Once someone asked me if I find it hard being a priest today when people are so skeptical. I answered, "To be honest, I wish they were more skeptical!"*
A recent case in point is The DaVinci Code. The novel is great fun. I enjoyed it immensely.** However, the problem is that some (including the author) have taken seriously its account of Christian origins. As I was listening to the audio book, I found myself asking: How can people fall for this stuff? For sure the novel is exciting and it does confirm many current prejudices. I just hope readers will not stop with Dan Brown. So much more awaits the person who wants to know the rest of the story.***
In today's Gospel we see a man who is the patron saint of skeptical inquiry. When met with an astonishing claim, he asked for evidence. He even devised a reasonable test, "Unless I see." It was not enough that the claim sounded good. Thomas was a plain, honest man. He wanted the truth.
God loves honest skeptics, especially folks who are willing to be skeptical about their own selves. We need people who recognize that what matters is not whether they are "right" but whether they open themselves to the truth. Thomas was such a man. And it led him not to smugness, but worship: "My Lord and my God."
*The most gullible of all are materialists (a.k.a. "naturalists"). Instead of facing the logical conclusions which flow from a naturalist philosophy, they will almost always equivocate.
**Admittedly, I am a lowbrow when it comes to modern literature. I did plod my way through Foucault's Pendulum. It was a much more intricate and erudite novel about secret societies but (for me) much less entertaining than The Da Vinci Code.
***For someone who desires to learn more, a good starting point is Sandra Meisel's Dismantling The Da Vinci Code. It is a "take no prisoners" review of Dan Brown's novel. Amy Welborn, who has a very popular writing style, just published a book titled De-Coding DaVinci. In it she addresses a variety of questions:
For those curious about Opus Dei's side of the story, see: FAQ on The Da Vinci Code, the Catholic Church and Opus Dei. And to find out more about the other "Gospels," I recommend Hidden Gospels: How the Quest for Jesus Lost Its Way by Philip Jenkins.
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Bulletin (Divine Mercy Sunday, Joint Council Meeting, Mark Shea Books & Tapes)
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Archbishop Sean O'Malley's Message to Priests
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`By the way,' went on Father Brown, `don't think I blame you for jumping to preternatural conclusions. The reason's very simple, really. You all swore you were hard--shelled materialists; and as a matter of fact you were all balanced on the very edge of belief-- of belief in almost anything. There are thousands balanced on it today; but it's a sharp, uncomfortable edge to sit on. You won't rest till you believe something; that's why Mr Vandam went through new religions with a tooth--comb, and Mr Alboin quotes Scripture for his religion of breathing exercises, and Mr Fenner grumbles at the very God he denies. That's where you all split; it's natural to believe in the supernatural. It never feels natural to accept only natural things. (from Incredulity of Father Brown by G.K. Chesterton)
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