Tuesday 18th June 2019

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Fashionable Catholicism Strikes Again

May 23, 2018 Frontpage No Comments

By SHAUN KENNEY

Like most Catholics, I think we are all a bit perplexed at the willingness of Catholic prelates to participate in a fashion event in New York that intended to celebrate Catholic imagery in clothing and art but was predictably hijacked by the likes of Madonna and semi-pro nun-chucker Katy Perry.
Even the likes of Piers Morgan — a cultural Catholic, but a Catholic nonetheless — was truly and deeply shocked by the display of disrespect that would never be extended to any other faith.
Of course, we know what would have happened if another faith tradition had been mocked in such a manner. Muslims would have vehemently (and in places, violently) expressed their outrage. Jews would have condemned the event as anti-Semitic. Hinduism would have elicited screams of cultural appropriation from the perpetually offended left.
Voltaire used to say that if you ever wanted to find out who ruled you, simply find out whom you are not allowed to criticize.
Anti-Catholicism has a deep pedigree in the United States. It is one of the last acceptable prejudices. Those of us who understand that Catholics in America are still strangers in a strange land have no alternative at times but to smile kindly and simply turn the page, change the channel, or ignore that which is ignorant.
Yet when we see men such as Timothy Cardinal Dolan participate in the farce and then shrug it off as nothing to see, that shocks in a different way. When others such as James Martin, SJ, lend themselves to access rather than fidelity, this shocks in a different way — because for those of us who put money into the collection plate, obey the Magisterium in a spirit of fidelity, and are taught to respect the holy and sacred because they are indeed holy and sacred? This is all a bit much.
More simply put, when the leaders of the Church are unwilling to defend the sacred in the public square, why on earth should we as lay Catholics do likewise?
We know the answer. Even if our shepherds are unfaithful, we have a moral duty to remain faithful. After all, it wasn’t the priests who gave us our salvation, it was a young girl in Nazareth whose grace was perfected before the Archangel Gabriel even visited her (Luke 1:28). Jesus Christ didn’t come to us through the Sanhedrin, after all . . . though one sure does wish that our shepherds would, from time to time, humbly remind themselves of this.
I say all this not to crack wise on Dolan and Martin. At core, one has to believe they are both sincere and good men trying to do their best in an environment that is growing increasingly hostile to core Catholic values. This has been the condition of Catholics for the last 200 years or more, from Napoleon to today. Given the rise of postmodernism and a post-truth society, the question of how to acclimate ourselves to this brave new world is going to be a difficult process filled with increments — some gains, others not so much.
Yet I am drawn to one of my favorite films of all time, the movie Metropolis (Mel Gibson should immediately take the old 1920s script and give the art deco period a modern touch). Released in 1927 by the German film studio UFA, it nearly bankrupted the studio. Yet for its time, it had some of the most innovative special effects ever to be shown on the silver screen. It is a profoundly Catholic film whose scriptwriter — Thea von Harbou — shaped a futurist dystopia with plays of haves and have-nots, artificial and natural light, machines and men.
Most remarkable is her portrayal of the so-called “Gothicks” whose church is entirely dark, but that all men seem to continue to revere. Though not portrayed in the film itself, in the script the Gothicks are left to their own devices so long as the master of the city never lays a finger on the church itself. All else is ceded…except the sacred.
There are lessons we could learn from this epic silent film today. It is good that we express our contempt for the sacrilegious, but far more important to protect the sacred because it is holy rather than tut-tut at evil in the world. Of that there is plenty, but there is only one Christ.

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I am reminded yet again that the battle to defeat Planned Parenthood — for all the talk about defunding the abortion monster — is a spiritual one first and foremost, and not a political battle. Defund PP tomorrow, and the likes of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett will merely step into the gap.
Voting is important, but what is far more important is ensuring that Planned Parenthood’s facilities do not go unchallenged in your community. If at all possible, if you can find a local pro-life student group at a college or university and sponsor them directly, please do so.
There are over 660 Planned Parenthood clinics across America killing well over 300,000 children every year. Please pray for each and every victim of abortion and beg for the spiritual conversion of America against this sort of evil. No politician can fix this, but we can in very small and positive ways.

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There are a lot of grandparents that read the First Teachers column, and for that I am both truly humbled and thankful. I was very close to my own grandparents, and it is because of their testimony (most notably, my grandfather who left a lifetime of Catholic activism and example behind) that kept me Catholic as I grew older.
So my question for you is this: What have you discovered works best when transmitting your faith to your family? Children, grandchildren, or even your parish? I’d like to share them with others, if that is okay with you…because I suspect like many of us, we all want to transmit the Catholic faith, but wonder at times where to start.
Send your ideas to me directly at svk2cr@virginia.edu — let’s get a conversation going.

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On May 25, the Republic of Ireland (the free part, anyhow) will be voting on a referendum to repeal the constitution’s Eighth Amendment, which specifically bans abortion and protects the right of children. Planned Parenthood has paid to send dozens of Antifa goons and agitators under a deafening media blackout that is presenting the defeat of the amendment as a sine qua non.
As terrifying as the conspiracy to kill is, we have an ally far more powerful and terrifying to the enemy than all their worldly machinations: Our Lady. Please dedicate at least one Hail Mary (right now?) to Our Lady of Knock for the success of the #VoteNo campaign, as the polls indicate that the results will be razor thin indeed. Love them both; Save the Eighth!

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Of course, I am succeeding (but not replacing) the inestimable Mr. James K. Fitzpatrick for the First Teachers column. Please feel free to send any correspondence for First Teachers to Shaun Kenney, c/o First Teachers, 5289 Venable Road, Kents Store, VA 23084 — or if it is easier, simply send me an e-mail with First Teachers in the subject line to: svk2cr@virginia.ed.

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