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‘For zeal for thy house has consumed me’

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Mar 15, 2024

Recounting how Jesus drove the money-changers out of the Temple, the Gospel of St. John [2:17] refers back to Psalm 69: “For zeal for thy house has consumed me.” When that Gospel was read at Sunday Mass two weeks ago, my mind flashed back to the disgraceful behavior of the activists who staged an outrageous mockery of a funeral service at St. Patrick’s cathedral in New York just a two weeks earlier.

The money-changers were only buying and selling. They were not using the Temple to celebrate “the mother of all whores,” as the sexual revolutionaries did in their memorial for a transvestite prostitute. Yet they were not driven out of St. Patrick’s.

True, the cathedral staff, sizing up the situation, decided that the service could not include a Mass. (And thank God; who knows what further blasphemies were avoided.) True, the New York archdiocese issued an expression of “outrage over the scandalous behavior,” and announced that a Mass of reparation had been celebrated— quietly. Still I wonder why any service was allowed in the cathedral that day, given the unmistakable plan of the organizers.

Leave aside the question of how such a large funeral service was arranged, for a well-known activist, without triggering any alarms for the cathedral staff. Leave aside the fact that the priest-celebrant showed no outward signs of discomfort at the behavior of the congregation. Where were the ushers? Where were the security guards? Where was the “zeal for thy house?”

After the fact, the archdiocese did its best to downplay the episode. Cardinal Dolan said that the cathedral staff had “acted extraordinarily well.” But not everyone was content to let this travesty disappear into history.

The organizers of the service, a group called Gays & Lesbians Living in a Transgender Society (GLITS), held a press conference to protest the “painfully dismissive and exclusionary language” used by the New York archdiocese, and the “rash decision” not to celebrate the Mass. So after using the cathedral to stage a celebration of their sexual indulgence, and thus a mockery of the Catholic faith, GLITS demanded an apology from the archdiocese, while the archdiocese preferred to let the matter drop.

Again a verse came to mind, this time from Yeats, in The Second Coming:

Things fall apart; the center cannot hold…
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity

There is no denying the conviction and the intensity of GLITS and its ideological cohort. The cadres of the sexual revolution have both strategic plans and a determination to carry them out. They staged their celebration in the New York cathedral to encourage their supporters and shame their opponents. Having done that, they took the logical next step: demanding that the people they had insulted should apologize for being offended.

(I wonder: Would they want God to apologize for being offended, too? Since apparently they resent the way they were created— “male and female He created them”— perhaps so. But that is another story.)

Shortly after the incident in St. Patrick’s cathedral, the advocacy group CatholicVote reported that this was the 400th assault on a Catholic church in the US in the past four years. That comes to roughly two incidents of violence or vandalism directed at our churches every week.

And that number is no doubt grossly understated, since Catholic pastors prefer not to report the ugly incidents if they might otherwise pass unnoticed. So we sand-blast the walls to erase the obscene graffiti, and we repair the broken statues, and we pretend not to hear the shouted interruptions. Occasionally we plead for protection from law-enforcement officials. But those pleas may go unheard, if elected officials are beholden to the same ideological groups that spawn the anti-Catholic bigotry.

We American Catholics, and our churches, are under assault. Certainly not always, certainly not everywhere, but the trend is ominous. The question is: Do we have the conviction to resist it?

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Mar. 16, 2024 12:11 PM ET USA

    The answer to the last question above is "no". Too many believe that turning the other cheek means to cowardly buckle before every insult, assault, and violence directed against the Church. It means nothing of the kind. It actually means that we are to fight for our rights as human persons with God-given dignity. Acts 23:2 says: "The high priest Ananias ordered his attendants to strike his mouth. Then Paul said to him, 'God will strike you, you whitewashed wall...'" Scripture orders us to resist