My pastor, Pater John-Mary S. W. Bowlin KCHS, knocks it out of the park. My home parish is St. Kateri Tekakwitha, in Buffalo, TX.
Praise be to God for Fr. Bowlin. Please pray for him and for all faithful priests. For anyone on Facebook, please leave a comment thanking Fr. Bowlin for preaching the truth. Below is his sermon:
on the Crisis being experienced in the Church today
given on the 22nd Sunday per annum (B)
2 September AD2018
Rev. John-Mary S. W. Bowlin, KCHS
Our blessed Lord says: “For nothing is hid that shall not be made manifest, nor anything secret that shall not be known and come to light.” (Lk 8: 17) In recent weeks, much that had been hidden, at least from the general population of the Church, has come to light, and it is ugly. The evil perpetrated by men consecrated to God is an abhomination. Allowing this to continue by those responsible for their flocks is unconscionable. And yet it happened, many, many times. The question which many are asking is: how does one respond to this?
II. Founded on rock
I cannot speak for others, but I will share why my faith has not been shaken one bit by these revelations. These reasons are founded in a faith which all who follow Christ should have:
1) I know my own sinfulness. While I may never have committed the particular crimes that these men have committed, I have crucified my Lord over and over again. Like St. Dismas, I recognize that I deserve punishment, even if I do not want to accept it. (Cf. Lk 23: 41)
2) I know my Church history. This is neither the first nor the last time that men of God shall be guilty of such evil. St. John Chrysostom is said to have said: “The road to hell is paved with the skulls of erring priests, with bishops as their signposts.”
3) My faith is not in men, but in Christ. He instituted His Church on Peter, certainly (Mt 16: 18), but it is yet His Church. In recent days, the words of Hilair Belloc have been very popular: “The Catholic Church is an institution I am bound to hold divine – but for unbelievers a proof of its divinity might be found in the fact that no merely human institution conducted with such knavish imbecility would have lasted a fortnight.”
4) I know who our Enemy is, and he does not rest, but prowls about the worlds seeking the ruin of souls, especially priests.
5) I know Who my Lord is. This is the same Lord Who bid Peter come to Him across the water as the waves rose around him. Peter’s faith wavered and He sank. The waves are today rising very high. At the same time that He promises that He will found His Church on Peter, He promises that the gates of Hell shall not prevail. He did not say that they would not give us a sound thrashing.
III. Considering the Problem
A. One of the things about all this that saddens me, however, is that I know we deserve to be in this situation. I AM NOT SAYING THAT THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN ABUSED DESERVE IT. I mean that we deserve to be the mockery of the world. We have not been the city on the hill nor the lamp on the lampstand for many years now. (Cf. Mt 5: 14-15) We have been so preoccupied about accommodating to the world and not offending Jews and Protestants that we have betrayed Christ.
B. I was also wondering why I wasn’t more angry about these revelations. Part of it is that there has been nothing new revealed about the abuse of minors. That all came to the light in AD2002, starting in Boston. We have taken great strides to prevent abuse since then and have succeeded to a great degree. No, what was revealed by the Grand Jury report in Pennsylvania was the systemic ignoring of this problem by the chief shepherds of our local Churches (i.e. Dioceses). And the reason why this did not provoke me to anger against our bishops is because I have been angry at them for a very long time. (I don’t mean every bishop, nor our own bishop, but collectively.) Why is this?
1. Because it is bishops which have continuously implemented policies which are at the root of this disease.
2. They have not guarded the Sacred Liturgy but caused it to be treated as communal celebrations and not the Sacred Rites of the divinely-founded Church of Christ, permitting them to be celebrated in a way which betrays their sacredness and mystery.
3. The Sacred Liturgy since Bugnini’s reform has been “ritually demilitarized”, removing so much of its spiritual combat effectiveness, even after Pope St. Leo XIII warned of the stench of Satan in the Sanctuary. The form of major exorcism performed in the vernacular and not in Latin has been objectively identified as less effective by exorcists. There are weaker exorcisms in the new rite of Baptism. The reading from the Office of Compline (the last “hour” of the Liturgy of the Hours) warning us to constant vigilance against the Devil which was read nightly is only read once a week now, and the daily collect invoking the protection of God’s angels has been relegated to Solemnities. The prayer to St. Michael after Mass was eliminated. The formula for the blessing of Holy Water lost all of its militant intentions. The blessing and use of incense, which had a role in the spiritual combat, was diminished.
4. Our Shepherds have consistently reduced our obligations, accommodating to people’s sloth. Holy Days of Obligation are often not celebrated so that the People of God might not be burdened with Holy Mass two days consecutively (note: sarcasm). The Holy Communion fast, traditionally from midnight on, was reduced to only an hour before Holy Communion itself. The laws of fast and abstinence, traditionally a true sacrifice, have become a joke.
5. For decades, we have watered down faith and morals. If we truly understood what sin was and how it offended our Lord, our lines for Confession would never stop. But for decades we have been told that everything is “not that bad” to the point that real belief in Hell is very rare. Those who want to blame this current crisis on homosexuals need to examine what role no-fault divorce and contraception did to the unitive and procreative aspects of marriage in our society and why the rejection of those by married couples were the precursor to so much of the acceptance of sexual sin.
6. In this, the bishops have been assisted by so many of our priests.
7. “The Church as the Ark of Salvation always floats in and above the torrid waters of the age: we can’t only condemn Priests and Bishops for their infidelities and broken vows when lay people do so also with relative impunity. Today is an opportunity to take our Christianity seriously, for both lay people and Priests. We need to be outstanding in chastity and charity, as we were in the Apostolic Age.” (Fr. David Waters)
IV. Need for Charity
A. I do not say any of this to place blame, but to frame the greater context for this crisis. Certainly, those responsible need to take responsibility (though it seems they will not). But I am not speaking to bishops and priests. How should you, the People of God, respond? With charity. Charity must be our guiding principle in all things. To be Christian, to be a follower of Christ, means that we must respond in charity.
B. This means, firstly, that we must not seek revenge, but justice. I have seen priests even invoke the death penalty for those who abuse children or cover it up. This horrifies me because this is not the reason for the death penalty. The death penalty is only to be used as a preventative when all else fails. If that means that we must lock up the perpetrators and throw away the key, so be it. But that is prevention, not revenge. God will give them what they deserve (cf. Rom 12: 19).
C. Charity also dictates that we are not prejudiced. Not all priests are abusers. Not all homosexuals are abusers. Not everyone who has a disordered desire for children acts on it. We must only react to what individuals have actually done.
D. And we must have charity for all:
1. Charity for the victims of this abuse dictates that we pray and sacrifice for them and that the Church provide the counseling and opportunities for healing that they desperately need.
2. Charity for the perpetrators means that we prevent them from having opportunities to abuse others and that they are provided, if they will accept it, the therapy and counseling they need to avoid future sin.
3. Charity to all children causes us to ensure that they are not put into situations where they can be harmed and that they receive proper formation in sexuality (starting at home).
V. Conclusion: our Response
A. I have one admonition to those who want to respond to this crisis: be a saint! Because the only soul you have to answer for is your own. Yes, part of your sanctification is your duty to others, because a Saint not only loves the Lord with his whole heart, mind, soul, and strength, but also his neighbor as himself. (Mt 22: 37-40)
We cannot change the world, yet we can, by the grace of God, change ourselves; and if we grow in holiness, then that will affect others, starting with those around us.
B. You already know what you need to do:
1) Christ is the answer – find Him in the Holy Eucharist, in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, in fervent Holy Communions, and devote adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament.
2) Do penance. Some demons can only be driven out by prayer and fasting! (Cf. Mk 9: 29) [Specific details have been given in previous preaching.]
3) Pray! Pray! Pray! Especially the Holy Rosary. Our Lady is powerful. Call upon her. With the chain of the Holy Rosary, bind victims of abuse to her for protection and healing. Bind priests and bishops to her, to be protected and healed and converted.
C. Enough with the mediocrity! We now see the fruits of our mediocrity over many decades. The only true response to evil is holiness – so be holy!
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“The most evident mark of God’s anger and the most terrible castigation He can inflict upon the world are manifested when He permits His people to fall into the hands of clergy who are priests more in name than in deed, priests who practice the cruelty of ravening wolves rather than charity and affection of devoted shepherds …When God permits such things, it is a very positive proof that He is thoroughly angry with His people, and is visiting His most dreadful anger upon them. That is why He cries unceasingly to Christians, “Return O ye revolting children … and I will give you pastors according to My own heart”. (Jer. 3:14,15) Thus, irregularities in the lives of priests constitute a scourge upon the people in consequence of sin.”-St. John Eudes
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A helpful blog on these subjects: Scutumetlorica.com