By Fr. Tom Collins
In view of the many dimensions of the metastasizing evils infecting the Church, it is important to note that we are in the midst of some major spiritual combat against principalities and powers of darkness. And, as it has always been in the Church, the way to overcome such evils is our embracing more deeply the grace of authentic repentance. This means a regular examination of conscience to determine where we may be infected with the second-hand smoke of perversion and heresy. Such an examination will lead to more fruitful reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Likewise, since authentic repentance requires the nourishment of prayer and mortification, each of us has to become more conscientious embracing our sacred communion with Our Lord Jesus, Our Blessed Mother and the saints with solid regular disciplines of prayer, fasting, almsgiving and Christ-centered fellowship. As one man put it, “Don’t become cynical. Join a cenacle”. After all, as Mother Theresa repeatedly pointed out – there is nothing as awesome, beautiful or transformative as the humility of God. Satan seeks to desecrate relationships. Christ, however, if we allow Him to do so, can sanctify us through humble and prayer-filled fellowship. Would that Catholics were more willing to gather for prayer, reflection, instruction and virtuous encouragement than they are for worldly entertainment.
Secondly, when we do confess our sins, we need to mention the times we may have received Holy Communion with an impure heart – or possibly in an objective state of mortal sin. This is often overlooked in a society where rationalizations for sin have led so many to allow their sincere consciences, guided by the whole truth of God, to become sin-seared consciences. Also, a sincere confession promotes the authentic dignity of our humanity. Sins compounded by sacrilegious Communions become extremely toxic. This is evidenced by the fact that so many bishops refuse to mention the serious sacrileges committed by clergy, who were sexual predators. Thus they, tragically, tend to overlook a basic truth of the spiritual life – the gates of hell cannot prevail against a repenting heart.
Following on this, we need to decisively destroy the distorted theologies of the fundamental option and the supremacy of conscience. In opposition to the fickleness of a fundamental option to good, we need to assert the serious need for a fundamental commitment to know, love and serve God with all our heart, soul, mind, strength and relationships. And regarding the alleged supremacy of conscience, we need to assert the serious obligation to form our conscience in accordance with God’s revealed Word, not on the latest fad broadcast on “The View” or “Good Morning America”.
Fifthly, we must keep in mind that human dignity can only be realized by a humble accountability to the truth. While the thinking of our secular world asserts that the avoidance of accountability is the way to true human freedom, the opposite is the case. One who is a slave to his passions and addictions is not free. Accountability is based on reverence for the truth, whereas the standards for responsibility are often merely based on social convention. And the social conventions of our society are becoming increasingly perverted.
A sixth needed action is the reaffirmation of the sacredness of human language. For too long, we have been seduced into tolerating or even laughing at perversions of our language. All authentically human language must be in harmony with the original sanctifying Word of God. The profusion of vulgarities, profanities, obscenities and blasphemies, which the societal elitists extol as an essential part of “adult entertainment”, are disgusting abominations.
Next, we need to reassert that we have been incorporated through Baptism into the Catholic Church. This means that our primary allegiance is to the Communion of Saints, who suffered so much to pass on the precious heritage of our Faith. And our primary accountability is to the Catholic Faith, rooted in the whole truth of God, not to ecclesiastical bureaucracies, which, in recent years, have so often displaced the fear of the Lord with the fear of the lawsuit.
Finally, we need to arouse the graces of our Confirmation and become bold in proclaiming our Faith.
We need to let our clergy know that we are praying for their sanctification and salvation – and invite them to join with us in prayer. We need to call our families together daily for the Rosary and/or other prayers and devotional activities. If we do not conscientiously make Jesus Christ the center of our homes and our families, there are more than enough demons willing to subtly move in and take His place. We need to acknowledge, then, that the crisis we face today is rooted in spiritual mediocrity. Whereas social convention allows us to get excited about sports, politics, economics or fashions, political correctness demands that we keep the so desperately needed light of our faith under an elongated bushel basket called a steeple.
Boycotts and other activities may manipulate our clergy into cleaning up their act. But these will only address the symptoms of the real malady infecting our Church. What they, and all of us, really need is a more profound transformation in God’s grace. All of us are infected with the perversions of this age. However, “If My people, upon whom My Name has been pronounced, humble themselves and pray, and seek My Presence and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven and pardon their sins and revive their land”. (II Chr 7:14)