Let me preface this by saying that I love Bishop Robert Barron’s work. If you don’t believe me, just click here and see how often I reference him. He is one of my heroes. He is a leading light in the Church today and a true gem. I would not be Catholic right now if it were not for him. So the following satire is meant to compliment, not to insult in any way.
The idea came to me after watching one of the bishop’s newer videos with my wife. We talked about how soothing the bishop’s voice is and how wonderful it would be if we could get him to read us a bedtime story (because basically it would be wonderful to get him to read anything). And this bit of silliness just came rolling out of my brain. So have a good laugh. And if you don’t already know Bishop Barron’s work, do yourself a favor and head on over to his YouTube channel, his podcast, or read one of his many wonderful books.
Beautiful and evocative music begins to play as a number of images of nature and beautiful churches roll across the screen. Each image is in such perfect high-definition that you feel as if you could walk right into it.
After a minute, a voiceover of Bishop Barron begins:
Many people will tell you that the way in which you tell the moon that it is time for bed is inconsequential. A lot of modern people think that saying “Goodnight” to everything in your room does not matter. And besides, what business do anthropomorphic rabbits have saying much of anything? But from the earliest days, Christians have understood the importance of the filial act of greeting their surroundings at bedtime.
Music intensifies. An image of Bishop Barron in a long coat, walking between rabbit cages at a petting zoo, observing the bunnies. Another image of him strolling through a cathedral with a whole set of board books stuffed under each arm.
Fade to black. Slowly, as the music hits a crescendo, the words come up on the screen, “Catholicism: The Pivotal Bedtime Stories.” Fade to black again. Looooooong dramatic pause.
No, really, it’s a looooooong pause.
Ok, fade back in. As more images of beautiful places pass by, a single violin begins to play. Suddenly, the camera pans to Bishop Barron, sitting in a chair in the middle of the Sainte-Chapelle. He has a large board book in his hands that he opens carefully and begins to read:
In the great green room, there was a telephone. And a red balloon. And a picture of the cow jumping over the moon.
Now notice how the cow jumps so carefully, moving through the air with such precision. See how the artist has rendered her lithe, bovine body to be for us a symbol of the lifting of the spirit. In many cultures, this would have been evocative of something pagan, but for early Christian readers of this text, the image intimated something so much deeper and richer, a connection to the divine and to a faith that would never allow pigs to fly but would always honor the soaring aspirations of beef.
And there were three little bears sitting on chairs, which as we all know are symbols of authority, meaning that these bears were about to teach the gathered people.
And there were two little kittens. And a pair of mittens.
And a little toy house. And a young mouse.
And a comb and a brush. And a bowl full of mush that was invented by people on the internet who do not know how to have a proper argument.
And a quiet old lady, symbolic of the Church, whispering “Hush.”
The camera pans out for a moment and the image becomes unexpectedly choppy, letting us know that someone off camera is about to engage the bishop in “real talk.” The bishop nods thoughtfully for a few moments, listening to something that sounds strangely like the teacher from the Charlie Brown cartoons. Then he begins to make his reply:
See, there are a lot of people today who hear that “hush” from the Church in a negative way because they assume, you know, that the Church is just being a buzzkill or something. But nothing could be farther from the case.
You see, the Church occasionally says “hush” not to end all conversation but to allow us to enjoy a kind of eloquent silence in which we can experience the utter transcendence of God. I’m with Thomas Aquinas who said that “When the Church hushes you, the simplicity of the divine being can warm the cockles of your heart.” Of course, he’s talking about the cochleae cordis, the strange warming that John Wesley rightly identified as the Holy Spirit but wrongly attributed to grape juice instead of to the divine life of the Church.
I’m with Henri de Lubac, who said, “A single hush from the loving bunny-mother of the Church is worth more than a thousand utterances from drunken theologians.” I mean, after all, that’s what Vatican II was all about.
Fade out. More music, this time with some kind of pleasant flute joining the strings. Fade back in on the bishop continuing to read:
Goodnight moon, you wonderful symbol of Our Blessed Mother who reflects the light of Christ.
Goodnight cow jumping over the moon, which now that I think about it is kind of weird imagery, given what I just said about the moon.
Goodnight light which shows us the utter transcendence of God and the fact that God is not an object competing for space with the other objects in the room.
And the red balloon which symbolizes… um… red balloons.
And goodnight mittens. Think about Dorothy Day for a second. Think about St. Francis of Assisi or even John Paul II. These figures were very different from one another, yet each one likely wore mittens at some point.
Or how about Mother Teresa. She’s a great example of someone who didn’t often wear mittens, because she lived mostly in a pretty warm climate, but she understood the importance of mittens as part of the Catholic ethos and made sure that others had mittens, even when she herself did not have them. That’s Catholicism, friends. That’s what so many people miss.
Goodnight clocks that express the timelessness of God. And goodnight socks that express the comfiness sin qua non of warm feet.
Goodnight little house. And goodnight mouse.
Goodnight comb. And goodnight brush.
Goodnight nobody. And do not think for a second that by saying goodnight to nobody, the Church is advocating that we ignore the intrinsic value of personhood. On the contrary, the Church does not for a moment ignore that value. When we greet all persons, even those considered nobody by others, we acknowledge a deep and holy truth about the presence of the divine light in each one of us.
Goodnight mush, most of which probably originated with that windbag David Hume.
And goodnight to the old lady whispering “Hush.”
Sudden flash through all the places we have been. Rising music. Now the entrance of timpany drums, then a gentle sound of water flowing over a single oboe as the bishop quietly says: