Search This Blog

Thursday, April 9, 2020


How many bishops, priests and laity,
pay lip service to the faith, but don't live it?
In view of sufferings being endured by so many faithful Catholics through the exposure of the clergy sex abuse scandals and the slanderous assaults upon Catholics, who seek to reverence and conform to the whole truth of God, there is a great danger of becoming caught up in a spiritual quagmire of discouragement, depression and despair.

This danger is compounded by the rather apparent inability of the Church’s hierarchy to unite in both proclaiming and holding themselves accountable to the whole truth of God. The doctrine that the Church always and everywhere proclaims the same saving truths seems to be more of a myth than a reality, as so many of our leaders promote such deviations from divine truth as the supremacy of sin-seared consciences over such truth, a tolerance for various forms of sexual perversions, the promotion of codependence as a form of compassion and the displacing of the doctrine of evocation (i.e., God is calling forth all of Creation into a more profound communion with His sanctifying love and truth) with the new paradigm of a self-gratifying and self-fulfilling evolution.

And sadly, even as these evils become evident, many Church leaders are unwilling to go beyond giving lip service to Church teaching. They often fail or refuse to allow God’s Word to become incarnate through tangible Church disciplines. Thus it is that good theology is so often presented as merely good theory. As a result, sacred doctrines are proposed as if they are just parochial opinions, rather than authoritatively proclaimed as divine truths.

In light of all this, it is important to note that both history and the Holy Spirit have revealed to us that the resolution of any crisis in the Church requires a more fervent and total investment of the faithful into the saving mystery of Christ crucified (I Cor 1:18-25). This doctrine of personal and communal regeneration through intimate communion with the generous giftedness of Christ crucified is completely alien to the secular mindset, which tends to view the thrills offered through self-affirmation, self-gratification and self-fulfillment as the way to true happiness. Sadly, however, in a desperate quest to make the Gospel more relevant to our world, Church leaders are often seduced into avoiding any but a merely peripheral mention of the central transformative mystery/dynamic and demands offered through communion with Christ crucified.

With regard to the scandals revealed among the Church’s hierarchy, this means that we must appreciate the fact that the ministry of Christ crucified was one of mercy, regeneration and sanctification. In light of this, we need to remember a basic spiritual truth. Our human nature is designed in such a way that we give glory and power to the ones and the works, to which we give the most attention. Thus when we give our attention primarily to what Satan, cynicism and sin are doing, we will soon find ourselves trapped by the proverbial “tar baby” of despondency, depression, discouragement and despair. This is why it is so important for the faithful to regularly, reverently and gratefully focus on the transcendent and transformative mercy being offered to the world through our crucified Savior. What sin and scandal is seeking to say about the Church is coming from the Father of Lies, whereas what Christ affirms by so graciously pouring out His life for us and for our salvation comes from Truth himself.
Don't get caught in the "tar baby" of despondency!
It is here that it may be helpful to examine some of the dimensions of the dynamics involved in Christ’s crucifixion. First, we must note that the mystery of the cross involves not merely the body of Jesus, but the whole Mystical Body Christ. Through Baptism, Confirmation and the Holy Eucharist, each of us becomes a participant in that saving mystery of redemptive suffering, not merely aloof spectators. (As an aside, this is one reason why Holy Communion is not cannibalism. For as Jesus was suffering and starving on His cross, the only way His Body was able to have the strength to endure the final stages of His sacrifice was to start feeding on Itself, breaking down its own fat and muscle tissues. This is one reason why only those baptized into the Body of Christ are able to deepen their Holy Communion with Him through the Blessed Sacrament)

Likewise, together with Jesus, we are drawn by the Holy Spirit to approach our sufferings not by asking, “How can I survive this?”, but rather, “How can I help Jesus to sanctify the world through this ordeal?”. When we allow ourselves to be embraced into that spirit of recollection, whereby we can keep our attention focused on humbly joining with Christ crucified in His ministry of gracious regenerative mercy, we begin to discover that confident assurance of faith, whereby we can share in a joy and a peace, which the powers of this world can neither give nor take away. Personally, I find it helpful to view my own sorrows and sufferings as a means to appreciate the awesome reverence and love of Christ. What I am suffering because of the scandals is miniscule compared to what He is suffering. And so I am led to appreciate Him and His mercy more deeply, thus allowing the transformative fruits of this gift to flow into myself and my relationships more freely and fully and drawing me into more profound acts of gratitude, generosity and reparation.

Let us unite our suffering to the suffering of Christ. 

This brings us to another important point for spiritual discernment. Very often, we tend to look upon Christ crucified as an object of meditation, veneration and adoration. Yet the mystical tradition of the Church offers us a more profound perspective of this mystery and of the ministries it inspires. In this tradition, we open ourselves to actually be embraced more deeply (or mystically) into the Body of Christ crucified, as He sanctifies and saves humanity and all Creation through the numerous sufferings, by which the various dimensions of the dynamic desecrating power of sin in the human condition are transformed into fountains of divine graciousness, mercy and love. This dimension is often avoided, since we live in a society which prioritizes the gratification of our desires and the pursuit of spiritual consolations over any pro-active acts of mortification, whereby we help Our Crucified Savior by tangibly bringing to those entrusted to our care and our prayers the fruits of His redemptive sufferings. Such reparational sufferings are particularly awkward, since they often seem to be not only futile, but also counterproductive. And just as the apparent futility of Christ’s sufferings on the cross led His disciples to view Him merely as a tragic victim of political and religious intrigue (Lk24:21), those called to persevere through sufferings, scandals, ridicule and persecutions in their fidelity to truth often go through long periods of spiritual dryness (what the mystics refer to as the dark night of the soul). But they are drawn by the Holy Spirit to realize that they are not alone in such sufferings, but rather being drawn more profoundly into both Divine Intimacy and the sacred ministries, which are its fruit.

Sadly, as I mentioned earlier, this dimension of the mystery of Christ crucified is widely ignored or avoided in a society, where so many are either enslaved to distracting addictions or spiritually drowning in the effluence of affluence. Yet the regeneration of all in Christ can only be made efficaciously present to the world through souls pro-actively consecrated to regularly invest themselves into a more humble, docile and grateful communion with the redemptive sufferings of Christ crucified. That is why, rotting away in a vermin infested prison cell, St. Paul could so vigorously urge us to rejoice in the Lord always (Phil 4:4-7) and assert that the wisdom of our Catholic Faith can only come to fruition through the our communion with the cross of Christ (I Cor 1:18-25).

Thus it is that, with all the heresies, divisions, perversions and obfuscations which have infected and desecrated the Mystical Body of Christ in recent years, the only wisdom that can deliver us from the seductions of Satan, sin, cynicism and slander is that which is discovered through conscientiously and faithfully embracing by a more profound, repentant, reverent and sanctifying communion with Our Crucified Savior. The glory of His Resurrection is not yet fully possessed by His faithful, but rather abides in their hearts as an inspiring hope (Heb 6:19-20).

The big question each of us has to answer each day is simple. Am I committed to become more conscientiously invested into a sanctifying communion with Christ crucified by taking tangible steps to incarnate His redemptive sufferings in my own flesh (Col 1:24-27)? Only by denying myself, taking up my cross daily and following Christ am I truly sharing in the saving mystery of Christ crucified, being integrated more deeply into His Mystical Body and opening myself to that joy and peace, which this world can neither give nor destroy.


Often overlooked dimensions of the sufferings of Jesus on the cross -

Through His scourging, crowning with thorns and falling onto the dried fecal waste on the ground as He carried His cross, Christ’s blood was seriously polluted with all kinds of sepsis. This means that, aside from His other sufferings, Jesus had to endure extreme fever and convulsions during the hours He hung on the cross. But, ironically, it was the Father’s will that He purify humanity from sin through Blood that was polluted by various infections.

Being totally exposed and vulnerable as He hung upon the cross, Jesus also suffered from various biting and stinging insects, which swarmed around Him into His wounds, His mouth, His ears, His eyes and nose. Thus allowing the chief priests and Pharisees to ridicule Him as being Beelzebub, Lord of the flies.

“Getting dirt” on opponents is nothing new. We can thus surmise that the chief priests and Pharisees looked into Christ’s background in Nazareth, and sought to exacerbate His sufferings by deriding His Blessed Mother, claiming that she was an immoral woman and, had St. Joseph not intervened, that Jesus Himself would have been an illegitimate child.

The Precious Blood of Jesus on the cross did not only nurture His Body, but also fell upon the dust below the cross. Thus it was that the Holy Spirit indicated that the dust of fallen humanity was to be raised up to new life through the shedding of His Blood.

The agonizing convulsions experienced by Jesus on the cross due to trauma, infection, hunger and thirst are reflected in the life of His Mystical Body on earth. As new souls, with all their wounds, sinful compulsions and distorted perspectives are called to be integrated into the Church through repentance and faith, other members of the Church must suffer in similar ways and ever renew their commitment to persevere with Him lovingly consecrating themselves to mercifully sanctify all through these sufferings.

No comments:

Post a Comment