Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
On this Fourth of July when our Nation celebrates freedom from a tyrannical regime, I spent the morning with migrants from Venezuela. I gave them the little I had and gave them a listening ear while inviting them to come to the “Soup Kitchen” run here at St. Stanislaus Kostka by the Daughters of St. Mary of Providence. They are in dire straits and my heart is broken at the predicament and challenges they face.
Political ideologues have created a crisis and those of us in the trenches are left with little to nothing to adequately meet the needs of those who come to us. More than a few in leadership, both secular and ecclesial, seem motivated by either naivete, money, or power. So much of what has been hidden in the dark is being exposed in full light. Truth is compromised, disguised in the attribute of mercy.
From the perspective of a priest and pastor, I can tell you, more than a few priests have shared with me their interior struggle to persevere when they feel unsupported and demoralized in their fidelity to the “full counsel of God” as revealed in Sacred Scripture and the Sacred Tradition of our faith. The crisis in the priesthood and that of disillusioned Catholics who love the Church and Christ her head, is a reality little acknowledged by those who should assist us in our resistance to the “spirit of the world” in deference to our submission to the Trinitarian God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
We are passing through strange times. Our leaders call us adults but speak to us as children. Jesus, on the other hand, called us children, but speaks to us as adults. There seems to be two ideologies in the Church today that are diametrically opposed one to another. For those of us who practice sacrificial love and imperfectly strive to live the full counsel of God, we often feel like strangers in a foreign land and the persecution comes to us from outside the Church as well as within the Church. Could it be that this is the "white martyrdom" the saints spoke about as characteristic of the end of an era?
I just returned last week from a funeral in Florida and the Police Chaplain, a Baptist, shared with me that 40% of his congregation are former Catholics. He has deep respect for the Catholic faith, but held nothing back in his assessment of his Catholic flocks’ disillusionment with the current state of affairs in the Roman Catholic Church, wondering why the disdain for Christianity. Perhaps there are a multiplicity of reasons for Catholics leaving the Church, but I cannot dismiss the Chaplain’s commentary.
As a pastor, I have been in dialogue with the people entrusted to my care. I have listened to them and accompanied them. Isn't this the mission of a pastor? But never at the expense of what the Lord has handed down to us. A mere humanism at the expense of the mystical and supernatural reality of the Church's worship, belief, and lived experience, leads us into a utopian reality that will implode within itself. There is a great cost to discipleship in Christ Jesus. The Lord clearly stated this throughout the Gospels. He ended His farewell discourse, before His descent to the Garden of Gethsemane with these sobering words, "In this world you will have trouble, but take courage and be at peace, I've conquered the world." To those He spoke, all were martyred save John.
It seems to me we are at a crossroads and Catholics who hold to the faith of the "Ancients of Old," must not relegate themselves to the sidelines, as spectators looking in, but must get into the sacred drama - a declaration in word and deed that we are with the Lord and will suffer the faith for the sake of our sanctity and salvation as well as that of those we love which would include the whole of humankind. As God says of Himself, He is a demanding God. He is not permissive. The call to repentance, conversion, metanoia, transformation, and sanctification are necessary for salvation. It is no wonder that God wishes to make known His greatest attribute which is mercy in this time of great confusion when clarity is most needed. Let us not make a mess of the Church but bring sanity and civility back to a deeply wounded Church – the Mystical Body of Christ, which is bleeding members when the “Institution of the Church” is reluctant to proclaim Truth, “in season and out of season” – “when convenient and when inconvenient.” We need a holy Church. God raise up the saints in our day and in our time.
Synod on Synodality without a clear appreciation for the Messianic Hour, perpetuated on the Altar of Sacrifice, bringing us to Holy Communion and service rendered one to another in Truth, will end up as the ongoing machinations of the enemies of Christ - a further thrust into diabolical disorientation. The Messianic Hour is the suffering, death, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ with and emphasis on the Holy Sacrifice which is the source of our salvation.
May the Lord and Our Lady come to the aid of those who seek fidelity to the faith. May we respond like St. Joan of Arc, who was put to the test by the very Church she loved. Prelates, priests, and theologians tried to trick her and trap her, asking whether or not she was in a state of grace. She answered, "If I am not, I ask God to place me in His grace. If I am, I ask that He keep me in His grace." Nonetheless, she was burned at the stake, loving the Church and kissing the crucifix of her Lord and Savior, in spite of those who betrayed her and sold her out – leaders both ecclesial and secular.
My friends, do not be gaslighted into thinking you are unloving and rigid because you hold to the Truth. Remember the words of St. Paul to Timothy: I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing in kingly power, proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient... for the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine, but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths. But you, be self-possessed in all circumstances; put up with hardship; fulfill your ministry." 2 Timothy 4:1-5
Stay the course, keep the faith, be steadfast, and uphold our faith in truth, beauty, and goodness. These are the hallmarks of Christianity and yes, the Gates of Hell Shall Not Prevail. As Pope Benedict so prophetically stated, "The false deities will be unmasked through the suffering faith of simple believers." Indeed, we suffer the faith in our day and in our time. To whom do we lean. We lean into Jesus Christ - the way, the truth, and the life and we stand firm in His Mystical Body, the Holy Church. The Holy Mother of God bids us go to her Son and fight for love of her children.
Fr. Anthony Bus C.R., pastor of St. Stanislaus Kostka