We who belong to the Personal Ordinariates for Catholics of Anglican Patrimony have much to be thankful for. We have good shepherds who hold the Catholic faith and teach it.
We may be small, and poor, and scattered about the world, but we left the bad baggage of the former Anglican world behind and we’re too new to have accumulated a great deal of baggage of our own.
At the same time, though, the controversies and crises swirling about in the wider Catholic Church concern us and affect us. At the very least they make our task of evangelization more difficult.
What are we to do?
I think we need to return to some of the more traditional Catholic practices of penance, making reparation, prayer and fasting. We also have to trust that as sin abounds, so all the more does grace and keep our eyes on what God is doing rather than what the enemy is doing.
Ralph Martin of Renewal Ministries, one of the leaders in the worldwide Catholic charismatic movement, has perhaps one of the best analyses of the current former Cardinal McCarrick crisis out there with some practical suggestions on what we as Catholics need to do about it. He writes:
How can we passively endure such corruption that runs so wide and deep? It is right to make our views known. It is right and necessary. But even more so, it is necessary to pray and offer sacrifices for the Church and her leaders at this time. It is necessary to pray that genuine reform, rooted in real repentance and an embrace of all the truths of the faith, would come out of this awful situation and that the Church, more deeply purified and humbled, may shine forth with the radiance of the face of Christ.
But it is going to be a long way from here to there. Grave damage has been done to the credibility of the Church, and more will leave. Grave damage has been done to many of the flock, and reparation must be made; public repentance is called for. As Pope Benedict XVI wrote when he was a young priest, the Church will have to become smaller and more purified before it can again be a light to the world. The Church is going through a radical purification under the chastising hand of God, but already we can see a remnant of fervent renewal appearing all over the world, which is a sign indeed of hope and the renewal to come.
And so, what can we do as we continue to pray for the pope and our leaders that God may give them the wisdom and courage to deal with the root of the rot and bring about a real renewal of holiness and evangelization in the Church?
»We need to go about our daily lives, trying to live each day in a way pleasing to God, loving Him and loving our neighbor, including the neighbor in our own families. We need to look to ourselves, lest we fall.
»We need to remember that even though we have this treasure in earthen vessels (or as some translations put it, “cracked pots”), the treasure is no less the treasure. Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater! Baby Jesus is the treasure, and He is still as present as ever and still as ready to receive all who come to Him. And the Mass! Every day, He is willing to come to us in such a special way. Let’s attend daily Mass even more frequently, to offer the sacrifice of Jesus’ death and resurrection to God the Father, in the power of the Holy Spirit, for the salvation of souls and the purification of the Church.
»We need to remember that the Catholic Church is indeed founded by Christ and, despite all problems, has within it the fullness of the means of salvation. Where else can we go? Nowhere; this is indeed our Mother and Home, and she needs our love, our prayers, and our persevering in the way of holiness more than ever.
»We need to remember that there are many truly holy and dedicated bishops and priests, and we must pray for them and support them. They need and deserve our support.
I was also struck by this article by Tony Esolen in Crisis Magazine that looks unflinchingly at our individual responsibilities as Catholics for the current state of affairs. First he gives examples of how we justify our sins by comparing ourselves to others—that our sin is not as serious because . . .
Do we see the trouble with this? We are all embroiled in it. We are angry because bishops, who should be leading the flock rather than roasting them on a spit, winked and smiled at sexual misbehavior in their peers. This is the same kind of thing we ourselves have been doing for a long time now. Every one of us, without exception. It is almost impossible to live in this whatever culture without compromising yourself at every step. You say nothing about fornication, nothing about cohabitation, nothing about divorce, nothing about obscenity, nothing about sins against nature, and nothing about contraception, and you are shocked to find that your bishops are bad, your president is a pig, his opponent was a sow, the entertainers you watch on television grunt and squeal, and the ordinary banter at your middle school is fouler than the graffiti on the wall of a Roman bathhouse.
We may also ask how it is that a man like McCarrick rose to the status of chief boar in the bog. What signal accomplishments of the intellect, what conspicuous acts of holiness, or what merely worldly successes in building up institutions qualified him to rise so high? Anyone who has ever worked in a bureaucratic setting, whether in private industry, in education, or in government, will be able to provide the answer. You rise by giving the “right” people what they want. It is another neat trick. You draw down the capital of your institution, whether it is monetary, cultural, or intellectual, in order to reward a certain group of people, often the most worldly and vocal and ambitious, rather than others—the old-fashioned, that is, the people who want mainly that things be sane and decent.