Something about the Scottish Church (the actual Church, not the Presbyterian conglomerate) that amazes me is their immense devotion to orthodoxy, or at least an attempt to be. His Grace Philip Tartaglia has been published in the latest online edition of First Things, which I highly recommend. It is one of the best treatises in support and protection of the priesthood. He writes,
…the Church’s transcendent orientation fascinates our culture. Holiness offends and frightens people. As an old translation of the New Testament put it, when the angel of the Lord came to them, the shepherds in their fields were “sore afraid.” Holiness also arrests and romances. We flee from God, yet we crave to come into his presence.
While I won’t delve into the priesthood yet in this point, something else raises in my mind. His Grace points out something interesting: ‘holiness offends and frightens people.’
Why does it? Now, I won’t go full on Zizek with you; any time we encounter the truth it offends and disturbs the illusion of our day-to-day lives. When we receive the Eucharist, some may break into tears or humble ourselves or some might not even understand what’s happening due to ill catechesis. But if we truly knew what was occurring, we would die on the spot of happiness and piety! Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen wrote something like that, and I can’t find the quote.
The “real” is shocking, and God is the highest love, truth, devotion. God is omniscient. Perhaps we ought to return to greater reverence, greater repentance, all in recognition of our sins and offences. God loves us so very much, and is closer than our very breath! His love is rapturing, and we see this in the saints – St Teresa flew into ecstasy, St Padre Pio bilocated, St Francis received the stigmata. We have to be saints! We need be frightened and offended, so that we might further the call to universal holiness.