In a quick visit to Veritas, our national religious bookstore, I picked up a copy of the Brandsma Review to see what they had on offer. There were a couple of interesting articles, so I bought a copy and rushed for lunch. For those who know the Brandsma Review the word compromise does not register or appear on its horizon - it is Catholic without any apologies. It is also has links with the Latin Mass Society in Ireland, and has been promoting the Extraordinary Form as a means of helping restore reverence to the liturgy for a number of years. Many movers and shakers in Ireland balked at such an idea, but interestingly, as we have seen in Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict XVI agrees with the Brandsma Review on that one.
As I was munching my sandwich in my regular haunt in Dublin, one article jumped out at me: "The Good Side of Having A Bad Press". Written by Chene Richard Heady, Assistant Professor of English at Longwood University in Virginia, and reprinted from the New Oxford Review, the article reminds us that if we are to be true to the Gospel of Christ, then we will be hated by the secular authorities and the secular media. In fact, when they start to get too friendly with us, then we get worried. We all know that to be true - Jesus told us in the Gospel. It is when we start throwing out the "hard teachings" that the media begin to like us. I was interested in one thing he said: our good press in the 1960's and 1970's was not a softening towards Catholicism, but the media actually thought that the Church was getting ready to abandon "her oppositional stance towards the dominant culture". It was only in the 1980's under the pontificates of John Paul II, and now Benedict XVI, that it dawned on the cultural elites that that was not going to happen, hence the gates of Mordor opened up and hoards of orks have been rampaging inside and outside the Church ever since. (Where are the hobbits when we need them?!).
Heady reminds us that Blessed John Henry Newman saw the same thing happening in his day. Blessed John Henry experience the anti-Catholicism of the media many times, but one episode stood out for him: when he had a vegetable cellar dug, it was front page news and proof positive to the media that Catholic priests kidnapped children, hid them in dungeons and molested them there. Sound familiar?
So I suppose now that we Catholics are being dragged through the dirt in these times, or our press conferences end up like battles in Middle Earth, it means that it's just business as usual. All of this is most interesting given the Gospel for next Sunday when Jesus tells us to prepare for persecutions and misunderstandings. Heady rejoices in it: "Let us rejoice: The Church has not been assimilated; she remains, as always, a sign of contradiction". Indeed. One has to wonder then, why some in the Church are so desperate to restore our reputation with the media? Perhaps it is when we have no reputation that we can get on with preaching the Gospel, otherwise we would be too concerned about what others think about it. Jesus did not care what the Scribes and Pharisees thought about him, so why worry about the modern Scribes and Pharisees - the media and cultural elite?