This is pretty stunning. According to LifeSite News, there was a "Black Mass" in Houston last Saturday evening. I have been pretty busy lately, so I was only vaguely aware of this story last week. But today I was scanning Facebook and I saw something posted from the "Satanic Temple" in Houston bragging about desecrating the Blessed Sacrament -- and here is the part that caught my eye -- the event was "hosted" by Brash Brewing Company.
Of course all this business is repulsive on so many levels. But I'm going to save my commentary for a moment while I unravel this a bit. What interested me was the involvement of the business. Was the brewery unaware of this? How had they reacted to being involved in this.
And this what stuns me: Brash Brewing seems to have been perfectly fine with it, and fine with treating Jesus and those who believe in him with contempt. How do I know? I went to their Facebook page and read their posts for myself.
PAUSE AND READ CAREFULLY: If you visit their site, please do not be obnoxious or offensive. Why would you do such a thing? I'm not sure that any comments at all will be helpful, but I can't fault you if you want to ask questions or offer kind words. But don't be a jerk, please? That's not why I am writing this; and as you'll see right away, it just confirms what the folks there seem to think about all Christians.
So here are some of the things I thought about this:
- I am truly horrified that any business (really, anyone, anywhere) would welcome a Satanic ritual into its facilities. I suppose if you are absolutely convinced there is nothing supernatural, you might think it's all a joke. But if you do believe in the supernatural, wouldn't you wonder about what sort of forces you're inviting in with such activities?
- And then there's this: why in the world would you want to go out of your way to offend a significant portion of your possible customer base? Catholics most of all, but surely a lot of other people are likely to be offended; and not a few people simply uncomfortable.
- Although I'm not expecting to be in Houston anytime soon, if I am ever there, I can tell you I won't go near that place. No, not because I "hate" them as some of the juvenile comments on their Facebook page describe the reactions of Catholics. I certainly don't hate them; if I did, the most hateful thing I could do, as a Catholic, would be to consign them to hell. On the contrary, I am deeply concerned for their welfare, both in this life and the next; and I would have no problem telling the folks that in person if the opportunity arose. Plus, I like beer, and it might be I would have enjoyed their beer.
But no way I'm even entering a building that has, more or less, been dedicated to Satan. Even as a priest -- indeed, you might say, precisely because I am a priest -- I would not go into such an encounter rashly. There are priests who are properly delegated to deal with such things and I am not one of them. If there were some true necessity? That's different. But without any lack of charity toward the folks who own that business: there's no way I'd put myself in that situation. That's not a "boycott"; that's just prudence.
- It's really hard to understand the thought process that leads to aligning yourself with a Black Mass in this way, unless you are a Satanist, or there is some serious hatred at work. Why? Because the key to a Black Mass is precisely about attacking and denigrating Jesus and the Holy Eucharist. Even if you believe the Holy Mass is nothing but a ritual, and the Eucharist is nothing but bread, then why would you go out of your way to mock it? It seems to me you do this, either because you believe there's something real here -- and you want to attack that reality; or else you want to express contempt and cause deliberate offense to those who believe in it.
- So it sure seems like Brash Brewing has adopted this position: "We hate you Catholics." If you dispute my characterization, I would invite you to look over the Facebook page and see what I saw: lots of pretty anti-Catholic tropes and images; also the company proudly has a "Black Mass" beer; and it is offering some cups with Satanic symbols. And if Brash Brewing wants to come back and dispute my characterization, then all I can say is, you chose to offend Catholics -- of all stripes -- in the most blatant way possible. Even those Catholics who agree with Brash Brewery's various political and ideological views on abortion and marriage aren't going to feel a lot of love from a "Black Mass."
- Meanwhile, I noticed some of the comments on Brash Brewing's Facebook play coy: well, how do you know it was a consecrated host? Of course, I don't. Of course, I hope it wasn't. But those who organized the event said it was. Are they lying? Even so, it's still a deliberate offense -- and if it was a consecrated host, it also means someone likely committed what may not be prosecuted as a crime, but morally is one: going into a place of worship and stealing a sacred object from that place of worship under false pretenses. Put this in the context of any non-Christian religion, and the matter would be crystal-clear to everyone.
- In the course of reading about this, there are a couple of things I noticed about those who defended this Black Mass or who dismissed the concerns about it. There was a lot of pain and anger, along the lines of, you hurt me so we'll hurt you back. Also, I couldn't help getting the sense that for some people, it's all just a joke. Not just the Black Mass; everything.
- My last thought is this: is this just a weird aberration, or is this a sign of things to come? It's bad enough to see so many businesses get on board the "gay marriage" train and the "transgender" train; but so far, I think such decisions are being made in the misguided belief that only a few eccentrics will be offended. (And, in a sense, they may have calculated correctly: large numbers of Christians who ought to be offended, aren't; and lots more feel powerless.) But this is, as I said, a deliberate offense. Are more businesses really going to go down that road?
In a way, this doesn't surprise me. Back when the U.S. Supreme Court handed down the Obergefell decision imposing a radical redefinition of marriage on the entire country, I predicted that we would come to a point where to deem homosexual behavior immoral, and to oppose redefining marriage, would not merely be a point of disagreement, but would make you evil -- in the same category as the KKK. The comments on Brash Brewing's page -- not necessarily by the company -- take that view.
Still, it's hard to see how this wasn't a catastrophic business decision.
I really don't wish these folks any ill. My preferred outcome would be that the perpetrators of this offense would have a change of heart and apologize; and that those who were offended would generously forgive. How wonderful if they invited the bishop to send someone to exorcise the building. But barring such an outcome, I must say candidly that I will be interested to see what becomes of this business. Will it pay a price for such a bizarre course of action, or will it be rewarded?