I saw a recent photo of seminarians at Winona fawning over a luxury car.
"Fawning"? Surely not. (I trust that Graham will soon realize that he should have chosen a more accurate word.) Assuming the car was a Volvo, a Saab, a Roller, a Merc, or some other exemplar of engineering and design, they might reasonably have looked longingly, gawked, gushed, effused, even drooled—heck, I'm fifty years their senior, and I might have joined them!
Fawning would be reserved for the car's owner, especially if he offered an hour behind the wheel to whichever one of the assembled mob told him most convincingly how clever he was for buying such a great car! What's more, learning how to fawn and flatter is an important part of any priest's training, all the more so if the SSPX mends fences with Rome. No priest unprepared to fawn and flatter has ever gotten to first base with a self-important auxiliary bishop who thinks he was consecrated for his virtue rather than his connections.*
… the problem with luxury is attachment. If these young men are willing to give up their lives for the priesthood, I doubt they are that attached to riches. One can have an appreciation for beauty (not that a car is my personal taste, but for some it is) while not being attached or driven by it. I see how this applies in every other aspect of life, I can see how it could apply to a vehicle as well. I do not believe "contempt for the world" means we run around disparaging everything in some attempt at false poverty. If something is beautiful, if something is luxurious, if something is above average, it's ok to acknowledge that, while of course keeping it in its proper place of importance or unimportance.
Precisely! I couldn't have put the matter better. An important intellectual, psychological, and especially moral part of coming to maturity is acquiring a sense of excellence and learning that excellence, in all legitimate spheres of human activity, ought to be perceived, admired, and encouraged. Discrimination, proportion, subordination: these essential traits of the properly formed mind and character take their full meaning only in a context where it's understood that "quality" and "excellence" are not merely blunt instruments advertisers use to flog toothpaste, cell phones, or underwear.
One other thing: Regarding a photograph, any
photograph, as an honest and reliable conveyor of the whole truth—even a meaningful fraction of truth—constitutes a far graver lapse in judgment for anyone in today's USA over the age of 18 than any seminarian's doubtless brief bout of gawking at a hot car would ever be.
One thing I learned in thirty years of working in the publishing racket is that flattery—the more effusive and obvious, the better—may not get you everywhere
, but it will get you a darn sight farther than plainspokenness and sincerity, especially when you're trying to get an underpaid and exhausted author to meet a deadline.