August 19, 2018

Moving forward with Holy Mother Church and Holy Mother Mary: In his recent letter to the faithful of Pittsburgh concerning the PA Attorney General Report, Bishop Zubik stated that his prayer is that “the agony of Jesus on the Cross would be our hope.” I in no way wish to deny the
power of praying through this imagery, however, I have been personally moved to find comfort in the story of our Blessed Mother. Specifically, in Luke 2:34-35: “Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ʽBehold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you, yourself, a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.ʼ”

I believe we are experiencing this scripture as … this Catholic Church is destined for the fall and rise of many, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you, a Catholic, a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

The history of the Church shows us that the wheat and weeds truly grow together. Saint Bede (who lived from 672-735) wrote: “But now even down to the close of the present time, the sword of the severest tribulation passes through the soul of the Church, when with bitter sorrow she experiences evil against the sign of faith, when she finds many falling from the faith, when at the revealing of the thoughts of many hearts, in which the good seed of the Gospel has been sown, she sees the tares [an injurious weed resembling wheat when young] of vice overshooting it, spreading beyond it, or growing alone.”

Within this reality, I see our challenge, perhaps even our duty. We must remain faithful, fight for justice, extend mercy, and be humble enough to pray for the conversion of all the world while leaving eternal judgment in the hands of God. We must be like Mary, a people persevering in faith, hope and charity even in the midst of the pain, confusion, hurt and anger of having our hearts pierced by a sword.

The world is going to attack the Church on every front. Perhaps those closest to you will look to see how many walk away from the faith. Our friends/family members will reveal their true colors, some supportive, but tragically many will turn on us who remain faithful. Any abandoning of the Church will, for the world, be a sign that the Church is evil ˗ and that is what the devil wants. Our visible faithfulness will be our participation in the passion of Christ and of Mary.

Fr. Stephen Freeman, in his blog, Glory to God for All Things, states: “It is doubtless the case that in our life a sword may pierce our soul – but that, too, is a communion with Christ. In Christ it is also a communion with Mary. Our souls, pierced by a sword, groan with all creation, awaiting the final triumph of the Kingdom. Our faithfulness is an act of Eucharist (thanksgiving), a transformation of the world into the Kingdom of God. It is the fulfillment of the common priesthood of all the baptized.”

May our prayers increase within us the grace we need to persevere in the true faith. I grieve for thee, O Mary most sorrowful, in the affliction of thy tender heart at the prophecy of the holy and aged Simeon. Dear Mother, by thy heart so afflicted, obtain for me the virtue of humility and the gift of the holy fear of God.

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