by Andy Nowicki
The alienated soul, of whom I have felt compelled to write of much lately, is one who recognizes the contemporary modern liberal Zeitgeist for the trussed-up sham that it is, yet at the same time can’t seem to will himself to believe in anything beyond this monstrous Moloch which looms so ubiquitously in his midst and bestrides him like a Colossus everywhere he goes.
That he despises this dreadful buggering beast is a given; he’ll be God-damned if he’ll ever be bullied into “loving Big Brother,” like that pussy Winston Smith in 1984 (or so he thinks to himself, bucking his spirit up temporarily with sheer self-generated buoyant bravado).
To be sure, he’d sooner die than turn his back on his loyal loathing or betray his hearty hatred. Yet no matter how diligently he strives and strains, he can’t manage to see anything beyond this terrible and obscene force which, animated with hideous strength and perverse will, goes about strangling all innocence, sucking every thing dry of its initial virtuous essence, leaving a crassly corrupt, counterfeit copy in its place.
This thing he hates, tragically enough, is also the only god he really knows: it is none other than the great juggernaut Nemesis, which seems determined to take him out, bit by bit, piece by piece. First his innocence, then his ideals, then his good will, and finally his sanity.
Yet the alienated soul wants to know an entirely different deity: namely, the redeeming, sanctifying, restorative divine Force spoken of by the prophets, the apostles, and the church fathers. To this end, he turns to the Catholic faith, which, for all of its flaws, at least possesses the virtue of having weathered the various storms of history without being purged of its essential dogmas, truths, and sacramental traditions. The assaults of modernity have left the Church conspicuously limping, to be sure, but they have failed to empty it of that which sets it apart from the ravages of this evil age. It marches forward, weakened but unbowed.
So the alienated one becomes a faithful, loyal churchgoer. Yet though he takes part in the requisite activities of his faith, he still can’t quite get himself to believe that the Christ who he hears spoken of ultimately overcomes the bloody-fanged Nemesis-Moloch demonic demiurge he knows so keenly. Can this distant supposed Savior truly liberate him from the tormentor who bloodies his body and darkens his spirit daily? Most of the time, he remains unconvinced, particularly when he is forced to listen to another ghastly hippie-dippy hymn from the 70s (he refuses to add his own voice to such abominations), or hear yet another bland, insipid sermon from the “Church of Nice” contingent of the clergy.
Yet for all that, there are times when he does feel a faint stirring of something like peace of mind, as he reclines in his pew and gazes imploringly into the kind, luminous eyes of the Theotokos icon above the altar. And there are occasions when a similar something breaks through the Modernist miasma and the aesthetic piffle of the all-too-omnipresent, appallingly tacky post-Vatican II aggiornamento, striking his heart with surprising force.
One such occasion took place last Sunday, the final day in the Church calendar prior to the start of Advent and the start of new cycle. That day’s Mass celebrates the feast of Christ the King, which in itself cannot help but be a counter-cultural event in the midst of a furiously democratic, fanatically levelling, sentimental, dumbed-down and doped-up age.
The more devout Christians of our time tend to view their Lord with an altogether unbecoming informality. “Born-agains” commonly talk of Jesus as their “buddy,” somebody whom they would love to invite over for their backyard barbeque to hang out, swap stories, crack jokes, drink beer and altogether have a grand ol’ time. He’s “not here to judge us; he’s just here to love us,” etc.
This is millions of miles away from any traditional (and assuredly Biblical) notion of Christ as lordly royalty, to be revered and adored. The Christ of tradition stands at a distance from us; while he loves us, it is a patently hierarchical love, like the affection of a king for his subjects, or that of a patriarch for his children. This God-man is genial and compassionate, but can be quite stern, even fierce, on occasion; he is the sort of deity fittingly represented by author C.S. Lewis as a lion: a graceful, regal, warm-blooded being nevertheless capable of displaying terrifying wrath and roaring fury to his enemies.
The Christ of scripture and tradition—the son of Mary who is also the son of God—is properly hymned in such stately, majestic songs as “All Glory, Laud and Honor,”“Crown Him With Many Crowns” and “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name,” each of which urges a fitting coronation for the uber-King of all creation:
“All hail the power of Jesus’ name; let angels prostrate fall
Bring forth the royal diadem, and crown him Lord of all!”
“Crown him the Lord of peace, whose power a scepter sways
From pole to pole, that wars may cease, and all be prayer and praise.
His reign shall know no end, and round his pierced feet
Fair flowers of paradise extend, their fragrance ever sweet.”
Such is the message of the Sunday of Christ the King, a feast day whose continued existence demonstrates the Church’s opposition to the mores of an aesthetically inelegant, morally degenerate, and spiritually bankrupt age, signaling the sending of a discordantly harmonious note into the cacophony of chaos that is modernity.
The alienated soul, who from his bitter core mourns his loss of connection and rootedness, feels himself briefly bathed in the warmth of a balmy blast of something which feels like blessed assurance: perhaps, after all, there is a King who must be served, and it could just be that in His service all things gone bad will again be made well.