A Church in Crisis

The Crowning with Thorns

(The Crowning with Thorns by Caravaggio)

Dear Brother’s and Sisters in Christ,

The Church is in crisis. I do not mean that she is at a breaking point, as though she were about to collapse under the intense weight of sin; but, rather, I mean that She is in crisis because she has reached a critical point in Her life, if we want to use such terms. A great scar has blemished the face of the impeccable Bride of Christ, and this scar is the sexual abuse that has recently been revealed to have been taken place at the hands of Her ministers. Now, this has rightly merited a response from the faithful, as such a horrendous crime cannot be ignored; however, how we respond is of the utmost importance. As it stands, people have responded in one of three ways. The first way is to remain ignorant and avoid the issue altogether, hoping that it will be lost in the passion of history. However, as we have already said, a sin of this caliber not only necessitates a response on the part of the faithful, but demands one. The second option is to walk away, to abandon the Church in this hour of darkness and turn towards “greener pastures”, as it were. The third option is to stay and fight for Holy Mother Church, to cleanse the abscess of sin that has formed in Her beautiful countenance, to pray for reform and mercy for those that are in Her leadership and to pray for healing for those who were victimized and abused.

Hopefully, I pray, it is obvious which stance I take; for there can only be one right, just, and proper response to this grotesque defilement: we must stay and fight. Why stay and fight? Because there is no salvation outside of the Church. Or, in other words, there is no salvation separate from Christ. Now, the question arises, why can I not leave the Church and still remain Christian too. After all, there are numerous sects of Christianity (More than 40,000 established denominations alone) that I could join and still love Christ. But, I must maintain that it is impossible to leave the Church and still love Christ, and here’s why. Imagine for a moment that a couple has been married for a number of years, and each professed to love each other more than anything, after all they made this vow to one another on their wedding day. Now, imagine that one day the wife came to the husband and said, “You know that I love you, but I really don’t feel like living with you anymore, so I’m going to go and live with a friend. Oh, but don’t worry, I still love you and I’ll still be thinking about you, but I just can’t actually be with you anymore because the house is a mess and the kids are kinda rotten; but don’t worry, I still love you.” Can you imagine anyone doing this? The sad reality is that people do this all the time, but is this love? The answer is unequivocally no. If you love someone, you do not abandon them, rather you suffer with them. This is, after all, the root of the word compatibility (from the Latin compati which means “to suffer with”).

In much the same way, we are the Church, and so we are the Bride of Christ; and to leave the Church now when it is in most need of Her Children to stand up and fight for Her sanctity is to be no different, and actually more grave, than a wife leaving her husband (or vice versa) in the above mentioned scenario. If we really love Christ and if we really take Him on His word when He said that “the gates of hell shall never prevail against it (the Church)” (Mt. 16:18), then to abandon the Church is to doubt Christ. Additionally, as the Bride of Christ, the Church is nuptially united to Christ, and so they are “one flesh” (Mk. 10:8). Therefore, to abandon the Church is to abandon Christ. We cannot abandon Christ. Why would we dare abandon the one who gave everything for us? The Eternal God who became man so that we men might become God.*

I think that it is important to always keep in mind that the Church is not holy because Her members are holy, but because Her true head, Jesus Christ, is holy; and if we do abandon the Bride of Christ because of sins of men, as grave and heinous as they might be, it is only because our love was not rooted in Christ. Brother’s and Sisters, I must implore you to remain strong in your faith and to pray for our priests and Bishops, especially those who are guilty of these crimes. Pray that those who are innocent will continue to grow in all virtue and holiness, that they may be given the grace to truly imitate Christ and love their Bride as “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:25-27). Pray that those who are guilty will be led by the Spirit to repentance and contrition, so that they may experience the love and mercy of Christ on the Cross and may merit, by the grace of God, the rewards of eternal life. Pray that those who were victimized and abused will receive healing and peace in this time of great distress, that they too may grow in all virtue and holiness, imitation Christ even to the point to cry out, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do” (Lk. 23:24).

One last closing thought: It is Catholic belief that Christ took on the sins of mankind and that He knew them; and yet despite knowing the horrible acts that all mankind had committed, were committing, and would commit, He still gave Himself up on the Cross, enduring intense suffering and torture for our sake. The crimes of those who committed the grave acts of sexual abuse are horrendous and inexcusable and they will be held accountable for them before God, there is not denying that. Christ knew them at His death and He still went through with it out of love for us, His Bride. With all of this in mind, I earnestly beg you to remain with Christ, to fight for His Bride, Holy Mother Church, and to defend Her integrity by praying for Her sinful members and by doing what you can to clean out the sin and disfigurement that has crept into Her Body. Stay strong my friends, and may God bless you.

In the love and peace of Christ,

Bryce C. Arnett

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Should Pope Francis Resign?

Prayerful Pontiff

The question as to whether or not Pope Francis should resign has been causing me a lot of discontentment recently, for a variety of reasons. Firstly, I have always had a bit of mixed feelings about our current Pontiff because he has been pretty vague in a lot of his teaching on important matters, which causes opportunity for some of his flock to stray the wrong way; but at the same time I have seen him do many things that are truly done out of love for Christ. So, while he lacked clarity in word, he exemplified the Gospel in deed. The Church, however, needs clarity and exemplification in both word and deed, and so I’ve had some mixed feelings about our current Pontiff. Secondly, it is precisely because I have seen so much love present in His Holiness’ ministry that I am so shocked and appalled that he would fail to even comment on the horrendous actions committed by the very men in our hierarchy who were supposed to be shepherding and protecting us. I have read Archbishop Vigano’s letter, and I find the allegations contained therein to be credible and so I believe that they ought to be investigated with the utmost care. Now, do I think that Pope Francis ought to resign? The short answer is that I simply do not know if he should or not. The Pope is Christ’s vicar here on earth, the physical head of Holy Mother Church, who is appointed by sinful men, yes, but more importantly by the Holy Spirit. Have there been horrible Popes? ABSOLUTELY. Has God protected and guided the Church despite these horrible men? ABSOLUTELY. I hesitate, however, to say definitively whether or not Pope Francis should resign, and here’s why. The last Pope to resign from his office was Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, and he only did so because he discerned that his deteriorating health left him unfit to properly carry out his ministry as Pope. Before him was Pope Gregory XII in 1415, who resigned to put an end to the Western Schism; and before him was Pope Saint Celestine V, who saw it befitting to resign because he was incompetent in the office and fell under the influence of secular political leaders. St. Celestine was also the first Pontiff to officially resign and put forth the canon on Papal resignation. The reason I bring up these past Popes who have resigned is because I want to highlight the fact that each Pontiff who resigned did so freely, as the canon says, and because they sought to protect the Church or because they recognized that they could not shepherd the Church of Christ in the capacity that they were called to. So, this in mind, if I am forced to have an opinion on the matter, this is what I have to say: If Pope Francis is unwilling to shepherd his flock through these harsh time, if he is unwilling to take the necessary steps to clean out the abscess that has formed in Holy Mother Church, and if he honestly and truly realizes that he does not have it within him to do what he needs to do as the Supreme Pontiff, as Christ’s physical head here on earth, then he needs to resign; because it is the duty of the Pope to protect and shepherd the Bride of Christ, dying to himself so that She may be “holy and without blemish.” Also, if the allegations in Archbishop Vigano’s letter turn out to be true and His Holiness was in fact complicit, then I personally think that it would be right and proper for His Holiness to abdicate the papal throne and dispatch himself along with the other Bishops who were complicit in these heinous crimes. Conversely, if the Pope is not guilty and not complicit and if, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, he is able to remedy to the best of his ability the evils that have occurred within Holy Mother Church, then there is no need for him to resign. If the Pope is innocent and he allows himself to truly and fully be the servant of Christ that he has always claimed himself to be, then our Holy and Beloved Lord will lead his Holy Bride out of this darkness through his Vicar. I know it seems like a cop out answer, that I am saying “well, maybe he should or maybe he shouldn’t”, but I truly think that this is the reality of the situation. There are a lot of things left unknown to us currently, and so I cannot honestly and definitely subscribe to one side or the other. I just really hope that Pope Francis does whatever is best for the Church with no regard to personal consequences, and I hope that we do the same. For the time being, however, it is up to us to pray continuously for our priests and Bishops, for our Holy Father, and for Holy Mother Church. God bless.

Now is the Time to FIGHT

Cries From the Garden

The Angel Comforts Christ

by Nicholas Hunter Hitz

Where/what was the Mountain of Olives? The Mount of Olives was located just to the east of Jerusalem. Jesus particularly went up to the southwest slope to Gethsemane, which means “oil press”. Jesus went up to pray here because he knew that his hour had come. The hour that he knew that he was about to lay down the single greatest sacrifice in all of human history. Jesus took with him Peter, James, and John. The three main leaders of the disciples. He took these three for a important reason. In verse 34 of the 14th chapter of Mark’s Gospel, Jesus tells them that “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch over me”. Jesus asked them to pray that they would not fall into temptation, because he knew that he would soon be leaving them. Jesus also knew that they would need extra strength to face the temptations ahead- temptations to turn and run or to deny their relationship with him. They were ultimately about to see their friend, their teacher, die a horrible and gruesome death. Would they still believe he was the Messiah after he died? But honestly, the disciples’ strongest temptation would be
to think that they had been deceived. Also, if Jesus Christ had to pray during a time of temptation. How much more do we need to pray? He was tempted in all aspects of life just like us, only He never sinned. Jesus drew on the Fathers protection and power in this time of need. After this Jesus walks on a few paces more and drops to his knees and starts to pray: “Abba, Father, everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine” (Mk. 14:36). While
praying, Jesus was aware of what doing the Father’s will would cost him. He knew what was about to happen, and He truly did not want to have to go through it, but Jesus prayed, “Yet I want your will to be done, not mine” (MK. 14:36). Anything worth truly having, truly has a price. What does our commitment to God cost us? We must be willing to give everything that we have, to gain what is priceless- eternal life.  If you look in Luke’s account of the Agony in the Garden, Luke states that a angel came down to
give Christ strength. And in ch 22 verse 44, “He prayed more fervently and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood”. Jesus was in so much agony and under so much stress that an angel from Heaven had to come and give him strength, and his sweat turned to blood. The medical name for sweating blood is called Hermatidrosis. The cause of Hermatidrosis is the
bursting of capillaries, which feeds blood to the sweat glands. The sweat glands then begin to ooze blood. This condition can be brought on by extreme stress or anguish. Luke’s account is the only one of the four Gospels to include the fact that Jesus sweat turned into blood. Jesus was in extreme agony, but he did not give up or give in. Even though the stress truly almost killed him, He continued on with the mission
that was laid out before him by the Father. Then Jesus came down to the disciples after his near death encounter to find the disciples asleep. Jesus tells Peter to “Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give into temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mk. 14:38). Jesus used Peter’s drowsiness to warn him about the kinds of temptations he would soon face. The way to overcome temptation is to keep
alert and pray. Keeping alert means being aware of the possibilities of temptations, being sensitive to the subtleties, and spiritually equipped to fight it. Because temptations strikes where we weakest and more prone to fall. We can’t resist temptation on our own, and we don’t have too. Prayer is a very useful, even essential, because God’s strength makes up our defenses and is the ultimate way for us to defeat Satan.

 

Divine Mercy Sunday: Oh What Wondrous Love Is This!

Look Into My Heart

I’d like to first give a shout out to my mother and my father, who are celebrating their 29th wedding anniversary this day. I have been so very blessed to have these two beautiful people as my parents, showing me how to love God in their love for me and for one another. I have learned so much about patience and mercy from my mother, and I have learned so much about commitment and respect from my father; and from both of them I have learned love and sacrifice. They have showed me, in their own way, that Sainthood is possible for ordinary folk like us, and I hope and I pray that I and they will enter gloriously into the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. 

What is Divine Mercy?

Divine Mercy is the most beautiful thing that a human being can hear. As we know, our first parents Adam and Eve both royally messed up; and, now, because we are intimately connected to them, we also royally mess up. We lie, we cheat, we kill, we steal, we fight, we fornicate, and the list goes on and on. We do so much evil, we sin so much, that if we could see the state of our soul when we do such things, we would be beyond revolted by what we see. And, yet, God looks at us with pity and with mercy, and He gives us the chance to run back to him like a prodigal son or daughter.

In 1931 our Lord appeared to Saint Faustina in visions to bring His message of Love and Mercy to an all too sinful world. I think that as humans, we have a tendency to view this mercy as a free pass; but that’s kind of the exact opposite of what it is. With this message of mercy comes a warning: if we do not run to this mercy, we are lost. St. Paul says, “where sin abounded, grace abounded all the more” (Rom. 5:20), and so Christ bringing this message of great mercy is also Christ pointing out the fact that humanity is exceedingly sinful. In fact, there are several instances throughout the Diary of St. Faustina that God is ready to exact justice on the earth for mankind’s sin, yet, in His mercy, He does not. Here is one such example:

“I saw an Angel, the executor of God’s wrath… about to strike the earth…. I began to beg God earnestly for the world with words which I heard interiorly. As I prayed in this way, I saw the Angel’s helplessness, and he could not carry out the just punishment…” (Diary, 474)

Now, it’s not as though God suddenly changed His mind, because we know He does not do that, He’s immutable (unchanging). So, these visions must have been for our benefit, as if God were saying to us, “Look at what the sins of mankind reckon, but look also at the great love and mercy that I have in My Heart for mankind.” How can we not be overjoyed at this love? Don’t we burst with joy when someone we love looks beyond our own failures, our betrayals of their love? When you say or do something that harms your brother or your sister, your boyfriend or your girlfriend, your husband or your wife, and they decide to forgive you, does this not bring us so much joy? But, when it comes to God, the only one who is truly worthy of all of our love and affection, we are nothing but apathetic. Let’s not be like this, let us be overcome with joy for God’s great love and mercy.

In the midst of all this, though, there seems to be a weird paradox. What is this paradox, you ask? Well, it seems that God does not withhold His justice for our sake, it seems that He does so for the sake of His Only Begotten Son:

 “I saw a great light, with God the Father in the midst of it. Between this light and the earth I saw Jesus nailed to the Cross and in such a way that God, wanting to look upon the earth, had to look through Our Lord’s wounds. And I understood that God blessed the earth for the sake of Jesus” (Diary, 60).

We repeat this every time we recite the Divine Mercy Chaplet: “For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.” This has to do with God’s Justice. As we know, it was necessary for us that Christ die on the Cross, because Christ was the only sacrifice that could make just recompense. However, we also know that God Himself did not have to do that. He did not need to assume our human nature and die for us, nor did He need to redeem us. God gets absolutely nothing out of our salvation, because God is perfectly fulfilled in Himself, and so He lacks nothing outside of Himself. God does not need humanity, but humanity needs God. Therefore, our creation and our salvation are activities of God that are purely for our own sake. God’s mercy and God’s justice are realities that are caught up in one another. One could say that God is not truly just without His mercy and God is not truly merciful without His justice. This seems confusing, what does this mean?

It was God’s mercy and love that brought us into being, because it was purely for our own good that God created something outside of Himself to share in Himself, and it was His justice that condemned us when we rebelled against Him through our sin. It was also His justice that demanded recompense for our sin, and it was His mercy that provided Himself to be that just recompense; and so we see that God’s mercy satisfies His justice.

This is the beauty of the Divine Mercy, “in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). I truly believe that we all fail to recognize how great a gift this is, that God Himself would reach down into our misery and pull us up to Himself. God is the perfect gift-giver, because He gives of Himself with no way of receiving anything in return. How do we make sense of such a gift? I don’t know, and I don’t pretend to know, because this is a great mystery that is beyond our human comprehension; however, know this: whatever the reason for God showing such an abundance of mercy, mercy that is entirely free and undeserved, it manifests to us the incomprehensible love of God for man, and we would be fools to neglect to reap the fruits of such mercy. Let us not be fools, let us not neglect Christ as He opens the merciful depths of His Merciful Heart. Throw yourselves into this great mystery, and let God’s love and mercy envelop you this day and every day of your life. All in love, pax Christi.

O Greatly Merciful God, Infinite Goodness, today all mankind calls out from the abyss of its misery to Your mercy – to Your compassion, O God; and it is with its mighty voice of misery that it cries out: Gracious God, do not reject the prayer of this earth’s exiles! O Lord, Goodness beyond our understanding, Who are acquainted with our misery through and through and know that by our own power we cannot ascend to You, we implore You, anticipate us with Your grace and keep on increasing Your mercy in us, that we may faithfully do Your holy will all through our life and at death’s hour. Let the omnipotence of Your mercy shield us from the darts of our salvation’s enemies, that we may with confidence, as Your children, await Your final coming – that day known to You alone. And we expect to obtain everything promised us by Jesus in spite of all of our wretchedness. For Jesus is our hope: through His merciful Heart, as through an open gate, we pass through to heaven. (Diary, 1570). Amen.

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If the Mass Has Infinite Merits, Why Doesn’t One Mass Empty Purgatory? Pt. 3

The Holy Mass and the holy souls in Purgatory

Finally we are nearing the final answer to this question. In the previous two articles, we have explored some of the teachings of the Catholic Church on suffering and Purgatory, and now it is time for me to posit what I believe the answer to this question to be. Now, remember, I am by no means the official voice of the Church, but I will try and use Her teachings, as given by Christ and inspired by the Holy Spirit, to back up my argument.

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