The priest abuse scandal is a disgrace, as was the Pachamama debacle at the Amazonian Synod and the dissident priests who are running amok, promoting everything from same-sex marriage to goofy New Age gimmicks like the Enneagram; but every time I start to attack the Church for its pitiful condition I feel a check in my spirit and instantly think of a meme someone posted on Facebook a few months ago – “Why would I give up Jesus because of what Judas did?” Why am I blaming the Church for what a few bad actors are doing?
Not that I’ve ever thought of leaving the Church, but it sure is easy to complain about what some of her servants are doing these days. I need nourishment, not scandal. Thankfully, the Lord manages to keep me fed by providing just the right reading at the right time to keep me faithful to my Carmelite calling of praying for the Church, not complaining about it.
For example, I recently found this nourishing food in No. 67 of Divine Intimacy which explains just how intimately the Church is associated with Jesus Christ. Quoting Mystici Corporis, Father Gabriel writes: “The Church came forth from the side of our Savior on the Cross like a new Eve, Mother of all the living.”
He goes on to remind that “Jesus sanctified her by shedding His blood for her.”
For this reason, “The Church lives by Christ alone; she is holy with His holiness; she is the Mother of souls through her union with Him.”
This means that all of us are called to be a “Child of the Church,” a title Fr. Gabriel asserts is second only to being called a “Child of God.”
“If the thought of being a Child of the Church does not make our hearts vibrate, if our love for the Church is weak, if our recourse to her is not confident, this indicates a lack of the spirit of faith; we have not sufficiently understood that the Church is Christ, continuing to live in our midst to sanctify and sustain us.”
Admittedly, it’s easy to forget this truth behind all the controversies in which our Church is currently embroiled. This ugly picture doesn’t get any prettier by the constant carping from an anti-Christian media that never ceases to pounce on the story of every errant priest, nun on a bus, and Incan fertility goddess in the heart of Rome (before and after being tossed in the Tiber). Even our own Catholic media can get caught up in the “piling on” about how dark these times are for those who believe.
Yes, we need to know what’s going on, but what we do with that knowledge is another matter altogether. Being a Catholic journalist and a Carmelite, I live by the motto taken on the day of my final profession into Carmel: “I will live in the presence of the Lord in the land of the living” (Psalm 116). I fully intend to do this – without fear or compromise – because this is my right according to the laws of God and country. But I want to use this awareness of the times in which I live to be a better evangelizer for Christ. Bashing the Church just doesn’t check off that box for me.
Okay, so sometimes it’s a struggle, but I like to remind myself that on the day He died, with His flesh shredded and hanging from the bone and His face bruised beyond recognition, underneath the horror of it all, Jesus was still the Son of God; and underneath the disgrace of the modern day sins of the Church, She remains the mystical body of our Savior.
I don’t know about you, but I refuse to blame Jesus for what Judas did.
(Whoever made that meme should be canonized.)
© Susan Brinkmann.