I believe in the Catholic Church!
Within a few days, we will contemplate the Passion of Our Lord, which is at the heart of our religion. On this occasion, let me focus on the Mystery of the Agony of Our Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane. In that lone hour, Jesus felt that he was completely abandoned by men - the few apostles that came with him had fallen asleep. There was only an angel that came to give Him some consolation.
St. Peter was there, but he had fallen asleep, along with St. John and St. James. Not only that, but later, on the same night, Peter betrayed his Master three times. How was it possible for the first pope to make such falls and to fail grievously in his duties? Humanely speaking, we cannot understand, but it is a matter of fact and a truth which we cannot ignore. Here we see the two elements of the Church, the Divine element, by which the Church founded by Christ is Holy, and the human element, by which churchmen could seriously fail in their duties.
If the first leader of the Church could fail, we should not put the blame on the divine institution, by which the Church is Holy, but rather on the human element of the Church. The Church is made of men, who are sinners, because they are children of Adam and Eve.
Now, considering the Mystery of the Agony in the Garden, let us put some light on the recent events that affected Holy Mother the Church, and several members of her hierarchy. Like the Sacred Heart of Jesus during the Agony in the garden, our heart is filled with great pain at the view of the scandals that are affecting the Church today. Our deep sorrow is extended towards the victims who have been abused by clerics, who abused the power given to them to transmit the supernatural life to souls.
But we should be careful not to flush the baby with the water of the bath. In other words, we should not fall into the temptation to doubt about the Church: if the Church was established by Christ for the needs of men, how is it possible that such things could happen within the heart of our Holy Mother the Church?
The answer lays in the solemn profession that we make in the apostles Creed: “I believe in the Holy Catholic Church.” If the Catholic Church is made of men, who are sinners - sometimes very grievously – the Church herself is always Holy and sanctifying.
The Church is Holy, first by her head, Our Lord Jesus-Christ, who is the model and source of all holiness. Being the Leader of our souls, He fosters into our hearts the great desire to follow and to imitate His example. He is also the source of all grace, this spiritual power that gives us the strength to resist to temptations that assail us and, moreover, to overcome our own weakness.
Now, when we give the title of Holy Father to the successor of St. Peter, we are not talking about his personal life, but rather we give credit to the holiness of his function as Vicar of Christ on earth. Of course, it supposes that the pope is faithful to the mission entrusted to him by Christ.
The Church is Holy by the holy sacrifice of the Mass, the unbloody renewal of the sacrifice of Calvary, by which the Mystery of Redemption is made present every day on our altars.
The Church is also Holy by her sacraments, in particular by the Holy Eucharist and the holy priesthood, both instituted by Christ to transmit to men the graces flowing from the Mystery of Redemption.
All these things are holy and do provide to us the authentic means to reach holiness of life and life everlasting.
So, if a Christian and, God forbid, a priest falls into sin, it doesn’t affect the holiness of the Church. Such thing doesn’t happen because of some failure of the institution, but rather in contradiction with the essential holiness of the Church and of all her teaching.
Thus, in this time of crisis of the Church, indeed the time of the Passion of the Church, let us renew our deep faith in the Mystery of the Church: “I believe in the Holy Catholic Church.”
On behalf of the priests and brothers of St. Michael’s priory and Our Lady of Mount Carmel Academy, all my best wishes for Easter!
Father Dominique Boulet