Five hundred years ago, the Roman Catholic Church was going through an incredible time of corruption and holiness, shame and glory, evil and good. It seems we are in such a contradictory and momentous time again. The fruits of the sexual revolution, clericalism and plain old impurity have ripened into a harvest of sin, pain, crime, and what appears to be the implosion of the Catholic Church in America, and perhaps the world.
Yet we know Christ’s promises. We know the Sacramental life of mercy and grace goes on no matter what the Church’s members and even princes do. We know Jesus saw all of this disgusting, horrifying, criminal sin and still chose to die for us. We know the gates of hell will not prevail. We know how the story ends. Jesus Christ is King forever and one day, one glorious day, no more children or young people or anyone will be abused or corrupted or heinously wronged, especially by anyone who dares call themselves shepherd.
For a few years now the Lord has placed a prayer in my heart: Reveal. Lord, reveal to everyone the truth of what is going on behind closed doors so that we can remove the cancers that are killing Your Body. Reveal to our own hearts the ways that we fall short of your glory so that we may begin again to follow you as your disciples and your lovers. Reveal yourself to us that we may grow in our own desire for holiness. Reveal the utter impotence of the world to satisfy our hearts through illicit and even licit pleasures. Reveal what is evil that we may choose good. Take off the masks from those who try to confuse evil with good. Reveal, Lord, reveal.
Right about now I wish I could ask Jesus to stop revealing because I can’t take it anymore. Please, Lord, no more stories of stolen innocence, ruined lives, and worst of all, lost faith in you, who are all good and deserving of all of our love. Unfortunately, I know more needs to be revealed, and will be revealed. If we are ever to move forward as Christ’s Body, we must have all of the rot and disease and filth removed at whatever cost. If whole dioceses have to be decimated in order to start new from a point of true faith and integrity, so be it. If we have to make do with half of the parishes and priests and bishops and cardinals, so be it.
We cannot be Christ’s light in this dark world if we are simultaneously the devil’s false light. We cannot continue to hide and cover up and do damage control and run the Church like a Fortune 500 and think that is somehow satisfying the Great Mandate to spread the Gospel.
An End to Clericalism
We must not continue to revere priests and bishops, but retrain ourselves to revere the priesthood and episcopacy, based upon Jesus, the giver of these gifts. If we love and respect our priests, bishops and cardinals, but remain sensible to the fact that they are sinful humans like the rest of us, we help them to get to heaven even as they help us. We cannot continue to put mere mortals in a position that is dangerous to their souls as well as to the souls of those they are ordained to care for. I am not saying that the faithful’s clericalism has caused the scandal, but it sure hasn’t helped. It’s time for us to stop this damaging behavior.
Each of us has certain sins, certain areas where we struggle more than others, certain vices we pray against and practice the opposing virtue to gradually overcome, by God’s grace. Why would we believe it is any different for the ordained? It is unfair to them to think this. It leaves them in a position of great power and authority and no oversight. It leaves them prey to their vices in ways that we, as lay people, aren’t. This is not to make excuses for sinful and criminal behavior. The point of this is to place proper boundaries where none currently exist. When Cardinal McCarrick amended the Dallas Charter to exempt bishops, proper boundaries in the form of some non-episcopal oversight should have been in place to cry foul. When a lay person senses something is up with their pastor’s behavior they should not be held back by a false sense of reverence for his office, but should be more concerned with his soul and the well-being of those around him.
Clericalism is an enabler. It’s time to stop it.
Simpler and More Spiritual
Let us think about the prophetic words made almost 50 years ago by then-Father Joseph Ratzinger. He predicted that our Church would be:
A restructured Church with far fewer members that is forced to let go of many places of worship it worked so hard to build over the centuries. A minority Catholic Church with little influence over political decisions, that is socially irrelevant, left humiliated and forced to “start over.”
But a Church that will find itself again and be reborn a “simpler and more spiritual” entity thanks to this “enormous confusion.”
May this time of enormous confusion bring about a simpler and more spiritual Church.
May all the suffering by the abused be received up by our Mama Mary and given to Our Lord in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.
May we look back at this time a generation from now as painful and horrible, but necessary.
May we see a new birth of purity and holiness, a purity that understands the true value and dignity of each soul and each body, and a holiness that seeks only to grow closer to our Lord and not higher up the chain of command in order to have access to whatever is desired for self-gratification.
May Jesus bring His healing to those so deeply wounded, most for life, by the sins of their shepherds.
May those wolves in sheep’s clothing turn again to Jesus and his mercy, and repent in sackcloth and ashes, for the salvation of their souls.
May all of the other “Pennsylvania’s” and “McCarrick’s” to be revealed not make us doubt Jesus nor his Church, but make us pursue holiness more.
Our Lady and St. John Chrysostom
At Fatima, Our Lady told the children that more souls go to hell because of sins of the flesh than for any other sins. St. John Chrysostom is attributed with the warning that “the road to hell is paved with the skulls of erring priests, with bishops as the signposts.” Between these two prophetic words we see the gravity of the situation before us today.
Five hundred years ago, some highly disgusted priests decided they could not take it anymore and left the Church for good. Others became some of the greatest and holiest reformers our Church has ever seen. Jesus’ mercy covers all of those who love and serve him in spirit and truth, all of those who repent and turn to him. Let us begin again now to diligently pray for that purified Church prophesied by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, so that we can one day see the New Springtime to follow, prophesied by St. John Paul II.
Through this Cross, we will come to the Resurrection if we accept the surgical removal, painful as it may be, of this cancer. Each one of us faithful must reject clericalism and pursue personal holiness, especially purity. The sexual revolution brainwashed (or brainsludged) the world into believing that what we do with our bodies is merely for our pleasure and of little lasting importance. The result of this Teutonic error is pornography, divorce, abortion, STDs, rape, sexual abuse and a whole host of other crimes and misdemeanors. It is time for Catholics to finally wake up and live the life of purity and holiness which yields such peaceable good fruit for ourselves, our families, our society and for the Glory of God. Only when we do this will we begin to be a light to the rest of the world. Until then, we will remain in our cancer, in our sludge.
Trusting in Jesus’ mercy, we will get through this horrible time in the Church. The Body of Christ will heal and God will restore it to holiness and purity. His Mercy alone can do that. It is our job as laity to turn to that mercy again and again, in our own name, in the name of the most wicked sinners and in the name of the whole world.
Blessed Mother, Queen of Purity, ask our Lord to share with us your wisdom about purity and its excellent fruit in our world. Help us to revere the priesthood, but simply love, respect and help our priests and bishops. Help us to become great saints as we are all called to be, especially in a time of great and terrible sin. Help us to build a new holier Church out of the ashes of these scandals for your Son’s glory, for the salvation of souls, and for our own good.