Nabi Sayeth: I love the Advent season and everything about it. But most especially, I love to hear
those words of the great prophet Isaiah: “Prepare the way of the Lord!”
Isaiah pictures a road that exists between me and the Lord of glory, a road that both separates me from Him yet also connects me TO Him. And it is on that road which serves as the path for my spiritual journey that I encounter the many obstacles I have placed in the way of my journey to the Lord.
So each Advent day is a walking forward, one step at a time, while both identifying and removing with the help of God’s Grace the obstacles I have placed on the path to Him.
To be sure, I encounter boulders on the road at times which represent the biggest type of obstacle. And what are these boulders? My arrogant, self-centered attempts to repeat the great sin first committed in the Garden….the human attempt to be God.
It is that sin, that obstacle, as any person using the 12 steps will tell you, which causes me pain, and even worse, pain to all who are around me.
It is at the beginning of my daily Advent walk that I must seek God and stop playing God.
I have seen clearly this year how members of the Church’s hierarchy have attempted to play God and as the result have caused so much pain to trusting and faithful members of our beloved Catholic Church.
Oh, there were signs to us all, things we saw and things we heard, but selective attention, denial and cover-up provided the perfect swamp in which a malignant Ecclesiastical system could fester and rot for many years. The depth of that swamp became painfully visible this year, beginning with the fall of the once “great” king maker, Uncle Teddy McCarrick.
When the lurid details came out of his sexual escapes with young seminarians at his New Jersey beach house, costing many their priestly vocation, the laity were shocked and felt duped. We learned that his sinful predatory behavior was enabled by fellow bishops, priests, politicians, law enforcement officials, seminary rectors, big business people, and yes, popes.
Shortly thereafter came the revelations of the lustful behavior of FORMER Bishop Bransfield. Thanks to more than one secular media report we had all learned about his mansions, sumptuous dining habits, lavish lifestyle mostly at diocesan expense, and the many rides around the state chauffeured by young priests in an expensive SUV, even though those priests were badly needed in parishes.
He loved to be called, “Your Excellency”. He expected his portrait displayed prominently in church and school buildings throughout the diocese and he demanded “obedience” from all of his subordinates, lay and clergy alike. Those who delayed or failed in showing their “obedience” to his whims were punished severely, as good men such as George Smoulder and Vincent Schmidt experienced first hand.
We must acknowledge, however, that it took a significant support system for his excellency to play God. It took:
- chancery priests who sought and were rewarded with “monsigorships” for their unquestioned “obedience”
- an attorney who “obediently” propped his excellency up legally and defended him relentlessly
- chancery lay leaders and workers who remained silent and looked the other way out of fear but all the while using “obedience” as their rationale.
- the many like-minded clergy who showed “obedience” to his excellency in order to avoid sudden and unwanted transfer or to win the “friendship” of his excellency with the hope of earning a vicar’s title.
- many lay business people and politicians all around the state, but especially, in Wheeling who sought to garner favor and attention (or just a smile and name recognition) from his excellency, thus providing at the least, tacit approval of his malignant and corrosive behavior by their “obedience” to him.
- fellow homosexual bishops, archbishops, and even the papal nuncios who for opportunistic reasons refused to challenge or correct their Ecclesiastical “brother”.
- and the many Vatican Lavender insiders who provided the perfect line of defense against the many letters of complaint from laity and clergy in his excellency’s diocese in little ole West Virginia.
- the vast number of laity who contributed to diocesan collections based on a naive sense of “obedience” and loyalty to his excellency as their shepherd and without questioning the need for such collections. No one publicly challenged the reason for the lack of financial accountability and reporting by his excellency.
Nabi Sayeth: FORMER Bishop Bransfield, his excellency, was able to feel like a god and play like a god because he was enabled to do so by many contributors. But where did it get him? Since no human was ever intended to be God, it led to his disgraceful demise. But perhaps the better question is: Where did it get his enablers? And so all of the aforementioned will perhaps join together and piously sing, “Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel….”