To Hell With Trivia!

We do indeed need to show joy as Catholics. My motto — “Be happily and uncomplicatedly Catholic.”

Michael J. Sheehan  Archbishop of Santa Fe


To Hell with trivia that is trying to damage my Catholicism. If my treasure chest, filled with gold, gems and wealth of fantastic value, was covered with scratches, dust and rust, I wouldn’t dump it into the trash bin. 

The Church is a treasure chest. During the past 2000 years it has been reshaped and battered, but it is a sturdy strongbox, protecting what is of real essence. During its long history it has been buffeted by heretics, corrupt Popes, schisms and ridiculous decisions and actions.  Today, here is a sampling of the blows it is taking:

– Pope Benedict seems to have stumbled with his discussion of condoms. On this slippery slope, he intended to espouse a tradition of Catholic moral reasoning.

– After spending $500,000 to renovate the church in Lorain, Ohio, the bishop ordered it (and 50 other churches) to close.  In ignoring the protests of parishioners, he refused to engage them in meaningful dialogue.

– The universal scandal of homoerotic priests gets much publicity, even though it involves less than 2% of the splendid religious who are devoting their lives to the Church.

– The Vatican Bank is accused of money laundering.

– In 1996 Catholic Common Group Initiative warned that without addressing polarization, “the Church would be torn by dissension and weakened in its core structures.”

– To the outside world and many Catholics, the Church is so enamored with and dedicated to the Pro-Life cause that it is viewed as merely an anti Pro-Choice organization.

– “For heaven’s sake, why doesn’t the Church realize we should again have married priests?”

– “When are those old bachelors in clerical garb going to wake up to the times, and ordain women deacons?”

– etc. etc.-etc.-etc.

          That enough for the treasure chest — let’s look inside. There we find items, some over 4000 years old that confirm the birth of our religion; these are the revelations from God to the Jewish people.  Next, there are 2000 years of documentation of our Faith confirming that (a) there is one God, and (b) as Jesus, God became man. Inside, we find the Holy Spirit and nineteen centuries of devotion to the Virgin Mary. There is a recording of millions of martyrs who have sacrificed their lives for our Faith.

          Also, there also are the accumulated thoughts and writings of outstanding theologian, like Augustine and Thomas Aquinas. Of greatest value is the Sacrament of Communion — the Holiest of the Holy.


As Joyful Catholics we think both historically and spatially. We attempt to see things with the lucidity of a child’s eyes. As the French Dominican, Father Bro, stated, “If he so wishes, each of us succeeds perfectly in suffocating the questions that disturb him in anesthetizing them.”

Regarding the endless flow of trivia attacking our Church, we embrace basic truths, We have neither the time or interest in becoming the judge, jury and executioner of our dust-covered treasure chest with its scratches and rust. It will survive ’til the moon is no longer.

          In 1481, in Florence, Father Girolamo Savonarola, O.P., wrote: “At the end of the life of reason is the contemplation of divine things. So the more perfect a man abstracts himself from earthly things and devotes himself to the contemplation of that which is divine, the more perfect will be his life.

          With our pertinacity to basics, we Joyful Catholics put aside the peripheral and focus on essential truths.  We nod in agreement to this statement by Saint Francis de Sales, “My God, what a shame that we are so inconstant! Surely, there is no stability in us and yet this is the most essential quality in the spiritual life.”



And let me have your thoughts. (


Other recommended Catholic blogs

Sacred Space (the Jesuits in Ireland) Saint Louis Catholic

Shepherd of Fort Worth (a new blog by Bishop Kevin W. Vann)


Recommended readings

–         “Dead and Back Again”, by Marilyn Prever in the November/December Touchstone.

–          “Cash-cowed” by Margaret O’Brien Steinfels in the November 19 Commonweal.

–         “Courageous creativity and rigorous fidelity” in the November Homiletic & Pastoral Review.


Last week, the winner of the autographed copy of Light Reading for Good and Wayward Catholic is Sheila Rassmen in Calmar, IA. Here are the answers:

1.     Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton’s maiden name was Bayley

2.     John was not one of the missionary companions of Paul.

3.     Next to Warsaw, Chicago is the city with the largest Polish population.


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