A while back, Amy used to do a regular feature on her blog called “What did you see?” where she asked readers to talk about what happened at their local parish during the Sunday Mass. It was an interesting way to get a feel for what was happening at J Random parishes across the world (though it could ocassionally get hijacked by the Bitter Squad, very much against Amy’s wishes, and turned into a sort of “Spies Sitting Around the Bar and Bitching about Enemy Movements” gossip fest.
At the risk of that, it occurred to me, after the Great Voris Pagan Easter Hysteria last week, that it might be a worthwhile thing to test how much of the hysteria is really accurate.
It’s like this, I was informed last week (again and again) that Voris is practically the only Real Man in the Catholic Church, fearlessly Telling It Like It is. The occasion of this, we will recall, was that he was Telling It Like It Is about something that, you know, hasn’t even happened. The Al Gore crowd sent some fax to the USCCB with some sort of suggestions for working an environmental message into the Triduum proceedings since Earth Day and Good Friday coincide. No word on what the bishops actually did with the fax. But they were definitely guilty of having their fax machines on when the message came in, so that seems to have been good enough for the hysterics. The dark warnings of an upcoming Pagan Easter were issued and the Legions were instructed that “if the priest even so much as breathes a word about Earth Day, throw nothing in the collection plate, finish your Sunday obligation and resign from that parish on Monday”.
Those of us who questioned this black and white edict from the Master were told that we were on the side of “clapping fornicators” with “grubby hands” whose sole mission in life was to destroy Truly True Catholic faith happily being preserved by the few, the proud, the “Real Catholic” against the enemy Host commonly called “99% of the Church”.
Now, mind you, I’m perfectly aware that there are problems out there. I was, after all, recieved into the Church in the Archdiocese of Seattle during the reign of Abp. Hunthausen.
But here’s the thing: I’m having trouble buying the pre-emptive conviction so many of the pitchfork wavers have that, this weekend, the majority of the Church is going to hear homilies on Gaia worship. There may well be a mention of Earth Day, but that’s not the same thing except to people trained to respond to Pavlovian acoustic cues rather than thinking. Why? Well because it is perfectly legitimate to note that, for instance, Christ is the first born of all Creation. Why, somebody might even comment legitimately on the crazy eco-theology which sings things like
Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor,
radiant in the brightness of your King!
Christ has conquered! Glory fills you!
Darkness vanishes for ever!
or which notes that “the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God.” (Romans 8:19-21)
In short, there is a perfectly orthodox Christian take on our relationship to Nature and to Christ’s redemption of Nature that could easily take the coincidence of Earth Day and the Triduum to make a perfectly orthodox point about the cosmic power of the Resurrection in redeeming, not just our souls, nor even our bodies, but the whole of the created order, resulting in a New Heaven and a New Earth (and implying our obligation to care for the earth over which we have been given dominion). You know: like we learned from that crazy Gaia worshipper, JRR Tolkien, who knew nothing of Truly True Orthodox Catholicism.
But since, as I have just kindly pointed out, 1) there are any number of ways of mentioning Earth Day in an orthodox way; 2), we have no particular reason for supposing the Gore memo will have any impact at all and 3) even *if* the Gore memo was mentioned and somebody included a little “give a hoot, don’t pollute” mention in a homily or voiced an opinion that global warming is something to take seriously, that *still* doesn’t constitute “paganism” or “earth worship”. In order to be actually pagan, somebody has to propose that a creature is a deity to be worshipped because that’s what paganism is: exchanging the truth about God for a lie and worshipping and serving the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever! (Romans 1:25).
So tell me what actually happens in your parish this Triduum. I want to get a sense of how much the Great Voris Pagan Easter Panic in my comboxes last week was rooted in reality, and how much was hysteria. (My sense, in case you haven’t figured it out, is “pretty much mostly hysteria”). But since “my sense” plus five bucks will get you a cup of Starbucks, I thought I might collect a bit of data. So I need to hear from as many of you as possible, since the Panickers will be hypersensitive to the slightest hint of Impurity, while normal people who are not inclined to comment will not, particularly if the homily is a perfectly ordinary one.
I fully expect this may make for some dullness in reporting since the real problem, it seems to me, is not that a vast cadre of lesbo-nuns and gay priests are sowing Gaia worship across the land, but rather that a small cadre of Puritan Catholics are upset that the average Catholic is average and are therefore inclined to seize on excuses to create a Puritan Church sect in which they can yak about “loving the Church” while despising virtually all actual Catholics as clapping fornicators with grubby hands who don’t have true reverence.
So let me know. I’m interested in how the Prophecy of Pagan Easter squares with the lived reality in the ordinary parish.