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For The Faithful Lies A Crown

December 28, 2018 Frontpage No Comments

By SHAUN KENNEY

(A poem, wistfully written by an anonymous soul)

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Twas the Night Before Christmas, this 2018 edition,
Where we over-examine our foibles, with true erudition.
The synods were over, the USSCB had met,
In hopes that the Magisterium would finally be set.

Yet the Lavender Mafia were snuggled in their beds,
With visions of “synodality” dancing in their heads.
Viganò had testified, not once but thrice!
Yet dissent and even heresy multiplied like mice.

“What are we to believe,” asked the folks in the pews,
“The Catechism? The media? La Croix? Fake news!”
Wild arguments flew, conspiracy theories multiplied.
Accusations of heresy, alt-right, you lied!

Fr. Martin hurls bolts from out of the blue,
Calling faithful Catholics “alt-right” — it’s true!
While rainbow-colored visions dance before his very eyes,
In liturgical candle before altars — thanks LGBTQ allies!

Cardinal McCarrick goes in hiding, special protective status.
While Cardinal Wuerl “resigns” (kinda, sorta); stays in his palace.
And as Cardinal DiNardo tries fixing things with the USCCB,
Cardinal Cupich to the rescue like a modern Boss Tweed.

“There’s no need for inquiry! Thank God for Pope Francis!”
“There will be no lay investigation! Send McCarrick to Kansas!”
With a flip of his hand and a twirl of his cassock,
Cupich’s manner wasn’t obtuse, it was simply Jurassic.

“So much for synodality,” cried the faithful in despair.
After all, it seems it is reserved for Germans with flair.
“So much for penance,” said the media aghast.
And reminded us all with every broadcast.

Thus the Catholic deep state chose discretion over disclosure,
And the critics get vitriol and a whack of the crozier
With a reminder to do what they are told — “Mind your place!
This is a good sort of clericalism!” said with a straight face.

We keep being told that the problem is in the past,
Of unfaithful clerics with power amassed.
But these are McCarrick’s men, and never forget
At the end of the day? They’re all marionettes.

McCarrick’s men; Spellman’s ghost
Not holy but discretionary; not men at innermost.
Just ciphers and apologists, but not, you see, for Christ.
In the end they built nothing — it was all a grand heist.

They built power and institutions, influence quite grand,
But they built it lust and power and sand.
Yet under that silt there is indeed a rock,
For all their pretended strength? It’s merely post hoc.

Men like Burke and Sarah and Viganò,
Men such as Mueller and Strickland and Morlino.
Lay faithful deserve shepherds as faithful as we,
From Abraham to manger and towards Calvary.

For the “mafia” built it on fraud, and they know it still.
Otherwise they wouldn’t be so angry and desperate and shrill.
With this 2019, remember Our Lady’s promise at Fatima,
For the faithful lies a crown; the rest anathema.

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For those of you who do read this column, I am constantly overwhelmed by the fidelity and genuine holiness, concern, care, and above all a general open-mindedness about the direction of the Church. Rarely do I receive screeds about the direction of the Church; most all of us just love the Bride of Christ and want to see her set to rights.
Of course, 2018 has been a rather odd year for Catholics in America. Viganò’s testimony matched with McCarrick’s fall from grace has produced a rather odd reaction from McCarrick’s acolytes. Dolan has gone radio silent, Tobin has been sidelined, Cupich seems to be the Vatican’s bulldog at the moment, and Wuerl — though resigned — is still in power at the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.
There are a number of bishops who seem to be putting up a stout defense. Cardinal Burke remains a quiet encouragement to many, despite efforts by the far right to co-opt his reputation and goodwill in Europe — which is a useful foil for his enemies at La Croix and elsewhere.
Meanwhile, the National Catholic Reporter continues to build resources from dark funders (and receive USCCB press credentials) toward some indescribable political end. Commonweal and America attempt to echo what they think the Vatican wants to hear, while more traditional outlets such as First Things, National Catholic Register, and EWTN sometimes offer a reverberation of same.
So what is the endgame here? More important, what are the rest of us to do while the shepherds fight it out?
The traditional answers are simple. Observe the sacraments and quit worrying about things we cannot control. Fair enough . . . until Pope Francis begins editing the Catechism and even the English translation of the Lord’s Prayer.
Such changes might sound fantastic at the moment, but much like the changes to the liturgy of the Mass and the English translations of the Nicene Creed — it rattles.
Of course, my particular blend of Catholicism is a mishmash of sorts. I don’t mind the Novus Ordo; I love the Tridentine Mass and prefer attending it. Pope Francis’ admonishment that we are a hospital for sinners and not a museum of saints echoes everything I believe about a “here comes everybody!” approach to the Church. My sympathies are entirely with Cardinal Burke; I do not view Cardinal Dolan (or anyone for that matter) as the opposition.
At times, I find myself pushing back against both extremes, perhaps as you do.
For one, I believe Pope Francis is indeed the Pope, and that any talk of Pope Benedict XVI having only set down his “active ministry” and still being Pope is akin to a drowning man grasping floating straw.
Likewise, while I sincerely appreciate Fr. Martin’s attempts to minister to LGBT communities, Martin does his adherents a gross and terrible disservice when behind Door Number One is the immediate requirement that the homosexual community must stop performing the act they claim defines them. That’s not just poor catechesis; that’s spiritually unfair.
One suspects that George Cardinal Pell — recently convicted of sexual improprieties — was implicated for digging too deeply into the state of Vatican finances. One suspects that the German bishops strongly desire a model in the Western Rite that mimics the national churches of the Eastern Rite, which would not only achieve the goals of Joseph Cardinal Bernardin for an “American Rite” on this side of the Atlantic, but the goals of the far right as well in creating national churches.
What the times require are voices that are not dividers. It is easy to divide. Division clarifies, brings the sword rather than the plowshare, and pits us against them.
Yet remember first and foremost that Christ wept blood over such divisions within the Body of Christ. One may be quick to respond that Christ promised to pit brother against brother, but remember that this was for His sake — not our sake.
The role of a Pontiff is to build bridges, not build walls. As brothers, the roles of cardinals and bishops are to do likewise, bringing disparate communities together through the Eucharist. As priests, their mission is to help foster this spirit much as white blood cells do their work inside each of us.
As laity, there is only so much that we can control. Succumbing to the idea of regulating the spiritual lives of others is always a dangerous path. Sometimes, the best fortification against dissent and heresy is to focus ourselves on the things that actually matter.
In that sense, we have one mission: sanctification. Not your sanctification, or Rome’s sanctification, or even the Church’s sanctification — but my sanctification.
Not everyone is going to take the same road. What God asks one person to carry, He will ask someone else to carry in a totally different way. It’s a difficult lesson, but one that I increasingly learn as I watch my own children grow and start becoming themselves.

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Questions? Comments? Brilliant thoughts? Please feel free to send any correspondence for First Teachers to Shaun Kenney, c/o First Teachers, 5289 Venable Road, Kents Store, VA 23084 — or if it is easier, simply send me an e-mail with First Teachers in the subject line to: svk2cr@virginia.edu.

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