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A Scandal that Calls for a New Reformation

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“Christ himself, the model of priests, taught first by the example of his deeds and then by his words: Jesus began to do and then to teach. Likewise, a priest who neglects his own sanctification can never be the salt of the earth; what is corrupt and contaminated is utterly incapable of preserving from corruption; where sanctity is lacking, there corruption will inevitably find its way.”

– St. Pius X

We are taught as Catholics that the Church is holy because Christ is holy.  This is what gives truth value to the second mark of the Church mentioned every time we recite the Creed at Sunday Mass.  The Church is holy and it is by means of the teachings of faith and the sacraments that we can be made holy by grace.  This is what we believe and yet has there ever been a time when it was so very hard to believe? The Church is also composed of sinners; indeed, we are all sinners needing a Savior.  But when it comes to our priests and bishops, we like to imagine that they have a direct line to heaven.  They make little money, forsake a spouse and family and are at the immediate beck-and-call of their flocks.  The lesson that Jesus gives his apostles with the Holy Thursday foot washing is that the greater they would become, the more they would have to humiliate themselves as the servants of all.

Catholicism insists that both bishops and priests should remain celibate— placing the love of the Mystical Body or the Church ahead of all other loves.  At a time when most churches compromise on the moral teachings of Christ; the Catholic faith remains resolute about purity prior to marriage, about the permanence of marriage, about marriage as only a relationship between a man and a woman, about the nature of the marital act as open to the generation of children, and about the sanctity of human life.  The loftier the moral message, the further the messenger might fall when he is exposed as duplicitous.

Our priests witness the marriages of couples in love, consecrating unions with the favor of God and of his Church.  They baptize babies, transforming them from mere creatures of God into adopted sons and daughters of our heavenly Father.  They absolve penitents from their sins, literally stealing the damned from the devil. At Mass they celebrate the sacrifice of Calvary so that we might offer ourselves with Jesus, the Lamb of God, as an acceptable oblation to the Father.  They give us Holy Communion, rations from that promised shore to which we travel as spiritual pilgrims.  Along with bishops, they offer confirmation, completing our baptisms so that we might be enriched by the gifts of the Spirit and made living temples of God.  They anoint the sick, perpetuating the ministry of Jesus in bringing healing to the hurting among us.  They bury the dead, preaching a message of hope that in Jesus love is stronger than death and victorious over the grave.  The priest is at the center of everything Catholic.  That is what makes the current scandal especially devastating.  The faithful are rightly disappointed and upset. Our shepherds are facing a crisis in holiness.

Contagious Scandal & the Loss of Reputation

Any one priest signifies every priest.  This collective appreciation has made the present crisis a damning one.  When the laity look at their priests, they immediately wonder, “Could he be one of those priests?” While regarding only a few, these dark revelations of sin and crime are sufficient in damaging overall trust.

Men presumed as truthful revealed as duplicitous liars.

These are the same men appointed as preachers of the Gospel.  The priest and pastor is the chief catechist of every parish and is entrusted with the faith formation of his people.  What becomes of the message or the Good News when the messenger becomes a witness of bad or scandalous news?  What becomes of his credibility when the mouthpiece of God not only stumbles in his witness but is unveiled as an agent of the devil’s anti-gospel? How can such a man speak to us about the truth when he has failed to put on the mind of Christ?

Men presumed as merciful exposed as sources for sin.

These are the men chosen to give flesh to the Divine Mercy in the ministry of the church.  Who would want to go to confession to such rogues?  Many might think that their sins pale in comparison to such reprobates.  While the efficacy of the sacraments is assured; it is understandable that the faithful would feel stained or polluted by association with these men.  Is it all just empty words and gestures? Compounding the problem, they sometimes substitute malice for mercy and draw others as accomplices into their lives of sin.  How can such men draw us into the love of God when they do not have the heart of Christ?

Men presumed as healers caught as sadistic destroyers.

Jesus condemned the pharisees for placing unnecessary burdens upon good people.  As an antidote he delivered the freedom and healing that belongs to the children of God.  Priests were called to mend souls and to give hope, not to breach their victims from the family of God or to give them cause for despair.  The miscreants in the news destroyed innocence and purposely misdirected the faith trajectory of people’s lives.  They placed their own sexual gratification over sacred promises and the good of persons.  How could they live with themselves, exchanging the joy of right relationship with God for a cruel transitory delight toward others?  Even if there were a failure to love, did they not fear God?

Men presumed as pure are brought to light as defiled.

Priests are commissioned as eschatological signs of Christ’s kingdom.  This is a basic premise behind the promise or vow of celibacy.  Celibacy is not the same as chastity or virginity.  Rather, it is a wondrous way of loving others.  We are corporeal-spiritual composites, creatures of spirit and flesh.  The purity of the body is supposed to immediately signify the virtuous nature of the soul, the existential resolution as one who loves the Lord so tremendously that it spills over in concern for the neighbor.  As opposed to the pattern of the rich man going away sad because of his many possessions, it is the follower of Jesus who seeks to abandon earthly satisfaction so as to be rich in Christ.  What happened to this singleness of purpose in these men?  How is it that they could be satisfied with the carnal man when they were pledged to something greater, the one who lives in the Spirit?

Men presumed as holy are divulged as devils.

We are all called to be saints.  That is our fundamental purpose in life.  Christ as the new Adam comes into the world to restore an innocence that was lost by sin.  The priest is charged as an instrument of the Lord to dispense the divine mysteries in making this objective possible.  His ministrations allow us to enter in the saving paschal mystery.  Here is where the sins of these men become a kind of blasphemy against all that is holy and good.  Instead of realizing their role as sharers in Christ’s priesthood and extending his saving works, they look to the wimpish failure of the first Adam; indeed, worse than this, they play the role of the serpent.  Do they not see how they have been thoroughly soiled as slaves to the devil?  Have they stopped believing entirely?

We are told that a priest, even in mortal sin, can validly administer the sacraments.  This is one of the great absurdities of faith and yet one necessary to insure the efficacy of the sacraments in the life of God’s people.  Of course, while a bad priest might do some good, his bad character often sours the milk and corrupts or tears down what is built up.  This dissimulation probably constitutes a special wound in the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  Our Lord is pained by the priest who is a cheat or hypocrite, even as he is supposed to be “another Christ” at the altar.

It remains a conundrum that a priest might take his people to the very gates of heaven but himself be unable to enter.  While we might think that the graces of priesthood would make it easier for him to go to heaven; certain authorities have argued that it makes the prospect of hell more pressing and dangerous.  Why?  The more one is given, the more for which one will be held accountable.  The priest knows better and cannot claim ignorance.  Everything needed for salvation is immediately available.  That makes any neglect inexcusable.  Further, because he has been configured to Christ by his ordination, the devil targets him for every temptation and assault.  At his altar, at his desk, in his car and in his bed he is always in the midst of a fierce battle with the prince demon of perdition.  Priests who forget this will immediately stumble.  The senses are especially targeted.  The scandals of late all appeal to the flesh and sexuality.  The sins committed are virtually unimaginable.  Minds are clouded.  Hearts are hardened.  The devil will take any crack he can find to pierce the priest’s soul— smoking, drunkenness, gluttony, sloth, anger, jealousy, whatever.  The devil may have failed in his temptation of Christ; but starting with his apostles and coming down through history to his priests and bishops of today, he has found men who sometimes falter and even become his property.  Judas may not be the only bishop-priest in hell.

It is a terrible business when the weak link of faith is the shepherd. The weapons to hurt souls and to attack the Church then come from the very hands of the priest— hands that were consecrated for the chalice and the host.  We as Catholics become our own worst enemies.  It is at such times that we must remember that our faith is placed ultimately not in men but in God.  We should also recall the saints, for theirs is the true legacy of the Church.  Instead of running away, it becomes all the more imperative for God’s people to keep the faith and to demand fidelity and holiness of their priests.  All sins might be forgiven, but the sins against innocence must not be forgotten.  A reform of the Church will mean that some higher churchmen will have to step down, certain priests will have to be removed from ministry and others will have to embrace a heroic apostolate of penance and sanctity.  This is not a time for window dressing but of a true moral reform, to deal both with a hostile secular modernity and a rigid clericalism that makes careerism and a fear of scandal into higher imperatives than protecting God’s flock from the robber and the wolf.

If we enter into the light (not afraid of what will be unmasked) and not in the darkness (where the roaches of sin hide), then we will truly walk with Christ.  As opposed to the clamoring enemies of the Church who see the current scandal as the death knell for Catholicism, maybe it is an unavoidable summons to “grow up” and to become a more effective and genuine witness for Christ in the modern world?  Divine providence is most unfathomable when God draws something of the good from the misdirected evil of men.

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Christmas Poems from Fourth Graders

christmaSt. Mary of the Assumption School – December 1996

These poems are a testimony to faith and to the children’s joy found in Christmas. Every child is a reflection of the child of Bethlehem, precious and irreplaceable. The birth of our Savior is celebrated each year in the love we share with our children.

Melanie T

Christ our Savior,
Christ our Lord,
Christ our Lord is born.

A star shines over Him in Bethlehem,
Marks the great place of his birth
In a manger– in a barn.

Shepherds came from countries afar;
Kings came bearing great gifts;
Angels came singing their songs of love.

People came from countries afar,
Bearing great gifts,
Following the bright star.

Cameron T 

Once there was a woman named Mary
Who was highly favored by God.
God sent an angel to Mary
And asked her to be the Mother of God.

On to Bethlehem, Mary went
To be taxed with Joseph her husband.
The journey was long and hard for Mary.
No space was to be found
And Mary was ready to give birth to God’s Son.
Only a manger was available so
God’s son was born in a lowly place, filled with grace.

Choirs of angels announced the event
And people came from near and far.
Wise men were guided by a star.
All came to give homage to the Son of God.

Gregory R 

In a manger far away
Lay a child on the hay.
Sleeping peacefully through the night,
He will be our guiding light.

Shining above is a star,
watching over from afar.
Three kings have come with gifts in a jar,
Following the yonder star.

Not many people are aware,
That God’s Son, Jesus, is there.
Jesus will always care,
And we are thankful He’s always there.

Angela G 

Christmas is that time of day
When all the children want to play.
They play and play around
Until they fall on the ground.

In a manger far away
Lay a baby in the hay.
He will sleep all through the night
Until he sees a bright light.

While Jesus sleeps and children play–
Yes, that’s what happenss on Christmas day!

Steven B 

O joy! Christmas day!
O dear! My brother Roy,
He’s not up.
O joy! We will open presents!
O dear! My mom isn’t present,
To watch us open the presents,
O dear!

Carrie F 

There lay a manger in a barn
With a baby so nice and warm.
The glorious day this child was born,
We call it Christmas.

When Christmas comes
We shouldn’t think of gifts.
We should think of Jesus;
This gives our spirits a lift.

Christmas is a time of joy;
We go to church and pray
And sing and celebrate
The birth of Christ.

This festive time brings lots of cheer.
We think of those we hold so dear;
Of Christ’s birth, Mary and Joseph, too.
I love this time of Christmas!

Ryan T 

The North Star lit the night sky.
The wise men followed the bright star.
They traveled long and far
And brought gifts for our Savior.

Our Savior was born in a manger
One sweet night.
It became known as Christmas.
To celebrate his coming, we sing songs of joy
And under our tree, maybe a toy,

He died on a cross for our sins.
He hoped one day to bring out the angel within.
Today we continue the teachings that he began.

Freddie C 

There was a star in the sky so very high.
The kings had just said, “Hi” to little Jesus.
As he was lying in a manger.
The new strangers gave Jesus gifts.
While he lied there, everything was quiet,
Not even a sniffle.
This day is known as Christmas.
It is much fun, like no other day.

Maureen S 

It was Christmas Eve, a dark cold night,
Snowflakes were falling like angels in flight.

The Christmas tree with lights all a glow
Filled the room with warmth and only Santa would know.

The presents were wrapped with neatness and delight.
It made us know St. Nick’s flight was just right.

As Christmas day comes to an end,
We know the joy and loving will happen again.

Mary W 

Oh Christmas Day!
What a wonderful way
For God to say he loves us.
To give us his only Son
Was a true sign of his affection for us.

Joe M 

Christmas is the time of year
When everyone is full of cheer.
Yet we should never forget the true meaning of this day
That started with a baby laying in the hay.
The brightest star showed wise men where to come;
They traveled by star instead of by sun.
Little did they know our savior would be lost;
He saved us all by dying on the cross.
We celebrate Christmas, the day God became man.
I celebrate his birthday because I am his biggest fan.

Matthew S 

Baby Jesus will be born tonight,
But some of the inns will put up a fight.
All they say is go away
And find some other place to stay.

They found a stable nice and warm
And that is where Baby Jesus was born.
Three wise men from near and far
Decided to follow a bright star.

They did not rest until they were there
To see this occasion that was rare.

Christmas comes just once a year,
That is why Baby Jesus is so dear.
Although his birthday is once a year,
You should have it in your heart all year long.

Scottie C 

Away in a manger,
Tucked away from danger,
There he lay,
Tucked away in the hay.

As the shepherds arrive,
They lay down by his side.
Kings come each with a great gift
That will surely be left.

The light of the star
Has guided the visitors far.
As they watch the Baby Jesus
He gets up and sneezes.

Tommy A 

When I think of Christmas time,
I don’t think of presents, not me.
I think of the birth of Christ
And of the many people of earth.

I think of sparkling trees, wreaths
And tales galore of Santa’s lore.
Decorations fill the house and lawn,
Lights, of Christmas spirit fill the air.

I think of love spoken near and far
And gifts donated to the poor.
The songs of carolers singing out
The magic, the wonder, of a child of God.

Chris D 

In the manger there he lay
All bundled up in cloth and hay,
Little Jesus there he lie
While three wise men by his side.

Bearing wonderful gifts they did,
Looking at him in that little crib.
What a wonderful sight it was,
The newborn king, there he was.

Christmas is a wonderful thing
Because it is so pleasing.
It is so pleasing because
It’s the birthday of King Jesus.

Carrie T 

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
I like Christmas
And so should you.

Christmas spirit
Should be remembered
All year through.

Keep Jesus in your heart,
So don’t think about
A pretty shopping cart.

The wise men brought gifts
And followed the star.
We give gifts,
Right where we are.

Christmas is filled with love
And shared with family
Friends, and God above.

Bethany F 

Christmas is a time to share.
Christmas is a time to care.
You wish you were a holiday prayer.
So God could be with you everywhere.

Then you would go with Him anywhere,
To be with Him side by side.
So that you can see Him every time,
Just keep on praying and you’ll find Him high.

Up above the world so high,
You know you don’t want to die.
Christmas is a time of love,
So love the Lord to get above.

Erica D

Joseph and Mary went on a caravan,
So they could get to Bethlehem.
They traveled both day and night,
But they did not worry with fright.
They asked many if they had a place to stay,
But they all answered, “No, you cannot stay.”
Someone let them use his barn
With animals who meant no harm.
There little baby Jesus was born
And the Noel angel played its horn.
While the three wise men followed a star,
They wondered how long and how far.
When they reached the barn,
They layed their gifts for the baby,
Who deserved the myrrh, frankencense and gold.
Then everyone was happy with love and merrimas
For on every Dec. 25, they call this Christmas.

Richard N

Jesus was born in Bethlehem.
Kings and shepherds came to praise him.

His birth gave peace and joy
To every man, woman, girl, and boy.

On Christmas eve we pray for nice weather
So family and friends can get together.

We gather around the Christmas tree
To open presents happily.

Michelle G

At the time when Jesus was born,
There wasn’t a lot of corn.
The name of this time of year is all around the bus,
And it is called Christmas.
This is the time of year when little ones look for Santa,
Especially little Tana.
This is the time of year,
When we get liitle gadgets and gears.
We have a big pine tree in our family room,
Which we like to groom.
This is the time of year
When sugar plums and candycanes dance in our heads,
As our parents tuck us in our beds.
And in the morning,
It won’t be boring,
Because we open presents
And they don’t have any dents.

Patrick C

Christmas is a time of joy,
Children think it’s about a toy.
Christmas is a time of play,
Christmas is Jesus’ birthday.

Christmas is not just for decoration,
Christmas is a time for celebration.
Christmas is a time for thanks,
Not a time to pull some pranks.

Christmas is a time of joy
For every girl and boy.
Christmas is a time for fun,
Christmas is for everyone.

Christopher B

Stars are shining,
Christmas is here.
Baby Jesus is born a’near,
Born in a stable, let’s say a prayer,
Let’s celebrate with holy praise.

Joyous love we have for you
To celebrate all year through!

Steven C

Once upon a midnight cherry
To Mrs. Claus, he said, “Bye deary.”
Over many a house and chimney of brick and stone,
He flew and chuckled, eyes a twinkling–
Suddenly he got an inkling–
As of many children thinking,
Thinking of their Christmas joys,
“Tis some children,” Santa muttered,
“Thinking of their Christmas joys,
Only this, some girls and boys?”

Bridget L 

On Christmas day,
There he lay,
Baby Jesus in the hay,
With the shepherds by his side watching over him.

Then everyone says our Savior is born,
So let’s go to seek
The special Lord– the Lord is born–
Let’s give him thanks and praise.

Then the wise men come on their camels
Bringing their gifts, following the yonder star.
They each bring a special gift: frankencense, myrrh, and gold.

Andrew G

Christmas is near,
Santa is near.
Christmas is near,
Jesus is near.

Time to put up the Christmas set,
Time to put up the Nativity Set,
Time to see the North Star,
But most important, the Christmas Star.

On Christmas, kids might have joy
For a Christmas toy.
But Christmas is about the day
Jesus is born and love us he may.

Robbie C

In a manger a child lay
Asleep in the hay,
Sleeping peacefully through the day,
He will be our guiding light.

Shining above is a star,
Watching over from afar.
Three kings have arrived from far,
Who came by the light.

People are not aware
That the Son of God is here.
His Son will care for us
And we are thankful he is here.

Jesus is the Light of the World

sunmoon

We cannot save ourselves. As Christ’s disciples we must allow his light to shine within us.

Is There Evidence to Convict Us as Christians?

marauders

Our witness as Christians is compromised by those who say they believe in Jesus but whose lives reflect nothing of conversion or the love mandated by the Gospel of Life.

We are All Pilgrims on a Journey

bedoin

There are so many distractions in the modern world. Amidst all the noise and activity, the whispering voice of God still calls us to himself.

The Four Horsemen

4horses

This is the time of year when we are forced to remember our mortality and the terrible price of sin.

Holy Week is Upon Us!

christcross

This is the week when we ponder what really matters.