“Indeed, the Son of God was revealed to destroy the works of the Devil”
1 Jn. 3:8
No-one looking at the Church in these days could fail to see the trials she is presently undergoing.
The first is the sexual abuse crisis. This extends back many, many decades, so that any argument that it is a result of ‘modernisation’ in the Church has no foundation in reality. However, it is these days that it is now exerting it’s dark repercussions on the Church.
This great evil has led to a second and associated evil – that of the covering-up of evil already perpetrated, of enabling it to continue and of turning a blind eye to it’s existence and proliferation within the clergy and especially within the hierarchy of the Church.
And this second evil has led to a third – the belief amongst bishops that the reputation of the Church is greater than the good and the well-being of those people entrusted to her care, both spiritual and temporal.
These three evils have shown the Church in a very dark light indeed – and this is entirely of her own making and the bishops and priests involved bear full repsonsibility for everything that has followed as a result. But it would be wrong to think that all priests and bishops are in any way involved in this – the good far outweigh the bad, even if the numbers of the bad are incredible and shock us further as each new atrocity is uncovered.
It would be a mistake to perceive the present crisis in the Church as a purely temporal problem, one which requires nothing more than a temporal response and solution. Rather, this is very much a spiritual battle above all else. Consequently, our response needs to be spiritual as well as temporal.
It is hard not to conclude that the present situation emanated from the very depths of Hell, or that it is anything but a concerted and relentless attack by the Deceiver, Satan. This once illustrious Archangel retains his angelic intellect and power – but in every other respect, he is no longer what he once was. Having made an irreversible choice not to serve the Almighty, his plan is to corrupt and destroy everything Christ stands for; he has no power to attack Christ directly, so he will attack the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church. Satan is certainly powerful in the spiritual realm – but he is still only a creature, and not a god, although he likes to think of himself as such. Pride was always his weakness.
In that pride, he even tempted the Lord Himself – and was immediately rejected and put in his place. He continues to tempt us all even now, through ordinary temptation and sometimes through extraordinary means. What Satan forgets is that the ultimate battle has already been won and he has been definitively defeated. Satan thought the death of Christ on the Cross was a great victory for the powers of evil – but as we profess as Christians, it was actually the ultimate victory of Christ, Who redeemed us through His sacrifice. Although this victory of Christ is certain, still there are battles to be fought. The present situation is one of them.
The focus of the present situation is the abominable damage done to a great many by those whose responsibility it was to protect and nurture them, followed by the attempts of many others – often in positions of authority as shepherds – to cover up that abuse in it’s various forms and to silence those who sought to bring it into the light. The scale and the breadth of this depravity cannot have come from anywhere except Hell itself.
However, I would suggest that this was only the first part of the plan. The second stage of this evil is now beginning to appear, and it is this – confusion and disunity tearing at the very fabric of the Church, risking the loss of faith in many souls, both sheep and shepherds; and by this means, to bring about the destruction of the Church itself.
In order to achieve this aim, the Deceiver will use every strategy at his disposal and will appeal to whatever within us is most likely to allow his demonic darkness to find a foothold. For some, this will be pride which masks itself in various ways. For others, it will be anger and the loss of charity and justice. Some will have an already weakened Faith for which this present situation will be the catalyst for what would have happened regardless, the leaving of the Church. Others will be corrupted in a different way – by opposing those of differing perspectives, and so damaging the very unity which is at the heart of the Church. And in this way they, too, risk being lost or causing others to be lost. Satan will use numerous and varied strategies to achieve his aims and fulfil his plans.
How then, do we respond?
First, stay with the Church.
She is the Mystical Body of Christ, with His guarantee that the evil one will never prevail. She needs you. She needs every one of us. Without us, there is no Church. Remember that the Church has faced many trials through the centuries – and here she remains. This trial will be no different in that respect. Lead a holy, prayerful and sacramental life – be the best Christian you can possibly be. In other words, seek to become truly holy with the grace of God.
Pray harder and more relentlessly than you have every done before. Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet and beg God’s mercy for the Church and for the world. He will grant it if we ask it of Him with faith and confidence and perseverance and trust. Pray alone. Pray communally in your parishes. Pray in your families. Ask your children to pray – their prayers are very pure and powerful before the Throne of Grace. Read the Scriptures and truly come to know Christ, Who reveals Himself there. Read the Scriptures every single day.
Third, ask the help of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary.
It is no coincidence that She was so recently officially proclaimed ‘Mother of the Church’. Nor has it been coincidental that so many dioceses and nations have, over this past year, consecrated themselves to Her Immaculate Heart. In Heaven, there is no such thing as ‘coincidence’; everything is perfectly planned and perfectly timed. Pray the Rosary daily, offering it for the Pope, the Bishops, the Priests and all the Church. Commend everything to that motherly Heart with the confidence of a little child.
Fourth, go before the greatest Treasure of the Church.
And that Treasure is the Most Blessed Sacrament, the Source and Summit of the Christian life and the Fount of every grace and blessing. Go before Him with deep humility and with deep confidence in Him. Adore Him there and ask His mercy and grace for the Church and for the world, and for every single one of us. If you have no local Eucharistic Adoration – ask for it.
Fifth, pray especially for your own parish Priests
Our priests and bishops are so desperately in need of prayer at this time, for their hearts are being deeply wounded by the evil which is upon us like a plague. Pray hard for them. Without them, there are no Sacraments, and that alone would be a great victory for Satan.
Sixth, look to yourself.
Be aware of whatever particular aspects of your own personality might allow the Deceiver to gain something within you – whether anger, hasty judgement, lack of charity, a weak faith, a poor prayer life, or whatever else. This is an all-out attack on the Church, which means an attack on every single one of us.
Seventh, ask the special intercession of the great Saint Joseph.
He is the special patron of the Church and his prayers are very powerful indeed. Remember, too, Saint Michael the Archangel. They are charged to protect the Church upon earth and their mighty assistance is greatly needed in these days.
May the Lord grant us the grace to TRUST in Him; nothing can happen which He does not permit, and whatever He permits is for our greater good, even if we cannot perceive His plan.
And may Mary, Mother of the Church, assist us with Her heavenly intercession and grant us the sure refuge of Her Immaculate Heart.