Something is sacred when it separates that which belongs to God alone from the rest of the world. The sacred speaks of heavenly things and leaves below earthly concerns. The sacred is outside of time and space. It contains the mystery of all things infinite and ineffable. Indeed, the very word sacred comes from the Latin verb sacrare, which means to set apart or consecrate.
This is what makes the sacred so attractive to people. The sacred lifts minds to heavenly things beyond the suffering and routine of daily life. It directs people to their natural and final end in God, finding repose for restless hearts. Above all, the sacred provides the means to honor and give glory to God by setting aside time, space and context for this purpose.
A Horrifying Exhibit and Gala
This consideration of the sacred is why so many Catholics are horrified by the New York Metropolitan Museum’s decision to host its “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” exhibit. Even worse was the blasphemous Gala event held on May 7 to inaugurate the exhibit that will run until October 10.
The posh Gala gathering featured a fashion show in which famous women stars dressed in provocative and revealing versions of sacred vestments and symbols—including that of bishops and the pope. Especially perplexing to the faithful is that they did this with the undisguised approval of Cardinal Timothy Dolan and other clerics who attended the affair.
The event was a who’s who in the fashion, social and liberal world. The Gala introduced the exhibit which consists revealing Church-themed clothing from the major fashion designers presented like caricatures of sacred garments. Sadly, the Holy See lent priceless authentic liturgical vestments and historic sacred objects so that people might see the “inspiration” of these fashion travesties.
Mixing the Sacred and the Obscene
This scandalous exhibit seemed to do everything possible to mix the sacred with the obscene. Thus, the seal that separates the sacred is brutally violated.
It is this mix that turns everything upside down. Moreover, this is not just a blending of sacred things with normal worldly things. Instead, it mixes the sacred with the sensual, promiscuous and immoral. The intent is to maximize the contrast between the two while uniting the two in an unholy alliance.
A Nightmare of Macabre Contrasts
The result is a nightmare of depraved and macabre contrasts. Thus, the gala featured a mini-skirted Rihanna with a jeweled bishop’s miter. A Franciscan-cloaked Madonna sings after a performance by the choristers of the Sistine Chapel’s choir. Lana del Rey is presented as a sacrilegious parody of Our Lady of Sorrows with her heart pierced by seven swords, atop her bodice. Actress Anne Hathaway sports a red Cardinal's outfit exposing a bare back and indecent cleavage. There is a bondage mask covered with rosary beads.
The show and exhibit have taken those things that are reserved for God alone and prostituted them upon the altar of modern fashion. And everyone applauds the mad drama as if it were no contradiction between the two worlds.
When the sacred is mixed with the immoral, it takes on the character of a sacrilege. For sacred things can only function in a world where God and His Blessed Mother are revered. When immoral things enter, all is sullied and made unclean. God is offended by this mockery, and His justice is invoked.
A New Step in Blasphemy
There have always been those who have committed sacrileges against the sacred things of the Church. There have always been those actors, artists and entertainers who have engaged in blasphemous presentations in third-rate theaters or seedy concert halls. In the past, revolutionaries have invaded churches and desecrated sacred vessels and vestments in mad orgies of hatred.
However, rarely has there been such a display of sacrilege and blasphemy in which the leading figures in society, socialites, and top entertainers have attended. What makes this exhibit so painful to the faithful is the fact that even Church officials looked on with approval in an absurd and groveling gesture to make their peace with the world.
Our Lord’s admonition and the experience from centuries of Church history should suffice to prove that there can be no peace with the world. Complicity always ends in disaster. Events like this will ever open the way for new blasphemies in similar contexts as the radicals on the other side will never be satisfied in their efforts to humiliate the Church. This exhibit represents a callous new step in the spread of blasphemy in America which will contribute toward the breaking of that precarious yet sacred bond that still links America to God. When nothing is sacred, all is permitted. That is why the “Heavenly Bodies” exhibit must be denounced and opposed.
John Horvat II is a scholar, researcher, educator, international speaker, and author of the book Return to Order, as well as the author of hundreds of published articles. He lives in Spring Grove, Pennsylvania where he is the vice president of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property.