I was at Regent Hall, Oxford Street last night to hear Michael Voris speak about what it means to be Catholic. For those who did not see my last blog post about him, Michael founded St Michael’s Media, a Catholic TV station, in 2006 and RealCatholicTV.com, an on-line Catholic TV station, in 2008. All credit to Paul Smeaton, son of John Smeaton and a recent graduate, for arranging this talk.
It was very well attended; the “stalls” were packed, if not the “gallery”. But this was no theatrical event. It was a dedicated Catholic addressing his fellow believers and it was electrifying. Voris is no slouch when it comes to straight talking. He has been criticised for this in the past, for speaking as if he “has authority”. After all, he is only a layman, sounding off as if he were a bishop.
This is precisely Voris’ point: as a confirmed Catholic and “soldier of Christ” (remember that quaint phrase?) he sees it as his duty – and ours – to be an evangelist for the Faith. It is our responsibility and not to be sloughed off on the hierarchy – who may or may not be fulfilling their responsibilities. He told us in no uncertain terms, “You have a vital role to play: to work out your own salvation and to do everything possible for the salvation of others.”
He has no truck with the description “I am a Catholic”, said in the same way as one might say “I am an Irishman.” To be Catholic is who we are; the correct description should be “I am Catholic” and chuck away the indefinite article. This was heady stuff and several times he got loud applause. Voris is sometimes accused of being too full of himself – but I don’t think he cared a toss about the clapping. He was too on fire with his message; it is very simple: to be Catholic means to pay any price in order to love Christ with every fibre of one’s being and “to look at the world as a theatre of redemption.”
As if we didn’t hear it all around us, he reminded us that the words “accommodation”, “tolerance” and being “non-judgmental” are simply not stances that a Catholic can take. “The Faith is about salvation, not accommodation”, he reminded us. It’s not enough to have a private devotional life and leave the world to go hang; quoting the late great American Jesuit, Fr John Hardon, Voris told us, “If we are not about saving the world, then why are we Catholic?”
In one memorable anecdote, he related that, aged 14, he had served at a Mass in San Francisco celebrated by the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen. In the sacristy afterwards a young man had come up to him, telling him that he had written a book synthesising Eastern mysticism with the Western Church. “Get out!” roared the Archbishop. “The Catholic Faith is a gift from Almighty God and I will not have you polluting it! Get out!”
As I said, it was heady stuff. I left with the words “When you hear the truth you must either reject it or change your life” ringing in my ears. Why not check out Voris’ website?