Monday, February 25, 2013

Ralph Ellison, Pope Benedict XVI, Charlie Sheen, and Me

In Ellison's novel Invisible Man, the author deftly handles the complex idea of human identity.  Specifically, he explores how humans assess each other, quickly, rashly, often inaccurately, and based on appearance, possibly combined with whatever few facts are available at an initial meeting.  As a black man, Ellison's protagonist vacillates between suffering from and sardonically enjoying his invisibility.  The judgments made about him based on his color make for life situations ranging from misadventure to physical danger to, at last, isolation.  

The temptation for the adherent Catholic in 2013 in America is isolation.  Instead of creating the cloister within the heart, as the great saints instruct us, we are wont to gather with like minded folk and hold on for dear life, while we watch materialism, utilitarianism, secularism, Christophobia, intellect worship, idol worship, abortion, promiscuity, corruption, perversion, and all manner of sin grow like mighty oaks around us.  Not weeds, mind you, that can be pulled like the pests they are, but strong trees.  They seem to be in power; they seem to be, as pop curiosity and broken human being Charlie Sheen said, "winning."  Of course there was a tragic irony to Sheen uttering this phrase.  He hasn't won a thing.  He's losing at life.  He's losing his soul, and his body, and even his draw as a novelty act.  But he perceived himself, amazingly, to be victorious, to such a degree that he punctuated his self-appraisal with the teenagerish, "Duh!?"  Implied here is that it is obvious to anyone keeping score that Sheen was in fact winning because he was rich, he was having a lot of sexual intercourse, and he was enjoying drugs.  He had freedom.  

So you can't blame a Catholic who is obedient to the Magisterium and the Pope, who bends to Christ's way of the Cross, for desiring to create a quasi-hermitage.  Look at the view, for gravy's sake.  It's bleak.  Or is it?

So far, the darkest news, the HHS Mandate, the re-election of a pro-abortion President, the scandals within our own ranks, the degeneration of the worlds of news, entertainment, and family, have not broken the ankles of The Church.  She stands stronger than ever in adversity. Not only that, but religious of all stripes are unifying. Former enemies are making friends at warp speed to present a united front in the face of threats to the Natural Law and God's Law.   I'm at a point where each new item that comes on my news feed that should depress me fills me with a little bit more resolve and another dose of confidence in the Profession of Faith I made almost three years ago.  To be Catholic now is to have the One Thing.  It is to stand in the face of my own sin, your sin, and the very public sins of everyone from politicians to pundits to celebrity priests, and say, "What else you got?" 

The devil wants us to give up.  Understand that.  He wants us to become invisible.  He wants us to assess each other as narrow minded Catholic far right wingnuts and limousine liberals.  He wants us to respond to hatred with hatred.  He wants us to use contraception, limit our numbers, spend more money on oursleves, and eventually, die out.  Then God's beautiful and unique creation would lose, and The Church would be a failed experiment.

Except that's impossible.  Because Jesus handed a power to Peter.  And Peter handed it down, and each day the Holy Spirit himself protects us.  We are visible to you, Jesus, and you see us obeying and standing by the Magisterium, and it pleases You.  And this is how we are "winning."  Because true winning doesn't involve looking for a loser.  Its definition is living and walking and speaking in love.  Its manifestation is breaking through the invisibility of the religious person, ignoring the barbs thrown at us, and showing our critics, many and varied, controlling the airways and government offices, that we are lovers and fighters.  Our weapons are the Sacraments, our prayers, and our unity.  Our love for Pope Benedict infuriates some.  Why on earth would that be?  Examine that!  Only hate becomes aggravated by love.  There is no other explanation.  So what would Blessed Teresa say?  If you see a place without love, put love there.  Don't run away and become invisible.  Don't let them look past you.  Make them see you.  That's all any of us wants: to be seen.  

To all of my atheist, lukewarm, agnostic, cafeteria, disobedient friends, and to all my adherent, trying every day friends, and to all my more Catholic than the Pope legalistic friends, to all my Republicatholic friends, to all of my Nuns on the Bus friends: guess what?  I see you.  I see your secret sin.  I have it, too.  It's okay.  Lay it at the Cross.  Jesus will take care of it.  But He will send you away with an admonition: "Go and sin no more." That's what the Pope tells us.  That's why he is passionately hated by some and desperately loved by others.  He speaks with the voice of Jesus.  Reflect on how Jesus was treated.  Now think of our dear Papa, and of the Christian at the office every day, and the Catholic advocating for abstinence in the combox.  How can we fool ourselves into thinking that we all would receive better treatment than Christ Himself?  Not gonna happen, people.  Not yet.  Not this side of Heaven.  

Our Pope is invisible to many already.  They see a caricature, not a servant of the servants of God.  When he enters his life of real "invisibility" in seclusion, we will not be far from him.  All the hearts of all the obedient Catholics in the world beat together.  We all eat the Manna God sends us.  We all pray the same Hail Mary.  We are one, but a one that is grafted to the vine, the Christ, the True God, the Creator of every atom in the Universe.  With Him on your side, you dare be invisible? No.  Let's not allow each other to do that.  Let's speak, always in charity and clarity, what we KNOW to be Truth.  

But to speak it, we must also live it.  Lent is the ideal time of year to make a self-examination.  Am I Christlike in speech, manner, thought, action, almsgiving, mercy, judgment, lawfulness, strength, meekness, virtue, understanding, prudence?  Too much for you?  Okay, go join a rock and roll church, and tell yourself that Heaven is just an extension of this life, of sucking down material things and food and gossip forever and ever.  No, that's Charlie Sheen Heaven, not the Heaven of the Bible, not the Heaven on the Liturgy.

With this blog, which I hope to add to as frequently as my vocation as a mother allows, I have one goal: to tell you that you are not alone.  To tell you that holiness is not only possible, but necessary.  To tell you that joy is sometimes disguised as suffering.  

Every time I read or taught the novel Invisible Man, I found something new in it.  Good literature is that way.  The Church and its teachings are similar, multiplied by about a billion.  There are riches untold.  Sometimes I will focus on a teaching, or a line in Scripture, or a piece of the Catechism.  I am not a Mommy blogger.  I am not a wisecracking blogger.  I'm not a sassy gal blogger.  I will not engage in comboxing matches.  

I'm human, and that's a beautiful thing to be when you know that God Himself shaped you with His Hands.  I'm Catholic, and that's the best thing in the world to be if you want to be so close to Jesus that He literally enters your body.  I'm a wife, and that means I'm subordinate to my husband.  I'm a mother, and that means my job is to get my kids to Heaven.  Maybe along the way, I can help you get there, too.


17 comments:

  1. Glad to see you finally did this! It's wonderful.
    Thank you for helping me get to heaven. I love you, my friend.

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  2. This is wonderful. You have been given a great gift. Thank you.You are always in my prayers.

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  3. Wow. Did you ever inspire me to get up and get going today! Thank you.

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  4. Thank you for this, Nicole. I am so happy you are blogging, and thankful you are willing to share your heart and voice with us. God bless your efforts here to His glory!!

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    1. Thank you so much, Annette. Definitely always to His glory as He is the one sustaining me daily, no, make that moment by moment!

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  5. Wonderfully written, and so true: every word. God bless you. Keep using your gift to inspire and evangelize.

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    1. Thank you so much, Toni. God bless you for coming over and reading.

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  6. Nicole, thank you. I'm both moved and braced after reading this. What you write counts!
    God bless you!

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    1. Thank you so much Francis. The encouragement means a lot to me. I just want every person possible to feel what I felt that night at Easter Vigil when I converted. I'm trying to bring them a glimpse of it if I can.

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  7. Hi Nicole. Welcome to the blogosphere.
    Excellent writing. I love especially your "rock and roll church"/"Charlie Sheen heaven" paragraph. I, as an organist, should use that on those people that whine because we don't allow sacro-pop (Eagle's Claws, Be Not Afraid, etc.) at Holy Mass.
    BMP

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    1. Ha! Brian, feel free to quote me! Welcome to my blog and I hope to get to know you better here.

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