Vorisian Interlude

Twirling the pencil: Voris
As we make our way through my retrospective pilgrimage diary, let us take a small detour down Voris Way where we meet Michael Voris by a tree. Not just any tree, mind, but the Tyburn Tree, the site of the martyrdom of St Oliver Plunkett and other famous Catholic martyrs. Of course, there is no tree to speak of, just a rather easy to miss round stone plaque marking the site where King Henry VIII and I guess Elizabeth I, also, had Catholics put to death for treason against the Crown. If you haven't seen it you can watch his report on Tyburn below.

I was at a loose end after having some lunch with him and some fellow Catholics at a Chinese buffet near St James's Park and asked if I could 'tag along' with him, his one man camera crew, Paul Smeaton and Sean Wright of Juventutem. He was very personable, affable and was very interested in what young English Catholics had to say about their view of the state of the Faith in England.

Martyrdom really seemed to be the essence of Voris's exciting talk, 'Living the Catholic Faith, Radically' at the Salvation Army (an aptly named venue for Voris's pep talk for the troops). Voris is able to really engage an audience and I have to say that while Dr Joseph Shaw of the LMS is absolutely right to point out a couple of things in Voris's talk that raised eyebrows, I didn't come away thinking that he wasn't a good public speaker. All I would say is that with Voris the message (which is bold and exciting) can become too much perhaps only because of his delivery, which is loud, bold, straight-talking, American and therefore cannot escape being tagged as tele-evangelical and off-putting. You will either love Michael Voris's style, or you will hate it - it really is as simple as that. Had the same speech been given by Alec Guiness I'm sure it would have gone down perhaps even better with an English audience, though I'm sure Alec Guiness would never have recommended that people give up stamp-collecting to dedicate more time to preaching the Faith.

Voris led us in a decade of the Rosary at the Tyburn Tree
He is impassioned and challenging and really said what many Saints have said and sadly what too many Bishops and Clergy do not say: to save our souls and the souls of others, we have to face and embrace the Cross. He was addressing us as individuals, which was refreshing, instead of being critical of the Church in its corporate or hierarchical sense. The Cross, is, of course, not at all appealing, which is why so often we prefer to hide in a corner both in our own spiritual battles and in the battle to win others to the Catholic Church - the place and instrument of God's Salvation. For Voris, the Cross means, as well as his public vows of personal chastity, the courage to proclaim the Catholic Faith to anyone who will listen and to endure mockery, rejection and even being hated.



This program is from RealCatholicTV.com

Voris has the ability to grab his audience by the neck and then surprise them with tenderness without suggesting that he is bi-polar or paranoid schizophrenic. He described the condition of homosexuality as a huge Cross and said that chaste homosexuals bearing their Cross within the Church as "spiritual giants", which is something that more in the Church perhaps should be saying - as well as encouraging homosexuals to live the Catholic identity and the Catholic life fully. One gets the sense that Michael, like so many I have met on the recent pilgrimage, make prayer a practise of every hour and every day, in everything he and they do. Part of the reason that I think I feel blue having left the pilgrims is that I have never been exposed to so much corporate prayer and one really does feel like one is being lifted up to Heaven, without it feeling in the slightest bit 'cultish'.

He humourously compared his own Cross of being rejected or mocked by liberals within the Church who enjoy the comfort zone, with first century Christians who were eaten by lions and said that should by God's mercy he get to Heaven and meet one, he will feel embarrassed that he got off so lightly in this World. I found his description of his return to the Church having been jarred by his mother's dying words that she didn't want to 'get to Heaven knowing you are in Hell' moving and there is little doubt that his return to Holy Mother Church was Augustinian - particularly in his abandonment of secular pursuits and determination to turn around and drive the Gospel message full speed into the Church and the World. Like quite a few bloggers, Voris is refreshing because he keeps the message simple and it is a message that he repeats again and again - it is really the message of Our Blessed Lord and His Forerunner, St John the Baptist and Saints like Dominic and Francis. There is a very real sense that the Church so often over-complicates the message and thank God that there are people like Voris who are able to go straight to the heart of the Gospel message and to leave his audience at least thinking about where our lives are going and what our priorities are.

Voris talks with his audience at pub afterwards
Discussing these Saints, Voris urged his audience to be like them and described the truly Catholic life as a candle that burns and burns and burns until nothing is left and they are dead, leaving behind them a trail of light and a fire of charity for Christ and His Church. As others have pointed out, the danger can be in burning out too quickly - we need to put aside some time for things that are objectively pointless hobbies sometimes lest in firing on all cylinders, we break a gasket. Anyone who has seen posts by bloggers written at 4.12am knows what I am talking about.

I did ask Michael whether he would consider coming on the walking Pilgrimage to Walsingham (it would have made a wonderful place for him to do an episode of The Vortex), but he told me that he had to go onto Rome to do another piece...How convenient...lightweight!

It was nice that his audience also got a chance to discuss his talk and his work with him at the pub after the speech. Say a prayer for him. His is an important voice in the Church today, amid a clamour of voices that are saying things contrary to the Teaching of the Church. Whether you like his style or not, his contribution to the new evangelisation is considerable and he is, I believe, a great asset to the One True Church - if only because he is clear that there is only One True Church and it has only one real mission from Christ: the Salvation of the World.

Comments

shadowlands said…
"He described the condition of homosexuality as a huge Cross and said that chaste homosexuals bearing their Cross within the Church as "spiritual giants", which is something that more in the Church perhaps should be saying."

Hear, hear!

"One gets the sense that Michael, like so many I have met on the recent pilgrimage, make prayer a practise of every hour and every day, in everything he and they do. Part of the reason that I think I feel blue having left the pilgrims is that I have never been exposed to so much corporate prayer and one really does feel like one is being lifted up to Heaven"

I think these are glimpses given to us sometimes. Be comforted with the memory of them. You've still got all us nutters to debate with, we can also pray for each other, as we argue this or that point haha!!
Christine said…
Thank you for this great summary.
A.D. said…
Thank you for this excellent report and nice pictures!:)