There’s a story of popular legend about a juggler who became a monk. Now, I don’t know why a juggler should want to become a monk. Then again, I don’t know why anyone would want to become a monk, save for the only reason that comes to mind: the absolute love of God and no love of the world.
Anyway, this juggler turned monk, as the legend goes, wasn’t very scholarly or artistic. He couldn’t translate Greek or work out the theological puzzles of the universe in the scholastic method, and knew even less about sculpture, painting, and stained-glass works. He was an outcast among the other monks, and assigned to the most menial labors of the monastery, to which he opened not his mouth.
One fateful day, just before the hour of morning prayer, our juggler-monk was scouring the stoned floors on his knees, and while he did so, he stared up at a beautiful statue of our Lady with the Child in her arms. And, looking upon the beauty of the statue, he was saddened that he could not please his Lady and Lord with such art as the other monks possessed.
Then, almost as an instinctual impulse of some past life, he tossed the brush into the bucket, and started tumbling up and down, side to side, back and forth before the statue. He had never somersaulted so superbly! But just then, the other monks started to file in to the chapel, and, on seeing the juggler-monk flipping and flopping to and fro, gasped in utter shock and horror, and thought to themselves, “The sacrilege! The blasphemy!” No sooner had the monks began to murmur amongst themselves, that the Mother and Child statue miraculously came to life, with the Christ Child still giggling over the juggler-monk’s flips and falls.
Now this legend, or forgotten page of The Lives of the Saints, has a sequel in this website, at least in the essence and antics of the tale, not in the holiness and miracles. Just as the juggler-monk felt called to leave the world and serve God, so did I. The problem, though, is that, just as the juggler-monk had no talents the world recognized as worthy, so neither do I. The best thing he had going for him, is the best thing I have going for myself: a willingness to be made a fool of. There are a number of ways I am trying to accomplish this great and heavy task of being made a fool of for Christ’s sake. Let me mention a few.
To speak the truth about the Faith, to disseminate information which is only sourced from the magisterium of the Catholic Church, and to do so without qualification, diminution, ellipses, or unauthorized explanatory commentary, has all the feel of a make-believe melodrama. “That’s ridiculous,” people often say. “How can the Catholic Church not have a visible head for over half a century!” Others say, “Oh, I see. You’re one of those Homealoners. Buzz off, fly!” Or, “You live in fantasyland. Grow up and live in the real world!” These kinds of replies I receive on a daily basis in Twitterland, which, were I more holy, I’d account as my daily bread.
The other way I have been trying to be a fool is through my Sect Spect Report, though I confess I’ve been failing miserably at it. The first few reports have too much seriousness about them, and not enough humor. You see, I take myself too seriously, and that is my downfall. I must script out every word, but were I more like our holy juggler-monk, I’d flip and fall out of an instinctual habit of saying what’s on my mind, which is always better than reading from a script––especially when one doesn’t have a teleprompter, and so looks down from the camera as he reads! I shall work on that, which will probably make more people say, “See how he jokes around about such serious matters! He doesn’t take the Faith seriously!” That’s my goal, anyway.
Finally, I received one deriding comment which asserted that I couldn’t be taken seriously for all the Star Trek and space stuff. I find this objection to be just sad. That people who call themselves Christian have lost all sense of play and wonder is a great loss indeed, almost as tragic as apostasy. For these unfortunate people, Christianity is something to be talked about in full business attire, clean-cut webpages, and memes as pious as they are puritanical and as sacred as they are saccharine.
But this is a mistake of tactics, if conversion or fostering religion is the aim––which I have my doubts it is; probably more like fostering more followers on Twitter. Real people look through these things for what they really are: feigned religion. The really religious man does not merely express his religion in tweets of fine art or scholastic argumentation. The really religious man expresses his religion in everything, but most of all he expresses his holy belief in God and his Church, in his hobbies and interests.
God is a God of personality, because He Himself is a community of Persons. God loves personality, as is evidenced by all the personalities He’s called His friends down through time. Pick out anyone you like, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a bore among them. Why is that you think? Why is it that the saints seem to be inflamed, not only with a holy love of God, but also with a holy love of life? Why are the saints so interesting? Because they let their Faith in God sanctify everything about them, their habits and interests, that’s why! Look at the mind of St. Thomas Aquinas, which was great before it was saintly; where every minute question excited him, from the wings of flies to the wings of Seraphim. Look at the manual labor of St. Isidore the Farmer or the vast learning of St. Isidore the Scholar; St. Catherine of Bologna and her artistic abilities, or Saint Ignatius of Loyola and his militarism which he turned into spiritualism. Look at any saint you please down through the ages of Christendom and what will strike you is, not how holy they were, but how human. Gratia non tollit naturam, sed perficit, as Aquinas would say.
One would think, though, from all the Catholic tweets going around, that piety and holiness and a living Faith consisted strictly in religious paintings, prayer cards, and verses superimposed onto landscapes––you know the kind with the words Trust in the Lord with all your strength over a Grand Canyon sunrise and a silhouetted rock-climber dangling from a cord. St. Thomas Aquinas, with his crystal orb of a brain, saw the Light of lights reflected in everything, which is why he studied and spoke about everything, from rocks in the dirt to the Angelic throng in the Empyrean. But we, dimwitted and dull in our souls, can only see God and His glory and truth in theological manuals or pious art or in Bible quotes. Our piety lacks personality, lacks perfected nature, and it shows.
I am the fool in the court of the cosmic King, taking what few worthless tricks I have to please Him, perhaps make Him giggle, and only secondarily please and make you giggle. I do this by taking what interests me and seeing it anew through the lens of Faith, letting grace spiritualize it and so perfect it. Spock, taken by himself, is a hopeless rationalist, but if his character––or at least his costume––could be harnessed for the Faith, with his logical disposition toward facts, and unemotional thinking, I believe he and his pointed ears and powder-blue uniform could do some good in spreading authentic Catholicism, and be entertaining at the same time.
My mind draws me back to one whose love of God was great, who happened to think highly of space stuff while not thinking too highly of himself. He said somewhere: For I will behold thy heavens, the works of thy fingers: the moon and the stars which thou hast founded. What is man that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man that thou visitest him? Funny, he also was fond of making a fool of himself, dancing in the court of the presence of God.