For those of you who do not subscribe to Fr. George Rutler’s Sunday homilies, today’s reflection is excerpted below. But first let me follow the example of Pope Francis and scold a bit: You really should subscribe. They are free. You have no excuse. [I shake my finger here.] Fr. Rutler brings wit, erudition, and deep faith to the pulpit—the very place that blessed medley of qualities is most needed but too often absent.
These postings began when Father was pastor of Our Saviour. They have continued without interruption since his transfer to St. Michael’s way over on W. 34 Street, close to Tenth Avenue. Those of you who live on Manhattan’s West Side do not have to wait for the emailed sermon. You can listen in person. There is no more need to trek east on the shuttle or the crosstown bus. And with the opening of the new #7 Subway Line’s Hudson Yards station, you can attend Mass at St. Michael’s more easily than ever. As I said, no excuse.
But enough. Listen to Fr. Rutler:
When the haters of remnant Christian civilization struck Paris last Friday the 13th, many kept saying that it was “unreal” and “inexplicable” But the blood was real, and the cruelty was totally explicable by the history of false religion and its embrace of evil. Fittingly, when the attack began in that concert hall, the band was playing a cacophonous piece, barely distinguishable from gunfire, called “Kiss the Devil.” Only those afflicted with the illusion of secular progressivism as a substitute for the Gospel seemed bewildered. Evil is real and explicable by the Fall of Man. Through the battles that have been fought and endured as Mass was being said on our altar, those who knelt here have promised to renounce Satan, and all his evil works, and all his empty promises.
It is different now that a whole generation has been taught to think that there is no evil to resist, and no holiness to attain. The highest ambition of our new “therapeutic culture” is no loftier than the desire to “feel good” about oneself. We were solaced by politicians telling us that ISIS has been “contained” and is less dangerous than climate change.
As we know, it is not only secular politicians who consider climate change more compelling than the slaughter of Christians. Ecclesial politicians, especially those ambitious to play on the secular stage, have hopped aboard the same ramshackle bandwagon, endorsed the same disordered priorities.
As he continues, Fr. Rutler is careful—as he must be—to note that Pope Francis has used the word “genocide” to describe the persecution of Christians in the Middle East. But his audience knows full well that the word does not mean enough to Francis. He is not motivated by it. He mobilizes the world only on behalf of climate change. He is moved to action on behalf of a stalking horse for Promethean fantasies of a world redeemed by global authority—one resident, presumably, in Brussels and Rome.
Fr. Rutler’s final comment about the culturally induced need to feel good—to cherish the “right” never to be upset—was validated by a photo in the New York Post on the day after the carnage. It was a large color photo, about half page high, of the floor of the Bataclan. Littered with bodies, the floor was awash in blood. It was a scene out of hell. Or it would have been if it had not been digitized in order to respect delicate sensibilities. And, of course, to avoid any danger of offending New York’s many Muslim immigrants.
Readers saw only multi-colored pixels floating across a swath of red. In its sanitized state, it made an attractive abstraction. Done up in oils, it could hang nicely in the dining room. By digitizing away reality, the Post kept New Yorkers safe from the visceral disturbance inherent in violent images.
That long-familiar line of Eliot’s came racing back: This is the way the world ends/ Not with a bang but a whimper. We are the hollow men; and Islam knows it.