A dismal and blistering article was published last week in a prominent mag -- here unmentioned -- a diatribe against the Church for the often-alleged crime of clericalism, the credited reason for the Church's present troubles. Only well into the piece was it revealed that the writer was an ex-priest, a fact which didn't surprise me since only such a one can publish a splenetic attack on the faith with impunity. I won't bore you with summarizing what he wrote since there's nothing new there except the expression of a particular talent for rant. His writing led me to reflect no on the dread subject matter but on how it could be that a man ordained to the priesthood could get so much wrong about the Church, the priesthood, and theology. He was, early on, a liberal priest who championed leftist causes and challenged orthodoxy. Perhaps he was poorly educated and malformed in the seminary but his writing gave just enough indication that he knew what Catholicism stands for, even if he has rejected it. It was a wonder that he could have turned out so bad as to write what he did and be led, in the end, to leave the practice of the faith. (Actually, that's not all bad since it spares our Lord the offense of sacrilegious Communions.) Was he, I thought, one of those fake priests who infiltrated the Church years ago to make an attempted coup? Or was he among the pitiful duped who followed false guides and fell away from the truth little by little?
These questions motivated me to write here -- again, not about what was in the mag, but about the hard reality of someone rejecting "the faith once delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3). This became a personal reflection on how many there may be, over the long course of my priesthood, who listened to my teaching or preaching and instead of taking in what I intended to impart to them interiorly resented my words or even outright rejected them. How many young students, for example, hearing my instruction opposed it, unknown to me? The fault in such case may lay with my poor teaching abilities but it might also be due to a bad disposition, whatever its causes. I realize one can't always know by body language whether one's hearers agree or disagree with what's being said. This reminded me of the parable of the sower sowing his seed and the various types of ground on which it fell: rocks, briers, or good soil. When our Lord spoke to His audiences, some of them received His teaching approvingly, some outwardly protesting it, while others harbored interior resentment. He always identified these various responses to His words, and to those who harbored hostility He exposed their private thoughts. Lacking the gift of mind-reading, I can't guess who or how many people I've taught over the years took in what I said or rejected it. Whatever may be in be in the mind sooner or later comes out into the open, as it did in the sorry example of that ex-priest. It made me realize that I must pray more that the Holy Ghost will adapt, adjust, and even correct my poor words as needed for particular souls to make the truth evident to them. (I have elsewhere averted to the divine phenomenon of what I believe may happen when the Holy Spirit causes to make heard in various minds divine truths in spite of a preacher's poor abilities, or even his errors. This would be, if I'm right to think it, an extension of the grace of Pentecost when He made each person hear what wwas being said, modifying it for their comprehension.
How can it be that some Catholics like myself brought up in the good ol' days turn out to be doubters of the Church's doctrines, deceivers of others, and turncoats? At one time, I must suppose, they were sincere and devout Catholics. Something happened to them (unless the conspiracy theory is correct, and they were deliberate "plants" sent out to destroy the Church.)
I forgot to mention where and when I heard about that article. It was while I was in Chicago for the Ordination and First Mass of our own Father Matthew Schuster. What a contrast to read about one priest's falling away and to witness another's joyful ascent to Christ's holy priesthood! While I would not wish to be presumptive of God's grace, I can't refrain from expressing my great hopes for a richly fruitful priesthood for Fr. Schuster. I'm deeply grateful to have witnessed its beginnings. He will have his first Grotto Mass on Pentecost Sunday, June 9, at the 9:30 Mass, following which he will confer, during an open reception for him in the gym, his individual priestly blessings which carry the plenary indulgence.
Finale: Pray on Memorial Day for the souls of the faithful departed who served in various capacities for our country's defense, especially those who died in conflict. We will offer holy Mass for them on Monday at the 9:15 a.m. Mass, preceded by the flag-raising ceremony at 9:00, and followed by the pryers in the cemetery. A doughnut and coffee breakfast chaser may be had in the gym.
Sunday, May 26, 2019
Fr. Perrone reflects on two priests -- a bitter old turncoat and a joyful new one
Fr. Eduard Perrone, "A Pastor's Descant" [temporary link], Assumption Grotto News, May 26, 2019: