This past weekend I saw a play put on by the St. Paul Seminary called Death of a Liturgist. It was a comedy-mystery with a lot of laughs, many of which would only be funny to Catholics. Admittedly, it was not “great art.” But for the two hours of the performance, everyone had a terrific time watching a light-hearted production with no swearing and nothing off-color (which for many critics would probably disqualify it as art altogether). The gathering felt like a mini-communion of small “s” Catholic saints, whose enjoyment was rooted in their affection for the Church. Because that is what it took to enjoy that performance. The humor of the play came not only from “inside-baseball” Catholic references, although there were those, but also on the kinds of petty gossip, turf wars and human foibles that are endemic in one way or another to most parishes.
I’m guessing that most of the people at the show, like me, do not have any illusions about the Church or the problems we have. But we love her anyway, like an old parent who makes you smile one minute and pull your hair out the next. G.K. Chesterton wrote in one of his books that we are best equipped to change something when we first love it. There is some truth in that. I can laugh at the people on stage making fun of a Catholic parish because I know that they, too, love Christ’s Bride. And the people who were in the audience love her too. If they didn’t, the jokes wouldn’t be funny. You have to love your family to be able to laugh affectionately together at crazy Uncle Bob. Ideally, reforms and changes in the Church should always flow organically from we who love her, not from outside pressure by people who don’t, including unfortunately, some Catholics.