Saturday, May 7, 2011

It's Because I am Wearing Black, isn't it?

Yesterday I went into a local shop, and being the next in line, I went forward to the next available cashier. The woman behind the desk looked at me out of the tops of her eyes with a very visible disgust, and her face wrinkled up as if she smelt a bad odor. As soon as I asked to make a transaction, she said, "I'm going to have to see some id." Her associate darted a quizzical look at her as did the customers. "Why do I need an id? I am not buying anything that requires it." I showed her my drivers license and said that I had a few more proofs that I am me. She said, "unless you have a passport, I can't help you." Then she looked at me with a very mocking smile as if to say, "Na, na, ha, ha!"

As I walked home, I tried my best to come up with the reasons why this woman treated me in such an irrational manner. I remembered her my eyeing me with contempt even before I opened my mouth. Suddenly I thought, "This is because I am wearing black, isn't it, because of my roman collar and that I am a Catholic priest!" If I look at these words on the screen it sounds very much like a sensitive reaction certain people have to racism.

In our world that supposedly opposes bigotry and valiantly claims to denounce all forms of prejudice, there is one form of hatred still allowed and encouraged by the leftist news media, the socialite elite groups, and the populace as a whole: Anti-Catholicism. Philip Jenkins discusses this in his book, The New Anti-Catholicism, the Last Acceptable Prejudice.

This has been a common theme in the catholic blogosphere lately. Yes it is true, people would never talk bad about Jews, Muslims, ethnic groups, but everybody loves to take a swing at Roman Catholics. What then should our reaction be?

I would like to radically claim that we ought not let reaction be our course at all. In fact, because anti-catholicism is itself a reaction, a kind of tell-tale sign that some grace is being resisted, that the message of the Gospel is being opposed, I would suggest a more proactive approach.

Why did this woman have disgust on her face? Who hurt her? Who didn't love her? Who didn't show her the truth and beauty of the Catholic faith? Such bigotry should draw out pity not scorn on my part, intercession not irritation, blessing not curse. A proactive approach means that God's mercy helps us to offer the witness of Christ crucified, who intimately loved his enemies from the heart and earnestly begged the Father for their conversion. Where such instances could be cause for anger, they instead be a moment of grace and the revelation of the glory of the face of Christ.

Here is an occasion where God asked me to give a blessing for a curse:


  1. Father it is the evil one - seriously. Over the years I couldn't figure out why people disliked me when I had never done any thing to them to make them dislike me so and be so unkind to me...I am 67 1/2 and I just figured it out...I think God had pity on me and opened my eyes a bit... the verse is Blessed are they who are persecuted for holiness sake for the reign of God is theirs. I could never accept this because I wasn't even baptized until I was 17. Here is what I was given to isn't that I have holiness shining out of me - though you may have - but I am on my way and the evil one wants to stop me from getting there - by the hurt feelings, the feeling that I am not doing any good...then Jesus tweaks my nose and says I love.... and I can say satan get thee behind me. You are a wonderful priest and I pray for you every day - I love you - Our Lady loves you - God loves you - keep on leading the Militant Church

  2. Maybe it's because of the whole clergy scandal thing... grr. I saw this quote today and thought of you...
    "Priesthood is love of the heart of Jesus. When you see a priest, think of our Lord Jesus Christ"-St. John Vianney
    It doesn't seem like many people are taking his advice. God Bless Father, you're in my prayers. And so is that lady!

  3. Yes, I think anti-Catholicism is a reaction, sometimes subconscious, to the offer of Grace. Every time some people encounter a priest, or a crucifix, a church, or a layperson talking about their faith, they are forced into that "crisis" place that all those people who encountered Christ were forced into. They either accept or reject.

    The blessing you asked for her will definitely benefit her soul, and who knows, might even lead her to search out for the Grace that brings us all the the knowledge of God.

    By the way, I was talking with a priest the other day who said that wearing clericals in public always seems to elicit a reaction in people. Lots, he says, will come up to him and talk about Christianity or ask for a blessing, or talk about some problem they've been going through. Others, though, spit at him, call him all kinds of obscene names, or have even tried to hit him. It must be hard, sometimes, to have people project their inner struggles onto you?