Friday, April 9, 2010


I've recorded a few comments in episode 52 of Among Women regarding all the headlines that have surfaced in recent weeks regarding more scandals in the Catholic Church worldwide. But my comments boil down to I remain a committed Catholic, even though there are scandals in the Church. I do because I  believe in Jesus Christ. And the Catholic Church is where I find the Person of Jesus Christ, both in the Eucharist and in the community of faith. It is Jesus who longs to renew me and heal me, as he longs to do the same for every person on the planet. Jesus is wedded to the Bride of Christ, his Church, for better or for worse. And despite the sinful, wayward, and corrupt members of this Church (some who may deservedly need prosecution under the law)... it was exactly for those that he died and rose. His Spirit, despite appearances, continues to renew and lead the Church, for I have seen how good can triumph over evil.

Indeed, there are better defenders of the Faith than I am in this regard, and I've posted a few articles of note in the sidebar over on the right, under the heading "It Caught My Attention." So if you like, take a few minutes to peruse 'em.

But I'd like to bring your attention to an older homily by Father Roger Landry of the Fall River Diocese in Massachusetts.  It moved me in 2002 when scandalous things broke loose in the Archdiocese of Boston where I live, and it moves me again still now, to have courage to do what I can to stay faithful to Christ and the Church.

Here's a snippet below, but you can read the full homily here.

The only adequate response to this terrible scandal, the only fully Catholic response to this scandal — as St. Francis of Assisi recognized in the 1200s, as St. Francis de Sales recognized in the 1600s, and as countless other saints have recognized in every century — is HOLINESS! Every crisis that the Church faces, every crisis that the world faces, is a crisis of saints. Holiness is crucial, because it is the real face of the Church.
There are always people — a priest meets them regularly, you probably know several of them — who use excuses for why they don't practice the faith, why they slowly commit spiritual suicide. It can be because a nun was mean to them when they were nine. Or because they don't understand the teaching of the Church on a particular issue. There will doubtless be many people these days — and you will probably meet them — who will say, "Why should I practice the faith, why should I go to Church, since the Church can't be true if God's so-called chosen ones can do the types of things we've been reading about?" This scandal is a huge hanger on which some will try to hang their justification for not practicing the faith. That's why holiness is so important.
They need to find in all of us a reason for faith, a reason for hope, a reason for responding with love to the love of the Lord. The beatitudes which we have in today's Gospel are a recipe for holiness. We all need to live them more. Do priests have to become holier? They sure do. Do religious brothers and sisters have to become holier and give ever greater witness of God and heaven? Absolutely. But all people in the Church do, including lay people! We all have the vocation to be holy and this crisis is a wake-up call.
It's a tough time to be a priest today. It's a tough time to be a Catholic today. But it's also a great time to be a priest and a great time to be a Catholic. Jesus says in the beatitudes we heard today, "Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of slander against you falsely because of me. Be glad and rejoice, for your reward in heaven is great." I've been experiencing that beatitude first hand, as some priests I know have as well. Earlier this week, when I finished up my exercise at a local gym, I was coming out of the locker room dressed in my black clerical garb. A mother, upon seeing me, immediately and hurriedly moved her children out of the way and shielded them from me as I was passing. She looked at me as I passed and when I had gone far enough along finally relaxed and let her children go — as if I would have attacked her children in the middle of the afternoon at a health club!
But while we all might have to suffer such insults and slander falsely on account of Christ, we should indeed rejoice. It's a great time to be a Christian, because this is a time in which God really needs us to show off his true face. In bygone days in America, the Church was respected. Priests were respected. The Church had a reputation for holiness and goodness. It's not so any more.
One of the greatest Catholic preachers in American history, Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, used to say, that he preferred to live in times when the Church has suffered rather than thrived, when the Church had to struggle, when the Church had to go against the culture. It was a time for real men and real women to stand up and be counted. "Even dead bodies can float downstream," he used to say, pointing that many people can coast when the Church is respected, "but it takes a real man, a real woman, to swim against the current."
How true that is! It takes a real man and a real woman to stand up now and swim against the current that is flowing against the Church. It takes a real man and a real woman to recognize that when swimming against the flood of criticism, you're safest when you stay attached to the Rock on whom Christ built his Church. This is one of those times. It's a great time to be a Christian.

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