I have been on pilgrimage to Rome since last Monday, but am back now, and mightily jetlagged. Obviously I kept it quiet because it isn’t wise to advertise that one’s home will be empty for ten days, even with the security system set on a hair trigger. Also, I was totally prepared to never make it out of Denver in the first place. I figured I had 50-50 odds of being on a no-fly list. But, no worries there. I have never been so happy upon being handed a boarding pass in my life.As things are drawing toward some sort of conclusion, I decided that I had better get after whatever “bucket list” I could assemble. I realized that my bucket list had exactly one entry and that was to see Rome and the Vatican. So, I cashed in six years worth of business credit card points, booked the flights I wanted, got into exactly the hotel I wanted and conscripted the best docent in Rome, who also just happens to be a brilliant theologian, one of the best liturgists in the world, and desperately funny and charming, and luxuriated in the whole Roman vita bella for eight days whilst consulting with St. Peter, St. Paul, St. Simon, St. Jude, St. Matthias, St. Phillip, St. James, St. Jerome, St. Agnes and thousands more. If you’re going to bayonet charge Caesar, attach yourself to and implore the assistance of the victorious. Learn from the best.I visited the church of Domine Quo Vadis – the very spot on the Appian Way where St. Peter met Our Lord and turned around and walked back into the city to be crucified by Nero. I prayed before St. Peter’s chains. I prayed at the tomb of St. Peter. And, yes, I experienced a wee bit of a miracle. I got to spend twenty minutes alone in the Sistine Chapel. I stood in front of the altar, looked up at Michelangelo’s Last Judgment and prayed the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar:
Introibo ad altare Dei. Ad deum qui laetificat juventutem meam.
I will go in to the altar of God. To God, Who giveth joy to my youth.Judica me Deus, et discerne causam meam de gente non sancta: ab homine iniquo et doloso erue me.
Judge me, O God, and distinguish my cause from the nation that is not holy; deliver me from the unjust and deceitful man.
Quia tu es Deus fortitudo mea: quare me repulisti, et quare tristis incedo, dum affligit me inimicus?
For Thou art, God, my strength; why hast Thou cast me off? and why do I go sorrowful whilst the enemy afflicteth me?
Emitte lucem tuam, et veritatem tuam: ipsa me deduxerunt, et adduxerunt in montem sanctum tuum, et in tabernacula tua.
Send forth Thy light and Thy truth: they have conducted me and brought me unto Thy holy hill, and into Thy tabernacles.
Et introibo ad altare Dei: ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meam.
And I will go in to the altar of God: to God Who giveth joy to my youth.
Confitebor tibi in cithara Deus, Deus meus: quare tristis es anima mea, et quare conturbas me?
To Thee, O God, my God, I will give praise upon the harp: why art thou sad, O my soul, and why dost thou disquiet me?
Spera in Deo, quoniam adhuc confitebor illi: salutare vultus mei, et Deus meus.
Hope in God, for I will still give praise to Him, the salvation of my countenance and my God.
Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritu Sancto.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
Sicut erat in principio et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Introibo ad altare Dei.
I will go in to the altar of God.
Ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meam.
To God, Who giveth joy to my youth.
Adjutorium nostrum in nomine Domini.
Our help is in the name of the Lord.
Qui fecit coelum et terram.
Who made heaven and earth.
Wow. It’s almost as if the Tridentine Mass fosters and encourages … what’s the word … how would one describe it … ACTIVE PARTICIPATION. There isn’t much louder in this world than the whispers of God to man in a “dead” language.
I would invite the Internal Revenue Service to try and take those twenty minutes away from me. They can take your stuff, but they can never take memories or experiences. Remember that.
Anyway, to the point. I didn’t want to come back. I really, really, really didn’t want to come back. I could have stayed. I had a boatload of cash on me, and I suppose that I could have somehow disappeared into the city, gotten a menial job and been as happy as a clam. There is no future in any conventionally positive sense for me here in the Soon-to-be-Balkanized States of Neo-Stalinist Kardashianistan.
And yet, I sucked it up and got on the westbound plane, which was the second-hardest and most awful thing I have ever done. I cried and cried. It was that bad.
Because a man has to display POTENCY. It is one of the hallmarks of masculine strength and virtue.
But I’m not a man.
Well, no kidding. But I still have to act like one and set a good example, because if I don’t do it, no one else will.
Let’s talk about potency as a Christian virtue. The Latin root is potentia, meaning “power”. In contemporary terms, let’s define potency as “finishing what you start” or as “doing what you say you’re going to do”. The opposite of potency is impotency. And yes, because I’m all about clarity and making absolutely certain that as many people as possible understand me, I’m totally going there.
Impotency in this culture refers to the condition of a man who either cannot complete a sex act, or who cannot even begin the sex act. Erectile dysfunction. Pfizer and other drug companies make untold billions upon billions of dollars per year selling drugs that are supposed to cure or alleviate male physical impotency, and allow men to see their erections to completion, thus restoring potency in the physical, sexual sense.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is the living, breathing definition of irony.
This culture is, without any doubt or question, the most impotent in all of human history. By orders of magnitude. While billions of dollars are being spent, and men pat themselves on the back for their ability to ejaculate, the sick, sad truth under the veneer, propped up by drugs and porn, is that men have no power and have long since surrendered their sovereignty. Men are incapable of finishing what they start, and their words have no meaning. It’s all talk and no consummation.
Yes, I’m talking to you.
Oh, so you paste a platitude about never surrendering to tyranny on the bottom of your emails, but have absolutely zero intention of following through on that? Welcome to impotency, Tiger. The fact that you could sexually service any animal, vegetable, mineral or sock of your choosing on ten seconds notice doesn’t make you a man. It makes you a beast with nominal plumbing. The coyotes that yip in the bluffs can screw. So can the mice and the snakes and the deer and the ravens. That doesn’t make them potent, nor does it have anything to do with potency. Only a man can have character. Only a man can apprehend principles and truth, and take his stand upon them. Only a man can issue forth his word, and see to it that his word returns to him consummated. A real man does what he says he is going to do. Our Lord, the Perfect Man, describes Himself in prophecy in the book of Isaiah:
And as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and return no more thither, but soak the earth, and water it, and make it to spring, and give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall My Word be, which shall go forth from My mouth: it shall not return to Me void, but it shall do whatsoever I please, and shall prosper in the things for which I sent it.
I came back to the black hole of nothingness, the futureless void, and certain ruin and likely incarceration, simply because I said that I would. I WILL finish what I have started. I saw a glimpse of a city and culture that I could have been happy in, and flew away at 0.85 Mach back into this Godforsaken mess because when you say you’re going to do something, you have to do it. That is potency. This is the standard of manliness set for us by Our Lord.
To spew platitudes SWEARING to fight to the death, and then to run and hide at exactly the moment that the enemy forces crest the hill and come into sight is the epitome of impotency. I have heard these empty platitudes and the endless phallus-waving rhetoric nonstop for my entire life, only now to be fully and finally revealed as the limp, flaccid, effete theatrics that they ever were, and I’ll be damned if I’m going down that pathetic road myself.
I’ll end with a quote sent to be by a new friend from Rome. This is from Louis Cardinal Pie and his Christmas homily of 1871. Cardinal Pie was a favorite of St. Pius X, and I’m sure you’ll see why here. Read this, in all of its eloquence, until you understand:
“Is not ours an age of mis-lived lives, of un-manned men?Why?
Because Jesus Christ has disappeared. Wherever the people are true Christians, there are men to be found in large numbers, but everywhere and always, if Christianity wilts, the men wilt. Look closely, they are no longer men but shadows of men. Thus what do you hear on all sides today? The world is dwindling away, for lack of men; the nations are perishing for scarcity of men, for the rareness of men. I do believe: there are no men where there is no character; there is no character where there are no principles, doctrines, stands taken; there are no stands taken, no doctrines, no principles, where there is no religious faith and consequently no religion of society.
Do what you will: only from God you will get men.”