The Catholic Church has not had a pretty few weeks. Then again the Catholic Church has not always had a rosy past. There is no doubt in my mind that there are rough roads ahead. Right now, it’s just maddeningly quiet and it is not helping matters. Like many, I’ve been frustrated with the lack of discussion of recent events in my home church. However, today showed me that our pastor is hurting, too. Hindsight is 20/20 and today was a reminder that often events that are so monumental require significant processing to even begin the conversation.
A couple of weeks ago we had no homily. Mass ended with a profoundly powerful Benediction and Adoration of the Eucharist. It was beautiful and it was right where we, as a church, need to be: on bended knee, seeking, loving and adoring Christ, the one who can make all things new. There were zero words that could have touched the heart like the Exposition of the Eucharist.
The Cardinal McCarrick mess reveals to the world that evil prowls among our priests and it is not pretty. The Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report reveals to the world that evil has infiltrated the priesthood and preyed on the flock. You don’t have to Google far to gather the details. Catholic Social media is ablaze with anger and our local news station even ran a story on a former priest who was given a positive reference for a job at Disney. I could go on and on and fan the flames but after spending time in Adoration on Friday. Reconciliation on Saturday and today’s Mass it is not in the adding of fuel to the fire that we will defeat this attack, it is through our faith—faith in action.
Our faith must transcend religion. Any religion. Are we worshipping men or Christ? Priests are men. Holy. Anointed. But men. The line between sinner and saint is mighty fine and any given day we all precariously balance between the two with our religious men and women not immune to the dance. But listen, do we not hear or believe the prayers we pray? Are we so caught up in rote and tradition that we don’t HEAR the prayers of our faith? You can be Catholic, Jewish, Protestant or non-denominational and if you are only giving lip service to your faith you are missing out. And I get it, we all have those days, but during trials and tribulations we must CLING to those prayers and dig deep in our faith for the strength, courage and wisdom to navigate through the darkness. Jesus NEVER promised this Christian walk would be easy, in fact, He frequently reminds us it will be HARD.
Throughout my Adoration hour, I prayed the divine chaplet because you better believe, I am praying for the whole world right now! My meditations kept bringing me back to the rosary, showing me how HARD the mysteries of the rosary are. Let’s look at the reflections of the rosary:
- Humility, love of neighbor, poverty in spirit, obedience, joy in finding Jesus
- Openness to the holy spirit, closeness to Jesus through Mary, desire for holiness, Adoration.
- Sorry for sin, purity, courage, patience, perseverance.
- Faith, hope, love of God, Grace of a happy death and trust in Mary’s intercession.
The scriptures preceding the reflections focus on HARD times in Jesus’ life: teen pregnancy, losing your child for 3 days, humiliation, scourging, carrying our cross, death on a cross, and so on. NONE of these scripture mysteries are easy and yet they all point us to focusing on the fruits that we are blessed with in spite of the challenges when we look to the Cross. When we turn to Jesus. When we ask the intercession of the blessed Mother and all the saints. Growing in faith takes a spiritual village, intentionality and being open to the Spirit of God, allowing Him to move through us, through our thoughts and through our actions–it is a mutual relationship.
We are called to trust in God. In dark times, anger is expected and necessary to flip the tables in the temple, drive out the thieves and prune the bad fruit. The devil doesn’t take a break and right now he is striking the head of the Church in a way that is not new, but in a way that has struck a chord and pissed off the body. It is going to get worse before it gets better. After pruning a plant, it is bare long before it brings forth new fruit and growth. This process will be no different. My gut says there are more to come because this is an issue that was not fully addressed– EVER. Bandaids don’t fix bullet holes (Taylor Swift).
Do not lose faith. Do not lose hope. Do not be afraid. Let us be wise. We start in the home and we clothe ourselves in the armor of God and prepare ourselves for battle. The great news????? We have far more men and women of faith that are good, holy and righteous. They will lead us all out of this nasty mess and into a deeper faith because of it. Right now they are hurting and pissed, too. They are processing and figuring out how to lead us through this battle, because that is the only way to the other side. The devil will not stop and he will look for every single opening; it is the age old battle of good and evil. Let us do our part in answering the call with calm strength versus hysteria. Righteous anger versus pointless finger pointing. Long-term solutions versus knee-jerk reactions. Teamwork versus destructive gossip. Let God use all of us to fight the good fight and trust that He makes all things new. Even this.
And today, after our pastor’s homily and reading of our Bishop’s letter to the Diocese addressing current events, we celebrated, as a parish, during Mass, a baptism of a sweet little baby girl.
There is hope.