The soul of humility is obedience. Without the willingness to set aside our own wishes in obedience to proper authority, claims of humility are empty. That’s why St. Thomas, in his prayer after communion, includes “Let this Holy Communion strengthen us in love and patience, humility and obedience, and all the virtues.” Love is first – without love, no other virtue lives. Love endures in patience. But the very next virtues listed are humility and obedience – humility, the virtue corresponding to the fear of the Lord, and obedience, by which this humility is made real.
Yesterday’s homily was not about any of this. Instead, we were treated to the spectacle of a man inexplicably proud of his intellect – of which, in the years I’ve known him, has been on display with enlightening infrequency – telling us that love of self, neighbor, and God demands we do exactly what the latest COVID panic mongers demand, that failing to get vaccinated and wear masks means – he was specific – that we, the guilty, love not God, our neighbor, nor ourselves. He didn’t explicitly add: and are going straight to hell, but the implication was strong.
Further, he used the example of poor Cardinal Burke as the sort of “moron” who doesn’t mask or get vaccinated and thus, by ending up in the hospital (he has since recovered, thank God) with COVID, proves the truth of his position. The blessed cardinal is a man who is a) elderly, b) extremely busy and probably exhausted, c) probably interacts with thousands of people in a typical week, and d) is under insane levels of pressure and spiritual attack. And he recovered, like 99.9%+ of people who aren’t actively dying.
So imagine me and mine, who along with dozens of other people, are sitting OUTDOORS IN THE SUNLIGHT at mass, unmasked, hearing this dim bulb call a saintly man, who incidentally is vastly and demonstrably his intellectual superior, a “moron” for failing to do as he is told by such genius humanitarians as Fauci, Brix, and Ferguson. My wife tried to talk with him after mass, with the predictable dismissive results. (I was loading up the car w/ grandma at the time, and hadn’t even noticed she’d gone until she was almost through. I’m also a coward with a temper – bad combination for rational discourse when I’m pissed off.)
The totalitarianism of postmodernism has found ready adherents in the well-schooled. This Dominican (!) teaches at the local ‘catholic’ boy’s high school – ‘catholic’ in quotes, as they are of course too inclusive as to take a stand on anything as icky as Catholic dogmas. (Their sister school, the girl’s school next door, prays “In the name of the Creator, the Redeemer, and the Sanctifier” because that Father-Son stuff can offend some poor snowflakes, and they want to be inclusive. While this girls school did allow for a Pro-Life club, they likewise allowed – on campus – an organized protest *against* the Pro-Life club. Very Catholic and inclusive.) I’ve had occasion to get to know the products of these schools – fine young cannibals, all. Any attempt at discussion of the faith is met with utter ignorance and indifference. Very well schooled rabbits.
Yet this priest’s high self opinion, expressed in meandering stories of his adventures in lieu of homilies with any reference to the feast or readings, compel him to attempt to shame and anathema a group of fine people who have had it with the lies he, himself, cannot acknowledge, lest his world crumble and he dies!
And that’s what we’re up against now: the panic rabbits have built their entire identities on obedience, on doing as they are told, on getting the pat on the head, the gold star, the participation trophy. This priest, as a high school teacher, is even more integrated into this system and has his identity and sense of self-worth even more tied to conforming and getting others to conform. Doing as he is told is the highest virtue, while defying the authorities warrants heavy anathemas. That’s been his life for 40 years.
Getting back to humility and obedience: Thomas notes that true authority, the authority we must always obey, comes from doing the will of God. A king is legitimate insofar – and only insofar – as he is doing God’s will. Yet I think Thomas, while perhaps having something to say about the idea that legitimate government rests upon consent of the governed, would agree with the sentiments of the signers of the Declaration of Independence: “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security.”
Thomas would of course be very, very circumspect regarding when a long train of abuses becomes intolerable, because he had knowledge of what it’s like when there is no king or other legitimate authority. Better to endure, and be obedient, whenever possible. Our sterling example in this was another St. Thomas, St. Thomas More. He harbored few illusions about Henry, yet loved and obeyed him to the very end – except when such obedience would contradict the law of God.
And we should be just a circumspect, and be humble in our judgements. In my case, I have made the judgement – and may God have mercy on my soul! – that obedience to these authorities causes more harm than good, and that the authorities have long since abandoned any defensible claim of legitimacy other than mere inertia. Therefore, I will not comply, except insofar as my noncompliance would get an innocent person – a store clerk, for example -in trouble. And that’s on a case-by-case basis.