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.