I have learned sooo much in researching and recording my twenty part church history podcast series Triumphs and Tragedies. You can listen to it on my blog here.
Most importantly I learned that behind the scenes and below the radar the Holy Spirit is always working. On the surface the church was plunged time and again into crisis. There was persecution from without and corruption and immorality from within. There were military disasters and political crises. There were personal failures, betrayals, idiocy and knavery beyond imagination.
But in every age the Holy Spirit was working at the grass roots level. Always, in creative and unexpected ways the Holy Spirit was raising up saints, starting new movements, bringing forward fresh shoots of change and renewal and reform.
Where is this happening now?
I’ll tell you–and this was revealed to me this weekend in my own parish. This weekend we had one man stand up and give information about the “That Man is You” program which he and some other guys are sponsoring. At the same Mass some other guys were there to promote the local chapter of Fraternus–a program which mentors boys into virtuous Catholic men. We had also been discussing in our parish the opportunity to start a chapter of The Troops of St George.
These are just a few. Add to them the Catholic Men’s website, the Catholic men’s books and study guides, the Catholic men’s spiritual warfare groups….
The insight I had was that these movements along with an amazing array of other Catholic men’s movements is exactly what we need at this time. One of the most unsung aspects of the new evangelization are the Catholic Men’s Conferences. These are amazing events which have been started in an increasing number of dioceses that attract thousands of men hungry to deepen their faith. These conferences are organized by laymen, funded by laymen and are hugely successful.
Why is this important? Because much of the rot in our society, our families and our church is linked back to the rotten ness in our society associated with sexual sin.
To put it simply, men have abdicated their responsibility. We’ve been tempted by porn. We’ve been tempted by adultery. We’ve been tempted by homosexuality We’ve been tempted by the sins of the flesh, and these sins are not sinful just because some old guys in red robes in Rome said they are sinful.
They are sinful because they hurt people. They hurt children. They hurt women. They hurt families. They hurt men. They hurt society.
The scandals in the church at this time are not separate from the sexual revolution of the 1960s. They are part of a larger phenomenon and we are dismayed and disgusted that our priests and bishops are involved, but why should we be so surprised when so many men in the pews have also been guilty of sexual sin in their own lives.
So many men have given into porn and adultery and the whole long list that weakened our church, our families and our society?
Where is the cure? You know the cure is not really more rage against gay men. It is not really rage against the corruption of the clergy. The rage and resentment leads to nothing in the end.
Should there be a purge? I think so. Should those who are guilty be held responsible? Yes. Is it right to feel angry, betrayed, shocked and dismayed? Yes of course.
But the Holy Spirit doesn’t trade in rage. The Holy Spirit is always doing something positive and beautiful and good and true. The Holy Spirit fire may purify and burn, but it also gives new life and brings new life at the very source of where it is needed most.
So here is what is happening, and what is happening is good and beautiful and true.
The religious orders are enjoying a quiet, orthodox and joyful renewal. Bit by bit the Benedictines and Dominicans and others are attracting young men who love God, love his church and want to serve him in holiness.
More importantly, an increasing number of Catholic men ares saying, “We want to stand up for Christ and his church. We want to follow the way of chastity. We want to raise strong families. We want to help our boys grow in to strong, loving and faithful men. We want to be faithful husbands and fathers and we are not ashamed.”
This is the answer to the sexual corruption in the church.
Why men? Because God’s love of humanity began with a man named Adam, and it is through the men that he will bring renewal to families, to parishes and to the church and the world.
This is not a call for some sort of fake “macho rambo man” but a strong, noble and true Catholic gentleman and a generation of warrior priests.
This is the Holy Spirit at work, planting seeds and growing a renewal that will bring a new generation of life and growth into the church.
And if the vineyard has to be first pruned and even scorched for the new life to grow.
That too is the work of the Holy Spirit
Veni Sanctus Spiritus.