Do not inhale

For some deep, perhaps unplumbable reason, the term “happy gas” has turned up thrice in items forwarded to me this morning. It so perfectly describes what Catholics have been experiencing, in frequent ventral, or dorsal bursts, that I suspect some happy-gas asteroid has passed through our atmosphere, undetected by the sages at NASA. Perhaps their orbiting feelers have been set to detect carbon dioxide, exclusively, so that a chemical compound like nitrous oxide whiffs right by.

It comes from Washington, too, and Moscow, and elsewhere; not exclusively from Rome. But insofar as it seems to irrupt from ecclesiastical sources, my speculation is that the Devil has run out of sulphur.

Or maybe he hasn’t, but instead has discovered, by a patient empirical process, that happy gas works better than fire and/or brimstone, to put the Swiss Guards off their watch, along with everyone else in there, supposed to be minding the shop for us poor sinners.

This gas is known to have, despite its colloquial name, certain unhappy effects. It makes people say and do silly things, but the hard truth is that not all clowns are nice clowns. Still, we might give the benefit of the doubt, until the effects wear off. Assuming they do wear off.

For a time does come when the happy gas abates, even in pockets of intense concentration, and little bubbles of sanity may rise, even in the anhelous enclosures of a happy-gas convention.

Let me point, for instance, to the homily of Peter Cardinal Erdo, the Hungarian primate, to those assembled for the Family Synod at Rome. (Summarized, here.) It was so sensible that, as will be seen, the Vatican Press Office felt the need immediately to issue a disclaimer to the effect that he was speaking to only one session of this conventicle, when it was perfectly clear from what he said that he was speaking to the whole thing.

Indeed, the Vatican Press Office is like a bottomless cylinder of happy gas, and I often worry that Father Lombardi is going to explode. Or that Father Rosica has already exploded.

Pray, gentle reader, for all the victims of happy gas. Pray that it will dissipate quickly, and that the present trustees of Holy Church, at least, may receive enough pure oxygen to recover their synodic and conjunctive wits.