Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Elizabeth Scalia: For Every Judas There's a Peter. The Church is a Beautiful Rainbow, So Shut Up. But In Any Case, I'm Above It All.

"Shut Up!" she blogged

Man. And to think I used to believe she was Antonin Scalia's wife, or daughter, or close personal cousin or whatever.

Of course, she's no relation. But Justice Scalia has a real son, Paul, who is a Latin Mass priest. Because of that (the Latin Mass thing) he has incurred a de facto banning from the Catholic section of Patheos--the petty little virtual fife that Elizabeth Scalia controls.

Ms. Scalia, that irrepressible blogger, is a self-identified Benedictine Oblate--one who "strives for the monastic lifestyle as much as their state in life allows." Who knew?

Here is her latest missive (minus the first part where she includes a longish quote), annotated by the gnomes at Mahound's Paradise. We do as much as our state of life allows:
Climb Down from a Catholic Ledge: For every Koch, there is a Sarah 
The other day, a Catholic man tweeted to me (not for the first time) “talk me down from the ledge!” He was upset to read that Pope Francis had appointed Heiner Koch as Archbishop to Berlin. I forgot that Heiner's last name was Koch. I had at first thought that Ms. Scalia was making a snide reference to the Koch brothers. 
Oy. Be at peace. For every Koch, there is a Sarah (Cardinal Sarah, the liturgically mainstream Prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship). For every Cupich in Chicago, there is a Chaput in Philadelphia. We are a universal church filled with every type of person, and I think Pope Francis is trying very hard to make sure that its leadership reflects that. See, we are a Church filled with faithful adherents AND heretics. (Archbishop Koch pretty clearly denies one of the teachings of the Church that is under the heaviest attack right now.) The job of any pope is to keep the faithful vs. heretic ratio at 50/50. It's a "universal" Church, after all.
Honestly, folks. Come down off the ledges. They're not ledges. They're perches. Hence the tweeting thing. 
For the past week or so had hundreds of people respond to the question, “Why are you still Catholic?” Three answers have dominated:
  • Because it is True.
  • Because it is Eternal, “and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
  • “Lord, to whom shall we go?" 
For the record, the current headlining blog post on Catholic Patheos is, "I am a Catholic Because it is Absurd." 
If this is truly what people think, then there really needs to be a climbing-down from ledges and an end to the non-stop hand-wringing. Fine. I'll flutter down and give a peaceful peck to the Archbishop.
Every generation thinks that the happenings of their age are the cataclysmic, and most important events of all time. But we see this is not true; times and eras lose their distinction in the thread of eternity, which is the heavenly view. Challenging times will impact the church, of course, but they will never defeat her. The world spins as God permits; it is an ultimate and continually-at-work winnowing fan. Well, no. Not EVERY generation. Only the generations that confront cataclysmic seeming events. If this were the 1950's, I'd be watching Fulton Sheen and eating steak, drinking wine and smoking a cigar.
Okay, I'm doing three-quarters of that now. But still. 
Da Tech Guy wonders why more people aren’t talking about Cardinal Sarah’s letter. I’m not so sure they’re not, but there is so much information before us anymore — and the eternal illusory distractions, as with the Duggar and Jenner stories — that people can only keep track of so much. If Elizabeth Scalia thinks that what worries faithful Catholics the most right now is the behavior of Josh Duggar (a non-Catholic) and Bruce Jenner (a non-Catholic), then she's living on Pluto. 
As to Tech Guy’s suggestion that perhaps people are clinging — both from the right and the left — to specific narratives of Francis that they prefer, I begin to think the constant freak-out over this pope on one side and the selective smugness on the other serves something connected more to human ego and conceit than to anything enlarging or salvific. But Elizabeth Scalia is different. 
A papal narrative that proves pet theories correct (whether they be of delight or of doom) is a papal narrative much too powerful to disturb with inconvenient headlines. Leave me alone. I'm stewing in my doom.
A preferred narrative, and the power one perceives from its promotion, is like chocolate to a PMSing teenage girl. It must always be kept safe and handy. I honestly don't know what that means. But with another twenty years of hormone treatment, I hope to understand. 
UPDATE:For those who, on social media, have demanded clarification of my meaning here, and what I am “implying”, this is really pretty simple, and there is no “implication.” For everyone wringing their hands over Cupich’s labeled “progressivism” there is a Chaput who is the labeled “conservative.” For everyone who couldn’t stand the supposedly “conservative” Benedict, there is eventually a supposedly “progressive” Francis, and vice versa. All of these "people" balance each other out. And in any case, what "distinguishes" them one from another are in large part merely the "labels" that are "put" on them. I hope what she's saying is "clear".
We are a broad, wide and ultimately balanced church but balanced by God’s ways and means and understanding, not our own. I think it is a peculiarity of the American church that these concerns about labels are so much to the fore. The balance is what makes it Catholic. See, devotion plus rebellion is what makes us truly Catholic. The Germans understand this.
I’m sad that I had to spell it out that much; I’d thought the whole “implication” was pretty clear. Being Elizabeth Scalia is a heavy cross to bear. No one else "understands". 
The greatest threat to the church is not any one pope; popes cannot destroy the church. It’s not our collection of clergy; they wither and fade like the rest. The biggest threat to the church is our divisiveness, and the whole idea that we Catholics can write each other off as “lesser” Catholics and then fix the church from our respective bubbles. Then, why do do you ban Latin-Mass Catholics--the Latin Mass is fully permitted and accepted according to the contemporary Church--from Patheos? Or, in other words, why are you such an annoying hypocrite?
Also, are you implying that the current pope (or our current collection of clergy or whatever) appears to be a threat to, or is destroying the Church? What is your position on that? Why are you so hazy?
Marcel LeJeune has additional thoughts along these lines, and two good, relevant quotes at the end. Thank goodness Ms. Scalia concludes with a nod to the founder of SSPX.*
So, there is the latest from "The Anchoress". Admittedly, in these times, I flutter between humor and dread. I'm not Catholic and enjoying it. I'm Catholic BUT enjoying it. I'm still a Catholic because Cardinal Burke has a fund that he uses to pay me--in Maltese Florins.

But, God help me, I hate pretentious Catholics. I hate holier than thou Catholics. I hate it's-all-good-and-if-you-disagree-then-you're-a-Nazi Catholics. I hate Catholics that do not have a sense of humor.

I'm different, of course.

And after the last two-plus years of this treatment I wish to be referred to as "Sarah". 

*That was a joke. Obviously, I know she was referring to the French existentialist philosopher and author of "The Other".


  1. Thank you Sarah for covering this.
    I saw the Twitter discussion and was really tempted to go to Patheos and read the original.
    I don't like to go there as it is bad for my immortal soul, so this helps so much!

  2. "The biggest threat to the church is our divisiveness." I wager Arius thought the same thing.

  3. Well, one has to cut Ms. Scalia some slack. I have it on good authority that her childhood parish replaced the Gloria with this:

  4. If you hate "it's-all-good-and-if-you-disagree-then-you're-a-Nazi Catholics," stay away from "Abbey Roads."