August 24, 2019
If you are anything like me, you don’t expect to find monsters in a Hallmark store. Well, I did. Look again, and you will too.
Last May I was scrambling for a friend’s First Communion Card. After long minutes of wading through the banal, the insulting, the crass and the treacly I thought I had finally come upon a fairly inoffensive card. Until I opened it. The initial verse was mindless but serviceable. Then came the closing line: “may you always nurture the inner God within you.”
What?! “The inner God within you.” ?! Was this a card for some New Age California cult? Certainly not a First Communion. But that was the intention. Who knows how many purchased the card thinking it was ‘cute’. Worse still, believed it expressed the mind of the Catholic Church. That’s monstrous. As is the case with any monster, it devours you. Here it is not your body that dies, but your soul. Truth to be told, this noxious sentimentalism has become the new orthodoxy in most Catholic parishes through their etiolated religion programs, and their Liturgy Committee designed ‘liturgies’. The mighty force of the Faith has become a simpering whimper. No surprise that beneath such an oppressive regime most Catholics would think such a card ‘cute.’ After all, the lounge music they are treated to each Sunday at Mass has the effect of rotting the soul, like sugar rots teeth.
Earnest Catholics struggling daily to remain ‘mainstream’ or ‘moderate’ might think this an overreaction. It isn’t. The most effective way to avoid an attack is to know when it is coming: To be forewarned is to forearmed. But this greeting card was a stealth attack: a spiritual 9-11. It’s very cuteness is the coup d’grace. Most Catholics (the audience for this type of card) would likely read it and be fine. Talks about God. That’s good. Then, the “God inside you.” Sounds like the soul, maybe even sanctifying grace. OK. But it’s not OK. It’s TNT. Before you know it, it explodes, with its shrapnel tearing at the soul.
Catholics of a few generations ago would spot this sentimentalization of their Faith and recognize it to be toxic. Our Catholic Faith does not rest on gauzy sweet nothings, but on majestic and towering Truths. If a soul is fed on spiritual muzak, it becomes superficial (and weak) as what it consumes. Soon it can do nothing but crave its next fix. It is locked in a circle of self-absorption. It can no longer love, or hope, or believe o sacrifice. It can only indulge. Chesterton was at his best when he remarked on this subtle subversion of religion: “Of all the horrible religions the worst is the religion of the God within. For when Mr. Jones is talking to the God within, Mr. Jones is merely talking to Mr. Jones.”
This is the sad plight of our culture, and these cultural fumes have seeped into the Catholic Church. It is particularly devilish, for this sentimentality does not come dressed in the sharp and easily spotted edges of the Catholic Dissident. Howling heresy has been replaced by a maudlin slop. Better fit for the Catholic masses, but none less parlous. Notice how well it’s working. How many bitter complaints were received from Catholics indignant at that First Communion card? Probably only mine.
Many Catholics today don’t realize that God is not me. God is Himself. He must come to me. Catholics must receive Him. There is no ‘inner God’ that “I nurture.” Inside of me there is only me. By myself I am empty, God must fill me with His grace. Thus every day I must seek to follow Christ; to ‘die’ to myself; ‘to take up my Cross.’. Yes, the life of sanctifying grace is the indwelling of the Blessed Trinity in the Catholic soul. But that is not “my inner God,”. Anyone who manufactures a phrase like that is not talking Catholicism, but some other alien ‘ism”, quite fearful to the survival of man’s soul.
Little Catholics (and adult ones as well) should be carefully taught that the point of life is loving God. Not very difficult. In fact, children thrill to that prospect. Especially when they see Him hanging on the Cross.
Give them cards encouraging them to “nurture the God within” and that beautiful Divine romance is swept way. The only romance left is with themselves. Now, that’s monstrous.