Oh man, so many thoughts in my head and I can’t talk to anyone anymore! I have some questions, first for me because I am the worst, but to all of us.
My dad brings me Holy Communion daily, and we get to have little chats when he tells me what is going on, etc. It’s bonding time as adults that we didn’t get when we were younger and I love it. Today he was talking about these TV shows he and Mom watch, and how there is basically no morality anywhere, and that is the new normal.
One, for shame, Mom, watching these heathen shows. We used to watch EWTN! Two, it brought to mind a Franciscan, who was asked to rebuild a church. I know mom will like that!
Ironically the first one to come to mind was St Anthony, and poor Dad was trying desperately to understand what I was saying. He fired up my mind and all day I have been processing this! And I wrote to a friend just getting the jumble to settle down in my head. And I think, I think, I should maybe share my thoughts so that someone better than I can make sense of it.
Europe, in the time of St Francis, St Anthony, and St Dominic, was Catholic. This was the main religion, and heresies such as the albigensians were split heretically from the church. The Protestant schism had not occurred and Europe was growing in wealth. The Catholic Church was very wealthy, but there were a lot of sinful bishops, abbots, and popes too. It seemed though that the church was strong, able to call for crusades, and nearly everyone was Catholic.
Into this world, Francis received a vision in San Damiano. “Rebuild My Church.”
It is understandable that Francis thought he meant the chapel, because what was wrong with the Church? He saw everything I just mentioned! The church is strong, Lord !
But no, Francis was for his time, and he went out and preached the Gospel. The Good News. To Catholics. And they began to respond. Francis and Anthony are renowned for their preaching, but they didn’t go convert Africa or the Holy Land like they wanted to, they preached to Catholics. And were renowned for it.
St Dominic also was a renowned preacher but he and his order seem to be sent to bring the lost sheep back, the heretics. For this he was given the Rosary, to preach the Mysteries of each Gospel event and meditate on them. He also preached to Catholics.
The Catholic Church of that time is very similar to our time now. Indifferent or apathetic Catholics in name only, corruption and scandal in the hierarchy, and wealthy bishops being flat out sinful. A growing mercantile class, and wealth and status are praised, the men had wandering proclivities, if you know what I mean, and the rich youth went out partying, with maybe too much wine and women. An amoral world, where it doesn’t matter, and that is normal. It’s like looking in a mirror!
And this was my thought process. We, right now, are called to be Catholic, to bring the Gospel not to the ones who believe nothing, but to the ChrEaster Catholics. How are we preaching to them? I mean, we can wait for a St Francis to have a vision again but God seldom works in the same way twice, even though we humans repeat history, all the dang time.
I say we because you and I are in the public square now. Every crucifix worn, sign of the cross made in public, every grace before meals, they are our witness to the Gospels. And more, the devil has turned society against the Roman collar. Their faithful witness has been tarnished by the evil men who wore the collar too, which is terrible! But you and me? We have the ability to witness without having someone judge us for our habit.
When was the last time you saw the Gospel preached by a priest, in the public square, spontaneously? My friend Fr Tim gave me that blessing when we went for coffee and the barista asked about his Dominican habit. But that was a year ago, and our church is undergoing scandal after scandal! I sometimes feel our priests are barricaded in their churches because of society, and they can only be at ease there or in a friendly home.
If Francis, Anthony, and Dominic were sent to rebuild the church, and they were sent to Catholics, then we now are being called to rebuild God’s Church, and we the laity are the ones called. We have the ability to witness, the freedom from constraints that may be placed on clergy, for encoded in our Constitution is the inalienable right of religion. And even if it isn’t there, it didn’t stop Edmund Campion, did it? Truth is not relative, and we are being asked to witness to the Truth.
I’ve said before that the Spirit moves and the Church tries to catch up to each revelation the Holy Spirit reveals, Acts chapter ten I think with Peter and the gentiles. But as I am writing this, I had a thought. Vatican 2 is often criticized as destroying the church. But unless I am totally wrong, there was great movement in Vatican 2 for greater participation of the laity, which bad priests and bishops took to mean dance parties and other ridiculousness. But Vatican 2 could have been the Holy Spirit moving the church to prepare for this very time. A time when the hierarchy is crumbling, and if you don’t believe me, they defrocked a bloomin Cardinal for his scandals! Things are NOT HEALTHY in the hierarchy! But we laity have been encouraged by Vatican 2 documents, and orthodox theologians, to engage! To stand up, to not just let the priest handle evangelization! If this is the case, and I pray it is, how deep is the Holy Spirit, who speaks in inutterable groans and sees beyond our comprehension!!
So those are my thoughts. A bit rambling, but maybe a springboard for someone else, much smarter and holier, who can throw out the bad thoughts and make sense of it. But for me, well, I don’t know how to preach the Gospel. I talk a good game, but how does one do it? That is something that is never really explained. So we have to start by how we live, I guess, which makes me a horrible example because I was just yelling at the kids.
So, yeah. There you go.
1 thought on “preach it, brother!”
Joe, I’m probably not on same thought wave as you, but your post made me think of a few things. The Church, of course, made of imperfect humans is always needing reform. Some of the greatest saints were jump starters of reform in every century and of every religious monastery and convent and up to the highest levels, as you said above. Have you ever seen the Facebook post going around of Mr Fred Rogers and he is taking about how in every tragedy in society to look for the heroes, such as the policemen, the doctors and Emts, the random citizens that come to aid? He was using it as a way to calm and comfort children, of course, but it got me thinking about our modern day reformers or heroes of the faith. St John Paul 2, St Teresa of Calcutta, Pope Benedict, Mother Angelica, Scott Hahn, recent martyrs of the faith in some of the eastern anti catholic countries, are some of the more well known in modern days. But we have lesser known, like Fr Noah and his blog, you and your blog, Catholic Culture, the pod casts, Two Minutes to Virtue,the small groups of men that gather to pray and talk weekly, the moms groups that pray and walk, the Bible studies, the cds in the back of church and still EWTN–all different ways of preaching and reaching the people. I think one of the hard parts is getting people even interested enough to seek these things out, (I guess that’s where preaching in the square you mentioned comes in) as we are not even a religious country anymore, let alone one faith as old Europe was. Is it enough? I am sure it’s not, but it’s there, there are always the heroes. Thanks for getting me thinking about it, even if it’s not how you meant it.