"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd." ~Flannery O'Connor

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Theophany and the darkness

On second thought, it might not be so bad that Epiphany has become a moveable feast which, this year in the Latin Church, runs smack into the Baptism of the Lord celebrated today. In Orthodoxy, the feast of Theophany effectively combines both the first public "manifestation" of Jesus at his birth and the second at his baptism in the Jordan. Thus Theophany signifies the beginning of God's public, definitive, and complete Revelation precisely in its beauty. That is the primary meaning of both Epiphany and the Baptism of the Lord. And it is in contrast with that beauty that the faithlessness of so many American Catholics in public life seems so ugly.

The new Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, has already made her agenda clear. She describes herself as a "Catholic grandmother" and has already received the Eucharist from Archbishop Wuerl of Washington. Yet what is near the top of her agenda? Easing federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research, which President Bush, a Protestant, successfully vetoed early last year. It is also well-known that she supports Roe v Wade and gay marriage. In all that, she is in harmony with the majority of those 155 members of the House who call themselves Catholics. I call them CINOs: Catholics in name only.

This is a sign of darkness in the bosom of the Church. Like many Catholics, Pelosi supports those aspects of Catholic social teaching which are popular among Democrats and opposes those which are not. It is clear where her primarily loyalties lie, and they are not to the truth preserved and taught by the Church. She supports the teaching of the Church only to the extent that it conforms to ideas developed on other grounds, ideas that bear a striking resemblance to those of the secular Left. And her bishops do not impose any ecclesiastical discipline as the price of such infidelity. Is it any wonder why the Church in this country is so confused and divided? The followers do not follow and the leaders do not lead. The reasons for that are easy to explain. But the explanation does not come close to a justification.

At Jesus' baptism, the voice of his and our Father could be heard saying: "This is my beloved Son. Listen to him." Pelosi and her ilk are not listening to the voice of the Church on basic moral questions about which she has made herself undeniably clear. But "he who hears you hears me." Therefore, they are not listening to Christ. Why, then, give them that sacrament which signifies intimate unity with him? Do Wuerl and his colleagues believe that doing so might bring about a unity which exists in name only? If so, they are rendering their own stated guidelines effectively nugatory. As in the case of the sex-abuse guidelines, they do not impose on themselves the norms they prescribe for others. The light and beauty of Theophany exposes such hypocrisy for the ugliness it is.
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