The hunting of snark

A valued correspondent has accused me, this morning, of descending into snarkiness — something, she says, she is capable of herself, and thus well able to identify. It was, arguably, a wise move on my part, to commit this error — an echo, perhaps, of felix culpa — for the consequence is that she now prays for me, the more assiduously. She did ask me to explain myself, however. Is something unpleasant happening in my life?

Thinking on this, I soon found an answer. The bitter truth is that, although quite busy earning my living by inefficient means, I have spent much time reading the News. This is the snare, or the snark, of worldliness.

It can be no secret that I am utterly appalled by most of what has been coming down from Rome; and lately it has been coming thicker and faster, so that I think we may even have surpassed the flow rate, circa 1969. Indeed, the “snark” may be a by-product of my attempts to avoid addressing this directly. It is, if you will, an indirect response.

News from outside the Church is similarly discouraging. I am more and more aghast with the catastrophic mistakes made by our secular rulers, in what they imagine to be “progressive” causes; opening their own floodgates of one sort or another; taking actions that cannot be reversed, or rather, will take decades or centuries to reverse — compared to the brief moment of applause they enjoy, at the ribbon-cutting ceremonies, as those Gates of Hell are opened.

Both in Church and world, we are watching disintegration. Of course I care more for the Church, which is why my outrage is greater when, in a time of moral and spiritual crisis, she directs her attention to prescribing public policy rubbish, and her pope campaigns, as if for political office.

Whether the pope does or does not know how much damage he is doing — through e.g. his new provisions for quick and easy “Catholic divorce” — is not the question for me. I am not the judge of his soul. I, as every Catholic, must pray for our Holy Father, one way or another. We cannot possibly want him to confuse and desolate the faithful, any more than to dishonour twenty centuries of painful work, defending the indissolubility of marriage.

Yet this is just one of many fronts on which the Church is currently retreating, “in practice,” from positions held in doctrine and in fact, received directly from Our Lord Christ Jesus — who did not waste His own time on Earth, blathering about the trending “hot topics.”


It happens I was reading, in the News, a certain Bishop Shyrokoradiuk’s comments on the invasion of Ukraine, through such portals as her Western-supported, “modernizing” university faculties:

“Sin is wicked, but when recognized as sin, man can repent, seek and receive redemption. But if the worldview fails to recognize sin for what it is, or worse, celebrates the sin as some form of grotesque virtue, repentance is not sought and redemption is lost.”

He was, I think, paraphrasing Chesterton’s explanation, and finally the Church’s explanation, of why heresy is worse than sin. And therefore to be the more diligently avoided. For a sin is just a sin — one nasty little blemish or scar — until through heresy it metastasizes.

It seems to me we are all Ukrainians now: being invaded simultaneously from both East and West. The more conventional and ultimately manageable force comes with bombs and missiles, tanks, aeroplanes, &c. While inconvenient, and often annoying, there are steps that can be taken to repel such an enemy, who preys on material weakness; and time will anyway work decay upon any external tyrant.

The more insidious threat is always to the morals and spirit of a people. This sort of invader needn’t come armed. He needn’t even kill anybody in a forthright, visible way. He is after their souls. His chief weapon is Pride. He promises “liberation.” He cannot be repelled by any known technological means. It is a threat that we from the West have been exporting.


The valued correspondent, mentioned above, now writes (from Massachusetts):

“There is nothing in the News that is even remotely worth reading: it is all full of silly people doing and saying silly things. There is absolutely nothing you can do about any of it and it will raise your blood pressure. Needlessly.

“Instead breathe the air. Enjoy the turn toward autumn. Watch the birds. Look at the clouds. Feel the breeze. Wonder if the leaves are going to actually turn this year or if they are instead just going to drop because they are too dry and crunchy, too tired and too dusty.

“This afternoon I am taking a break from my reading — am not sure what the correct word is here: orgy or marathon of my Three Teresas — Avila, Lisieux, and Calcutta. Talk about feeling inadequate by comparison. Even the ‘little way’ of love in all things is too hard and demanding for someone of my frail spiritual constitution. It’s just so much easier (and at least momentarily satisfying) to smack someone. …

“So, please cheer up. If the world is a mess — so much the better. It will blow up quicker and then we can start on Purgatory all the sooner. Because no matter what I actually deserve, I believe God will at least give me some credit for trying and so perhaps I will have a toehold in Purgatory, rather than a whole body in Hell.”