It seems that everywhere we turn, there is another scandal erupting that involves the Catholic Church. Most recently, the uncovering of the abuse at the hands of Cardinal McCarrick is rocking our Greater MD/DC area. Yesterday, I read an article about a bishop in PA who is removing the names of every bishop since 1947 from buildings because they failed to root out child sexual abuse. Bold move.
And just this morning, I read an article detailing the abuse experienced by a former college roommate of mine who was raped by a priest in a most grotesque and spiritually invasive manner. I was shocked and disgusted all at the same time. Turning to prayer, I opened up my Magnificat and who would have thought that today is St. John Vianney’s feast day. This patron saint of priests said himself, “Ah, my brethren, how small is the number of those who get to heaven, for it only consists of those, who, without ceasing, courageously fight the devil and his servants and who despise the world and its ridicule!”
All difficult pills to swallow. It hurts when the abuse starts to creep closer and closer to home. I’m choosing to reflect and hold onto this vision…..
A priest friend of mine told me once that in our lifetime there would no longer be local Catholic churches in every neighborhood. There would no longer be a cafeteria option of which parish or school fits your personality, your lifestyle choices, or even your ethnicity. Instead, the Catholics will become scarce. The Church will be pruned. And what will result is a group of BELIEVERS. These are not cultural Catholics. They are not coming to Mass out of obligation. Instead, they are worshipping out of pure faith, pure trust in Christ, and pure abandonment.
He said to me, “Wouldn’t you rather go to Mass in Ravens stadium with one good priest saying the holy liturgy, surrounded by thousands of believers who have traveled for many miles to worship the one, true God?”
My answer is YES!
The priesthood is being pruned. The Church is being pruned. Drain the swamp! At the same time, I need to be willing to be cleansed myself as do all lay Catholics. Be ready to put your faith to the test, even in the deepest and most intimate places. Ultimately, are your desires God’s desires?
Recently, Father Michael White pastor of Church of the Nativity and my first employer tweeted out an article entitled, “Church Attendance is Dying.” He chose to highlight a line from the article that says,
“In the future church only the engaged will attend because only the engaged will remain.”
My response is “BRING IT ON!”
Just in a meeting this week with a local pastor and business manager, old baggage was brought up about the closure of a local high school and the sadness and difficulty surrounding that decision. And the pastor’s bold and unapologetic response was, “You do know that school had decades of sexual abuse covered up. At some point, the Lord stops blessing a place ridden with evil.” AMEN! Damn straight!!
The boldness of the Holy Spirit is required today such as the bishop of Harrisburg, my former college roommate, and this local pastor who all made a bold move with the grace of the Holy Spirit to shed light on evil. Choosing the truth over secrecy and deception. Let us all be inspired to do the same.