A Breached Garden Wall:
Where Premises Replace Promises ...
“God is not unjust
so as to overlook your work and
the love you have demonstrated
for His Name by having served and continuing
to serve the holy ones.
We earnestly desire each of you to demonstrate
the same eagerness for the fulfillment
of hope until the end, so that you may
not become sluggish, but imitators of
those who, through faith and patience,
are inheriting the promises.”
( Hebrews 6:10-12)
“... the love you have demonstrated for His Name
by having served and continuing to serve the holy
of it. We demonstrate our love for God by serving
His holy ones. What is more, we are encouraged to
be imitators of them.
Let’s sort this out a bit.
Who are His “holy ones”?
It is vital for us to know, for we, who are to serve
them, are to be imitators of them! Who, then, are
It is a sad indictment of us that today we do not
immediately know the answer. Is it not true that
as you had read the question just put to you, you
yourselves were uncertain; you had questioned yourself,
unclear of who, precisely, these “holy ones” are.
Our parents would have lingered less on the question,
and our grandparents would not have hesitated at
all. They knew.
His “Holy Ones” are just whom you suspect them to
be ... but have been taught to dismiss. They are
our Priests, our Consecrated and Cloistered Nuns,
our Friars and Monks, our recognizable Sisters.
These are God’s holy ones ... “set apart”,
as the word “holy” etymologically indicates, an
etymology which also implies “that [which] must
be preserved whole or intact, that [which] cannot
be transgressed or violated,” *
As our Church here in America and elsewhere moves
toward redefining itself in terms of a militantly
“correct” egalitarian and democratic vision, the
notion itself of “being set apart” has become more
and more marginalized. As the distinction between
Lay and Religious becomes increasingly permeable,
each assuming the role of the other, it effectively
becomes increasingly meaningless. Our priests and
nuns, seemingly humiliated by their association
with Jesus Christ and contemptuous of their own
vocation, attempt to become more and more Lay, secular,
indistinguishable, “less set apart” from the laity,
while certain of the more “progressive” laity, astutely
observing the obvious vacuum crying to be filled,
clamor to fill the void the Religious have left
and eagerly become “Ministers of this and that”
... in other words, to be “set apart". The reversal
of roles would be comical were it not tragic.
This emerging “Egalitarian Church” is one in which
God has no favorites: there are no sinners, and
therefore there are no Saints. All are on a level
playing field, including God Himself. The concept
of “set apart” becomes repugnant to its democratic
instincts, and so it abolishes all that is “set
apart”, which is to say, it abolishes the “holy”.
Sanctity for Democracy
The problem – to the consternation of not a few
– is that the Church is not a democracy,
but a Theocracy: a hierarchy from God to the Angels
to the Saints to the Sinners. Each has their place.
Some are immutable, unchangeable. Men cannot become
Angels. They cannot hold a plebiscite and vote themselves
Angelic. There is an ontic distinction, a distinction
in nature that is not susceptible to democratic
change. Some are less so: sinners can become Saints.
Men can become Priests. Women can become Nuns. The
fact of the matter remains nevertheless clear: it
is not a democracy devoid of distinctions. Men are
not women, and women are not angels and Seraphim
are not Cherubim, and theologians are not God, and
apart from a few notable exceptions, men and women
are not demons. All are set apart. Theologically,
it is what we understand as the “Divine Economy”.
But not all are set apart by
God and for God
Even among those chosen, the thistle grows with
the grain – and even threatens to choke the Garden
altogether. How few worthy Priests and Nuns we find
today. How few are faithful to and zealous of their
vocations. Finding the garment of holiness ill-fitting
and not at all to their liking, they toss it aside
and adorn themselves as the world does. They cease
being “set apart” – but keep the titles for the
prerogatives. “Priests” in tweed jackets and
no collars, “Sisters” in Wall Street power suits,
whole Communities indistinguishable from the profane
and “stylish” world around them. It is, after all,
condign, for they are no longer “set
apart”. It is, in a word, logical: the ineluctable
conclusion to premises that have replaced promises.
Nevertheless – some remain.
They will always remain. A fragment. A remnant of
the beautifully embroidered train of the King that
has been dragged through the mud. By and large,
you will know them when you see them. They will
look like the
we had once known, our parents had known, our ancestors
had known for 2000 years.
They do not look like the world
because they are not of the world.
Ever faithful to their Spouse, they have held to
His Word ... they are not of the world.
And for this, the world – especially their own more
“progressive” counterparts – hate them. It must
they hate you. remember that they hated me first”
(St. John 15.18)
These are the “Holy Ones”. It is these, serving
us, whom we ourselves are called to serve,
for in serving them, we serve God. Serve the Spouse,
and you serve Him to Whom they are Espoused.
And all the willing and voting, the “Federations”,
and social devices of women and men cannot make
it otherwise. God Himself has willed it, and it
is He Himself Who sets them “apart” ... for
Himself ... and, ultimately, through their
holy lives and prayers, for our sake.
This vexes us. Even angers us. It is the same malice
that Cain knew when He saw God’s predilection, His
special love for Abel. And our solution, the solution
of the “Egalitarian Church”, is effectively the
same as Cain’s response to God’s special love for
Abel: kill the beloved, abolish it, outlaw it, extinguish
it, stamp it out. All must be acceptable
and equal in God’s sight. None set apart. None “special”.
It offends us. It is not ... “correct”.
This was also the response of Jacob’s 11 sons to
Israel’s predilection for Joseph.
It was so from the beginning.
It remains so now.
How, then, shall we serve His
who serve us day and night, in sleepless
vigils, foodless days, in real poverty and prayer?
Sow the Garden! Encourage vocations to
authentic Religious life. There is nothing
more beautiful this side of Heaven. And you know
it. Your children, your sons, your daughters, your
friends, those you love most ... those most dear
to you ... send them! To the Garden! God’s
Garden. The place He has "set apart”, for those
whom He has "set apart” to be holy ... even as He
Are these the only
No. Of course not. But they are the most conspicuous.
Now more than ever we need conspicuity, a standing
out and apart from the insipid, the monotonous,
the indistinguishable ... the inconspicuous in
Christ who, having made terms with the world,
have become an effrontery to God.
Geoffrey K. Mondello
Boston Catholic Journal