Light and Life – Mar-April 2019, Vol 72, No 2 – A Publication of the Western Dominican Province
We live in a time of grace. —That’s right, this is a time of grace for the Church.
We have been besieged by scandals of sexual abuse by bishops, both with minors and adults, and the covering up of that abuse by many other cardinals and bishops. There are factions within the Church opposing each other in open hostility. There is a dearth in leadership. There are many bishops, priests and laity alike who don’t like the leadership of Pope Francis and are very angry with him. Then there are those who defend his decisions and his pontificate. The crisis seems to be more severe here in the United States where we are also observing the left and right warring in the political sphere. The Church is in
rocky waters: she is being attacked by her enemies (as usual), but she also suffers because many of her members are warring against each other or living sinful lives. It is indeed a difficult time for the Church.
Nevertheless, I repeat, we live in a time of grace.
St. Paul says, “Where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more” (Rom 5:20). Thus, even though we are overwhelmed by the onslaught of human sin and error—and let us not overlook our own participation in this—we should hold fast to the grace that is present to us and that anchors the Church. Why should we be so hopeful? Because we do not stand alone. Jesus Christ stands with us, even in our sins. The death of Jesus reminds us of how the Lord has responded to our sinfulness, and his death on the Cross continues to be a source of grace for the Church:
“For Christ, while we were still helpless, died at the appointed time for the ungodly. Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. How much more then, since we are now justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath. Indeed, if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, how much more, once reconciled, will we be saved by his life. Not only that, but we also boast of God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” (Rom 5:6-11)
In her long history, the Church has often sailed through rocky waters. This is not the first time, nor will it be the last. However, in times like this we should ask ourselves, “How do we move forward as a Church?” I believe that it is by living our faith daily in a tangible way and by striving for personal holiness.
Too many people put their faith in the clergy. Then, when the clergy don’t live up to our expectations we begin doubting the Lord. The clergy should be held to a higher standard—and the laity have the right to challenge them in that regard; however, each person should have their faith grounded in Jesus Christ. People whom we look up to and count on can fail us, but if we put our faith in the Lord, then we stand on solid ground.
Don’t forget the words of Our Lord,
Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock. And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined. (Matthew 7:24-27)
Thus, even though we are presently beset by sin, evil, discord, scandal and disobedience, God’s grace is enough for us! Therefore, the grace that flows from Christ’s death on the Cross is enough for us to persevere and trust in the Lord. The Lord has things in hand even though we may not. It is important though for each of us to focus on living our own faith. If we call out others for not living the faith and we don’t live holy lives either, what we say and do rings empty.
Recall the imagery of Psalm 1:
Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stand in the way of sinners, nor sit in company with scoffers.
Rather, the law of the LORD is his joy; and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted near streams of water, that yields its fruit in season;
its leaves never wither; whatever he does prospers. (Psalm1: 1-3)
In order to build our house on solid ground, we need to stretch our roots in the Catholic faith by attending Mass daily, if possible; scheduling daily quality prayer time; reading and reflecting upon the Holy Scriptures; going to confession at least monthly, and more if needed; being active in our parish; volunteering in serving the poor or the vulnerable in some capacity—there are so many places and ways in which we could impact people’s lives; and studying and reflecting upon the teachings of our Catholic faith. Like the tree whose roots are nourished by the underground stream, let us stretch our roots deep within God’s grace; otherwise we will not hold up amidst the storm.
In our struggle of faith, we can always look to the Blessed Virgin Mary, for when almost all of the disciples fled in Jesus’ final agony on the Cross, his Mother stood at his feet and carried the faith of the Church through until Easter Sunday. Let us ask the Blessed Virgin to accompany us now in our Church and help us to ground ourselves in the grace that only comes from her Son.
Let us heed the words of St. Bernard of Clairvaux:
If the winds of temptation arise; If you are driven upon the rocks of tribulation look to the star, call on Mary; If you are tossed upon the waves of pride, of ambition, of envy, of rivalry, look to the star, call on Mary. Should anger, or avarice, or fleshly desire violently assail the frail vessel of your soul, look at the star, call upon Mary.
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.
Dear faithful supporters of the Rosary Center & Confraternity, we are grateful for your support. We could not fulfill our Mission if not for our benefactors. After decades of constant use, the Rosary Center, the home of the Rosary Confraternity, is greatly in need of renovation. Please consider making a special gift to help make badly needed repairs, and to refurbish the offices, chapel and kitchen. Thank you for your generosity! Fr. Joseph Sergott, O.P.