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A Leaven In The World… The Gates Of Hell “Shall Not Prevail”

July 2, 2018 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK

The gates of Hell are real and we have met them. The news came around the ides of June like a stab to the heart, like a bomb blast in the Church. The revelation was that Theodore Cardinal McCarrick had been “credibly accused” of sexual abuse of a minor nearly fifty years ago when he was a priest in New York. Stunned Catholics who love the Church are sorely tried.
With that also came the news of three cases of McCarrick’s relations with adults that had already been documented, two of them settled by payments to the complainants.
Everyone in an equation of moral wrongdoing is in need of help. The perpetrator needs justice, the victim needs compassion and healing, but also the Church’s members everywhere are hurting when a leader in the Body of Christ, from whom more is expected, stoops so low as to assault the body and moral innocence of an underage person.
And when the criminal involved in a Church scandal is a priest, bishop, or cardinal, let’s be honest: Perhaps the last person you want to hear from is a priest. But priests are to be faithful “in season and out of season,” when our work is easy and when it is not. I strongly felt the need to reach out to our people.
I published the following on my Facebook page and share it with you now:
“Dear Catholic faithful,
“ ‘And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it’ (Matt. 16:18).
“A young Catholic father who prays his baby son might have a priestly vocation someday is having second thoughts after the revelations about a cardinal of the last several days. A lot of faithful are hurting and angry.
“This is understandable.
“Teach your children well to beware of all inappropriate social situations. And teach them to come and talk to you immediately if anyone says or does anything inappropriate or unchaste. Teach them well what chastity is so they can reject and flee from all that is not chaste wherever it happens.
“And thank God for our good priests. We would be lost without them. Tell your faithful priests you are praying for their sanctity and offering penances and sacrifices for them. Join some of our Catholics who are fasting for priests on Fridays and send a reminder email to let them know.
“The gates of Hell will not prevail against the Church. Let us live and die as children of the Church.”
There are many things we cannot say when we desire to comfort others. But we can discern those things that we are able to say, that are true in bad times because always true. Most of all because our Church is the Body of Christ, and that what we do and who we are is all about Him, who can “neither deceive nor be deceived,” so in times of crisis and testing of faith we must remain faithful to Him and to all that He has taught us and comfort one another with assurances of faith even as we grieve.
The responses of the good faithful people who follow the Facebook page helped me in turn.
Christine, an old friend from college days, had this to say:
“Thank you for emphasizing what is good and necessary, Fr. Kevin. The righteous dismay we feel at the heinous sin that has been exposed should send us running to the Savior, not away from His faithful vicars. Thank you for being a faithful vicar of Christ.”
Tina was blunter about keeping trust without relinquishing faith and, as a parent, wondering how to support a vocation among her own children:
“But for sure, who feels good about sending a kid into a vile sewer? You can’t blame a good parent for feeling this way today. This takes a lot of thought — protect the vocation somehow until a good place is identified? Wait it out, but how? Many see the traditional orders as safer places — and thriving more. Hard to know what to do. We need diocesan priests and religious too. Prayers for all — stay in the Boat, no matter how rough it seems.”
“Stay in the Boat, no matter how rough it seems” is very good advice when the raging seas beyond the lifelines of Christ’s barque are threatening to devour the souls of cardinals as well as priests. The boat always seems the safe alternative in the midst of the storm no matter how many ship-riding rats otherwise threaten life and health.
Tina also responded to my comments about arming the young with a strong sense of chastity and the strength to resist and report boundary violations: “A good sense of personal boundaries should come with a good upbringing. And reducing the vulnerability of all the young with a good paternal relationship. Those whose mothers loom bigger in their lives than their fathers can be vulnerable ‘to looking for daddy in all the wrong places’.”
Yes, these and other waves that pound the gunnels and threaten to wash souls overboard are indeed are the gates of Hell of which the Lord Himself spoke when He said “the gates of Hell shall not prevail against the church.” Some have already left the Church and more continue to do so. Weak catechesis, as well as scandal, leaves the faithful vulnerable to losing their souls.
A Vatican diplomat has also in these weeks been sentenced to five years in prison for possession of child porn. Some people predictably react to the news of one more priest malfeasant by saying that no priest should speak up because a priest has been found guilty.
But we are charged to speak the truth we have received regardless of our sins. We stand always in danger of the charge of hypocrisy should we fail to repent and reform our lives according to the word we preach. But preach it we must because our silence will also condemn us on the day of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The lesson we can all take is that we are all sinners and we all share the same human nature prone to temptation as in the life of Christ the Lord Himself. Christ is the answer, mainly through His mercy in the absolution that comes to us through the Sacrament of Confession in the Church.
Thank you for reading. @MCITLFrAphorism
(Also: Join our group on pilgrimage, with Latin Mass daily, to “Italia Bella,” October 13-21, 2018: Rome, Castel Gandolfo, Assisi, Florence, Tuscany, Venice, and more. The price is $3,600.00 for nine days. Prices include airfare from your hometown and exclusively 4 or 5 star hotels everywhere. Visit www.procatholictours.com. To register for the trip, call Jennifer Wadsworth, manager, ProCatholic Tours, at 612-730-2890.)

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