The Forty Hours Devotion was well attended last weekend. I was pleased with that because I know this to be a time of grace, of spiritual benefit for the parish generally, and for the individuals and families that made their way to the church to adore the Lord. Sorry if I sounded threatening or self-pitying in last week’s lamentation over a poor turnout the year previous. Perhaps people were becoming spoiled over the easy availability of Eucharistic adoration time and thus dismissing the opportunities given to them (you should know that at one time the Church actually discouraged frequent exposition of the Sacrament lest the people become blasé over this Wonder of wonders); or perhaps they were becoming mindless of the true and real Presence of the incarnate Son of God there and saw no point in making visits to the Blessed Sacrament. My own experience of the Forty Hours has been rewarding: a time of self-abandonment to Christ in as humble manner of outpouring myself before Him as I can muster. In return, I emerge from the time of adoration fortified and refreshed. Those who came to adore the Lord must surely have experienced something of the same.
This thought leads me to a couple of pastoral points to make. The first of which concerns your spiritual welfare, which remains my most important preoccupation, apart from the salvation of mine own soul.
When I make my prayer intentions, I beseech God that He would save the souls of all my family, relatives, parishioners, and friends–all of those to whom I have a relationship in some way. In doing this I attempt to draw upon the pastoral clout I have before God by virtue of the holy priesthood which He deigned to grant me. It’s a kind of bargaining power with the Almighty, for such is the given position of the priest as a mediator between God and humanity. The priest’s particular concern, of course, must first be with those to whom he has some particular relationship of kith, kin, or post. In the last you are represented. I ask the Lord that “none of them be lost, not even one,” an echo of the words our Lord prayed to His Father before the Passion. It’s a bold thing I ask for, I know. As an individual, I’m asking a huge favor: not for the salvation of one or another soul, but for all those the Lord has given me, whom He has put in my path. Were I to ask to possess the entire created universe I would be asking for less than for the salvation even of one soul, and yet there I go about making such an entreaty to God–I who am nothing. There is the priestly office given me–so unworthy–which gives me that right, duty and obligation to pray, to intercede for the spiritual (and temporal) good of those who are ‘mine.’ This is all the more astonishing in view of the fact of my own sinfulness, an objection which Saint Paul anticipated. The priest “is appointed by God to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. Because of this he is bound to offer sacrifices for his own sins as well as for those of the people” (Hebrews 5:1-3). Without this assurance I, “beset with weakness,” might not be so daring as to ask so much. I beseech God that the wills of my people (“all those You gave me”) might be conformed to the will of God. Is this foolishness? I continue to pray daily in this way in the hope that I may be granted my prayer. I realize, however, that only you individually hold the key to your salvation, and that no one–not an angel, nor a devil, nor even God Himself–can take possession of one’s soul. This is that fundamental human freedom each one possesses personally, a gift of God which is inviolable. The motive of my writing can thus be discerned. I want you to join me in my prayers for you. Otherwise, my petitioning power will be void. Only you can move that lever that lifts you from your sinful selves unto God. Only you can say that salutary Yes to Him. I will continue to pray for you as I have been doing. Perhaps God will grant my fervent wish. Doing this together is, I would say, invincible.
The other pastoral matter concerns an upcoming Archdiocesan Synod to be held next year. You may already be weary and perhaps wary of synods in view of the rather embarrassing and ineffectual gathering under that name of the bishops in Rome last month. (I have not hesitated to share with you my discontent and disappointment over it.) This local, diocesan synod aims to address a problem that the Archbishop foresees for the local Church. All the bad moves that have been made–that have been enforced–through bad, faulty teaching and preaching, and through deliberately planned catechetical ignorance are now coming up for the payoff. The prospects are, I suppose, that in the not too distant future our parishes will be nearly devoid of worshipers. How can it be otherwise? If our Catholic people now live just like Pagan Everybody Else; and if their children do not even know that the grievous crimes they so frequently commit are mortal sins, and that the Communion they receive mindlessly and unworthily is really, physically the divine Presence of Christ and, further, that Christ Himself is indeed God–if they are ignorant of these most basic things, how then can they be expected to take their places in the pews of our churches? Would they have valid reasons for being there? (I mentioned only some of the grave circumstances that have created this problem. One must also consider the depopulation of Catholics as the inevitable outcome of the practice of contraception by many married Catholic people: more mortal sins committed and unconfessed, more planned ignorance of the people on the part of priests who have withheld the truth about this or who have out-and-out lied to them about this matter.)
I think that our Grotto people ought to speak up at this Synod and do the diocesan church a big favor. I’ll be writing about this again soon to solicit your co-operation. If the diocese is not interested in listening to us, the fringe people, the token 'traditional Catholics,' fine. But maybe we–maybe you–can have an impact on the future of the Church in the archdiocese of Detroit. God’s will be done.
Sunday, November 22, 2015
Fr. Perrone: (1) join in my prayers for your salvation; (2) speak up at the archdiocesan synod on why local churches are closing
Fr. Eduard Perrone, "A Pastor's Descant" (Assumption Grotto News, November 22, 2015):