I was rebuked on Twitter last night for congratulating James MacMillan on his knighthood. An anonymous tweeter called me a celebrity priest who, it seems, has no regard for preaching the Gospel among the poor. I would have been better, it seems, to abandon the celebrities and reach out to the poor and despairing. When I challenged the Tweeter on who were the poor, he responded "I am the poor". After that messianic remark what else could I say?
Now I don't mix with celebrities at all, in fact I haven't met too many of them. But our ministry in the Fraternity of St Genesius includes praying for those who inhabit that particular category of persons. I always advise our members not to seek out those they pray for, we are not a fan club nor spiritual groupies, we simply assist the Church by our prayer in her mission to all men and women, particularly those in the arts.
In that context it is fitting to ask: who are the poor? Blessed Teresa of Calcutta offers an interesting answer to that question when she reminds us that among the poorest in the world today are those whom the world considers great, rich and famous. Their spiritual poverty can be even greater than the material poverty of others. Many celebrities inhabit a fantasy world, and for many in their spiritual poverty that fantasy world is all they have. Their wealth and fame allows them to maintain this fantasy and even influence the real world. That is one of the reasons the world is fast becoming a wasteland - because many are abandoning faith and true values for the chimera the spiritually poor have invented to feed themselves.
The Church must feed the poor, the materially poor and the spiritually poor. She must preach the Gospel, offer the hope of salvation and present the vision of reality - the teaching of Jesus Christ and the destiny he has for those who are faithful. If the Church has managed to feed and save the materially poor but has ignored with scorn the celebrities and left them to wallow in a fantasy that devours them, then the Church has failed in her mission. We do not need to check into the Hotel La La Land to reach out to them, nor worship at the frayed edge of the red carpet, but we do need to see souls and minster to them. They too are children of God.
For more information on our Fraternity, see our website www.stgenesius.com.