So today I went to Mass. I’ve been out of sorts lately, feeling not very happy with myself and grumpy over all the Charlottesville racists, President Racist, and Good White Christian racist defenders. I hate all this filth, but I also hate it when I get stuck on it. My conscience tells me, “If you clam up now, you are a gutless coward.” But it also says, “You catch more flies with honey and the anger of man does not bring about the righteousness of God” (thanks St. James).
So I waffle back and forth. I find the Good White Christian excuse-making for all this utterly nauseating but my inner Platonist keeps insisting that if I just talking long enough and clearly enough then I can persuade people to just stop being fallen and afflicted with original sin. And boy howdy, there is nothing like the thought “At least I’m not so deaf, dumb, and blind as Nazi defenders” to swell the head. It’s easy to forget “I’m not pro-Nazi” is not the reason one is justified before God. There’s no danger more potent to the soul than the peril of being obviously right in a moral contest between obvious good and obvious evil.
So I’ve been thinking about Paul. In one of his frequent argument with his flock who are ringing the changes on “Who do you think you are? You aren’t even a real apostle!” Paul says:
This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then every man will receive his commendation from God.
I have applied all this to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brethren, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. For who sees anything different in you? What have you that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift? (1 Co 4:1–7).
I like that. Paul doesn’t fall into the trap of thinking his value comes from being right. He leaves all that in God’s hands and remembers that none of us are right because we all killed Jesus including, especially, him. I’m not right either. I killed Jesus. Big whoop that I despise Nazis. Despising is easy and I have a talent for it.
Which brings me back to Mass today. It the Feast of the Queenship of Mary, when remember the honor poured out on this little country girl nobody ever heard of when she was on earth. She said “yes” to God while everybody was jockeying for power and she kept saying it all the while they took the one precious thing she loved most in this world, the little boy God had given her, horsewhipped him, spat on him, and spiked him up naked to laugh at him till he gasped out his dying breath. She’s every terrified refugee, every kid ever beaten black and blue by a bully, every brave and powerless lover of the good who has ever gotten up off the mat, hitched up her belt and soldiered on. Of *course* she has all the honors of heaven poured out on her when she finally arrives Home at the end of her life. If anybody ever deserved to hear, “Well done, good and faithful!” from God, it was her.
Yeah. It’d just forgotten it. Too busy and distracted and fallen and darkened in the intellect till the Holy Spirit and our Lady so gently reminded me. People sometime joke that God hits us in the head with 2x4s. It’s not true in my experience. Usually, my sins are shown me with gentleness. It’s much the most effective way. You don’t get defensive that way. You say,”Oh. OHHHHHHH! I am so sorry! Ugh! How could I have forgotten?”
So I went to confession. Again. And I’m trying to start over. Again.
And I’m thinking about something the priest said that had never ever occurred to me: Mary had plenty of reasons to be bitter. Indeed, her name *means* “bitter”. But she wasn’t. Freedom from sin is, among other things, freedom from bitterness. She saw (and continued to see all her life) hatred poured out at her Son and at herself. A charge of illegitimacy against Jesus was, after all, a charge of fornication against her. She saw the same murderous hate that killed him kill his disciples too. I’ve never had to put up with anything like what she endured. And yet she gave honor to people and saw even her enemies with love and respect.
So I’m back again to say “Please forgive me” to any readers who feel I have not honored them. I will doubtless fail you again but, in the meantime, “We fall down and we get up.”
One word in particular to fellow Patheosi Dave Armstrong. I am genuinely unclear why since I have neither read nor interacted with him in months, but for the past week or so in my FB feed, I have seen multiple comments from both he and his readers suggesting that something I have said has angered them. I don’t understand what prompted that, particularly since I was on vacation for most of last week, but whatever it is, please forgive me.
If there’s anything else from anybody else I likewise ask pardon.