On the day of the double canonization of our holy Popes, a great bourgeois figure of French employers posted this message on Twitter: "Impressive to see this need for blind irrationality met by religion. Rome today: the court of miracles."
I am told that this tweet did not show so much a contempt for religion as for the popular expression of religion. Put this woman of the world at the table of a Monsignor or a "court Dominican" in one of these Roman coteries, and it is a safe bet that the great lady will find worldly religion quite respectable.
However, we must recognize that our great bourgeois may have given the greatest tribute of all to the event in St. Peter’s Square. The "court of miracles," she says. What a lovely phrase: bravo, dear lady, you’ve got it!
The court of miracles is a haven. A haven for the lame, poor, crippled, blind, deformed, rejected, reclusive, Gypsies, vandals’ daughters, loose women, and highwaymen. Behold the holy procession of the vagabonds who clung to Jesus’ tunic on the roads of Galilee. Here is God’s people; this is the holy people!
But "I am not a beggar," you will tell me. Oh, but you are! You’re a beggar whenever you place your written prayers at the foot of a statue for the healing of your child. You’re a beggar whenever you slip your grubby miseries among the roses of St. Therese. You’re a beggar every time you shuffle your spiritual infirmity to the tabernacle, whenever you return pitifully to the confessional, whenever you press your lips to a small wooden cross or a rosary whose story is known only to you, God, and His saints.
What is the origin of this "need for blind irrationality" of which our great bourgeois speaks? It comes from misery. It comes from misery and it is the entrance to the door of mercy. This expression of the supernatural — which some call the "marvelous" — is the theology of the people, the religion of the people. On Sunday, the Church spoke the language of the people. The Pope made the gestures of the people, embracing reliquaries, placing his right hand on the statue of the Virgin before making the Sign of the Cross.
The Church did not speak the language of the world and of dinners in the city. The Church has shown the world the five wounds of Christ, the ones Thomas touched in order to believe, the ones people contemplate on all the crosses of the world, the ones by which we are healed. When speaking of its saints, the Church spoke of heaven, our eternal destiny. The Church spoke the language of the misery of man and the mercy of God.
Is this language audible, legible, credible for our contemporaries? In the manner of the world, rationally, it is not. You do you realize that the Church went so far as to exhume the coffin of John XXIII, to lift the lid to expose for the faithful’s veneration this body that has been cold for over 50 years?
The Church has spoken this language of the people, done these actions of the people before the world, naturally, as an evident evidence, as if suspended outside of time, in an ancient language that she alone still speaks, in her Gregorian tradition.
Hundreds of millions of people saw and heard it through television. How many superb hearts became even more hardened? How many beggars’ souls did Christ touch? I do not know. But what I do know is that the Church is a haven for the beggars of all time; the Church really is "the court of miracles."
(Chronicle posted on Radio Espérance on May 2, 2014)