From a reader…
Father, my heart aches over this. Having heard you speak and read your blog over the years, I believe you can guide me with wisdom, charity, and moderation.
We have attended a TLM parish for over ten years. Many families have left our parish to go to other parishes where the TLM is now offered, and our parish is not growing, possibly shrinking. The reason or part of the reason why some of those TLM-loving people have left is the pastor’s behavior.
In the past, I was better able to let it slide off my back, or rationalize it, but I am less and less able since seeing good and faithful Catholics I care about hurt. But I also realize my feelings could be motivated by self love, because my own life is harder and I long for some support and encouragement. (I know that sounds warm and fuzzy. Sorry.)
At times, I have felt so beaten down that the thought has gone through my head that maybe I shouldn’t be Catholic anymore. Not rational, I know. But it’s hard when we are doing our best to live our Faith fully and authentically with all of life’s challenges but are given the message from the pulpit that we are slacking in one way or another.
The proverbial stuff hit the fan after Mass last Sunday when my husband said he was never going back. Since the, St. Peter’s words are constantly in my heart, “To whom would I go? You have the words of everlasting life.”
To complicate matters, there’s the question of using the 62 Missal and the earlier one for Holy Week and Pentacost. There are murmurings about that. Is this a serious issue that I should be concerned about? Is it disobedience? Obedience to the Church is essential to me, even when things seem wacky out there.
At this point I wouldn’t worry much about the use of the pre-1955 Holy Week rites. The older books are used in some places. This is an issue that, over time, will get sorted out. We have a lot of rebuilding to do before we get worked up about that.
Meanwhile, I’ll address myself to other points.
For many years now, in certain places, faithful, orthodox Catholics have suffered. Much of it has been at the hands of the very pastors who should guide, comfort, and bless them, thus leading them closer to God. A couple things have resulted.
On one hand, these faithful,orthodox Catholics have idealized a past (or fantasized about a future) wherein pastors were perfect, the faith was lived in a full and vibrant manner, and everything combined to create villages or neighborhoods full of saints. On the other hand, some inflate conflict where there are just minor disagreements. They are happy only when they are unhappy and they bring about the drama and circumstances whereby their expectations are self-fulfilled.
Both paths can undermine real spiritual growth.
It is good to strive for perfection. We can and must look to the past for a guide. We have to do so soberly. Pastors of souls, since the time of the apostles, are – gulp – human. They have faults and failings and sins that work against their own march toward heaven. They can be scandalous to the faithful they lead. Pray for your fallible pastors, especially the ones with whom you disagree.
Even the most liberal, angry, bitter, immature priest is loved by Jesus Christ, who desires his salvation.
Satan wants us to lose hope, give up, to stop striving for holiness, to get involved in petty disputes, to allow the sins of others to drag us down, to lose our faith, and, by so doing, to fall directly into his clutches.
Don’t let him win.
Be stubborn about your faith.
Invoke the Blessed Virgin, your Guardian Angel, St. Michael, all the saints, and push through.
Examine your conscience and …
GO TO CONFESSION!