Raging over "The Picture"
“The Picture” I speak of is that of a priest baptizing a child with a water gun. A section of the Catholic world blew up after seeing it. Even Fr. Z. had some strong words against it. Yes, I would hope that everyone realises that this picture is staged. At least I’m 99.9% certain the picture is staged (but you never know…).
Two comments on it.
First, from a parent perspective, an infant has a strange effect on fathers and mothers. A parent immediately gains a super-sensitive feeling of protection. Babies are so darn fragile (and cute!), and need extreme fortification. Even a pretend attack can be too much. For example, we have many Nerf guns in our house. Without thinking, we’ve had a child or two jokingly point one of the guns at the baby brother. Also without thinking, I have immediately lashed out, “Don’t point guns at your baby brother!” It’s just an internal parenting instinct. In the above picture there’s a priest pointing a water gun at the baby, while the parents smile. I would guess that the suggestion of such a photo-op was raised, and it was done, all without thinking about it. It happened, and I’d imagine the parents regret it. But don’t jump all over the parents. I’ve done far stupider things as a parent, that’s for sure.
The second point, however, relates to how we honour, or dishonour, the sacraments. We know that often the Eucharist is attacked, mocked, and desecrated. Have you ever seen videos of people flying a drone carrying a monstrance and the Eucharist? Horrendous. Or what of this:
What a terrible video to post, I know.
But lest we forget, ALL of the sacraments have been under attack. I was confirmed in a hockey rink while Bryan Adam’s Everything I Do, I Do For You was sung by a choir of cackling old bitties. Extreme Unction is now a gathering where all people, old and young, come to get anointed because “who isn’t sick, in some way?” The bishop of Saskatoon had some bizarre First Nations’ smoke ceremony at his installation Mass. As for marriage… yikes. Whatever the couple wants, right? It’s their big day, after all.
So, when we see a joke about baptism and a water gun it is a sign of a much bigger problem. For that, I can’t even fault the priest too much. We’ve slowly boiled the reverence out of our sacraments for many years. This kind of “fun” innovation is not exactly new. The question is, what will we do to get reverence back?
To those expressing great anger over the picture, I would just say that righteous anger is a good thing, but be wary of spending every minute of your Catholic life with such anger. “The Picture” shows where modern Catholicism is at, yes. It also shows that we need to do more than simply getting angry at every offense (intended or otherwise). To those who blew up the internet with anger over this, fine. But have we all in turn offered acts of reparation for all the irreverence, banality, and impiety encountered”
We can’t fight water with fire. The faith has been watered down enough.