1. The Mercy of God.
Yesterday's celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday drew to a close the Octave of Easter--the eight days in which the Church celebrates the Paschal mystery of Christ's resurrection for all of humanity's salvation.
The resurrection of Christ from the dead is not fable. The resurrection of Christ from the dead is not myth. The resurrection of Christ from the dead is not an ideological construct. It is real.
The resurrection of Christ is historical truth. And, the resurrection of Christ is the single event in the history of humanity that touched and changed each and every person that has ever drawn breath, that has ever experienced a heartbeat, and that has ever been contemplated by our Creator. All of humanity, those in the grave, those on earth, and those whose lives still lay in the future were altogether, in that single moment of resurrection, offered life eternal. Christ has broken the chains of death that held all of us in slavery prior to His incarnation, passion, death, and resurrection. Now, freed from the bondage of death, we are free to live for Him.
With the great gift of free will, now, each person is given the awesome responsibility to live rightly. Some, saints among us, live holy lives. Others, emmersed in the devil's grasp, throw that responsibility to the wind and make themselves a god, pretending to be in control of everything. These delude themselves by falsely rationalizing that human biology is an accident. They say there is no God and that organized religion is a crutch for the weak who cannot deal with the temporal limits of this life. They are wrong. Richard Dawkins and all that espouse the lies that he professes are wrong. They are terribly and tragically wrong; pray for them.
Others, a great deal of the multitude of the earth, try to live in accord with the Divine Will at work in their lives. We fail often. Our goal of Christianity often appears to be a summit that it too high to reach, but still we try. Some on this earth may not have even heard of the Christ, our Savior, but they are still animated and driven by that divine law and the love of God that is written on each of our hearts.
But, for all those that struggle . . . pssst . . . here is the secret. It's not just you. You are not alone. Christ animates you. The Love of God sustains you in your very being. Nothing you do is unseen by the Lord. Remember the words of the Lord to Isaiah: "Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? [Absurd! But, e]ven should she forget, I will never forget you." (Is 49, 15 NAB)
Trust in Him. Recline in His love. Give yourself over to Him and be loved and supported by the benevolence that bore the weight of all of humanity's sin at once and continues to love us today. Rend your hearts and acknowledge that you need the Lord our God.
Praise the Lord for His divine mercy and love!
2. Today's Difficult Times and the Media
But, let's get to the heart of the matter that is gripping the world media's fascination right now concerning the universal, Catholic Church: the abuse of minors by priests and religious.
To be sure, the Church is not perfect, and she has never pretended to be. Thousands of years of tradition and authority founded on the person, life, and teaching of God's own Son, Jesus Christ--present in the magesterium--give the Church the authentic teaching authority she has. But, the Church is composed of humans who each sin and err. Even Christ's own twelve let him down continually, and one of them even betrayed Him, handing Him over to death by a kiss. How more of those that followed these men?
The abuse of children is a terrible sin. A sin, for sure that cries to God. But, every sinner is still loved by God. And, every sinner still has the opportunity for redemption and to live in eternity with our Lord. As our Lord said, one of the criminals crucified with Him saw paradise that very day.
So, the Church does not prosecute abusers with a view to inflicting great and public pain on them. The Church does not prosecute abusers with the intent of gaining headlines for the harsh treatment of those whom the world would scorn. The Church does not conduct swift trials to find a person guilty and hang 'em high.
That is not love--the instrument of God's goodness--that is hatred and vengeance. That is not the way of Christ, that is the way of men. This ultimately leads us to where the media is today: judging the Church by the standards of an amoral society--by mens' standards--and not by the standards of Christ, whom the Church is professed to in a loving covenant.
No person that seeks vengeance for the abuse of a child is ever going to be satisfied with the response of the Church. Does this mean the Church is engaged in a cover-up? No. Does this mean the Church is only trying to protect itself without concern for the victims? Absolutely not.
What the Church's actions mean is that the standards the universal media--having many faces and opinions, but united in trying to tear down the sacred in our world--apply are, by their nature, the wrong standards. The Church does not judge only as men do. The Church stands for the message of Christ, as judges mercifully as our Lord does.
So, shame on the popular media. Shame, shame, shame, shame on them for propagating the lies that they have. The media reports that I have read do not try to understand the Church, her practices, or her motivations to bring sinners to reconciliation and to love all as Christ loved us. No, the media reports that I have read try only to judge whether the Church is acting with the appropriate outrage, hostility, and harshness (in their narrow and condescending judgment). They ignore that their judgment is antithetical to the Church's mission and the true presence of the Church as the Body of Christ on Earth. Shame on them.
But, take heart of this point: the media has its proper role and the love of Christ is still with us in this time of apparent darkness, especially in this time of apparent darkness. Not all media reporting is bad. Those in the Church who have been justly dealt with because of their sins--who otherwise would not have been brought to light for their transgressions, and who by those transgressions would have continued to contribute to the victimization of the innocent and the deterioration of faith in the hearts of the innocent--have been brought to light because of the media reports. Would anything have changed in the Archdiocese of Boston if the Boston Globe had not dug out the story there? Sadly, I do not know the answer.
I do know this, we do owe our sincere thanks to the media, unfortunately, for those victims of clerical and religious sexual abuse who have been able to receive healing and assistance only because of the media reporting. Please, pray for all victims of abuse, especially victims of abuse at the hands of God's trusted and ordained ministers.
But, remember, each of the faithful is still called to be just that--faithful. Do not let the sinful acts, horrible as they may be, of a very, very few stand in the way of the faith in Christ that conquers all sin.
Peace be with you all.