I just finished watching the Solemn Installation Mass of Wilton D. Gregory, the 7th Archbishop of Washington D.C. How could anyone watching not have a tear or two, tears of joy and exultation, as perhaps over 1,000 clergy in attendance at such an auspicious occasion. Deacons, Priests, Bishops, and Cardinals, including my longtime friend Cardinal Donald Wuerl, as they processed out of the Basilica.
This is the Church! This is the fulfillment of the words from Jesus Christ as he sent his disciples forth to preach to the whole world; “Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you until the end of the age.” (Mt. 28: 19-20).
Perhaps it touched me more since I have the Sacrament of Holy Orders and am moved emotionally at the sight of my brother deacons, priests and bishops who have pledged obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ.
God, has given each of us the pathway to salvation by believing in what Jesus said to Thomas as he doubted; “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are they who have not seen and have believed.” (Jn. 20: 29).
Lately, the encounter of more than a few who are/were staunch Roman Catholics and their pronouncement of "I don’t go to church anymore", or "I am leaving the Catholic Church". Their reasons are common, but the sense of loss doesn’t seem to enter into their concern. I cried when I heard the news of one friend, was dismayed when the second person revealed her reason, and am now saddened as the father of my great grandson who is being called to the priesthood at age 3, is considering leaving as well.
My pastor just stated that a woman of the parish confronted him with the remark that she and several other woman are joining the Presbyterian Church. For what reason I do not know, but they are part of the crowd of disheartened Catholics who are not realizing what the consequences will become.
These men, deacons, priests, and bishops, have the obligation to nurture and instruct through God’s Grace the very people in the pews. Can these souls who choose to leave find Jesus in the Holy Eucharist without a priest? Are they able to receive the forgiveness of Jesus Christ by way of Absolution from a minister who does not have Apostolic Succession? Absolutely not.
Truly they might find some preaching that titillates their fancy, and perhaps share the bad taste of not having their way in many matters, but the Roman Catholic Church is a Sacramental Church which is not found outside of its environs.
Faith is such a beautiful virtue that is given each of us by God, but it needs to be nurtured by grace which we may easily lose when our pride gets in the way. Satan lost his status in heaven because of pride. He wanted to be like God, or even better. Can’t be done and he and his cohorts were driven out of heaven for that grievous sin called pride.
Of all the different needs where prayer can make a difference, reaching these people who for any reason are leaving the Church is crucial. They will not hurt the Church, or God, or the clergy. But they may be putting their souls in jeopardy because of the anger held within, and as we know an inner-healing may not come in time and the deep cancerous disease of hate, bitterness, and revenge will erupt in a psychosis that may follow them to the grave.
GOD, the title of this article says it all. God created the world, the human family, sent His Only Begotten Son to redeem us from sin, promises us a place with Him in Heaven forever, and waits for each of us to accept the Church Jesus began. Some will argue that all denominations can do that. Not true! Read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2000 years of Tradition, and the promise of Jesus to be with us until the end of the age. His Holy Spirit is with us and make no mistake this is Catholic with a capital C.
Ralph B. Hathaway, May 2019