Monday, 20 July 2015

Definite Proof of Your Love

'Someone has been the cause of pain; and the cause of pain not to me, but to some degree – not to overstate it – to all of you. The punishment already imposed by the majority on the man in question is enough; and the best thing now is to give him your forgiveness and encouragement, or he might break down from so much misery. So I am asking you to give some definite proof of your love for him. What I really wrote for, after all, was to test you and see whether you are completely obedient. Anybody that you forgive, I forgive; and as for my forgiving anything – if there has been anything to be forgiven, I have forgiven it for your sake in the presence of Christ. And so we will not be outwitted by Satan – we know well enough what his intentions are.
~ St Paul, 2 Corinthians 1:15-2:11

Readers will know that I am deeply concerned that Pope Francis can, for instance, issue an exhortation to the 'coal-mining community' calling for a 'paradigm shift' within this industry, but cannot bring himself to speak directly to the hearts of men and women in the heat of a crisis in human sexuality, nor call to repentance, or espouse the need for a 'paradigm shift' among those in other kinds of 'communities' that promote lifestyles completely opposed to the Gospel. The crisis in human sexuality directly attacks the sanctity of marriage, the institution of the family and lead souls into an abyss of misery in this life and eternal punishment in the next. The eloquence with which Pope Francis's predecessors were able to defend the family and marriage without coarse and deliberately provocative language is well-known.

His Holiness may indeed not have a real understanding of the homosexual crisis in the clergy - even in the Vatican. We are really left wondering whether - at any point - His Holiness believes this is an issue that needs to be addressed 'concretely' in some fashion. I believe His Holiness received a detailed report from his predecessor about the extent of the homosexual crisis in the clergy and must surely have been briefed over the extent of what appears to be some kind of network - though by no means a network that all clergy of a homosexual orientation 'tap into'.

At times, one can easily begin to wonder whether, far from attempting to meet this enormous challenge that he has as the Successor of St Peter 'head on' - a task that would have been beyond a frail and isolated figure such as Pope Benedict XVI, His Holiness's appointments - or even statements, as well as those times when he has kept silent, instead promotes this insidious agenda within the bosom of the Church.

There is no doubt that there is a grave crisis in the clergy - and possibly in the Hierarchy - how deep it is, we do not know - a crisis of formation, faith and a crisis in priestly identity as well as a lack of paternal and fraternal care for the spiritual and psychological state, or indeed maturity, of the Church's clergy. Quite what His Holiness is to do about that situation - a situation that spans Dioceses across vast parts of the World, I do not know, but it is an issue that needs to be addressed and the addressing of this issue is long overdue.

It needs to be restated that far from all clergy who have this condition of homosexuality form alliances with the 'gay community' and that they serve by their ministry, their prayer, their sacrificial life as 'alter Christus' and by their example serve the Lord and His flock in an exemplary fashion. It is also very true that 'heterosexual' priests too suffer grave temptations and this has been made clear from recent news in England and Wales. Every Shepherd, every priest is first in line of attack from the Enemy of God and mankind, since if the Devil can topple a priest, or a Bishop, he can ruin the faith of many and cause the sheep to scatter. Our Enemy prowls around, like a lion, seeking him who he may devour. When a marriage breaks up, people really do wonder whether it is possible to stay with one person for life. When a priest gives up, people really do wonder whether it is possible to be celibate and offer ones life entirely to God alone. Both have very devastating effects.

Looking at The Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma's website, I was reminded that...

...the anger of man worketh not the justice of God. ~ Letter of St James, 1:20

St Paul sets above before us a challenge that may require our serious reflection as to how we show forgiveness to an offender. It is certainly something that caught my eye as I was reading today. There are things we do know about what has happened in the case of the priest much discussed on blogs and social media over the weekend. There are also things we don't know and it would be gravely sinful and calumnious of us to say we do know things about this individual that we simply do not know. My previous blog post on the subject concentrated on the fragility of that chain that binds us to the Lord, how that can be mended by the Sacraments and prayer and how we must do what we can to be held in bonds of Communion with Christ, His Church and our brethren. These bonds of Communion are tenuous indeed but can be strengthened only by the grace of God and with each other by bonds of fraternal love. I do not with to speculate in a calumnious fashion on the activities of the individual, even if the proclivities, or at least those of his associates have been made more apparent on social media. We should, including myself, examine ourselves as to whether we are serving Christ if we knock a man down when he is already thoroughly down.

Nor do I know the full truth about what took place over the past months in this individual's parish, the nature of the support he had from those around him and the nature of the support he received, or didn't receive from his Bishop and brother priests.

Having had a quick look at the individual's social media activity, I can see before me absolutely no evidence of Faith, but whether that individual has Faith, or if he lost it, how he lost it, it is not my business to investigate. What has taken place in this saga is tragic indeed and nobody can deny that, but we must remember that we are called by Our Lord to treat others as we ourselves would like to be treated and to forgive. We are not called to pass judgment or to condemn individuals, we are not to assume things about that person's lifestyle of which we are completely ignorant and we are certainly not called to issue decrees on the state of that person's soul before God.

While the whole Catholic Church waits with baited breath as to how Pope Francis intends to take a break from matters of social inequality, the environment, economics and the need for reform in the coal-mining industry to meet the challenges in the Church that have been created by the homosexual movement and the crisis in human sexuality and gender within and without the Church, it is surely vital that the Church in England and Wales, and in particular, in the major Diocese of the priest who has resigned suddenly and 'broken the chain', makes serious efforts to ensure that fraternal charity and fraternal correction, as well as paternal charity and paternal correction, out of love for its clergy, is made a high priority. Perhaps after its reflection and discernment, that major Diocese can take its wisdom to other Dioceses, or even to Rome itself. Charity covers a multitude of sins, but what has happened should not simply be brushed under the carpet. Many of us are left 'in the dark' about events in this parish. Most cannot be certain what happened. Those in authority who are in a position of certainty regarding this tragedy must surely learn from it. Ministries seeking the spiritual welfare of homosexuals, such as Courage must surely be encouraged.

The bonds of our Communion with God are fragile and the bonds of Communion within the Bride of Christ are fragile. They are fragile within marriage, as we know and they are fragile within the Church Herself. They can easily be broken by the violence of anger and hatred as much as by the dangers posed by the untamed and unrestrained expression of our sexuality. The Lord will not be pleased with us if we savage those who fall short in even priestly Christian duties or if we fail to show any kind of mercy to them.

Pray for Priests, pray for Bishops, pray for the Pope and if you can show 'give some definite proof of your love' to the individual that we should pray for, who has so sadly decided to leave his priestly ministry, do. We are called by Christ to love until it hurts. Even if it hurts, therefore, we can do nothing but love and if we wish to be forgiven, Our Lord tells us that we simply must forgive. Many, if not all of us can say that;

'My past is a trail of mortal sins, my present trail may very well be in the grace of God, but then, it's Monday.' 

Let us never tire of seeking God's mercy and implore His grace. We are fragile creatures. Therefore, let us not pass judgment on others. It doesn't serve us well and it doesn't serve the Lord Jesus and if we are in the state of Grace we will only stay there if we are humble.


WorriedAboutYou said...

I hate and have a horror for sin -- and I hate and have a horror of wolves who come only to kill, steal and destroy. A good shepherd will fight and defeat the wolves. It is the hireling that runs away. Don't use 'forgiveness' and 'love' as a cloak for cowardice and wanting to keep in good with the new Bishop. The Master of Lies (and those who serve him) will certainly screw up your head if you let him.

The Bones said...

Letting the teaching of Jesus into your head does not screw you up, and as for the horror of sin, it is for God to judge 'hirelings', it is not for us. The individual has left the priesthood, whatever else has taken place, therefore it serves nobody to remain angry towards him or to maliciously attack him. Jesus tells us to love our enemies and the call to forgive is as important as the call to hate sin.

Lynda said...

Egregious sacrilege is being done if the bishop is allowing this priest who has repudiated the Deposit of Faith and publicly and indecently promoted depravity, to continue to minister. He ought to have been immediately removed from the parish and ministry when the authorities became aware of his public and planned repudiation of Faith and morals and his vows. The lack of horror on the part of the authorities for the danger to the priests souls and to the souls of countless others, and at the contempt for God is beyond belief. Lord, come soon. Lord, have mercy. Reparation!

Mary Kay said...

Difficult days. It can hardly be wrong to pray for poor Fr. Fisher, who 'is a priest forever'. This does not decrease the scandal or sorrow. It should only inspire us to continue our prayer and maybe a bit of sacrifice for him and all priests---and all of us!---left in this mire of the early 21st century.

Anonymous said...

I'm a bad Catholic and a sinner, who am I to judge? But, please, Mr. Bones, stop calling him Holiness, he's not a pope, he's a bishop, he thinks about himself as the Bishop of Rome, nothing more, nothing less......Pope is totaliter aliter, I often wonder why the still awesome Benedict remained in Vatican and didn't leave Rome, it's such a pain for me his silence......God bless+

Nicolas Bellord said...

I think we can pass on from whatever has happened at Blackfen but the problem of what to do about homosexuality in the Church is fraught with difficulty. It is worth reading Mgr Ronald Knox's sermon on "The Church as a visible institution" in "The Mystery of the Kingdom". To believe that the Church consists only of saved people is a Protestant idea. "Many are called, but few chosen". The called are those in the Church - Ecclesia. Knox says "By God's permissive will the cockle is allowed to grow up with the wheat in his Church; it is his will, but not his wish. It is impossible that scandals should not come, but woe to him through whom they come! ... A scandal carries further than a tale of sanctity; our Blessed Lady lived and died unknown, but all Jerusalem knew when Judas hanged himself."

Perhaps is it better to give the maximum rope to the cockle and tares and let them hang themselves?

What I find confusing though is the ambivalent attitude of certain members of the hierarchy on the question of homosexuality. On the one hand we have had the Soho Masses and what struck many as an excessive indulgence of activities contrary to the teaching of the Church and on the other hand the unjust and excessively heavy handedness meted out to the Grand Priory of the Order of Malta who have been excluded from using their own Chapel by the Archdiocese of Westminster. Yes somebody out of naivety and ignorance made a mistake in following child protection procedures but nothing untoward actually took place. However this led to the wildest accusations of sodomy and paedophilia smearing the reputations of many members of the Grand Priory. Three inquiries produced no evidence to support these wild accusations but the Archdiocese gave credence to them by excluding the Order of Malta from using their own Chapel at the Hospital of St John & St Elizabeth - a ban which as far as I know still subsists.

Of course all of this has rather more to do with side-lining orthodox Catholics who have been critical of the distancing of the Hospital from any pretence at adherence to Catholic ethics over such matters as abortion, artificial contraception and gender reassignments.

Our Lady of Good Success-pray for us. said...

Bones said: "The crisis in human sexuality directly attacks the sanctity of marriage, the institution of the family and lead souls into an abyss of misery in this life and eternal punishment in the next." That's a nail hit on the head. Here's another one: "The vocation, therefore, of a priest in our days involves the special aspect of instructing the Catholic people against the modern errors, and protecting them from the wovles who are often in sheep's clothing. The priest is no longer an ordinary priest...with a very predictable life ahead of him of the administration of the Sacraments, the instruction of the faithful, the care of the sick and he has an [extraordinary] mission from Christ in these times, and that is to protect the people from the modern instruct them who to avoid...The priest is in the frontline against the wiles of the devil."

If people evince 'no evidence of Faith', then conversion to the Faith is what is needed, and the Precious Blood is the efficacy of any prayer:
"Devotion to the Precious Blood brings us face to face with two fundamental doctrines of our holy religion: fallen man in all his misery, shut out from Paradise and Heaven, "mourning and weeping in this valley of tears;" and Jesus, the Son of the Living God, restoring the child of perdition to the dignity of a child of God and heir of heaven. An angel with a flaming sword guards the entrance to paradise lost; but Jesus in the crimson garment of His Blood, all aflame with love, opens the gates of heaven for us. A religion that is divorced from these basic truths is a like a nut that lacks a kernel. In our age of luxury and religious indifference, men do not care to be reminded of a moral regeneration, or of the necessity of struggling against the flesh, the world and the devil; they do not wish to hear of their obligation to make use of the means of salvation, and thus co-operate with God's grace. This effeminate world loathes a Church in which the Cross occupies a prominent place, and in which the Crucified is adored, and implored for mercy. Solid piety, and genuine and lasting devotion, however, must be founed upon the dogmas of the Church, and be rooted in a spirit of sacrifice and self-abasement. It should consist in the love of God and His Church, and be productive of practical charity, and a willingness to undergo sufferings, in submission to Divine Providence; otherwise, our devotions are in danger of becoming whimsical, and of degenerating into mere sentimentalism. "They have forsaken me, the fountain of Living Water, and have digged to themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water" Jerimiah 2:13. " Devotion to the Precious Blood, Rev. M.F. Walz, C.Pp.S. 1925.

BTW, I agree with 'anonymous' on the homage paid to someone who objectively has made being an enemy of the faith such a public affair. Objectively to call such a one 'His Holiness', is confusing; a marvelous modernist thing, confusion.

B flat said...

My simple thanks to you, for a very beautiful post, which breathes the Gospel to all sinners. I am sorry to comment so late.
Puckishly, I wonder if Abp Peter Smith is not a little envious that he did not produce this response for his diocese, to instruct the flock and calm troubled spirits.
God bless you a hundredfold for this, and the previous one on breaking chains!

David Roemer said...

Reasons to Believe in Jesus

Reasons to believe Jesus is alive in a new life with God can be found in quotes from two prominent atheists and a biology textbook.

Thus the passion of man is the reverse of that of Christ, for man loses himself as man in order that God may be born. But the idea of God is contradictory and we lose ourselves in vain. Man is a useless passion. (Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness: A Phenomenological Essay on Ontology, New York: Washington Square Press, p. 784)

Among the traditional candidates for comprehensive understanding of the relation of mind to the physical world, I believe the weight of evidence favors some from of neutral monism over the traditional alternatives of materialism, idealism, and dualism. (Thomas Nagel, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False, location 69 of 1831)

And certain properties of the human brain distinguish our species from all other animals. The human brain is, after all, the only known collection of matter that tries to understand itself. To most biologists, the brain and the mind are one and the same; understand how the brain is organized and how it works, and we’ll understand such mindful functions as abstract thought and feelings. Some philosophers are less comfortable with this mechanistic view of mind, finding Descartes’ concept of a mind-body duality more attractive. (Neil Campbell, Biology, 4th edition, p. 776 )

Sartre speaks of the "passion of man," not the passion of Christians. He is acknowledging that all religions east and west believe there is a transcendental reality and that perfect fulfillment comes from being united with this reality after we die. He then defines this passion with a reference to Christian doctrine which means he is acknowledging the historical reasons for believing in Jesus. He does not deny God exists. He is only saying the concept of God is contradictory. He then admits that since life ends in the grave, it has no meaning.

From the title of the book, you can see that Nagel understands that humans are embodied sprits and that the humans soul is spiritual. He says, however, that dualism and idealism are "traditional" alternatives to materialism. Dualism and idealism are just bright ideas from Descartes and Berkeley. The traditional alternative to materialism is monism. According to Thomas Aquinas unity is the transcendental property of being. Campbell does not even grasp the concept of monism. The only theories he grasps are dualism and materialism.

If all atheists were like Sartre, it would be an obstacle to faith. An important reason to believe in Jesus is that practically all atheists are like Nagel and Campbell, not like Sartre.

by David Roemer

Our Lady of Good Success-pray for us. said...

@David Roemer.

Would St Thomas have been speaking of 'unity' as 'others' have, however? The trouble with 'Sartre, Nagel and Campbell' (what is an individual?) and co. is the implicit 'approval' that we can 'decide for ourselves' with whom we agree, no foul. Even if, because we decide Satre is more convincing, it have nout to do with God.

"The vagaries of men's minds can never replace the revealed truths of God...the figurative meaning of the sacrifces of the old convenant are fulfilled in the New Testament in His Blood." Devotion to the Precious Blood.

David Roemer said...

According to St. Thomas, unity is a property of being. I exist and I am one being. I am not a collection of beings. To be is to be one. Faith is both a decision and a gift from God. Preaching the gospel means giving your reasons for believing and summoning people to believe. One of my reasons for believing is that people who don't believe don't discuss whether or not to believe in a reasonable way.

Our Lady of Good Success-pray for us. said...

@David. Ok. How does Nagel inform people's ability to know God?

David Roemer said...

@viterbo.Nagel is saying that human beings are embodied spirits or spirited bodies. Through metaphysical analysis, this leads to the existence of an infinite being, which Western religions call God. The opens us to the possibility the God has communicated Himself to mankind and revealed to us that our purpose in life is to get to Heaven.

Our Lady of Good Success-pray for us. said...

@David. For St Thomas - to separate philosophy and divine revelation is unthinkable. For the post 'Berkeley' mind, divine revelation itself is 'unthinkable'.

Lynda said...

Not only that but right reason does not allow for absurd theories that contradict God's Revelation in nature, most especially through man's natural aptitude to know God.

David Roemer said...

@viterbo I"m sure St. Thomas was clear about the difference between the two kinds of knowledge: faith and reason. In reason you know something is true because it is supported by evidence. In faith, you know something is true because God is telling you. There is no evidence for life after death, but we have reasons to believe in life after death.

Our Lady of Good Success-pray for us. said...

@David. A good priest recently told me that arguing St Thomas should be left to the Thomists, which the folks who don't have any fluency in the language of the Angelic Doctor or Divine Revelation are unable to do.

St Thomas wrote: "Hence it was necessary for the salvation of man that certain truths which exceed human reason should be made known to him by divine revelation. Even as regards those truths about God which human reason could have discovered, it was necessary that man should be taught by a divine revelation."

All I know is when encouraging Thomism in the seminaries, Leo XIII said: "The more active the enemies of religion are to teach the unlearned, the young especially, what clouds their intellect and corrupts their morals, the more should you exert yourselves to establish not only a well-adapted and solid method of instruction, but a method in perfect conformity with the Catholic faith, especially as regards Mental Philosophy, on which the right teaching of all the other sciences in a great measure depends -- a Philosophy which shall prepare the way for Divine Revelation instead of aiming at its overthrow."

PS. There is plenty of evidence for life after death if one has 'eyes to see and ears to hear'.

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