A blog for Catholic men that seeks to encourage virtue, the pursuit of holiness and the art of true masculinity.
Wickedness in High Places
August 8, 2018
The world is sick with sin. And not just the world, but the Church.
The latest revelations about the depth and degree of the rot and moral corruption within the priesthood and the hierarchy, reaching all the way to the highest echelons of power, are nothing less than nauseating. The frightening truth is, we likely don’t know the half of how deep it runs.
There is indeed wickedness in high places, and no amount of excuses or appeals to historic examples of corruption will make it acceptable. Souls are being lost and lives destroyed. We should never simply shrug and turn a blind eye toward evil, as if the fact that it has always existed makes it any less appalling or egregious. The sooner we acknowledge the dark reality of our situation, the sooner we can begin to remedy it.
But how are we to remedy such systemic corruption? As laity, we have no ecclesiastical power. We cannot issue edicts or command a reform of faith, morals, or discipline. We cannot punish even one evil-doer. Yet, we do have authentic reform within our power—the ability to reform our own hearts.
We must realize that the crisis through which we are living is not merely a matter of depraved priests or duplicitous bishops. “We are wrestling not against blood and flesh,” St. Paul tells us, “but against the Archons, against the Powers, against the Cosmic Rulers of this Darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the celestial places.”
Such spiritual enemies cannot merely be met with remedies of human devising, no matter how necessary they may be. They must rather be combatted with spiritual weapons. And what is the most potent of these?
The chief remedy is everywhere and always repentance. Throughout scripture, and indeed this history of the Church, the clear answer to great evil is always prayer and penance—true conversion of heart.
The people of Ninevah wept, tore their clothes, and covered themselves in ashes when rebuked by the prophet Jonah. The people of Israel, too, fasted and cried out in repentance when they had abandoned their God and had been disciplined by him. And even in more recent times, the people of France built the great church of the Sacred Heart as a national sign of contrition and repentance after chastisement from God.
We too must do penance. We must reject the temptation to activism, as though mere busyness could save us. Instead, we must feel true sorrow about the state of things, and indeed our complicity, albeit unconscious, in allowing them to arrive at this point.
We must no longer blithely pretend that everything is alright, for such is a false peace. We must acknowledge the sins of the Church and allow them to break out hearts as they break Christ’s. We must feel the full weight and horror of the evil engulfing us—and realize that such wickedness lives not just in others, but in our own hearts. We must cry out like the psalmist David, “Here, O God, is my sacrifice, a broken spirit; a heart that is humbled and contrite thou, O God, wilt never disdain.”
Now is the Day of Salvation
At any time, God can bring true restoration and healing to his Church. He has shown that time and again through the ages. But it is also a fact of history that God rarely acts without the sincere contrition of his people.
Many of us are justifiably angered by the systemic evil in the Church. And yet if we examine our own hearts, we will find them filled with unforgiveness, bitterness, lust, envy, judgement, greed, hatred, materialism, ambition—and at the very least a great deal of worldliness and love of comfort.
The Church is the Lord’s. He will judge and punish every wicked and complicit prelate, every false shepherd that does not sincerely repent. And in that day, it would have been better for them to have never been born.
As for us, let us strive to root out the evil in our hearts. Let us cry out to God with tears of sorrow for our sins, the sins of the world, and the sins of his Church. Let us pray and sacrifice for the salvation of all.
He alone can heal and save us. Could it be that he is waiting for you?
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