It has not been an infrequent occurrence to correspond with those who remain at home on Sunday instead of going to mass who are not altogether right in the head. I do not mean to draw a causal connection between the two, as conjunction is not proof of causation, but I do believe there must be an underlying cause or condition which must account for the higher frequency of having to converse with fools.
There are assumptions made in any thought, either known or not, which stand, as it were, at the back of the room of the thought. I am conscious of at least one assumption that my assertion above makes, and that is that the claim, ceteris paribus, any correspondence with people outside the home alone cohort would yield the same frequency of foolishness, is false. Be that as it may, I assume that the claim is false, though I cannot strictly prove it unless I try to verify the assumption by emailing fellow bloggers in my genre, which I’m not entirely inclined to do, at the risk of myself coming off as a correspondent equally foolish.
Moving on, then, with the thrust of my argument, I would say this: the reason, perhaps, for the higher frequency of bizarre beliefs and manners among home alone Catholics is that they are, well, alone. Not absolutely, of course, but compared with their counterpart religionists, with their parish hall, community outreach programs, school, congregation of smiling faces ready to greet you at the door, and, above all, priests and confessors to instruct you in spiritual and life matters, home alone Catholics are emphatically alone. And this being alone is dangerous.
Man is a social animal, which means that he is fitted by God to live in society. It takes a great deal of actual grace and practice living out the virtues to live in a society peacefully with others—and it takes enormously more grace to live peacefully outside society. Home Alone Catholics are just abiding by the commandments of God and the laws of the Church. I do not say Home Alone is wrong, so please do not misunderstand me. But I do so that the position is fraught with danger, both spiritual and mental, and even physical. Being in the desert is dangerous.
The physical dangers of living home alone are quite obvious. Your dependence on your physical welfare becomes almost completely dependent on those services your taxes afford, which is not exactly a consolation. If you are estranged from your relatives (perhaps most of us are) and your friends were all from Church you no longer attend, you are going to have a difficult time if a life issue happens, say, you are hospitalized with kidney disease, and there are no family or friends to help you make the life transitions that inevitably follow such a health crisis.
Let’s take the mental next. There are any number of issues, or problems, both practical and theoretical which a man is called upon to solve. If he has a community of persons, friends or associations with whom he can communicate, he is alleviated of the burden of bearing all the intellectual labor involved which is demanded by the problem. He asks a fellow parishioner, let’s say, who happens to be also an investment banker, whether he thinks it a good idea to sell short this month on a particular stock, since rumors are in the air of a merger. The fellow parishioner obliges him with free financial advice, and says the merger is a myth concocted by lunatic communist conspiracy theorist podcasters and mustn’t be heeded by any rational entity worthy the name. This man, being a rational entity himself, heeds the friend’s financial advice, cancels his subscription to the podcast “Red Scare” and saves himself the indignity and destitution which would have surely been his unhappy lot had he not a friend from Church with whom to consult.
Then there’s the spiritual. Let’s say you struggle with a vice of the flesh, perhaps it is gluttony in the form of the abuse of alcohol—not an entirely inconceivable probability in a country which had to pass a constitutional law forbidding hard drink. You belong to a parish-supported AA meeting group, which helps those like yourself overcome the sinful overconsumption of intoxicating liquor. You meet every Wednesday night, which is good, because otherwise you would be drinking yourself to hell-knows-where, down at the sports bar watching the seasonal game (it matters little which). Now you have a band of supporters you can work out your sinful addiction with and rely upon for moral encouragement.
But let’s remove you from those societies, from the parish hall where you were want to talk financial investment strategy over a donut and styrofoam cup of coffee, or the AA meeting which was the last thread keeping you sown to sanity and out of Satan’s jaws, and see how you fair home alone. Without a great deal of natural and supernatural virtue, I think you will agree, you won’t fair very well at all.
We who remain at home instead of soliciting sacraments from doubtfully valid and illicit priests whom the Church has not sent, do not do so because it is easier or because it is fun. On the contrary, the physical, mental and spiritual labor and suffering is arduous, and a great sacrifice. I truly believe that we who are home alone and who, by God’s almighty mercy, make it to Heaven, will wear shimmering crowns of golden glory for our spiritual martyrdom. Home alone calls us to live according to a higher demand on our natural intelligence and spiritual vigilance, just as one would need to in the desert, the path through which we trod is not primrose but penitential purple, mortifying our flesh, our minds, and our souls on our natural dependency on society in favor of a supernatural dependency on God and His Mother—have you prayed the Rosary today?For those who can endure it, and not long for the garlic and onions of Egypt, we must pray everyday for the unseen Manna from heaven, which is sanctifying and actual grace, to give strength to our bodies, clarity to our minds, and holiness to our souls.
Home alone is dangerous, but so is following Christ, for He is leading us to our death: God is leading us to Golgotha.