Bat Christians

Another great image from the Francis papacy. “Bat Christians.”

CNS recounts it:

“We’re afraid of joy. It’s better thinking: ‘Yeah, yeah, God exists, but he’s up there; Jesus is risen, he’s there’ (at) a bit of distance,” he said.

“We’re afraid of Jesus’ closeness,” which is a source of Christian joy, he said.

This fear explains why there are “so many ‘funeral Christians,’ right? Whose life seems like a nonstop funeral. They prefer sadness and not joy. They get around more easily in the dark, not in the light of joy,” like nocturnal creatures, who only come out and see at night.

“There are ‘bat Christians’ who prefer darkness over the light of the Lord’s presence,” who are afraid of joy, afraid of believing Christ is near, he said.

Pope Francis nails it. It’s about fear.

Two, three generations from now, I can just imagine … the collected metaphors of Pope Francis.

The seeker who came out at night, Nicodemus, was illustrative of the first step of moving toward Christ. But for mature believers and disciples? That doesn’t seem appropriate.

A related discussion here on PrayTell about showing joy during the Communion procession. Why wouldn’t a person smile? And how dare someone suggest someone else’s smile is somehow offensive or distracting. To each their own, and let the hyper-introverts and Temple Police get over themselves.

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Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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2 Responses to Bat Christians

  1. Liam says:

    I am certainly with the Pope on joy being a key marker of the Christian. Joy is not the same as happiness, of course; joy is a state of being arising from a sense of connection to the Divine, not a transient emotion. Depressed people can be joyful but unhappy, for example. Joy does not negate pain; but it does negate chronic fear – better referred to as anxiety, as opposed to episodic fear.

    I’ve certainly witnessed the “Be joyful, dammit!” approach of some liturgical ministers over the many years, and appreciate it no more than the “bat Christian” approach to liturgy.

  2. Todd says:

    Quite right. Though I can only count on one hand the number of people who’ve insisted I put a church smile on–and I’m not a person to smile unless I’m really feeling light or amused. Joy is an interior quality, and the Jesuits seem to do pretty well in encouraging people to seek it, engage it, and utilize it. I suspect Pope Francis is tapping into this somewhat.

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