Venerable Fulton Sheen said that one of the hallmarks of the demon was an inordinate love of nudity – that is, to flaunt what should not be flaunted, and a disregard, if not outright disdain, for modesty, to veil what should be veiled. I know not what inspired the man who desecrated the main altar of Saint Peter’s basilica, standing on it naked, with writing on his back supporting children in Ukraine – but it was not the Holy Spirit.
There is much that might be said of this. We may all have sympathy for children and others suffering in Ukraine, but does he really think this is going to help them? One could hardly imagine such a man pulling such a stunt for, say, unborn children.
The more immediate concern is the lack of security, with some wondering ‘where the Swiss guard were’, but they are mainly at their various official posts, and I don’t recall them wandering around the interior of the church. Even so, it doesn’t take long to strip off, and there are plenty of pillars behind which to hide.
The main problem, we might posit, however, is not the lack of human guardians, but rather, the spiritual emptiness that now pervades the basilica. The abolition of private Masses leaves the huge space quiet through much of the day, at least in a spiritual sense. I was there in 2018, and the huge nave bustled with countless Masses at the dozens of side altars (44 in total, dedicated to various saints), and one could choose to attend whichever one wanted. I recall running down from my hostel – two miles or so – and finding a Mass just on time. Priests are now required to concelebrate in one of the main Masses on the main altar.
Fewer Masses, we may conclude, means less grace, and less grace leads to spiritual emptiness. And as nature abhors a vacuum, so do souls and churches, into which other spirits – as Christ says, seven devils – tend to gather.
This desecration is but one of many across the world, in this month of ‘pride’, which is really the month of the Sacred Heart. We should make what prayers and reparations we might – the Litany and consecration are good places to start.
And let’s get those private Masses back where they belong.