Monday, May 12, 2008

‘If I think our world needs anything, it is a strange and colourful orthodoxy’
As Chesterton found when as a young man he tried to invent the most outrageous religion he could imagine orthodoxy is the strangest and most colourful thing of all. Like several of my readers right and left Arturo’s much better read and probably more intelligent than me but I think I understand.
I have concluded from a very young age, however, that beauty and truth are things that are incapable of being grasped totally by the mind of man. If absolute truth exists (and I believe it does), I don’t necessarily believe that it is totally consubstantial with the human brain. At best, the mind can invoke it, but it cannot grasp it. And it will change you in ways that you least expect. To paraphrase Flannery O’Connor, the Truth is inherently strange, and It will transform you into its own image and likeness when you are exposed to It.
From the com-box:
... a traditional Catholicism that’s not allrah rah, isn’t the pope great?” andthe 1962 missal is the most holy thing on earth” (emphasis mine).

I was a little kid before Vatican II, and the Church of my childhood was all about incense and candle wax and Benediction and May processions and holy cards and sun slanting through stained glass and statues of the Little Flower and nuns floating down school corridors (I was convinced that nuns didn’t have feet). And none of that has Thing One to do with beng able to argue against Sola Scriptura. Not that I undervalue the latter. Scott Hahn’s arguments come in handy, I must confess, now that I live down here in the Bible Belt. But I am not a Catholic because of Scott Hahn. I am a Catholic, at least in part, because it’s in my blood. Holy cards and statues are in my blood, and saints are in my blood, and Three-Way Medals are in my blood, and novenas and rosaries are in my blood. The Catholicism of inner-city Irish-Italian Dorchester, Mass., circa 1958, is in my blood.
My priest is that way (he’s ethnic Polish); I’ve got the benefit of that for 12 years.

Anglo-Catholics can add our own cultural ephemera: a Gothic tower with its bells ringing amid a nearly equally grey sky, trees and green fields*; an organ diapason; a choir trilling; a Tudor turn of phrase; a hymn tune; reserve and discretion about other people’s vices mixed with ironic and camp humour showing everybody knows what’s happening behind the scenes, over drinks after a service; a 39-button cassocked and mozetta’d priest giving a Lenten quiet day saying ‘God is dying to forgive you if only you will let him’ in an old-fashioned London-meets-Oxbridge voice...

Of course it’s not exclusive to the Western forms of Catholicism: for example Slav Orthodox from Russia and Deer Hunter country (Greek Catholics too) ‘get it’. Natural traditionalism. Revelation working through natural religion.

*One thing I love about the town where I live is it has all that, a fine background to pray at home! Even if the tower and bells are Presbyterian. ;)

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