Chapter 29 – We praise the darkness – is coming up. I’ve been rather distracted by an associate for the last couple of weeks. As I review the first paragraphs of Chapter 29, this bit jumped out at me:
Bishop Athanasius knew of many candidates [for the priesthood] whose [psych] test results had described them as angels but who turned out to be abusers virtually from the day of their ordinations, as was being admitted by some of the psychologists who favoured abusive personalities, those who are nice, who go along with the ‘team’ by never criticising the abusiveness and lack of Faith of others.
When this was written I was thinking of two cases in particular:
- One devastated a religious community I knew of at the time, the case being described to me in detail. One priest, totally disgusted with the fallen priest even after very many years, feeling totally betrayed, kept exclaiming that before ordination he was an angel and described as such by evaluations. Literally, from the day of his ordination…
- The second was in an archdiocese. The seminary faculty has voted with two thumbs down, pretty much unanimously. The candidate, an absolute angel, was evaluated as being an absolute angel by the psych testing. Almost from the very day of his ordination… The anger of those who had given two thumbs down was so heated that the huge seminary was brought to the brink of closing in protest. Those who know of what I speak will know the emotional backlash as if they were going through it right now themselves.
Just to say. In my decades in Rome, I’ve met many of the key players and their minions of niceness and consensus. Again, Sister Nice might seem to be a caricature, a satire, but, really, she’s not. The reality is actually worse. I actually hold back. There are hundreds of priests who have met Sister Nice and been subjected to her… her… It’s difficult to come up with a word to describe her dumbing down of the faith, her betrayal of the faith, her disrespect for seminarians and the priesthood. I myself never met her, but knew many of her colleagues as close friends for very many years, and I have spoken with those subjected to her… her… Yuck. It’s stomach turning.
Having said all that, for the sake of the story line of the novel, there is some humor inserted. Sorry, with so serious a topic, but a bit of laughter is always a good thing even in the worst circumstances.
Update: Getting toward the end of this chapter 29, I see that Sister Nice says this to Father Alexamenos: ““Everyone will ‘wonder why the hell I am asking you this,’ but, tell me… What is spiritual direction in a seminary for?” The memories! This goes back to when one who could be called The Spiritual Director in Rome (super liberal but held to be the icon of orthodoxy for spiritual everything) went on the attack and wanted to humiliate me in front of some rather important people to all that which is political ecclesiastically in Rome, asking me a point about spiritual direction that he thought could not be answered in a Catholic manner. My answer made him, literally, apoplectic. He tried to argue a bit in front of these others, but was so beside himself with what I was saying that he stormed out, arms waving about, and re-entered the room multiple times and finally left altogether in a hissy fit. Just unbelievable. I recount such things not because this or that anecdote is important in itself, but because of who such people are with their far reaching influence in the life of the Church right around the world.
Update: Getting right to the end of chapter 29, I see this statement from Father Alexamenos: “The decontextualising statistics of your psychology despise the body in ‘favour’ of an ideologically reconstructed soul.” That’s the heart of this chapter. There it is. The dark key of gnostic salvation apart from Jesus. The true Key of Knowledge is not the dark key of gnostic salvation apart from Jesus. Mind you, that gnostic salvation – oh so very scientific – says that the truth and goodness and kindness of Jesus, the respect He shows to us is what is instead truly gnostic and useless and misleading as it is not at all scientific and controlled by us, manipulated by us.