I have written a novel in which the Catholic Church qualifies as one of the main characters. This was not done on purpose. But as the story progressed, it became clear that during the time period in which the novel takes place (1999–2019), the Church like all good characters underwent fundamental changes and faced extreme challenges. Rather than sweep this conflict under the rug, I chose to embrace it in the hopes that it will make the protagonists' adventures more meaningful to the reader and more efficacious in facilitating their own spiritual and vocational journeys.
It should be obvious to anyone who reads In the Palace of the Great King that the author is a devout Catholic. Like the proverbial disclaimer given by those who offer their uneducated opinions on art, "I don't know theology, but I know what I like." Or, in my case, love. In other words, I can't claim to be a theologian or an apologist, and so I can't tell you all the reasons why I believe the Catholic Church is the only church founded by Jesus Christ and why despite all her flaws and flagrant sins, everyone ought to join it. There are plenty of other places where you can glean that information. In the end, conversion occurs due to grace and not the efforts of anyone else. Still, you need to inform yourself about the Catholic faith. Only then can grace work in your soul.
That being said, I must offer one caveat. The twenty-first-century Church is comprised of a wide-ranging collection of practices ranging from feminist, earth-centered, peace-and-justice-loving "spirituality" whose adherents refuse to refer to God with masculine pronouns and insist on introducing endless variations such as holding hands in a circle around the altar at what they call "the liturgical celebration," not the Mass, all the way over to the other end of the spectrum in which we have those who believe the Church hasn't had a legitimate pope in over fifty years. In between you have the beleaguered bulk of Catholics who practice a very laid-back version of the faith according to the modernist teachings promulgated since the disastrous pastoral (as opposed to dogmatic) council in the early 1960s known as Vatican II. In these parishes, there are no lines for confession on Saturday afternoons (the Sacrament of Penance, now known as "Reconciliation") because most priests have been brainwashed, if not outright ordered, to no longer use the words "sin" or "sacrilege" in their homilies for fear of offending someone. Consequently, becoming Catholic today requires not only that you learn what the Church teaches and embrace it fully, but that you carefully discern which of the various camps of church teaching is authentically Catholic. This is quite a feat of acrobatics and not for the faint of heart.
The fact that Our Lord benignly continues to put up with all of this nonsense is truly miraculous. Both rites (the new post-Vatican II "Novus Ordo" and the original Tridentine Rite, known as the TLM (Traditional Latin Mass) or in official documents, the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, are valid. Just because they are both valid, however, does not mean they are the same. Nor does it mean that they are equal in the eyes of God, if I may be so bold as to claim to know God's thoughts on any topic. To me it's like taking Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" and saying, are these both musical? Yes, they are. Is one objectively superior to the other? Yes, obviously. Maybe you happen to like Freddie Mercury's operatic exercise about sin and nihilism: "Bee-EL-zebub has a devil put aside for me..." For your sake, I hope not. But the question before the court today is not what do you like, but what does God like? Which version of the Mass do you think He prefers? If as a society we have lost the ability to distinguish between two pieces of music and collectively judge one as superior to the other, we are in bad shape. If as a society we have lost the ability to put aside our own personal tastes in favor of music, art, and architecture more proper to the worship of God than, say, a Holiday Inn conference room or an elementary school gymnasium, God may forgive us our deplorable ignorance, but I for one do not intend to so succumb to Liturgical Time Bombs.
There are many who understandably feel that God doesn't really care about all our little rituals or whether or not we pray in Latin, but rather, what matters is what comes from the heart. In one respect that is true, and a sincere prayer from the heart is always pleasing to Our Lord. But this isn't what I'm talking about. I'm talking not about personal, individual prayer here. I'm talking about communal (group) prayer, the official prayer of the Church, offered in the person of Christ by Catholic priests. I'm talking about the Mass.
I could go on ad infinitum, but as I said in the beginning, I am not an apologist or a theologian. Better for you to read about it from the experts. Thankfully, there are many. There are no doubt a number of very good (meaning reverent) Novus Ordo Masses out there offered by good priests who are holding the line against the liberal agenda. My personal advice: find an FSSP parish and start going to Mass there. If necessary, move out of state. Talk to the priest. Learn about the faith. Pray the Rosary daily. And then hunker down and hang on for dear life.
Oh, and please buy my book.
I can hear it now. My new literary agent and I will talk for the first time. I'll tell her all about my book. She'll sound enthused. I'll feel encouraged. And then she'll say it. "Do you have a blog?"
I might as well face the truth. If I want anyone outside of my very close-knit Catholic community to read In the Palace, I'm going to have to bite the bullet and expose my innermost thoughts and feelings to the whole Internetian world. To an introvert, that feels like a cut above a slow, agonizing death by quicksand, but like the postulant nurses carrying bedpans in The Nun's Story, I will say All for Jesus! and feel less pain.
To sell a book, it's no longer enough to write a brilliant piece of literature (not that I have, but God knows I've tried.) Those days are gone. Now, an author needs a platform, a brand, and a social media presence. Ugh! I loathe Facebook, I have never tweeted in my life and hope never to do so, and Instagram sounds like a cross between graham crackers and Minute Rice, a tasteless, unappetizing paste if ever there was one.
But in the interest of making a small profit, paying off my bills, and maybe having a little left over to help out some good personal friends of mine, I'm going to be a team player and hop on the train headed for Blogville, that legendary place where authors speak intelligently and entertainingly about interesting topics of the day, post cute little colored squares with pithy sayings (called memes, apparently), and don't intentionally offend anyone.
Pray for me.
The opinions expressed on this website are my own personal views and do not necessarily represent those of the Catholic Church.
If I have erred in any statement, whether directly or by implication, in any matter pertaining to faith or morals, I humbly invite fraternal correction.