This post has been a couple of days in the making. As Sarah and I were coming home from choir practice on Thursday night, we listened to this homily from Fr. John Lankeit. It was a very powerful homily that got me to thinking about of our ongoing crisis in the Church today. I woke up early Friday morning and headed into work in order to get caught up, but as I usually do on my way into work, I prayed the Rosary. Friday mysteries are the Sorrowful and while reflecting on those mysteries, I was feeling pushed by the Holy Spirit to share the thoughts that came to mind while praying.
This is not an easy post for me to make. My parents had many close friends of theirs who were/are priests in the Catholic church. We were taught from our earliest years to have the utmost respect for these men and I still do today. Not only for the ones my parents were close to, but for the ones who shepherd me and my family now. We have taught our children in the same manner. So for me to sit down now and chastise a group of men I’ve always had the utmost respect for, it is not an easy task for me to do. That being said…
A few weeks back, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, a former priest from the Archdiocese of St. Louis who is now the head of the New York City Archdiocese, offered the following reflection in reference to the abuse scandal. In reading this, it sounds like Cardinal Dolan and his family were raised by their parents in the same manner my parents raised me (and my siblings) – with a great respect for the Catholic church and the men leading it. I was shocked to see what he wrote about his mother now…
“Tim,” she said to me, “I skipped lunch today. I’m ashamed to go to the dining room. I’m so embarrassed to be a Catholic. I don’t know what to say to anybody!”
She’s my mom. Only one of the millions of faithful Catholics who today are ashamed of their clergy and bishops, of their Church.
So as the faithful PATIENTLY wait for our “leaders” to address how they are going to resolve this issue, it is painfully clear that history is about to repeat itself. What do I mean by that? This lesson was taught to us back in the year 33. When a group of men, chosen by Christ HIMSELF, quietly sat back, said nothing in His defense, cowered from the crowds in fear of being a recognized as Christ’s disciple just hours after breaking bread and participating in the Last Supper, professed to stand by His side, profess His beliefs, die for His cause. Are we about to experience – ARE WE ABOUT TO REPEAT this same Crucifixion now?
So as Cardinal Dolan offered a brief reflection on the Via Crucis, I would offer this reflection to our Cardinals, Bishops and priests who chose to remain silent on this issue – to reflect on the Sorrowful Mysteries.
The First Sorrowful Mystery: The Agony in the Garden…as you pray this decade of the Rosary, reflect on where you are in the Garden, as Christ begins to realize the true reality, the stark reality of what He is about to endure. Father, if this cup should pass me by! But not MY will, but YOUR will be done. Christ is at His most vulnerable state in that prayer – knowing full well the pain He about to endure for the sins we committed. But where are the men He handpicked to follow Him – sound asleep and unaware of His anguish. As the Church suffers, the bride of Christ is in pain – are our leaders, are we silently asleep and unaware of their anguish? When he returned to his disciples he found them asleep. He said to Peter, “So you could not keep watch with me for one hour?41 Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test.* The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
The Second Sorrowful Mystery: The Scourging at the Pillar…as you pray this decade of the Rosary, you may be hit with the stark reality that because you fell asleep and could not keep watch for one hour, your Savior is now being scourged. Or maybe you’re one of the leaders of the Church (the Pharisees, Sadducees) who misrepresented Christ and told lies about Christ in order to justify their positions as heads of the faithful. Either way, Christ is now being scourged; now His bride and the innocent of our Church are being scourged and our leaders remain silent. Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. One of the maids came over to him and said, “You too were with Jesus the Galilean.”70* But he denied it in front of everyone, saying, “I do not know what you are talking about!”71 As he went out to the gate, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, “This man was with Jesus the Nazorean.”72 Again he denied it with an oath, “I do not know the man!”73* A little later the bystanders came over and said to Peter, “Surely you too are one of them; even your speech gives you away.”74 At that he began to curse and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately a cock crowed.75 f Then Peter remembered the word that Jesus had spoken: “Before the cock crows you will deny me three times.” He went out and began to weep bitterly. Have we started weeping bitterly yet?
The Third Sorrowful Mystery – The Crowning of Thorns…as you pray this decade, you realize how some in the world just can’t get enough of watching someone in pain. In a world that has been looking to knock down the Church because of all that she stands for, that brutal scouring wasn’t enough. You want to be king? Well, here is your crown – wear it with pride. 27 j Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus inside the praetorium* and gathered the whole cohort around him.28 They stripped off his clothes and threw a scarlet military cloak* about him.29 k Weaving a crown out of thorns,* they placed it on his head, and a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!”30 l They spat upon him* and took the reed and kept striking him on the head.31 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the cloak, dressed him in his own clothes, and led him off to crucify him. And again, His Apostles were no where to be found.
The Fourth Sorrowful Mystery – Jesus takes up the Cross…as you pray this decade, you should beginning to feel the harshness of what we have done to Christ. He has agonized and yet we slept. He was scourged and yet we deny Him. He was crowned with thorns and we did not claim Him as our King. And now He takes up His Cross. Years ago, I use to think He was taking MY cross upon his shoulders because of the sins I committed. I then began to realize their is no way I could endure that responsibility. It was His sacrifice for all us, it was His willingness to accept that Cross – it was truly His Cross that He bore that saved me. And through all of this, His Apostles are again absent and silent in his defense. 32 m As they were going out, they met a Cyrenian named Simon; this man they pressed into service to carry his cross.
The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery – Jesus Dies on the Cross…as you pray this decade, you realize that your sins not only put Christ on the Cross, as a result of your sin, Christ died. I pray these mysteries every week and this is the hardest mystery to accept. My sins killed Christ. Are we all willing to accept that? An innocent man died because of my sins. Are will willing to let the innocent suffer through this crisis today any longer than what they already have? 51 x And behold, the veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom.* The earth quaked, rocks were split,52 y tombs were opened, and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised.53 And coming forth from their tombs after his resurrection, they entered the holy city and appeared to many.54 * The centurion and the men with him who were keeping watch over Jesus feared greatly when they saw the earthquake and all that was happening, and they said, “Truly, this was the Son of God!”…where were His apostles?
I know this is a harsh post, but I want our leaders to understand the anguish of their flock as each day passes and little, if anything, is said. I am reminded of one last passage that I will share with you now…from the 20th Chapter of John…19 On the evening of that first day of the week,j when the doors were locked, where the disciples* were, for fear of the Jews. Have our leaders locked themselves behind closed doors in fear?
Again, this has been hard for me to type. These are the thoughts that were racing through my mind yesterday driving into work. But, thanks be to God and the Holy Spirit, there is one last thought They blessed me with. The passage from John 20 is not complete. Let me post for you now the full passage…Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.”20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.* The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. k 21 * [Jesus] said to them again,l “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”22* And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,m “Receive the holy Spirit.23* n Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”
Just as the Holy Spirit revived the Apostles then, He will also revive our leaders now. I implore our leaders, the shepherds of the flock here on earth, to get on your knees now and pray for the Holy Spirit to descend upon you and guide you in these hard decisions you face. Come out from you locked rooms and be the ordained men of God you were chosen to be.
Do something great for our Lord today – accept his Holy Spirit and let Him guide your life.
God’s will, not mine, be done.
BE NOT AFRAID; JUST HAVE FAITH.
Jesus, I trust in You.