Daily Archives: March 23, 2008

Wow! Another Endorsement of "Standard Days"

If this doesn’t prove that “reliability” of contraception is all about the profit: “CycleBeads” give physicians something they can “sell,” so “Standard Days” is suddenly effective, whereas “Rhythm” wasn’t (even though they’re the same thing).

Speaking of _Superstar_, the Problem with the "Fifteenth Station"

As I write, I am listening to one of Fulton Sheen’s Good Friday talks on Netflix. Interestingly, it must be one of the things that Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice meant by saying they used Fulton Sheen as their only non-biblical source for Jesus Christ Superstar. The episode begins with Bishop Sheen talking about a conversation he’d had with Orson Welles. Welles was asking him what would be appropriate or inappropriate in a movie about Christ. Specifically, he wanted to do a “life of Christ” where all the characters wore modern garb, to show who would be the Pharisees, Sadduccees, Pontius Pilate, etc., today. Then he would cast himself as a member of the mob. Bishop Sheen thought that was a great idea, and there was nothing disrespectful about it at all.
Yet, that is one of the usual criticisms lodged against Superstar: the anachronistic dress, Roman soldiers carrying machine guns, etc. But it actually comes from Fulton Sheen!

Another common criticism is that it ends with the burial of Jesus. Of course it does. It’s a Passion. That was one of the few flaws I found in Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ: ending with the Resurrection (albeit handling it reverently).

I’ve always hated the idea of “adding” a “fifteenth station” and jumping straight to the Resurrection. I’ve never been able to explain it in a simple way, but here’s the simple way: no Holy Saturday.

Every Sunday is a little Easter. Every Friday is a little Good Friday. And every Saturday is an optional memorial to the Blessed Virgin because Saturday was the day she was without her Son.

Sheen liked to say that Americans “want Christ without the Cross.” This is true in many ways, but in the case of most Protestants and your average “post-Vatican II” Catholic (definitely your average “Spirit of Vatican II” Catholic), it means brushing over the Passion as much as possible and jumping as quickly as possible to the Resurrection.

“Look what Jesus did for us! Yay! We have nothing to worry about. Now I don’t have to suffer!”
No; that’s not the right attitude.
The correct attitude is, “Look what Jesus did for us! He suffered, willingly, though undeservedly, because of my sins. I need to be less self-centered and more self-mortifying. I need to accept the just [and unjust] punishments that come my way. I need to fill up in my own body what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ.”

The Crucifixion has to *mean* something. Jesus had to lose everything for it to *mean* something; or else we’re just Gnostics and the Crucifixion was just an act.

When we jump, in our meditations, from Crucifixion to Resurrection, we strip the Crucifixion of its meaning. We ignore the triumphal invasion of Hell. We ignore the sorrows of Our Lady of Sorrows, who had to mourn for two days. Mary should not have had to mourn her Son at all. The Catholic practice of honoring Mary on Saturdays is meant to atone for her day of mourning.

To jump straight to the “Fifteenth Station” is to refuse to take any responsibility for our sins or to show our love for Jesus and Mary.

My annual "Superstar" Reflection

Every Lent, I make a point of listening to Jesus Christ Superstar in (more or less) one sitting, and, every year, some passage really jumps out at me. A cultural Anglican (the young Andrew Lloyd Webber) and a cynical agnostic (Tim Rice) really gave a lot of insights in their passion play based upon the Gospels and the teachings of Archbishop Fulton Sheen.

Anyway, today, that reflection was the line in “What’s the Buzz”: “I’m amazed that men like you can be so shallow, thick and slow. There is not a man among you who knows or cares if I come or go.”

Call it the “Sherlock Holmes” principle. In the Sherlock Holmes stories, we often get the impression that Dr. Watson is an idiot. But the whole point is that Dr. Watson is a medical doctor. He’s a very smart person and yet, compared to Holmes, he’s an idiot. It’s about how smart Holmes is, not how dumb Watson is.

So, in the Gospels, when Jesus says, “Oh wicked and perverse generation, how long must I endure you?” or words to that effect, He’s often referring to the Apostles.

These are the men who’ve already given up everything to follow Jesus around the country. They obey His every command. They acknowledge Him as the Messiah and Lord. And, yet, even they are “wicked and perverse” by Jesus’ standards of perfection.

Remember Luke 17:10: “So you also, when you shall have done all these things that are commanded you, say: We are unprofitable servants; we have done that which we ought to do. “

My dad said he was reading a passage from St. Faustina’s diary today where Jesus says He is not offended so much by the great sins of those who live in the world as He is by the minor faults of those who love Him the most.

Meanwhile, we have people like this who think they can be “OK with God” while they do whatever they want.