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A Leaven In The World . . . Our Path Forward Is Clear

February 12, 2020 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK

A couple of sudden deaths have hit the Catholic community in the United States in recent weeks, giving a moment to pause and reflect for those of us willing to take a lesson.
First is a Catholic priest, young, devout with nearly his whole life of ministry yet ahead of him. We were stunned with the shocking and disheartening news of the manner of his death, allegedly by his own hand. His bishop later issued a statement, revealing that Fr. Harkins had been on meds for three weeks to address a physical problem but with extreme, deleterious mental side effects, possibly including suicidal thoughts.
With evidence that the priest was not in his right mind, any culpability for taking his own life is greatly mitigated. Nevertheless, the great grief for his family and the Catholic community at large remains as his life came to such a premature end. A father to a spiritual family, as is every priest, his untimely demise left the souls in his charge bereft.
Second is an athlete, world famous, talented, admired by millions, with a beautiful family. He too had earlier suffered a crisis, allegedly for moral reasons. But he spoke at length about how he had resolved the seeming impasse through faith and by speaking with a priest.
In recent years, at least, he practiced his faith perseveringly. He was often observed at Mass, humbly seated near the back so as to not distract others by his famous visage and monumental size. Which was what he did on the morning of the day he and his daughter died in a helicopter crash. His humble, virtuous regular practice of the faith made him a true son of God on Earth, and we pray now he knows a grace realized fully and forever with his young daughter in Heaven.
Yes, Kobe Bryant walked the path of faith as must we all who assent to the truth. Believing must have consequences.
We each of us have only the present moment, as did Kobe. He used it to keep the Lord’s Day holy with his daughter on the morning of their last day on Earth. There is no consolation possible upon death greater than the knowledge that the departed kept the Commandments. This is the immeasurable gift of doing the Father’s will in conformity with the Son.
The grace of the present moment is given to do the Father’s will in imitation of the Lord Himself, up to death. For how we live we are responsible. We are also responsible for the eternal result of damnation if we through our own fault do not keep the Commandments.
Many today, even in leadership positions in the Church, seem to be sinfully and scandalously flouting the Commandments by spurning the moral law in their speeches and writings, encouraging others in evildoing. They will answer for their sins: “Whoever, therefore, shall break one of these least commandments, and teach others to do so, shall be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matt. 5:19).
For those who believe, however, our path forward is clear. The way ahead is illuminated by all the faithful who have gone before us, persevering in keeping the Commandments unto death. These souls include Kobe, Gianna, and Fr. Evan Harkins, and all who humbly followed the Lord in the gift of the present moment. We do not have tomorrow and the Lord only asks us to give what we have.
We follow their example if we are to be of hope. Childlike trust in the Lord is seen in obedience, and the Commandments spell out practically what that means. Childlike love of the Lord is born out in trusting acts conforming to His words and deeds: “If you love me you will keep my Commandments” (John 14:15)
But above every other example we follow the martyrs, who themselves followed Christ most closely in death. They are lighthouses burning bright upon the sea of our lives, guiding us away from the rocky shoals of pride, the passing glamour of the world, the allure of the flesh and the wiles of the Devil, the idolatry of self-will, and deceptions of every kind that end in disaster.
The Lord is the greatest gift, but in His love for us He gives many blessings and graces. The martyrs remain a gift in Christ for every age. In their conformity to Christ’s death on the cross, greater than which cannot be achieved in this life, the martyrs mark out our path for us in the brilliant, undying grace of the truth in action. Their refusal to renounce the Lord under the threat of death guides us in our own call to carry our own crosses.
From now until the end of the world there will be at least one soul who will die for the truth, no matter how many others fall away upon the wide road of apostasy. Athanasius no doubt often felt alone and even, perhaps, abandoned by God as he clung tenaciously to the truth contra mundum. Only God vindicates those who remain faithful despite everything.
This was both the loneliness and the union of Christ on the cross: abandoned seemingly by all, even those who were once thought to be the closest of friends, except a few faithful, a tiny remnant. But through it all, at every moment, the Lord enjoyed total, loving union with the Father that no power on Earth can destroy. “The Father and I are one” (John 10:30).
This loneliness and communion is the blessing and the cross of the martyrs who have gone before us, and the ones who will come after. They limn the contours of The Way.
All who are faithful suffer in various ways as they see the true faith trampled and rejected, even by those charged by the Lord with the greatest responsibility for living and teaching it. This, too, is a kind of martyrdom. The moment by moment persevering love of the Lord is necessary for each of us no matter our individual paths. “He who perseveres to the end will be saved” (Matt. 24:13).
However many who, in places both high and low, trade the truth for a lie, there will always be at least one faithful soul, somewhere in the world who, despite all, will cling to the truth. These martyrs illuminate the path ahead for all of us who sometimes feel “at sea” amid the fog of earthly war against the Lord. Freedom is love; eternal life alone confers that love which will never end: the everlasting embrace of God.
As in Germany, so in the universal Church, no matter how a particular so-called synodal “way” may court heresy and even promote it, calling evil by the name of good and good evil, there are faithful souls who stand against this outrage against God. The truth remains. Remain in the truth.
Thank you for reading and praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever. Follow me on Twitter @IntroiboAdAltar. I blog at APriestLife.blogspot.com.

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