Do Something Crazy

Wear a hairshirt. Get a backpack full of rocks and run to your church. Organize a Eucharistic procession through the streets of your town. Build a massive bonfire in honor of an obscure saint you found on the Internet in your backyard. Because I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but this world has gotten boring, and could use some Catholics violently expressing their faith.

For example, check out this story that I posted on facebook awhile back. What coolness. That judge was on to something. We Catholics are often very preoccupied with having the right heart behind the things we do, and that’s a great thing, don’t get me wrong. We check ourselves constantly for pride, we prayerfully consider our actions, and we make sure the things we do come from pure intentions and good will. But often we forget a very fantastic truth. That sometimes, it’s the things we do that change our hearts. Sometimes the physical actions mold the intentions. Did that drunk have the right heart behind the pilgrimage he made? Perhaps, perhaps not. But this I know for certain, that the pilgrimage in some small way made his heart right. And that is cause for great hope!

As a terrible Catholic, I can’t always muster up the purity of heart required to build a shrine. But I can build a shrine, darnit! I can carry rocks and place them on top of each other and spraypaint a picture of our lady on them with flourish. But in doing this, I can spraypaint her on my heart. The very actions of lifting rocks to make a holy place leads me to reverence, even if my heart was never reverent to begin with. The best example I can think of to prove this point is obedience. It’s tough to have the proper heart when being obedient to our parents, our bosses or the cops on the side of the road where it’d be perfectly fine to be going 90 you wimpy, excuse for a driver. (Ahem, sorry.) But the practice of obedience, the actual practice, if done enough, will lead to the actual willingness to obey. Saying, “Yes sir!” and doing it will eventually lead to the desire to say “Yes sir!”. The action transforms the heart. (OK, maybe not in the case of the cops. But you see what I’m saying.)

So do something crazy. Get that Marian tattoo you’ve always wanted. Read the Summa Theologia. If you’re an author, write some Catholic fiction. A musician, write a song of Eucharistic praise. Build a chapel, build a shrine. Let your actions mold your heart, because sometimes it’s tough as hell to do the opposite. And our Church is full of opportunities for this! Rosaries, scapulars, the sign of the cross and the veneration of the same, what are these but exterior actions that transform our interior hearts? How perfectly summed up are they all in the Eucharist, the physical eating of God for the spiritual renewal of ourselves.

And the best part about it is this; the crazy actions we do transform the world. It’s living our Catholic faith in a triumphant crescendo that forces the world to listen, and living it on fire that forces the world to see. As we speak, rappers are representing the faith to crowds who have never given it a thought, a friend of mine has a massive chain around his ankle in Holy Slavery to Jesus Christ Through Mary, a new cathedral slowly rises in secular Spain, and Dominican priests carry Jesus Christ in the monstrance through the grounds of the University of Virginia. These are wonderful, crazy things. These are wonderful, physical displays. These are bringing many people into the Church, and wrapping the Church around everyone else.  So, if you’re Catholic craziness ends at a bumper sticker, crank it up a notch. Your heart will follow.

  • Frank

    Exactly! Like Seal sings, and you write, so well…Crazy!

  • The Ranter

    You'd better watch it…you're gonna get in trouble with the crowd that takes issue with Catholics getting tattoos. (Not me, btw, I have four. One is of the Immaculate & Sacred Hearts on my back.)

  • Sean

    @The Ranter. I don't have a problem with tatoos, either. Not excessive ones, anyways. Controversies just seem to come with bold steps by definition.@Marc, you hit another home run. But I wonder about what you say about art. I write myself, and am in fact working on a novel. I'm determined to make it a wonderful thing for my God. But I've learned you have to be careful about that. There's a danger when you specifically think to yourself, "This creative work I shall make for God." You can slip into your culture's stereotypes about God. Cliches, in other words. Listen to Chris Tomlin if you need a case example.I'm not saying don't do your work for God. I am saying to watch out for that pitfall while you're doing it. As you mentioned in your post, He works in you even when you're focusing on other things.

  • looklauren

    I think it's really important to stay dignified in the way we express our faith and to try to reflect Christ's purity. I have quite recently become a traditional Catholic and have just learnt the tradition of chalking the initials of the Wisemen on the front door – it's been a great conversation starter.

  • The Ranter

    Lauren, our family starting doing that a couple of years ago too. What a beautiful tradition for a person's home!

  • Marc

    @ LaurenMy first instinct is to disagree most wholeheartedly. I think it is very important to stay holy in the way we express our faith, but i do not think we are in the least bit called to be dignified.When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, "How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, disrobing in the sight of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!" David said to Michal, "It was before the LORD, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the LORD's people Israel–I will celebrate before the LORD. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor."2 Samuel 6:20-22

  • Marc

    It's not that I am against such customs as chalking our doors. In fact, my family has been doing that for years and it is wonderful! But the purity of Christ you spoke of is a shining and affirmative thing, not a merely dignified attribute, and thus it should be equally celebrated by parades, bonfires and something as undignified as dancing naked. Think of the color of Christendom, it's feasts days, it's crazy culture, it's poetry and it's joy. To be a traditional Catholic IS to be undignified!

  • looklauren

    Michal found David's actions undignified and although he continued doing what he was doing regardless of what she thought of him, he would or should have wanted to stay dignified in the eyes of the Lord. Dignity is important; Proverbs 31: "An excellent wife, who can find?…..Strength and dignity are her clothing." I don't really think there is anything undignified in the things you mentioned, I am all for marches and bonfires and you should have seen me with my flag when the Pope came to the UK last September..maybe not tattoos but I am a bit conservative so ignore me, if it's something God has put in your heart then cool.. Obviously you wouldn't intend to dance naked for God in public but it would be well and truly humiliating if you were caught, lol.. My issue is that there are some liberal Catholics out there who will take the direction to go crazy too far. Like you said, we should check the intentions behind all our actions because even being too austere can be an issue of pride.I love your blog, although it does challenge my conservative-ness a bit.. ;)

  • Marc

    I agree. One need look no farther than our liturgical stupidity here in the states to see people taking crazy too far. Thanks for reading!