Monday, May 15, 2017

A Plea for SSPX

My coworkers are primarily practical atheists. But even most of my Catholic friends find it hard to get all the Catholic culture right. Not everyone can keep FSSP and SSPX straight, or Miles Christi and Regnum Christi separate. I guess I should be glad they have heard of Dominicans. There are few that know about Carmelites.

Honestly, there is a spectrum of knowledge of Catholic gossip. A few of the retired virgins I know seem to be familiar with every bishop, cardinal, church scandal and church document, and they will remark on what each one has said about each other one. Honestly, I don't know what Cardinal Sarah said last Tuesday or that such-and-such did an irregular thing and now has such-and-such canonical status. Not that it's bad to care about these things. The Church is the way to salvation and the mother of souls. Of course Church happenings matter. But I don't keep track of a lot of them.

However, there is something that is near to my heart. I love the extraordinary form. Irreverent and ill-prepared liturgies make me sad and angry. I have had classmates and coworkers in SSPX. So for my part, I would love for SSPX to come back into complete union with the larger Roman Rite. Please, please help the rest of your brethren understand the majesty of the Eucharist. Please spread the patrimony of the ages built into the 1962 Missal. Breathe into us your love for chant, your attentiveness to God, and your awareness of the differences between women and men and children. It's more important than we can comprehend.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Eleven Cents

I am struggling with a frustrating reality: a person hoping to do research to build up the culture of life has to do twice as much work as a person who hopes to do amoral clinical research. Becoming a clinician-scientist is hard enough. They have to see enough patients, do enough surgery (when applicable), and earn enough grant money to make their institution value them. This means they have to stay on top of their clinical game. And like it or not, this usually means they have to choose result- and revenue-generating research topics.

Becoming an academic physician who also builds up the humanity of the unborn or builds up the science behind FABMs is even harder. Those topics don't make money and don't make friends, so these people either can't overtly do this research (i.e. they have to cloak it as MIGS or MFM) or they have to do amoral popular research in parallel. In my limited experience of successful pro-culture-of-life physicians, there is a proportion involved: the more pro-life/pro-family research you do, the more amoral research you do. The more you cloak your pro-life/pro-family research, the less you have to lead two lives to put bread on the table.

This initially made me very frustrated. Why should I have to do twice as much work as other people in order to do the research I care about? In this age of non-discrimination, why should I be effectively treated differently because of my beliefs? Of course, I realize that I'm not alone. I'm sure there are hundreds of MDs and PhDs who have pet topics that are non-fundable because they are too obscure, too unstudied, or not flashy enough to earn grants. But still! This is different. Want to do research that builds up humanity and saves the world? Tough luck.

This makes me think of a story from my childhood. I was at a big family reunion as an early teen. I have a lot of cousins that span almost two decades in age, and we were all at the pool. There was a wading pool for the little cousins and a regular pool for the "big kids." Most of the kids who could swim were in the big kid pool. Then the reunion held an event: all the adults tossed coins into the pool and the kids could keep any that they picked up.

The competition in the "big kid" pool was fierce! I was bumping into people and the coins I was diving for would get picked up by someone else. I think I ended up with a penny and two nickels. I was actually pretty pleased with myself.

I was pleased, that is, until I went over to my dad, who was with my younger sister by the wading pool. My younger sister was with the little kids and had collected almost a dollar, just by bending over and picking up coins. She hadn't even gotten her face wet. I was so angry! I worked so hard to get eleven cents and my younger sister, who had no appreciation for money anyway, had easily collected almost ten times what I got! And I hadn't even realized that the wading pool was an option. My pleasure turned into hurt.

My dad took the chance to teach me something I have thought about several times since then. "There will always be people who get eleven cents with lots of work and people who get dollars without doing much," he said. Later in life, he would add, "We're called to be faithful, not successful." So I'll try to apply this attitude to work. I will do what I can to pursue my calling faithfully.