Friday, August 26, 2022

Joy and Hope, Mourning and Anguish

I imagine most of our readers have already seen at least one particular section of the interview which the actor Shia LaBoeuf gave yesterday to His Excellency Bishop Robert Barron. But if you have only seen or read the part in which he talks about the role the traditional Latin Mass played in his recent conversion, and his appreciation of it, I would very strongly urge you to listen to the whole thing, which is incredibly moving and interesting.
Mr LaBoeuf’s exposure to the Latin Mass came from playing St Padre Pio in an upcoming movie, and the preparations which he made for that role, including living for a time in a Capuchin friary. Of course, he had to learn more than a little about the Mass, and indeed, at least in part how to celebrate it, since it was the very center of the Saint’s life. The discussion of this leads to this exchange, which will deservedly be quoted rather a lot in the future.
Shia: “Latin mass affects me deeply. Deeply.”
Bishop Barron: “How come?”
Shia: “Because it feels like they’re not selling me a car. ... When somebody’s selling me on something, it kills my aptitude for it, and my suspension of disbelief, and my yearnings to root for it. There’s an immediate rebellion in me.”
This is a great observation, and he makes some others in a similar vein which are certainly worth paying attention to. But he also discusses several other experiences which he had on his journey into the Faith, from a life which he himself describes more than once as “depraved” and “on fire” (not in the good sense in which Bishop Barron uses it), experiences which are not immediately connected to the liturgy. For example, at one point, a friar told him to just go to a chapel and be silent for a while, which almost directly led him to begin repairing his difficult relationship with his mother. He also talks about some of what he learned from reading spiritual classics like St Augustine’s Confessions, and his visit to San Giovanni Rotondo, where he met some friars who knew St Pio when they were boys.
In these days of so much bad news in the Church, we should all have cause to rejoice, not just over the return of a lost sheep, although that is cause enough, for us and for the angels in heaven, but also for the reminder that despite everything, the conduits of God’s grace are still flowing. At the same time, for those of us who love the traditional liturgy, it gives us good reason to hope that God will not permit the loss of this spiritual treasure, by which He has made so very many Saints, and converted so very many sinners, and continues to do so. The eclipse which it is now suffering is, like most eclipses, partial, and like all eclipses, temporary.
I make bold to suggest to our readers that they also offer some prayers for Mr LaBoeuf, that the fruits of God’s grace continue to grow and flourish in his life, and that he continue to bear witness to that grace as eloquently and passionately as he does in the interview.
By the way, on a purely visual level, this seems like a great casting choice. (Pictures courtesy of the omnipresent Arrys Ortañez.)
This very same week, however, we have also been treated to the extremely unedifying spectacle of an Irish priest named Fr Brendan Hoban, whom I have read is very influential in the synodal muckery in Ireland, saying that he would rather there be no vocations at all (“I’d rather we had nothing”) than vocations of men who wish live as, um, priests. He laments that the few young priests that get ordained in Ireland these days are “traditional. They want to wear black... soutanes... They want to talk to people about sin. They want the Latin Mass. ... I despair of the young priests.” (Starts at 0:28)
Let me assure you that I did not write about Mr LaBoeuf and his conversion just to raise your hopes and then at once dash them. I do not, of course, deny that this is a terrible thing to hear. The vocational situation on the Island of Saints is catastrophic (Fr Z has the statistics at this post), and it is catastrophic precisely because of the prevalence of the attitudes which he evinces. Nevertheless, here we also have great cause for hope. Like Communism, an ideology this perverse simply cannot endure. By destroying a culture within the Church that fosters vocations, the ideology which these words represent has deprived itself of its own spiritual children, and has no future. What does a priest who cannot talk about sin have to say to a man who knows his own life to be “depraved” and “on fire”? Nothing.
It would be easy, and not altogether out of place, to be angry at hearing such a thing, but we should not let anger distract us from recognizing what this really represents: mourning and anguish over a failed revolution, and an ideology which knows in its heart that it holds no attraction and offers nothing of interest to anyone. And I therefore make bold to suggest, dear readers, that we should also offer some prayers for the childless children of the revolution, for their time grows short.

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