Conclave. To replace a Pope! The Catholic Church in Rome. The Cardinals, the Princes of the Church. Conclave. A particularly Catholic thing. Not for the whole two millennium, but for a good portion of the recent times. I like that they go in and can’t come out until they’ve done their job. But, it’s crazy what some want from a new Pope. What they want the Catholic Church to be: women priests, married priests, accepting of gay marriage. Catholic Lite some call it. Cafeteria Catholic others say. Others want the church to be more Catholic and they say that with a capital C, not a small one. [Personally, I love that, catholic with a small c] And. It reminds me of the Second Vatican Council, John 23 and the ‘throw open the windows’ stuff. Fifty years ago. We stopped wearing hats to church, we stood around the altar while the priest was consecrating the hosts. We received the Body of Christ in our hand.
Did you ever read Fyodor Dostoyevsky and The Brothers Karamazov? I studied Russian through high school and college. Latin and then Russian. Catholic school, yeah, I know! Senior year at Alemany, I read all the great Russian authors. But the brothers stuck with me. It was all about faith and God, free will, ethics, morality. But what stuck with me was the chapter, The Grand Inquisitor, well, it’s really more of a parable, a story inside the greater story.
The Grand Inquisition. Spain. Not the best of times for the Catholic Church. So, here’s the scene. Seville. Torquemada. Tomás, a Dominican monk who is in charge of who is faithful and who is a heretic. He finds Jesus traipsing through town, preaching love and God, performing miracles. And the people recognize Him and are prepared to adore Him. So, Tomás has Jesus brought in. Jesus says, “Do you know who I am?” And Tomás says, “Yes.” “So,” Jesus says, “Let me be about my work.” And Tomás says, “No. You’ve been gone for fourteen hundred years. You left. You think you can just waltz back in here and preach and perform miracles and it will be okay? You left this church to us. So. No. You need to leave.” Well, it’s really said a lot better by Fyodor, and longer, much longer.
I know this wonderful priest, who is like an uncle to me. Congregation of the Holy Cross? Notre Dame? “Go Irish?” I rarely see him now. He officiated our wedding. He baptized my children, my nieces, my nephew. I read Fyodor, I talked to O’Connor. I watched the changes in the liturgy and I love the liturgy of the Catholic Church. I miss high mass. I love the Sacred Tritium of Easter. I was worried. Then. And, now. But I remember what O’Connor said, ‘never judge the church by the churchmen.’ That was Tomás’s problem.