What We're Gonna Do
I can't give away all the family secrets, darlings -- there are confidentiality issues to be respected.... People are blowing thousands of dollars to go to Temple Church and the Louvre to crack the DaVinci Code. Well, consider this the DaLoggia Code (and, for the really adventurous, feel free to click on the donation button). It's Bertone-approved.
In the realm of real news, can we start a discussion about how much of an idiot Jude Law is? Oh my God.... Cheating on Sienna Miller is a latae sententiae excommunicable offense. The Italian people still haven't forgiven the Prince of Wales for his indiscretions; they've been tougher on him than the Brits. The objection goes, "He had this glamorous, beautiful wife -- and he left her for that?"
If the Cornwalls ever dared make an Italian jaunt, Camilla would get pelted.
I was having a really interesting discussion with a Roman pal a couple weeks back about how out of touch the hierarchy has gotten. "I can't get excited about them anymore," he told me. We agreed that, in the quest for gravitas, many of our mitred ones have lost the sense that, to be complete, a living faith needs (especially desperately, in these days) the element of celebration, of fun. It's that sense of joy which gives the church its magnetism -- if we're all doom, gloom and judgment, what's the lure?
Look at Tim Dolan. He makes no apologies about loving Macanudos, Brats 'n Beer and just being a real person. And guess what: He's one of the most effective bishops in the country, the people adore him, and when he makes a slip, he's easily forgiven because his street cred is just that solid. (He even won over Bill McClellan of the beloved Post-Dispatch -- no staunch ally of St. Louis Catholicism.) It can't be said that many of Dolan's peers enjoy the same kind of love from the people in the pews. Tim's common touch is what made John Cardinal O'Connor the All-Time Gold Standard.
One of my favorite stories from the fun file comes from the entrance of Pharaoh gloriosa regimente -- Justin Rigali, for those new to Philadelphia culture.
When we installed Rigali in October, 2003, all the stops of the triumphalist capital of American Catholicism were pulled out -- schoolkids on parade, streets closed, more cardinals than you could count on both hands. Even Sean O'Malley got into the spirit and donned a Burberry raincoat. And so much red wine flowed at dinner that, beyond a doubt, there wasn't an unhappy camper in the Ballroom of the Wyndham Hotel.
So the new Most High -- two weeks from the red hat and the consummation of his return to glory -- gets up to the podium and looks out on the sea of 1,200 revellers before him. The wine at the dais must've been really good, because he launched into a talk which left his crew from St. Louis with their jaws on the floor. (Well, it was nothing the Sansones hadn't seen....)
"You know what we're going to do?" Philadelphia's archbishop asked his people. The room fell silent, expecting some broad, detailed initiative.
"We're gonna have fun."
In the back corner of the room, seminarians started hootin' and hollerin', waving their napkins as if Our Lady of Fatima were being processed in. As Rigali's fun is church history (a love shared with your humble scribe), he launched into an explanation of the ties which bind Philadelphia and St. Louis, culminating in the figure of Peter Richard Kenrick -- the first rector of Philly Seminary who became the first archbishop of the Rome of the West, where he reigned for 56 years and dictated a generation of American ecclesiastical history.
"Remember, now," Rigali said, "Kenrick's episcopal motto was 'Noli irritare leonem.' This is translated, 'Don't irritate the lion.' Or even, 'Don't mess with the lion.'"
The St. Louis delegation almost had to be carried out on guerneys, so great was their disbelief at the spontaneity they were hearing. As I was told over drinks afterward, "He was speaking in the vernacular! We have never seen him like this, over ten years."
Moral of the story: I'm still trying to speak in the vernacular, where possible. And the resignation, the frustration, the degree of difficulty and discouragement which come with the short-term pressures of this work -- not to mention my own shortcomings -- are still very powerful temptations which are not the easiest to ward off.
But more than anything else, we have to have fun. And an outlet prepared to give me an assist would go a long way toward making that ideal a reality.