The other day on the internet someone posted a picture of Pope Francis being chummy with Nancy Pelosi and the person who posted the picture said, “This is the reason I am no longer a Catholic.”
OK. I get it. The guy is pro-Life and finds Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden (as public Catholics) nauseatingly hypocritical in their support for abortion. That the pope welcomes them to a private audience and to communion is upsetting.
I’m on his side. I find the pope’s lack of backbone in this issue troublesome–especially as he gives the impression that he is all in favor of delegating power down to the local bishops–but he doesn’t support the decision of Archbishop Cordileone–Pelosi’s own bishop.
While I find this–any many other things in the present Catholic Church leadership to be upsetting, I don’t leave the church or even think of doing so.
Here’s why: the church has always had corruption and immorality from within and persecution from without. One of the reasons I produced my twenty-three part podcast Triumphs and Tragedies was to show how, in every century for the last two thousand years we have had both terrible troubles and wonderful triumphs.
As Christians we are called to persevere in the faith, and this means we stick it out even when things are not to our liking. We think perseverance is called for during times of persecution, but we miss the fact that perseverance is also necessary in the face of corruption and immorality in the church.
Last weekend a friend called me and was discussing the terrible liturgy in his church that weekend. A visiting priest celebrated the Mass in that jokey–game show host style with plenty of jokes about booze in the homily. The homily was 100% secular for Fourth of July with no mention of God, Jesus Christ or the Catholic faith. This sort of idiocy requires perseverence.
The next day a group of friend were gathered and one of them told how, as a young Catholic pursuing a graduate degree in theology, he was invited to participate in an ecumenical discussion with Methodists. The other Catholics were a theologian a priest and a bishop. The priest and bishop were clearly ignorant of Methodism’s history and beliefs. They spent their whole time talking about how they turn a blind eye to homosexuality and encourage their people to use contraception–they did so assuming that the Methodists would be impressed at how enlightened and liberal they were. In fact the Methodists they were talking to were conservative and knew more not only about Methodism, but also seemed to understand the Catholic faith itself better than their Catholic counterparts.
This kind of ignorance and arrogance requires perseverance.
During these troubled times in the church when we see widespread ignorance, apostasy, immorality, corruption, indifference and downright stupidity some folks feel they must leave. Where do they go? Maybe they drift off to one of the Latin Mass sects. Maybe they slope off to the Eastern Orthodox. There are some who are so far on the sedevacantist track that they do not believe there are any valid bishops or priests left–and therefore no sacraments. In other words, Christ did forsake his church.
Leaving is not the answer. Perseverance is the answer. Hang in there. Stick with it through thick and thin. Focus on what is local. Find a good traditional parish if you can and stay involved. Build up one another in the faith. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and his Blessed Mother. This is what it means to persevere in the faith.
Finally, ask yourself the question, “If I could not persevere in the faith due to the corruption, apostasy and immorality in the church how do I imagine that I might persevere when faced with persecution from without?
“Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and his Blessed Mother. This is what it means to persevere in the faith. Build up one another in the faith.”
Well said, Father.
Jesus Christ is indeed the Living Son of God and He is fully present in the Holy Eucharist. Regardless of the weakness in others, especially some Church leaders, why would any of us choose to leave Christ? I thank God for the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist.
Couldn’t have said it better, Fr Dwight
The grass will always appear greener on the other side.
Any church boasting of congregations who are made instantaneously/perpetually spiritually & morally perfect through their brand of “divine grace”, and through “perfect” liturgies or “life-changing concert worship”… is absolutely LYING.
There is no escaping it, we are all creatures of habit. The type of activity that is ritualized essentially does not matter, other than how it impacts us, either positively or negatively. Being one of those eccentric self-punishers whom pursue endurance type activities, long distance running, biking, swimming (even those craziest enough to combine all three at varying intervals throughout the year), I have a distinct weekly training regimen. The workouts include all previously mentioned activity; however, sometimes include a high intensity cardio and strength training workout – at least four times per week. Of course all of this training is usually geared toward a goal. If not a particular triathlon, a 10k, half marathon, etc. The event is almost an afterthought since I am not an professional athlete (not even close). I absolutely love to train. I have found this “journey” of endurance sport so enjoyable and beneficial to my health that I have dedicated a good portion of my time. And as richly fulfilling it is, I have recently embraced how similar this is to my recent return to faith. For example, there are days unfortunately I do not feel 100%; I find myself with excess fatigue, joint aches/soreness, or that “runners’ high” is simply not to be had. I have heard these labeled, “embrace the suck” days. Well, I can only compare this experience to last Sunday’s worship. As I continue to offer myself into God’s mercy, I struggle with excessive judgement; however, I cannot deny this mass was probably the weakest Catholic worship gathering I have experienced to date. I have never experienced the urge to leave in the middle of a homily before. The combination of the tone deaf song lead, the horrible BO of the individuals sitting behind me, and the incoherent screed of the pleasant but unimpressive celebrant defined a “embrace the suck” spiritual workout moment for me like non other. It was this call to persevere that I held fast to refocus my attention on God’s message. I know to avoid future services here. I believe this mass embodies what is plaguing the Catholic Parishes in this particular community I find myself at this time. I will continue to pray and persevere because, as it has been asked, where to turn then? My protestant roommate has found a congregation that is on “Fire” for the Lord; I just wish there was a Catholic parish that had this same spirit and fellowship. The journey continues.