Lord, where are You? Darkness, confusion, and chaos are swirling within our Church. There seems to be only division, antagonism, and wounds. People seem to be taking sides. The media is calling it a civil war within the Church.
John 17:11 tells us: “Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are.” How can we ever be one body of Christ, Lord? Many prominent and respected Catholic speakers, priests and other media personalities are telling us, as laity, that we should write letters, petition, and fight for an investigation.
Others are saying just fast and pray and let the Holy Spirit act. Words are flying. Factions are forming. Anger is brewing. Horrific sins and crimes have been committed. Many investigations will be conducted. So, fasting and prayer do not remotely seem to be enough with such a massive amount of evil erupting and being uncovered within our Catholic Church. In prayer, I have felt the Lord telling me “I have another way for you” but what else is there to do?
God Gave Us the Pope
But God did not leave us orphans. He left us the Holy Father and promised “the gates of hell would not prevail” against him and our Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
The Lord made Simon alone, whom he named Peter, the “rock” of his Church. He gave him the keys of his Church and instituted him shepherd of the whole flock….. This pastoral office of Peter and the other apostles belongs to the Church’s very foundation and is continued by the bishops under the primacy of the Pope. The Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter’s successor, “is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful.” “For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full,supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered.” “The college or body of bishops has no authority unless united with the Roman Pontiff, Peter’s successor, as its head.” As such, this college has “supreme and full authority over the universal Church; but this power cannot be exercised without the agreement of the Roman Pontiff. (CCC 881 – 883)
The Pope is Not Perfect
Does this mean that the Pope is a perfect man without sin? Definitely not. Pope Francis himself, when asked who he was in an interview with America magazine in 2013, uttered the words “I am a sinner whom the Lord has looked upon.” Even our “sainted” popes were not perfect. All of our popes are flawed men, just as Peter was but is Jorge Bergoglio who You have chosen to lead Your Bride at this particular point in time? I have read about Pope Francis in the media. I am so confused by what they say about him. Have you abandoned us just as things are going crazy? Do we have no Holy Father here on earth now to follow?
Okay, I will turn to Pope Francis, the flawed man God has sent us at just this point in Salvation History. The word Pope Francis is giving us at this critical juncture in Church History is to be “silent and pray.” I will give that a go in my own personal life. Here I am, trying to fulfill my daily duties for my state in life, so I am busy externally. News stories about the Bride of Christ, our Holy Mother Church, are coming fast and furious from the media.
God’s Bride is not looking very beautiful right now. Quite the opposite. I cannot even stomach reading the articles and reports detailing the horrifying acts perpetrated within our Church by consecrated priests, bishops and cardinals. The victims. The cover-ups. The lies. I am so busy in my life with homeschooling lessons to grade, errands to run, laundry to do, meals to cook, a house to clean, appointments to keep. I am trying to strip the nonessentials out of my life, but still, I am busy.
So I find, I must learn internally how to be, “silent and pray.” I attempt to regularly keep designated periods of prayer each day with the daily mass, the Liturgy of the Hours, the rosary, reading Scripture and times of silent mental prayer, Lectio and contemplation with our Lord. And what has come to me and what has God revealed to me during these past months of silence and prayer?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the “mystery of iniquity” in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection.579 The kingdom will be fulfilled, then, not by a historic triumph of the Church through a progressive ascendancy, but only by God’s victory over the final unleashing of evil, which will cause his Bride to come down from heaven. (CCC 675, 677)
The passage above resonates deeply in my heart. Over the past few years, during prayer times, God has repeated the following words in my heart countless times:
“The Body of Christ (the Church) must follow its Head (Christ) through its own Passion, Death, and Resurrection.”
The Passion, Death, and Resurrection of the Church
I have repeated these words over the past few years to my family and friends, as different Church events have occurred. I have pondered these words while watching world events unfold. First, in an act of utter humility and abandonment, Pope Benedict XVI stunned the world when he announced that he would resign from his position as the Holy Father.
A second shock occurred when on March 13, 2013, Jorge Bergoglio, Pope Francis, was announced as the 266th Pope. How did Pope Francis choose to introduce himself to the people of the world? When he walked out on the balcony, a most riveting moment, he spoke briefly and then, before blessing the people, he asked all in attendance for a moment of silence in which they were to pray for him. For a full twenty seconds, he humbly bowed his head and silence enveloped the world as everyone globally watched and prayed for this, as yet, unknown pontiff. Here he was, leading the world to silence and prayer from the first moments of his pontificate. And what is our Holy Father requesting of us now? Silence and prayer.
Lately, I have been paging through a coffee table book I borrowed from a friend entitled “Pope Francis in America”. When Pope Francis came to Philadelphia in 2015, I remember watching at home on television. The crowd was roaring, people lined the streets with smiles and tears of joy. My heart was bursting with love for Jesus, our Holy Father, and our beautiful Catholic faith. However, as I was watching in joy, excitement, and anticipation, suddenly I clearly “heard” these words in my heart, “Pope Francis is now Jesus riding his donkey into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.”
When I first “heard” this word, I immediately thought, “how awesome; I am riding high on the “Hosannas” and the excitement of the moment. The whole world seems to love our Holy Father! All is good!” Suddenly, my heart faltered and a sense of dread entered my mind. I love Palm Sunday – Palm Sunday feels great if this is what it is. It is a big party of love and joy and but what happens after Palm Sunday?
“It is the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Our Lord.”
It seemed that God was telling me the Church, the Body of Christ, is preparing to undergo its own passion, death, and resurrection. Later found, in the Catechism 677: The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover when she will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection.
Back to prayer, pondering and watching world events unfold and this pontificate of Pope Francis day by day, month by month, year by year. Pope Francis is an enigma it seems. The “Left” think he is one thing, the “Right” another. He is like a giant Rorschach test at which people are projecting a host of ideas and beliefs. I am hearing who the world thinks Pope Francis is but I know God gave our pope to us. God is fully in charge and He has a plan so great that we cannot even begin to conceptualize what it is. God’s ways are not our ways.
So, who is Pope Francis? He is the 266th head of the Roman Catholic Church. He is the earthly head of the Body of Christ that, as stated in the Catechism excerpt above, must follow our true Head, Jesus Christ, through its own Passion, Death, and Resurrection.
Okay, if Pope Francis is the head of the Catholic Church, and our Church, the Body of Christ, is preparing to enter its own “passion”, what should I be doing?
What were the followers of Jesus doing as Jesus entered His Passion? Some betrayed Him. Some ran in fear, grief, anger, and confusion. Although we are not told this in Scripture, it may be that some organized and went to the authorities, trying to intercede on Jesus’ behalf and proclaim His innocence. What were His closest followers doing, those who did not desert him, those who remained at His side during the Passion? They were united to Jesus, through His Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. And they were united in silence and prayer. They never left His side, even during the grueling and inhumane agony that preceded His death on the cross.
Is this what we are entering Lord? The Passion of our Church? Is it beginning?