Saturday, June 30, 2018

John the Baptist, born to be beheaded

The visions your prophets had on your behalf
  were delusive, tinsel things,
they never pointed out your sin,
  to ward off your exile.
The visions they proffered you were false,
  fallacious, misleading.

The first reading from Lamentations at Mass this morning got me ruminating about the real problem with our perceptions of the present moment in the life of the Church. What do I mean? Well, for maybe the first time in my life I began to think a bit more about what it means to be a chosen people. For the first time I had to admit to myself the possibility of divine chastisement as a part of our story as Catholic Church, just like for Israel of old. Specifically as regards the whole clergy abuse business, I want to face the gravity of the self deception we are living out, just like in Scripture, because I have the impression that now for a long time our prophets and teachers within the Church have failed us: "they never pointed out your sin, to ward off your exile."  I hope it is not too presumptuous on my part to say that as a prophet and teacher I would pray spare my people this day of visitation.

The clergy abuse cover-up by bishops and major superiors, aided and abetted by their curiae or vice versa, is the tip of an iceberg or just one tentacle of an enormous octopus, which is dragging us down into the depths. 

We are into denial, if you wish, about the gravity of our failures before God. A lot of seemingly articulate persons, some of them priests, continue to thwart the propagation of the message of truth.

On this 50th anniversary of the encyclical of Pope Paul VI, "Humanae vitae", we see this dramatically. His prophesies about the tragic consequences of contraception for marriage, family and Church stand confirmed and the false prophets continue to deny it, offering us nothing in compensation but...  delusive, tinsel things.

The "common wisdom" abroad in the land would caution a measured response so as not to throw out the baby with the bath. Meantime openness to life in marriage, respect for the woman as she comes forth from the creating hand of God, that chastity proper to men and women bound together for life in matrimony are demeaned and denied in the name of some kind of "liberation", which is hard to distinguish from a slavery to habit and libido.

The same can be said of a frightfully pervasive homosexual subculture among the clergy, which for decades has preyed on adolescent boys and young men. No doubt the #me too moments of the whole McCarrick tragedy could or may have their repeat in the next days, weeks and months, with reference to other highly placed prelates.

Some are saying "let it come!", but I can't help but think that real introspection and a consequent, integral response of each one of us might better serve the hour, and please God stem the day of visitation. Just the other day we celebrated the birthday of St. John the Baptist. His sanctity from his mother's womb led him to the desert and a radically ascetic lifestyle of preaching repentance. He was set aside for God and hence his message for the chosen people. He stood in judgment against King Herod taking Herodias to wife, who had been his brother's. The uncomfortable voice of John in defense of a fundamental moral truth was silenced through beheading. I think we need to be disciples of the Baptist, even if it costs us our heads.


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