Monday, June 08, 2009

"Make the Truth Lovable to Them through Beauty"

Photos courtesy of Dr. W. Machata

Some weeks back, on Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend (May 23), around 500 pilgrims and numerous clergy associated with the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest converged on the national shrine of Our Lady, Help of Christians, the hilltop basilca of Holy Hill in Hubertus, Wisconsin. Holy Hill is impressive in and of itself, a massive twin-towered Romanesque pile rising on the rolling horizon north of Milwaukee in a way that has always reminded me a bit, in a small-scale sort of way, of the silhouette of Chartres. The event drew attendees from all over Wisconsin and even some visitors from Alabama. The schedule included a lengthy Rosary procession with hymns up the terraces and stairs to the church, a solemn high mass, time set aside for a picnic, Benediction and a special service renewing the Institute's consecration to the Immaculate Conception and invoking its other patrons. The mass was celebrated by Canon Meney, rector of the ICRSP oratory at St. Stanislaus on Milwaukee's South Side, and a homily by the deacon of the mass, Canon Talarico, who is resident at the Institute's American headquarters at the Shrine of Christ the King in Chicago. The Vicar-General, Monsignor Schmitz, had been originally scheduled to celebrate the mass, but was detained by business in Rome and sent a message to the pilgrims read out before the homily by Canon Talarico. Benediction was celebrated by Canon Buchholz of the Green Bay oratory.

Canon Talarico, one of the Institute's growing number of American-born clergy, gave an excellent homily on the importance of living the faith through Catholic culture in public and within the home. Given the large number of families in attendance, the message could not help to hit its mark. Some extracts are worth quoting here:

It’s the year 1571, and Catholic Europe is under attack. At the word of Pope St. Pius V, crowds fill the streets in processions, singing hymns and praying the Rosary. In great danger they call upon Mary. Finally, the outnumbered Catholic allies win a great naval victory at Lepanto, off the coast of Greece. The Pope adds the invocation, Mary Help of Christians, to the Litany of Our Lady.


And in our own day, we find ourselves living in a society of crisis. Economic failure is only one of the signs of a deeper spiritual and moral bankruptcy. The rights of unborn human beings are violated, The institution of marriage between man and woman is threatened, The right to speak the truth is threatened. The innocence of our children is threatened by immorality, our Catholic identity is in danger. This is why it is most urgent that, like our Catholic ancestors, we turn to Mary our Mother.

Now, why is today’s society in crisis? It’s because the devil has convinced people of today that subjective experience is more important than objective truth. Let’s explain. [...] This objective truth does not change from person to person, but is the same for all. [...] My life, my subjective experience—how I feel, what I think, my opinions—must submit to God who is eternally true. God is the center, not me, not my personal feeling or experience.

However, the devil, the father of lies, works against God’s truth. The devil works to exaggerate our personal feelings, so that human opinions take the place of God’s truth. If subjective experience becomes more important than objective truth, then man becomes the center, not God. Then we have moral relativism, then we have social chaos. [...]

The message of the Church is no less true because those who preach it are sinners. The Church is no less holy because of the sins of her priests—even though these sins are tragic and terrible. But the Church is holy, the Church preaches the fullness of truth because God’s truth is perfect and eternal. The Church is divine. It is the Mystical Body of Christ. [...] The devil always tries to makes us blow our subjective experiences out of proportion. He stirs up our emotions, he tempts us with discouragement, with sadness, with anger, he makes our trials and difficulties seem larger than they really are. But the objective truth is that God is always present with us even when we do not see Him. The objective truth is that Jesus has given us Mary to be our Mother, our Help, our Guide.

Let us ask Mary for the humility to accept God’s objective truth. Let us frequently receive the Sacrament of Penance, because in Confession God mercifully reestablishes His truth in our lives.

And, to reestablish God’s objective truth over society… just how can this be done? We must live this truth, but we must live the truth in charity. God is truth, and also, God is charity: Deus Caritas est. God’s truth is, by no means, something overpowering and oppressive. But God’s truth is all-lovable. That’s why He became an Infant Child in the manger.

And so, if truth and charity go hand-in-hand: then a denial of objective truth leads to decrease of love... When the truth of God is denied, the world falls victim to hate and violence. Is this not what we see in our world today? The lack of love is because subjective human experience has taken precedence over God’s truth.

And so, today at the feet of Mary, we receive a mission. Let us Live the Truth in Charity. Let us work to make the truth lovable, let us show how the truth is beautiful. This is the mission of the Institute of Christ the King, mission under the guidance of our holy patrons, St. Thomas Aquinas, Saint Francis de Sales, and St. Benedict. Live the truth in charity.

Let us act as servants of the truth. Let us present this truth to others through our actions and words. Let us present the truth as something lovable, something desirable. The truth in charity.

Live your Faith; live Catholic culture in your homes, in your families: the way you set the table for your family meal, the way you dress, the topics you bring up in conversation, the books on your coffee table, the things you do in your free time…

Living Catholic culture does not require money, but it requires attention to the way we treat our neighbor—-it requires charity. Practice good manners, show courtesy to those around you, remember to be polite, even to those who do not—-all of these are acts of charity—-acts which will attract other people to the beauty of the Faith you practice. This is what you must teach your children.

If we teach them the truth, but in a manner which is harsh and forceful blunt, they will think the truth to be something oppressive and undesirable. But if we teach them truth in charity, in a manner which is gentle in its firmness and patient in correction, then they will learn to love this truth as their good.

Make the truth lovable, without watering it down. Learn to praise children for the good they do. Make them proud to do the right thing. Educate children in beauty in order to anchor truth in their hearts. Teach them about the Catholic culture which flows from our Faith—in music, in literature, in history, in art, etc.

Make the truth lovable to them through beauty. Then they will be able to discern the truth amidst the errors of our times; then they will be able to love the truth which brings the joys of eternal life.

Let us turn to Mary, so that we can live the Truth in charity: so that we can discover the wisdom taught by our Institute’s patron, St. Francis de Sales: A holy life is a happy life.
It is hoped this event in this location will occur yearly in the future.

While this article will be of interest particularly to our traditionalist readers, I'd like to draw attention particularly to the various manifestations of popular lay devotion--the procession with its sodality and society banners, the family atmosphere, the call to live our Faith through our common culture. These are all part of the patrimony of the whole Church, and like the mass itself, in both its forms, belongs to no single group. There is much to admire here.

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