Why was Ham cursed by his father if not for violating the secret of his nudity?
Similarly, sweet exchanges between husband and wife, in moment of sublime and tender intimacy, are not meant to be publicized. Today, “honesty” is canonized as a capital virtue, and makes people assume that everything – whether positive or negative – belongs de facto to the public domain. A concrete example might shed light on this. To my distress, the following story has been published. Apparently Benedict XVI once, late at night, dressed in “black,” and accompanied by his “handsome” secretary, left the Vatican, and repaired to his old haunt close to St. Peter.
One thing is to publicize this information; quite another is to hint that this nightly trip should awaken our suspicions.
By adding the word “handsome”, the author clearly aims at awakening distrust in the reader’s mind, intimating that this unofficial “nightly trip” was motivated by mutual sexual attraction. Otherwise, why was the “trip” not officially announced? The answer seems to be obvious to most reader always “scandal hungry.”
How right St. Francis of Sales was when he severely condemns throwing suspicion on any fact opened to many different interpretations. In the case just referred to, we have no clue whatever about the purpose of this night trip. The person relating this fact, however, makes it clear to her readers how it should be interpreted.
The author has succeeded in poisoning his mind and it will inevitably assume that the disguise of the Pope, dressed in black, matches the darkness of his purpose. This is a subtle concoction of calumny and defamation. The author of this information, moreover makes the arrogant claim that the sheep have a right to be informed about every single move of their shepherd.
I leave it to people more competent than I am, to pass judgment upon this categorical assertion. Nevertheless, it should be mentioned that in the lives of several saints, it is related, more than once, that they performed heroic deeds of charity in the darkness of the night. (St. Elizabeth of Hungary bringing food to the poor). Apart from the fact that she knew that some people would object to her “wasteful generosity”, she always remembered that holy deeds of charity should be done in secret, as clearly stated in the Gospel: “… when you give alms do not sound a trumpet… (Matt. 6:4) By contrast, we all know how desirous the Pharisees were to parade their good deeds.
Let me repeat: we have no right to assume that a deed done in secret must ipso facto, be sinful. I wish that the theme of “illegitimate” curiosity was sometime mentioned in homilies. Never in my long life, have I heard this theme alluded to. Yet, tongue-wagging can be a serious sin. Let us recall the words of St. James, Ch. 3: “the tongue is a fire …” Is the sin of defamation ever mentioned in the Confessional?
No religiously-minded person should feel himself entitled to intrude into the private life of others, and a fortiori, of a Pope who deserves what Dietrich von Hildebrand called “the credit of love” – that is always attribute the most laudable motives to actions whose motivation is unknown to us.
One of the many heavy crosses of the Papacy is that from the moment a cardinal steps into Peter’s shoes, he knows that every single one of his move, every word he utters, every remark he makes will, within minutes, be communicated to the world. He is actually being “spied” upon every single moment of the day. Let us imagine that it becomes public knowledge that a Pope has mystical experiences and at times levitates. Hundreds of fame-hungry photographers would be willing to risk their lives to take a photo of these sublime moments – even though to do so implied real physical danger, such as climbing over a steep roof.
Many of us might have written or received very personal letters which are not meant for the public. In order to properly understand such documents, the reader should be armed with reverence. The very same papers read by a loving friend, or by an “enemy”, will be differently interpreted. A colleague of mine, referring to the episode in Genesis when God ordered Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, exclaimed in front of the whole class: “If that is the case, to hell with God.” A devout Jew or Christian will read them with trembling reverence, acknowledging that God is the master of life (for He gives it) and death. They also know that “sacrifice” is very different from murder.
In our contemporary world, “dark” secrets – which were understandably hidden from public view – (such as sex perversions) have now come out of the “closet,” and the spirit of the time praises them for their “honesty” and “courage.” Silence is “the mother of hypocrisy.” The problem, however, is that far from being ashamed of these very grave flaws, and seeking help and advice, some of these “courageous” people proclaim clearly and loudly that their “life style” is just as valid as the traditional view, which was encumbered by old “mediaeval” prejudices. I repeat: they not only openly reveal this unfortunate tendency, but now brag by asserting that they are advocates of progress and freedom. According to them, people’s tragic ignorance of the precious findings of social sciences (sociology, psychology, psychiatry) prevented them from realizing that the word “normal” had, up to now, been illegitimately hijacked by narrow-minded puritans, who interpreted sex as “shameful”, although necessary for reproduction. In other words, they are “the apostles of freedom“, whose mission is to make people realize that they are affected by blindness. For the good of humanity, it is high time to condemn puritanical hypocrisy, typical of Pharisees. Up to now, the myopic eyes of the “children of dark ages“, prevented them from perceiving that they are the victims of a deadly disease: homophobia.
One might however raise the question: If the practice of homosexuality is legitimate because it gives its apostles a feeling of legitimate “self-fulfillment”, could not the same be said of child-abuse and rape? If the pursuit of pleasure is a key aim of human existence, who has to right to distinguish between “kosher” and non-kosher ones?
(Column continues below)
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It is sadly true that people afflicted by the unfortunate tendencies just referred to, have rarely received the loving help to which every man is entitled. However only those have sought help who realized they were struggling with a problem that they could not solve by themselves.
Alcoholics Anonymous will tell you that only those who acknowledge “defeat” (I am an alcoholic; I cannot help myself), will join this organization which is doing so much good. But what is so worrisome in our society is that flagrantly immoral acts, i.e. against the natural moral law, are now morally justified (e.g. “artificial contraception” and abortion as a “noble concern to curb the threat of overpopulation”). Needless to add that homosexuality is indeed, an efficient means of curbing this “social peril.”
Having deprived themselves of the real sources of joy, many of our contemporaries suffer from a disease called “boredom.” The tempting solution is sensationalism: one even wonders if some crimes are not triggered by this psychological craving. Violent video games, with lots of shooting, noise, perversions, have s diabolical attraction for those who desperately need to escape from themselves. Addiction to such violent shows is, I fear, a disease caught by millions of our contemporaries.
A similar unjustifiable tendency is also to be found in people who – possibly with the best intentions – try to win others to the faith by “lowering the bar,” and thereby hoping to win them to Christ by making the mysteries of our faith more “accessible” to our contemporary mentality.
A striking example comes to mind: a very popular writer while commenting on the Nativity of our Lord in Bethlehem informs us that The Holy Virgin- like the writer’s wife, ejected a placenta after delivering Christ. A fact, that applies to all female mammals. This information should make this “mystery of mystery” more” accessible” to modern man, more “real”, more convincing.
Let us compare this presentation with the Gospel of St. Luke, and the teaching of our Holy Church. She teaches us that the Blessed One was a Virgin, prius ac posterius: in other words, that both conception and delivery were miraculous – i.e. cannot be explained by science.
Those of us who have been blessed by reading beautiful books or hearing homilies dedicated to this sublime topic, will testify that they were moved to tears; the topic was presented with trembling reverence: all that we know is that Mary delivered a male child, wrapped him in swaddling clothes and placed him in a manger. St. Joseph is not even mentioned, but we can imagine that this blessed man was in a state of trembling adoration. Holy Silence, deafening silence, is typical of things that “eyes cannot see; ear cannot hear.”