of anything but the odour of sanctity.