The Ideological War in the Church as expressed through Sacred Vestments
|Vanity! Vanity! All is vanity!|
Are we to assume that His Holiness muses on these themes of the 'true Christian' and the 'false Christian' on a daily or weekly basis and brings the fruits of his meditation to his homilies or that His Holiness has been keeping these similes in store during his ecclesiastical career in order to bring them out like a bunch of fragrant roses now that he is Supreme Pontiff?
It would appear that in his insults, Pope Francis is happy to bring out from his treasure house those insults that are 'new' and those that are 'old'.
I do hope that this does not sound disrespectful of the Bishop of Rome but oh how depressing is the liturgy of the reigning Supreme Pontiff whose Sacred Vestments are clearly designed to tell us that Heaven does not exist?! The concept of the ecclesiastical 'peacock', however, is old, not new. Indeed, this article from 'Our Daily Thread' quickly informs us that references to 'peacocks' were in the Bergoglian insult file before the Cardinal's ascension to the Throne of Peter. Dr Anthony M. Stevens-Arroyo's March 2013 overview of Pope Francis is illustrative in this sense...
In February of 2012, a full year before Benedict XVI announced his abdication, Cardinal Bergoglio was interviewed by Vatican Insider offering a preview of his views on reform. Citing fellow Jesuit, Henri De Lubac the Argentine prelate criticized “spiritual worldliness,” a vice which might be defined as “a phony effort to appear holy.” He stated: “Careerism and the search for a promotion [to the hierarchy] come under the category of spiritual worldliness.”
|Behold, the awesome humility! If only all Churchmen were so humble!|
Then he offered an earthy example of this ecclesiastical vanity: “Look at the peacock; it's beautiful if you look at it from the front. But if you look at it from behind, you discover the truth ... Whoever gives in to such self-absorbed vanity has huge misery hiding inside them.” These words have special meaning now that Cardinal Bergoglio is Pope Francis I.
The targets of the pontiff before his election are not abstract: we all see the growing distance between the faithful and bishops. Whatever our judgment of the papacies of John Paul and Benedict, their personalities clearly lent a style to the hierarchy of cardinals, since all the cardinal electors had been named by these two pontiffs. The “peacocks” in the hierarchy were put there by John Paul and Benedict. Pope Francis, on the other hand, is not a peacock lover.
When he spoke to his own clergy, Cardinal Bergoglio was critical of the clericalization of the Church. The “few-but-good” vision of the JP II church is rejected as the desire of “hypocrites,” who “drive God’s people away from salvation.” Jesus, on the other hand avoided the Pharisees and preferred “appearing among the people, the publicans and the sinners.”
Despite this, however, the compassion that His Holiness Pope Francis has for these wretched 'peacocks' is admirable. "Poor things!" the sweet Vicar of Christ on Earth said of them during his papal homily on Thursday. Perhaps, in this statement, we can see an inkling of the ocean of bottomless mercy that the Holy Father has for those experiencing repressive measures under his personal supervision, such as the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate. Yes, His Holiness feels their pain.
And so when a Pope is elected who reportedly wishes the Master of Ceremonies to put away the mozetta because, 'the carnival is over', be sure that it is not because 'the' carnival is over but because 'his' carnival has 'only just begun'. I don't say this in order to criticise His Holiness's choice on the day, but to make the observation that it is impossible to discard that which you have inherited in terms of papal accessories without making a statement about the choice not to do so itself. Do you recall just how many headlines His Holiness received out of his 'simplicity' and 'humility' in contrast to his apparently vulgar, vain predecessor?
Anything that is contrived enough to want to send out a particular message which attracts headlines and attention due to the 'difference in style' of the Successor could, though must not necessarily be, the kind of attention-seeking derived from 'spiritual worldliness' that is the constant preference of the 'ecclesiastical peacock'. The deliberate choice to refuse to wear those vestments worn by your predecessors also makes a deliberate break with those who came before you, ensuring that not just the last occupant of the Chair you now inhabit, but the vast majority of them, simply were not up to speed with how things should really be, because, you know, that's what a 'humble' occupant of the Chair of Peter does to the memory of those who came before him.
And in the midst of this, little thought, or so it would appear, is given to those who may fill the shoes of Peter after Pope Francis has 'gone to the Father's house'. Just how will a Successor of St Peter cope with wearing the mozetta, the red shoes and a jaw-droppingly beautiful set of papal vestments at St Peter's once the current occupant of the Chair of Peter has met his Maker? Perhaps, just to ensure there is no confusion as to his role in the Church after Pope Francis's work building up the Church and the Kingdom, the next Pope, were he to be of traditional 'orientation' should just think, 'Well, I'm going to make some people unhappy anyway, so I might as well wear the tiara and have done with it.'
If one does not have to assert this, one at least has to suggest that they laboured for Christ in the mistaken belief that what they wore at the Most Holy Sacrifice, was wholly unnecessary or even 'vain'. The truth is that the Church has always sought fine materials for the vestments worn by the sacred ministers because She never tires of wishing to express the holiness and majesty of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the divinity of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Whose Sacrifice at Calvary is being offered on the Altar to the Eternal Father at every Mass, in an unbloody manner.
I do hope that people, Catholics included, are not fools who so easily are deceived into thinking that a priest who wears 1970s or even 2010s polyester vestments is automatically humble, modest and a priest after the very heart of Christ Himself, but a priest who wears vestments that speak of Christ's majesty, the dignity of the priesthood, but have nothing to do with his own interior personality whatsoever, is automatically a proud, conceited and vain individual only out for his own glory. For if that were truly the case, we should all be members of a Catholic Church which had not only lost sight of its tradition, its heritage, its roots and its customs, but more than that, a Catholic Church which had lost the use of reason entirely or had decided to think not as it once did, but instead as Protestants do.
They, like Icons, give us a little window into Heaven and remind us that the Priest is truly Alter Christus, while reminding us Who Christ Is! Many priests, Bishops and Cardinals are today wearing those vestments worn by their predecessors because they believe these vestments are - unlike the individual wearing them - worthy attire in which to offer the Most sublime Sacrifice.
They shouldn't be punished or insulted for doing what so many who have come before them have done, nor denigrated for wishing to wear those vestments which bring honour to Christ and which reverence the fragrant offering of that Sacrifice which brings us healing, forgiveness and peace.
If only we could discern the 'good' from the 'wicked' merely by the clothes they wear. If only life were so very simple, then those who abused and hid child abusers, or who 'moved them out of harm's way' like a certain prelate from Belgium, who is still invited to the Synod in October, would be far more easily admonished, or censured, or even 'sacked' by the Pope.