Sunday, June 11, 2006

Angry voices...

Pray! Pray! Pray! Without ceasing!

Ever since the Fr. Altier deal in the St. Paul/Minneapolis Archdiocese people have not been afraid to go public with their anger, in fact the anger seems to be pretty deep seated, stemming back a decade or so, in some cases maybe even longer. It's catching up with the times as it were. The reassignment of Fr. Altier and the prospect of a new Coadjutor Archbishop in the Twin Cities has unleashed a hail storm of hostilities. I hear it, I read it. At times certain individuals seem down right bi-polar about it - one day they are incensed about the 're-assignment surgeries' happening in the Archdiocese and the next they are praising the current Archbishop for doing the best he could in a bad situation, only to bash him the next day for participating in a liturgical function that was anything but orthodox, or something else. Is this a Church in turmoil or what?

When I came back into the Church in 1972 I was so deeply impressed with the real presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist that I paid little attention to His ministers. When away from the Church I had a contempt for the hierarchy, and most priests and religious. Perhaps that was the result of having grown up and educated by mean nuns with cold and indifferent parish priests. I attribute my negative experiences to their knowledge of my mother as a divorced, re-married, and therefore, non- practicing Catholic, while my father was a non-practicing Lutheran who despised the Church; and both were alcoholic and of course we were poor. I cannot really say anything against these religious however, since they did accept me tuition-free in their schools, and I got a great education, and because of a childish reverence for their habit and status, I never thought I was being mistreated - until I got older. At the time I likened it to how the saints suffered from others in their lives, so I accepted the harsh treatment, considering anything better than what my home life was like. I have to thank those nuns now! Nevertheless, in my rebellious years I came to resent their harsh treatment and developed a nasty case of anti-clericalism, the scars of which remain today - now tell me the devil did not have a hand in that! As I said however, at my conversion, my faith in the Lord's real presence in the Blessed Sacrament became so living, I was able somehow to differentiate the priest, who stood in persona Christi, from the man with his human weaknesses and foibles. It was a supernatural grace, to be sure, because it freed me from preoccupation with any perceived faults I may have ever witnessed. Contemporaries have told me I have had my head in the sand, I hope it has been more that I have had my eyes fixed on Jesus.

These recent events in our Archdiocese have been a good wake-up call for me, to realize how distracted I have become from my true focus, turning my head 'like Lot's wife to look at the destruction' (St. John, III Precaution) while my spiritual life has turned to stone, as it were. Over the years I have encountered priests who refused to give me absolution for sins I confessed telling me they were not sins. I had to beg them to impart absolution by humbling myself and asking them to do so from a purely psychological viewpoint - at the very least - so that I could have peace. Strangely enough they would then absolve me, having more faith in psychology than the sacraments. (I was not having psychological problems, I was having difficulty with a habitual sin, one I knew was grave, I needed and wanted absolution.)

Over the years I've encountered all sorts of priests one might call heretical, unfaithful, homosexual, even debauched. One thing I could never disparage is their priesthood, again, it is a supernatural grace. I looked away all of those years, I prayed for them. I delighted when I'd encounter a good priest, such as Fr. Altier, or the other numerous faithful and devout priests of this Archdiocese, and I gravitated towards them.

So I've known about all of the abuses yet I refused to focus upon them. I don't think it does me much good to focus upon them. When I was in a monastery for a time, the prior was an alcoholic and for recreation we had cocktails and watched TV. I left. I enterd another monastery, my novice master turned out to be gay and asked me very personal and impertinent questions about my sexuality. I left. Then a priest I knew wanted to get into 'mutual massage' - and when I said "No way!" I was accused of being uptight, ashamed of my body, etc. I left. Like I said, I have been on the receiving end of bad theology, bad liturgy, bad celebrations of the sacrament of penance, and other eccentricities. I more or less had to be on my own for many years. Like the guy in The Way of the Pilgrim, I just continued on my way. It's a grace, and an act of Divine Mercy when one encounters a saintly priest - it's really not a right - everything is a grace, is a mercy. On some level I think it's always been this way. We may now be living in the era of the great apostasy, but I wonder. What I know for certain is that I have been distracted from the 'one thing necessary', and I must 'return to my early love'.

Having said that, check out this news story about persecuted priests, it seems to be happening all over, not just here. Let's not get mad, or try to get even by adding fuel to the scandal and fight, let's pray. Pray, pray, pray. "It is not human activity that can save us now, but only the sufferings of Christ." - Edith Stein.


  1. Terry,
    What a great post! Mitchell & I have been having a great many discussions on the state of the Church and the state of the blogisphere. Perhaps some of the anger, misinformation and misinterpretations are the result of us all losing sight of the One we should be focusing on and letting the Evil one work his way into our lives. Prayer, is indeed, the answer: prayer for our enemies, prayers for our loved ones and prayer for ourselves.


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