America has ideologically given way to a 4’7” Japanese woman.
Marie Kondo is all the rage today. She has influenced the American families she has consulted to purge themselves of their belongings, in search for a deeper inner life. Influenced by the book of a similar name, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo premiered on Netflix on New Year’s Day this year. Now people are trading their stuff, their clothes, their junk, for a life of substance, focused on the interior, rather than their superficial possessions.
While the show is secular on the surface, there are some spiritual nuggets to be found for Catholic viewers.
Kondo is best known for her method of determining whether a belonging is considered excessive or something her client really needs: “Does this spark joy in you?” Every time Kondo asks a client this, I cannot help but reflect on the excesses (and deficiencies) of our faith in our modernized Church.
Many influential Catholics are calling last summer’s Catholic fallout, including the McCarrick scandal, Viganò, and the USCCB meetings the “Summer of Shame.” The Summer of Shame leaves lay Catholics wanting spiritually. As a group, many of our bishops, the men tasked to feed Christ’s sheep (John 21:17), are corrupted by bloody-handed politicos. The rest are downright cowards, afraid to rock the boat while their sheep drown.
It seems there is little we can do about our spiritual fathers. In this climate, the laity cannot simply ask for these men to step down and expect results. We are well beyond that point. But what we can do is “Marie Kondo” these men and the spiritual strife they bring to their flock. Instead of drowning below their lifeboats, desperately grasping for help, when we all know well they are unwilling to pull us aboard, we need to swim ashore. While they are the appointed fathers of our local churches, and by no means do I undermine their authority (they do that themselves), we do not need them for spiritual direction any more than we need them to pull us to safety. These spiritually excessive men are allowing a real sickness in our Church.
The feeling that comes from a oneness with God the father is joy, not happiness, which is fleeting by nature. So, I ask you, “Does Bishop X spark joy in you?” Does he not? The KonMari method would have you hug the clothing before purging the item of your ownership, and thank the clothing for what the joy it once brought you. I won’t ask any lay Catholic to hug his disappointing bishop, and I certainly won’t ask him to thank his cleric. What I do take away from Kondo’s method is the purgation of the excessive.
If your bishop is not the spiritual father you need, the father he should be, then we must be the children of a broken home. We will always have our true father, God the father. We must cling to Him and stop hoping for these subpar, noxious bishops and cardinals to live up to their theological roles. It is only after the excess is purged that we as a Church can begin to heal from the Summer of Shame and all the events that quietly, ominously, led up to it.
This need for a regurgitation goes beyond the men. It includes the values they have brought with them into the sacristy, into Christ’s holy Church. If oneness with God is joy, than when he hear blasphemy, sacrilege, or blatantly false doctrine being spouted by these men and their respective priests, he must rid himself of this poison.
Does Cardinal Dolan’s unabashed acceptance of his friend, Andrew Cuomo’s legalization of abortion to the point of birth spark joy in you? I doubt it. Eliminate any thought of Dolan’s spiritual fatherhood from your mind, and reject this heterodoxy as unabashedly as he defends the blood on the hands of his friends as well as his own.
We as Catholics are all members of Christ’s body (1 Cor. 12:12-31). When something that doesn’t agree with the body is ingested, the body’s natural response is to get rid of the offending substance. No matter how we look at it — vomiting or KonMari purgation — we must get rid of the toxins sickening our Church. This is the natural way, the only way our Church can “spark joy.”
Kondo’s method doesn’t stop with purgation. Her KonMari method continues with organization as a means of prevention of the temptation of allowing excess back into one’s home life. One cannot simply purge the surplus from his life without taking action to prevent this from recurring. The same mentality is useful in our spiritual discussion. If we do not need these disappointing bishops and cardinals, what do we need to fight of the spiritual sickness in our Church today?
Once our spiritual toxins are purged, we need to revitalize and reorganize our spiritual lives. Doubling down on orthodoxy, knowing our Church teachings, reading the Church fathers, praying the rosary of our Blessed Virgin Mary, and fasting are the spiritual equivalent of Marie Kondo’s organizational bins and shirt-folding techniques. These methods will strengthen our cause and prevent further exacerbations of heterodoxical, modernistic clerical, liturgical, and doctrinal abuses at the hands of our bishops, our cardinals, and even Saint Peter’s chair.
Nikko Lane is a Catholic husband and father from Nashville, Tenn. Studying to be a family nurse practitioner and caring for patients in a Catholic hospital, he strives to live out his faith in service to others as part of everyday life.