Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Get the candles ready...

I'm sure we all have certain scenes from certain movies that have stuck with us throughout our lives. One of mine is from the 1964 movie version of Jean Anouilh's play Becket.

In it, the clergy of Canterbury have gathered to perform the ceremony by which the excommunication of King Henry II, ordered by Archbishop Thomas Becket, will be proclaimed. Each man carries a heavy candlestick with a lighted candle. As Becket (formidably played by Richard Burton) declaims the final terrible words, casting Henry out of communion with all Christians, each man turns his candlestick over so that the flame is lowermost, jams the candle into the floor to snuff it out, then thrusts it away from him in an echoing clatter.

It gives me shivers, even now, to describe it.

I don't know if such a ceremony ever existed, but whether as a revival or an innovation, I want to see it done for incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi when she stops at Catholic churches in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. on her "celebration tour."

For ages, this... person has blithely claimed to be Catholic and received communion, all the while using her political office to push an extreme anti-Catholic position on abortion, and abetting the hideous destruction of more than forty million American children over the past decades. And during all her many terms in Congress, no bishop of San Francisco has ever said a public word against it.

I can't travel to the East coast to take part, but I sure would like to see a few pro-life Catholic lay people get together to give her the Becket treatment on the steps of the churches she's visiting. If anyone's brave enough to take me seriously, I'll just offer some practical advice. I wouldn't spend a lot on the candlesticks; make 'em out of 2x2 lumber, maybe three feet tall; drill a hole for the candle and make sure it won't fall out when you turn it over, spoiling the effect. Make sure you've checked local ordinances to find out if you need a demonstration or parade permit. Let the local TV stations know you're up to something unusually interesting, and show up in time to get in front of the cameras. Get someone with a Richard-Burton-size voice to read out the pertinent section of canon law that demonstrates that Ms. Pelosi has already excommunicated herself a zillion times over. Then over go the candles.

And if the bishops of those dioceses are silent or prevaricating? Then sorry, gentlemen. We'd far prefer it if you would lead, but if you won't, laymen will step forward. Vexilla regis prodeunt.