Did you ever see the Lord of the Rings? Do you remember when Frodo Baggins was stabbed by the poisonous sword of the Ringwraith?
It wasn’t those to whom I spoke. It wasn’t those about whom I was speaking. The “Ringwraith” in this case was the political atmosphere storming about Vatican hill. Get near that in any serious way as I did when I went up into the Apostolic Palace the other week to deliver some packages going to the heart of the current crisis and you’ll get stabbed by that Ringwraithness. Again, this doesn’t at all refer to those to whom I spoke or about the packages so delivered.
Getting stabbed doesn’t necessitate becoming a Ringwraith. It just means that you have to struggle a bit. I’m sure we all have an experience like that of Frodo. And we all have “Elvish medicine” by which to conquer.
I’d like to think of that medicine as giving a flower to the Immaculate Conception. After all, she saw her own Son get crushed by Satan and all the powers of hell and saw Him risen from the dead.
To put it another way: When Jesus lays down His life, it is in that very action that He also lays down our lives with His, we being members of the Body of Christ, we being children of Jesus’ good mom, you know, like the Master so the disciple. That’s for all of us.
But that is a burden to carry in this world. I don’t know how those on the straight and narrow in the Vatican can survive. It’s all God’s grace. They carry an enormous burden. They are getting stabbed by Ringwraithness on a continuous basis, 24/7/365. For them: Hail Mary…
But there is more. There is irony. It is so fierce that people can scream running away. Don’t run. Don’t be afraid. Perhaps a re-read of some irony will help:
To the young, the pure, and the ingenuous, irony must always appear to have a quality of something evil, and so it has, for […] it is a sword to wound. It is so directly the product or reflex of evil that, though it can never be used – nay, can hardly exist – save in the chastisement of evil, yet irony always carries with it some reflections of the bad spirit against which it was directed. […] It suggests most powerfully the evil against which it is directed, and those innocent of evil shun so terrible an instrument. […] The mere truth is vivid with ironical power […] when the mere utterance of a plain truth labouriously concealed by hypocrisy, denied by contemporary falsehood, and forgotten in the moral lethargy of the populace, takes upon itself an ironical quality more powerful than any elaboration of special ironies could have taken in the past. […] No man possessed of irony and using it has lived happily; nor has any man possessing it and using it died without having done great good to his fellows and secured a singular advantage to his own soul. [Hilaire Belloc, “On Irony” (pages 124-127; Penguin books 1325. Selected Essays (2/6), edited by J.B. Morton; Harmondsworth – Baltimore – Mitcham 1958).]