Reflections on the Church, July 2016

My grief over the current condition of the Church, both universal and particular (USA, Canada, Western Europe), is immense. Our chief temptation during this time of confusion is to bitterness, isolation, and dismay. Coming through these temptations, I’ve learned that our Lord always desires us to go deeper and farther. At the heart of everything is union with Him. But this union grows only by faith and by suffering. Experiencing rejection, false judgments by others, the failures of shepherds to be true spiritual fathers, a multitude of disorders in the Body of Christ … all of these are a test for us (sometimes a severe test).

My grief over the current condition of the Church, both universal and particular (USA, Canada, Western Europe), is immense. Our chief temptation during this time of confusion is to bitterness, isolation, and dismay. Coming through these temptations, I’ve learned that our Lord always desires us to go deeper and farther. At the heart of everything is union with Him. But this union grows only by faith and by suffering. Experiencing rejection, false judgments by others, the failures of shepherds to be true spiritual fathers, a multitude of disorders in the Body of Christ … all of these are a test for us (sometimes a severe test).

As you know, the Church throughout its long history has often been in crisis. She is ever populated by, and at times run by, less than edifying people (I count myself as one of them). In time, the ship always steadies and moves forward. God is always at work, seeking to bring good from our seemingly endless follies. So, too, He will raise up new pastors and new saints for our times, and this will probably be in the midst of great tribulations. Our task is to keep turning our thoughts and the movements of our hearts toward the true horizon — or, to mix metaphors, to keep our eyes focused on the Church as the Bride of Christ being prepared to meet the Bridegroom.

He is near. He is coming. I pray you do not lose heart. Human “solutions” such as schism or apostasy only add to the Bride’s wounds and delay her preparation. We must love the charism of Peter, the Chair of Peter with a great love, never losing sight of the Lord’s promise that the “gates of hell” will never prevail against the Church. This implies that hell will surely try to do its worst, tempting us all, sifting us like wheat. Let us be part of the Church’s defense and not a part of the problem.

I’ve found much consolation and strength by offering everything I suffer as a sacrifice united to the Cross for the purification and strengthening of the Church. We men, and especially we pragmatist North Americans, have a hard-wired sense that we can “fix” anything with enough knowledge, skill, tools, influence, rhetoric, etc. But in the case of the Church, we cannot. We can only “fix” our own selves through cooperation with the grace of Christ — through prayer, sacraments, sacrifice, endurance and perseverance, patience, mercy, truth, and the faith that is refined in the darkest of fires. Keep the eyes of your heart on the true horizon. Keep your eyes on the Bride.

Take heart. Trust in the Lord, especially when there seems to be little or no grounds for trust.

St. Faustina Kowalska writes in her diaries, Divine Mercy in My Soul: “The greater the darkness, the greater our confidence should be.”

St. Thérèse of Lisieux writes in her letters:  “Trust and trust alone should lead us to Love.”

May I suggest that you also prayerfully read Ezekiel, Chapter 9.

I pray that Jesus our Saviour will be your light, strength, and consolation always,

Michael D. O’Brien

The full text of this article can be read at Lifesite News.