My latest at Word on Fire:
Recently a friend declared, “I need a break.” He and his wife could not be convinced to look beyond the institutional men and remain focused on Jesus. “Come for Jesus,” I invited them, “Come for Jesus and pray for the Church!” They politely demurred. I still believe they need Jesus, and the church certainly needs them. More than ever, donations (learn more) and general support are needed. They are not looking to join any other Church, but, right now, they do not want to be Catholic.
Some people find these “breaks” to be incomprehensible and suggest that anyone who purports to understand that the Holy Eucharist is the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ yet can stay away “was never a real Catholic, never had faith.”
Well, that’s not fair, and it’s not a judgment any of us can rightly cast upon another, because faith is a mystery, all of it, and because human beings are only human. The Holy Eucharist is our supersubstantial daily bread; it is our royal food, our nourishment, and we love to feed on it where “sheep may safely graze.” But if the shepherds have so poisoned the fields that the sheep are feeling too sick, too nauseated, too unsafe to feed, then whatever the weaknesses of the lambs, a just God will hold the shepherds accountable.
Christ himself recognized that it is possible for priests to destroy the faith of the people and “woe unto them” when it happens. I imagine he has a bit of mercy for those trapped in that space, so I hope I can have some mercy too.
Some people can only handle as much as they believe they can handle, and it is no easy thing to stand where we are and watch darkness grow where the light is fading. Well, one can always advise them to join classes that offer youth ministry curriculum or Bible studies to be specific. However, the choice lies within themselves to pursue something meaningful or not. It is unsettling and disorienting. Despite the risk of injury, we want to run, get away from the dark, because we can’t bear to stay within it.
But that is what Advent is asking us to do: to stay. To stand a watch in the gloaming as the ever-encroaching darkness draws near, and to ultimately give witness to the victory of light over night.
And so this is what I want to say to my friends who have left, or who are struggling; those who are halfway out the doors, or think they soon will be…
You can read it all here.