When nothing makes sense, when one is certain that “things can no longer go on like this,” one immediately is brought face to face with the most thwarted and disappointed man in the Gospel: John the Baptist…. His mission did not end as he thought it should. Like the earth shaking under his feet, there vomited up that awful sense of meaninglessness which seizes any man of God when he is seemingly not supported by God….
To whom shall we go in such black moments as we face the ugly mask of meaninglessness? John the Baptist went to Christ. Even though he did not understand the Master’s ways, he would bring his despair to Jesus. As Christ on the Cross would go to the Heavenly Father in the darkness of the Fourth Word, so the Baptist would go to Christ in the bleakness of his cell. In stark abandonment no theological discussion, no dialogue with a colleague will solace the heart, but only the experience of having an encounter with Christ. He could have said, “Oh! What’s the use? The hell with it. I’ll give up the priesthood. I made a mistake. This life demands more moral courage than I can summon. This is the end.”
On the contrary, John took all his doubts and despair to the Lamb…. But there are times when the strongest are weak; if he is pure, he feels weak when temptation attacks him; if he is hungering for righteousness, he feels weak in face of the apathy of his colleagues. When the remediless weaknesses of our humanity are upon us, then the strong search for the strongest. And this is what John did….
Somehow or other, Christ does not answer OK when we say, “Help me.” Priests may pledge their lives to Him at ordination, but there will be moments when they will think that He is not equal to their “unbearable situation”…. But in such moments, like John, they must bring their seeming defeat to the Lord, and never brood over it and assume that they know better than the Lord. Blessed is he who in spite of inner questionings and frustrations, still sees no hope for the future except in getting closer to Christ.
Once we begin to separate in Christ His Priesthood and His Victimhood, the priestly life is full of wreckage. His Priesthood can account for our success; His Victimhood alone can explain our defects. When really are we more His? When we are offering, or when we are being offered? The Lord left His own cousin in jail when He could have smitten the bars like Samson. But the Lord Himself would spend Holy Thursday night in jail. Christ the High Priest was inseparably victim; hence He beats down no storms that rise against Him. He rides upon them. The aspiring boy, Joseph, is thrown into a well. Moses is left along the Nile. And John is beheaded….
Though the Lord does not rescue us from the unbearable, His Heart is so grateful for our acceptance of His Will…. The moment we condemn the Lord for forgetting us, is the time when the Lord most highly praises us. We have no idea how much we are loved in that hour when it seems we are most unloved. John thought himself as a broken and forgotten reed, but the Lord saw him as unshakeable as a rock…. In the Divine Order, the imprisoned souls fly. No priestly heart has freedom; it is mastered and victimized: it must be captured before it can fly. The hour of frustration is the day of emancipation. The apparent forgetfulness of Christ as we toil in oblivion is the time when we are most remembered, for it is possible to be “greater than John the Baptist”: and that is by being the “least.” The ark that the Spirit of Christ builds can float in all flood waters. We are winged by our wants. The hope of the future mansion is the house unfinished here. The priesthood learns victimhood in the unsatisfied soul.
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“This blog is like a fusion of the Baroque ‘salon’ with its well-tuned harpsichord around which polite society gathered for entertainment and edification and, on the other hand, a Wild West “saloon” with its out-of-tune piano and swinging doors, where everyone has a gun and something to say. Nevertheless, we try to point our discussions back to what it is to be Catholic in this increasingly difficult age, to love God, and how to get to heaven.” – Fr. Z
YOUR RECENT COMMENTS
- Thomas S: People keep saying Pope Paul was heroic in issuing Humanae Vitae. Maybe so. He certainly wasn’ ;t heroic in defending it and disciplini ng dissidents in the hierarchy.
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- TonyO: I’d be curious as to how many homeschool ed men are being ordained. Every article I’m seeing indicates that homeschool ed men are more likely to enter seminary than non-homesc hooled men,...
- Rob83: Paul VI sounds like a man who either blindly put his faith in the Consilium and its work or someone who was trusting the reviews of others as to the soundness of its work, which trust was...
- Malta: My view of Vatican II is pretty well documented : http://www .newoxford review.org /article.j sp?did=010 7-conlee. Maybe it’s arrogant for one man to take on over 2,000 Bishops; but as...
- JonPatrick: At the first shot I thought it could be the Bronx or Brooklyn which still have Els (as opposed to Chicago which has the “L 8221;). But if it was NYC there would probably be more...
- Gaetano: I am sympatheti c to Paul VI, who was so heroic regarding Humanae Vitae. Yet with regards to the Liturgy, I am reminded of an Italian proverb: Chi è causa del suo mal, pianga sè stesso....
- Sword40: And that just proves to me that everyone can change. Back in the 1970’ ;s and early 80’s , Ratzinger was known as a Liberal amongst us conservati ves. Yes, I was pleased that...
- maternalView: In our house we were so happy. We couldnR 17;t stop smiling. This election made the passing of John Paul II a little easier.
- Huber: Meanwhile on the battlefiel d: https://da ilypapist. com/index. php/2018/0 4/18/smell -of-incens e-in-the-m orning/
- AlanLins: When Cardinal Ratzinger& #8217;s name was announced, I felt joy I am unable to describe. I knew the Catholic Church was in good hands.
- jameeka: I was interviewe d by the local TV station on the steps while going into the Portland, Oregon Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception that evening for Mass. Was I thrilled? Yes, indeed,...
- youngcatholicgirl: Someone should take a poll of priests and seminarian s who were homeschool ed to see how many are “soc ially awkward 221; (I feel like I have a right to say that, as a...
- Diane: Thank you so much Father, for putting this on. I have enjoyed watching it so much and hearing your comments. What a special time that was.
- Kathleen10: That was as exhilarati ng to watch now as it was then. This time though, I cried a bit more. It’s too beautiful, all the people, the hopeful people, running to St. Peter̵ 7;s,...
- youngcatholicgirl: Pope Benedict 8217;s election is, I believe, my earliest genuine memory. I was told that we had a new pope and remember looking at the computer screen (Fox News, of all sourc...
- Grant M: I remember where I was. I was much poorer then than I am now, living alone in a cold flat, and sleeping on the sofa in a sleeping bag, because that was more comfortabl e than my bed. My...
- HighMass: I too am looking forward to the joy of April 19, 2005! We need that so much in the church today.
- Midwest St. Michael: Oh I can remember. I remember when Cardinal Medina announced it in… Latin? Italian? I was in our lunch room at work. When Cardinal Medina said “Jos eph” (my...
- Sawyer: I was on faculty at a Catholic high school. When the news spread you should have heard the religion teachers immediatel y make disparagin g remarks about Cardinal Ratzinger and bemoan the...
- TonyO: so its not as if he didn’t have something to do with setting the tone. In addition, Paul VI must be held responsibl e for giving the power to Consilium to propose the changes that it propo...
- frjim4321: Sometimes you respect a brother priest if for no other reason than he is a brother priest. On that basis, I would certainly be there for him and treat him with tenderness and gentlen...
- TonyO: Some people have to be patched up so they can be sent along to a better facility. That’s the point of a field hospital. After the medic in the field, it’s only the first stop. Patch the guy...
- Thomas S: I used to watch this video often. It gave me great pleasure. I haven̵ 7;t watched it in 5 years now and never will again. Bitter reminder that what we’r e going through now was...
- Credoh: The introducti on of alternativ e medicine.. ?
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- 20 April 2007 – Msgr. Richard Schuler – RIP
- 19 April 2005: Benedict XVI elected
- “And Paul VI wept”. More fascinating notes about the Pope and the liturgical reform.
- Wherein Fr. Z rants about the Church as “field hospital”. Brutal horror, heroic wonder.
- WDTPRS: 4th Sunday of Easter (2002MR) – Mighty humble Shepherd, humble mighty flock
- HUGE Fr. Z kudos to a reader who wrote to bishops about the important Apostolic Pardon
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- ASK FATHER: “My 4 year old insists on praying in Latin.” Latin resources for young children?
- A bishop, black vestments and refreshing commonsense!
- ASK FATHER: Priest Mumbles Words of Absolution. Fr. Z says: FATHERS! Stop being JACKASSES and do it right!
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- Your Sunday Sermon Notes – Good Shepherd – AUDIO
- ASK FATHER: Communion twice in a day. But is Communion under both species already twice?
- ASK FATHER: Catholic betrothal rite, ceremony
- WDTPRS – 2nd Sunday after Easter (TLM): joy, devastation and rising
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- I’ve decided. I’m for arming teachers and the Rule of Law
- Fr. Murray and Prof. Royal opine on latest developments
- 28 April – PONTIFICAL TLM at Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
- St. Michael the Extremely Cool Samurai Archangel, defend us in battle!
- “O my God, make them like a wheel; * and as stubble before the wind.” Consolation from a Psalm.
- “Why Trappist ale tastes better”
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- Gallup Poll points to future demographic disaster. Wherein Fr. Z rants.
- R.J. Snell reviews @DouthatNYT book about Pope Francis and his pontificate
- Jesuits to host homosexual “Pride Prom” at @MarquetteU
Let us pray…
Grant unto thy Church, we beseech Thee, O merciful God, that She, being gathered together by the Holy Ghost, may be in no wise troubled by attack from her foes. O God, who by sin art offended and by penance pacified, mercifully regard the prayers of Thy people making supplication unto Thee,and turn away the scourges of Thine anger which we deserve for our sins. Almighty and Everlasting God, in whose Hand are the power and the government of every realm: look down upon and help the Christian people that the heathen nations who trust in the fierceness of their own might may be crushed by the power of thine Arm. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. R. Amen.
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