Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Thorns (2)

Once upon a time, thorns could be fun.  I remember the old rose bushes in the garden would produce them with abundance and they could be easily snapped off and being sticky you could put them on your skin.  So in those impossibly warm and innocent summers of the mid 70s, we'd be running through the gardens, thorns on noses or thumbs pretending to be a Triceratops or an Iguanadon (or a some strange hybrid of the two).

me in the garden circa 1976 with thorns on thumbs


As a rule, however, thorns aren't fun.  Nobody makes jokes about thorns.  Nobody lovingly cares for a plant to nurture its thorns (or do they?).  Thorns don't do irony or parody either.  They are too straight talking, too clear about their own purpose, too unsubtle...

And they've led me to the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13).  Seed is scattered on different types of ground, with different results.  The seed that falls on thorny ground is choked by the thorns.

Our Lord explains, saying that the seed than fell amongst thorns "is he who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the delight in riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful".

There is nothing to suggest that the seed isn't in good soil.  I think this seed has depth and security for its roots.  But the seed is choked.  This suggests an above-ground phenomenon. The germinating seed has nutrients (good education, ample access to the Sacraments, access to intelligent priests and pious literature) but progress is blocked by that which is impregnable, an attack on the senses and the intelligence of man, an attack from his greatest enemy, that which is in complete opposition to the Christian life: the cares of the world and delight in riches.

And the problem is we will see thorns everywhere, if we start to look, and the whole Church seems to be choking with them (if you read certain blogs).  But the problem, I think, is engaging with them in the first place. They are battles we can't win. Thorns, remember don't do humour, subtlety, irony, gentleness or beauty.... and if you start seeing Holy Mother Church trapped in a Masonic conspiracy of thorny badness, then basically you are the one who is being choked, and that is one less solider fit for active duty in the Church Militant. Indeed if we take too much delight in the riches of our Catholic culture over and above delight in the good soil of the solid teaching and love of Our Lord, and that which has been handed down through His apostles and the Church Fathers, then we too come up against thorns.  We see everything as "under attack".  We see enemies everywhere, and basically we are screwed.

Now this doesn't mean denying that there are issues.  It means KNOWING that we can't solve them.  It means knowing we are helpless.  It means concentrating on the unum necessarium.  Leave the Lord to apply the systemic weedkiller, all you need to do in concentrate on your own growth in that lovely rich soil that He has so generously provided for you.

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