Bulletin Letter from 11/27/19
I’m often asked what I think of the current trials and tribulations of the Church. While everyone wants to blame everyone else for everything, and Priests are a lightning rod for controversy and polemic discussions, the fact is that in the grand scheme of things we know that the story of the Church ends well. And classically speaking, if a story ends well it’s a comedy.
So we can look at the Church as an unfortunate comedy of errors in our time. This is why Dante Alighieri wrote “The Divine Comedy”, and not “The Divine Tragedy”. It fell to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow to write the latter, and his story – a trilogy – ends in the modern period of the 1800s in protestant New England. If we only look at the present, we’ll never see what the Lord has in store for us. We live in the present, with the hope of a glorious future.
The story of the church isn’t a tragedy, but personal histories can be. I’m bothered by the trials of the Church, but I’m more concerned with souls falling away from Jesus Christ and from the Faith. The trials of the Church are affecting people’s faith and their lives in very negative ways. If someone falls away and decides that they are Buddhist, new age, agnostic, or whatever – why should anyone be glad about that? If the Church promotes that in any way, why should a priest be glad about that?
Several years ago the nun who was president of a national assembly of women religious, said that they were moving beyond Jesus Christ. Many priests thought this was a wonderful statement in our enlightened times. But they also had a noted new age thought leader speak at the same assembly, who promoted moving beyond Jesus Christ into territories once abandoned by the enemy of our souls, who is far more subtle and deceptive than most realize. Such things are horrifying and should be to everyone who knows and loves Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ is Lord, or He isn’t. Each person has to decide that for a fact, take up their cross and follow Him. Or they need to move on and see if the grass is truly greener on the other side. People fall away from the Church all the time. But when push comes to shove, they want Holy Communion on demand, they want a Catholic burial, they want the “Last Rites”, they want the spiritual help and consolations that ritual worship offers, they want a priest present, they want to know how to pray, they want Faith, they want a relationship with God and to know how God truly is. They want to earnestly search for the fruit of the divine work, so they may receive more abundantly of the healing effects of the Lord’s goodness.
Make up your minds to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic. It’s my own challenge as well. But let your yes be yes, and your no be no. It’s never really the time for waffling.