Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Holy Warfare

From a female theologian, the best article I have read so far on the elephant in the room:

What, indeed, might save us from despair when Mother Church shows herself infested with sin and flirting with darkness?

Please read her entire article here.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Jesus, I trust in you

These are certainly anxious times. We feel within ourselves the pain of the victims of abuse both known and unknown, and we feel anger at those who practiced abuse and those who covered it up. Many of us feel frustration with the appearance of nonresponse from our beloved Holy Father. Our human hearts cry out for actions and for answers. Meanwhile, on an individual level, we are powerless to produce either one.

I received some most excellent spiritual direction this morning from an older missionary priest with whom I have been in touch over the years. He said that the only consolation he finds in these times is from Holy Scripture and the prayers of the Church, especially the Mass and the Divine Office. He pointed out something that I had also noticed, how the daily Mass readings and the Liturgy of the Hours readings have been so relevant to our current trials. He is much wiser than I, so I am going to do my best to take his advice. He referenced Proverbs 3:5, 6: "5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths."

Trust. That's a big ask these days. Who do I trust? I don't have to trust any man, whether he wears a collar or a Bishop's hat or a crown. But I do have to trust my Lord. I can't ask Him to come down out of heaven and show me His wounds in the way He showed them to St. Thomas the apostle. But when I stand before the crucifix and contemplate all He did for me, I know I can trust Him. I know that He is carrying in Himself all the pain from all the sin and injustice not just from our time but from all times. If His representatives on earth won't speak, He will take care of it. He can make the rocks talk if He needs to! And just as He healed the blind and the lame when He walked the earth, He will heal our minds and hearts and bodies if we just let Him. And I can trust His Church, because He promised that the "gates of Hell will not prevail against it." He did not promise us a Church full of only holy people; He promised us a Holy Church. The Church remains holy because the sacraments that make Her so are not tainted by the sins of the men who deliver them.

Personally, I also trust the faithful and holy priests whom I have been blessed to come to know. I am praying for them also especially now, that they do not become discouraged in their beautiful vocation.

While meditating on the Proverb above, another passage of scripture came to mind. Paul wrote to the Philippians from Rome, where he was imprisoned and where he would be martyred. And yet he sent them these encouraging words (Philippians 4:6-9):

"6 Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, do; and the God of peace will be with you."

"[D]o not rely on your own insight"(Prov. 3:5). Especially now, modern media and instant communications have tried to convince us that we can know everything about everything if we just read enough "news". But that is not the way to gain true insight. True insight comes from our Heavenly Father.

1. If your anger motivates you to write a letter or many letters, do it.
2. If you need to report something that has happened so it can be dealt with, do it.
3. If you are asked to take training that can help you spot predatory behavior or that gives you insight into how to help victims of abuse, do it.

I am doing 1 and 3. Thank God I don't have any personal knowledge that needs to be reported (2).

But after you have done the things in your power, give your pain and anger to the Lord and/or the Blessed Mother and/or your favorite saint. "in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." Stop reading every article that pops up with a different opinion about the issues. Put your mind to "whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely". I am going to try my best to do this in my own life.

From the opening prayer of the daily Mass for the 22nd week of Ordinary Time (this week):

"Put into our hearts the love of your name,
so that, by deepening our sense of reverence,
you may nurture in us what is good and,
by your watchful care,
keep safe what you have nurtured."

Jesus, I trust in you.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

From Cardinal Dolan -- Three Stations of the Cross for the Current Wounds to the Body of Christ

Yes, I know that the classical, popular devotion, the Via Crucis—reverently accompanying Jesus on His tortured journey from unjust condemnation by Pontius Pilate, to His repose in the arms of His sorrowful mother at the foot of the cross, to His burial in a donated sepulcher—is in fourteen steps. I love that devotion, especially on Fridays and during Lent.

But, can I offer an abbreviated one, in only three steps, that has hit me during my listening and observing the deep hurt in the Body of Christ, the Church, caused by the nauseating news of clergy sexual abuse and gross negligence by bishops?

Read more

Friday, August 24, 2018

"There is no duplicity in him"

While doing my morning devotions at Blessed is She, I found today's gospel reading especially helpful. Particularly John 1:47, "Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, 'Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him.'" This Nathaniel is also called Bartholomew (his surname or what we call last name). Today is the feast of St. Bartholomew, Apostle.

"There is no duplicity in him." As I have grappled with anger and sadness this month in the wake of the scandals rocking my beloved Roman Catholic Church, I have prayed for the Lord to send us honest and transparent and Holy shepherds to comfort the wounded and suffering Body of Christ. I have prayed for men with "no duplicity" in them.

I know these men exist, I do not have to go back to St. Bartholomew's time to find them. I have been blessed to know them. But the failure of so many clergy over such a long period of time is soul crushing. When the unfaithful shepherds are removed from ministry to serve a life of penance and prayer (or be disciplined by secular authorities), who will shepherd the flock? Who will raise holy hands to heaven to consecrate the bread and wine that we may partake of the Bread of Life? Pope Emeritus Benedict's prediction may come true in this country. We may see a smaller Church, at least for a while as we go through a rebuilding and renewal period. I pray that the Lord wills that this rebuilding and renewal begin soon! But there is much pain and sorrow to face first.

I remember my dear departed pastor, Father John, telling us in a homily: "When outside forces beseige the Church, the Church rises up stronger to do battle with them. When the outside battles are few, the Devil takes advantage of the deceptive peace with the World to corrupt and destroy the Church from within." That rings so true at this moment in the US and other nations where Christians are not being attacked and martyred for their faith.

While Christians in the middle East, China, and other parts of the world are suffering exile, imprisonment, torture, and death rather than renounce their faith, some Church leaders in the West have been lulled to sleep by the Devil and are convinced that they can sin with impunity while wearing the garments of their office and a face of false holiness. The Lord Jesus sees their sins and their deceit. He has seen all of it, no matter where it happened or how well it was hidden from others. And still it continued for years.

We are the Church Suffering, but we need to become the Church Militant. Our Lord has waited all this time for the silence to be broken, for Clerics and others who did not engage in these sins but knew of them to bring them and the perpetrators to light. In the Confiteor, we ask the Lord's forgiveness for both what we have done and what we have failed to do. It is way past time for the culture of duplicity to end and the wounds to be uncovered. As hard as these revelations are to stomach, both the sins and the sinners must be exposed before the survivors and the Church can heal.

Accountability cannot stop with priests. I have read that the 2002 policies, which we naively thought would end the abuse problems, did not require Bishops to be examined at all. Thus we have the spectacle of individuals rising to the level of Bishop, Archbishop, and Cardinal while hiding serious sin under the cloak of office. Unless individuals at every level are required to be accountable, the Devil will continue to find ways to perpetuate a culture of sin and duplicity.

I am participating in the #sackclothandashes initiative (described here). It is my way of coping with the deluge of feelings and the sleepless nights I have had since reading the Grand Jury Report from Pennsylvania. My Bishop addressed the issue here. He has also set up a hotline for reporting and assigned a lay woman to receive the reports. You can find that here.

May the Blessed Mother of God wrap her arms around all the suffering survivors, known and unknown, and weep with them and with us for as long as it takes for healing to occur.