Is the Passion of our Church Actually Beginning?
On September 13, 2018, Cardinal DiNardo shared these words after meeting with Pope Francis: “We shared with Pope Francis our situation in the United States – how the Body of Christ is lacerated by the evil of sexual abuse”. Lacerated is an interesting choice of words. It certainly cannot help but bring to mind the Passion.
I keep praying “Jesus, I surrender myself to You, take care of everything.” Again and again, fervent prayer after fervent prayer. “Jesus, I trust in You.” Rosary upon rosary, chaplet upon chaplet. Shutting off the media. Silence and prayer as I surrender myself to God. Then, after seemingly endless days, I again “hear” God’s voice, softly calling to me:
“Come, join my Mother at the foot of the cross.”
Where else can we go but to the arms of our loving, Immaculate Sorrowful Mother? We must join Our Lady at the foot of the cross when we feel sorrowful, overwhelmed with feelings of grief and anger and loss, and confused. And what did Our Lady do? Did she scream out against Jesus’ sentence? No. Was She in a rage at the apostles, those so beloved by Her Son, who have fled from this climactic moment? No. Was she in a heap of self-pity and desolation at the loss of Her Son? No. She was silent and in prayer.
Mary Teaches Us a Different Kind of Action
Many today are saying yes to silence and prayer, but then rant, argue, write petitions, fight, organize, etc. Our Lady must have surely possessed a human desire to do these things as she pondered the Passion of Her Son but She didn’t. She followed silence and prayer with action but not the world’s concept of action. Our Lady’s action was to trust in humility, docility, and meekness. Let me be perfectly clear here, Our Lady’s silence and prayer was absolutely not an act of passivity or weakness. but led to an action that was likely not perceptible to those with eyes of the world. Mary, through the salvific work of Her Son, was crushing the head of Satan. As She stood at the foot of the cross, suffering with Her Son and offering Her agony, united with His, up to Her Heavenly Father, this was truly a position of immense power in Her humility. It was a position of strength and abandonment to God’s perfect Will, which She did not understand fully, but in which She had perfect trust.
In 33 Days to Morning Glory, Father Gaitley makes this point:
Why through Mary? Because God has put enmity between her and Satan, and Satan can’t stand her. In fact, according to St. Louis (de Montfort), Satan fears her not only more than the angels and saints but, in a sense, even more than God Himself! Why? Because, as he puts it, ‘Satan, being proud, suffers infinitely more from being beaten and punished by a little and humble handmaid of God, and her humility humbles him more than the divine power.’
At the foot of the cross, Mary is crying externally, of course, but her most intense crying is within as she cries out to God. Her eyes are always focused on her Son, Jesus, on His eyes, heart, and final words. I am imagining that most of the time, Her eyes were focused on His eyes and His head Our Head, our Church. The Head of the Church is now Pope Francis, the person whom we should be focused on.
I do not want to look at the Head of our Church when I read current events, listen to the roar of the media, focus on the swirl and the storm around me. It is an act of my will to turn to my eyes to Pope Francis and read his actual words. I have not completed even one of his encyclicals or papal writings or read the full text of his translated homilies for myself. However, I have read many media accounts with selected quotations from him and opinions about what the author thinks he is saying. Shame on me! It is possible that a schism could be forming and could occur in our Church. If a schism does happen, where do I go? Where would the authority of God be? Well, all of God’s authority and grace would remain with the Pope, the Chair of Peter, until the end of time. We have been promised this. God is faithful. Who is this person today? It is Pope Francis. My allegiance will always lie with the pope and the bishops who are united with him.
Who Else is At The Foot of the Cross?
“Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala” (John 19:25). The women are there, close to Our Lady, seemingly mentioned in passing. What is the call to women, in particular, choosing to remain at the foot of the cross with Our Lady? These women are not running away in fear, disgust, and hopelessness or fighting among themselves or screaming out in rebellion. They are not running to Herod or Pilate or petitioning for a reversal of Jesus’ sentence. They are silent witnesses with Jesus and Our Lady joined in prayer, sorrow, and compassion. By their very presence, they are supporting Our Lady and Jesus and each other, not by doing but just by their very being. In times of immense suffering, women are powerful just by “suffering with” the other. This is a key element of what Pope John Paul II called “the Feminine Genius”.
“The Feminine Genius”
For men, a small of the complimentary“Masculine Genius” is “transcendence”. It is more task and problem-oriented. Men are wired for problem > solution > action. Women, however, possess the complimentary gift of “immanence”. We are physically designed to “make room for the other”. This can be, in a physical sense, when we carry human life within our womb. In a spiritual sense, it can be the ability to make room for God or other people when women welcome and encounter others. The final person mentioned at the foot of the cross is John. He is symbolic of the youth and in particular, of the young, vibrant new Church that we have been promised.
How to Respond to Scandals
Headlines come and go. There is the Cardinal McCarrick scandal, the PA Grand Jury report, Archbishop Vigano’s letter, more scandals in what seems to be every country and diocese, cardinals and bishops resign, and investigations open. Rumors swirl about Pope Francis. What did he know? When did he know it? What did he do? There is curiosity, suspicion, innuendo, hearsay. Day after day, story after story, events seem to be speeding up.
We can only go to the foot of the cross. Repeating the Catechism quote from Part I:
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 677)
It is the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Our Church.
Formerly, I served for almost twenty years as a pediatrician. I have also given birth to three daughters. Nothing in my entire life can remotely compare to the excitement of being in the delivery room at the impending birth of a new baby. Yet, doesn’t the delivery room often somewhat resemble where I am now called to be, at the foot of the cross? What is coming with all of this agony and suffering of the Church? It is the birth of a new Church “without wrinkle or blemish”.
Again and again, I enter into that scene with Mary, the women, and John, looking up at Christ and now looking up at my beloved Catholic Church, moaning in agony, ugliness, and tears. It seems everyone begins to run, refusing to look at the head of the Church. stating that they do not have to listen to Pope Francis unless it is related to faith and morals. Everyone seems to be listening to newscasters, bloggers, and reporters but people do not seem to be trusting in or listening to what Pope Francis has to say.
The Church is Experiencing Birth
However, we are preparing for a Birth and we are experiencing labor pains. The Body of Christ is lacerated with blood and water pouring forth because new life is coming. There is also a gush of blood and water when a baby is about to be born. The Church is in agony now with overwhelming labor pains and intense contractions but our God is good, faithful and loves us infinitely. He did not leave us orphans. He will not ever abandon us. He left us Peter and He promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against him.
Here I am at the foot of the cross. Here I will stay with Our Lady of Sorrows, the women, and Saint John, focused on the Head of Christ, and our Holy Father, Pope Francis. It is the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Our Church. This is where I am and my roots are planted deeply into the Rock that is Christ and His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.