From a reader…
Father, Please pray for me as I go through some deep doubts. Additionally, I would appreciate it if you can shed some light on
them: I have complete confidence in the veracity of the claims that the Church used to make, but I am doubting that the current Roman Catholic Church is actually The Church it has always claimed to be. Any religion which demands nothing of its believers also asks you not to believe it. The leaders of Catholicism seem to be doing all they can to remove any and all demands (except monetary ones) of the Faithful. A religion is not worth belonging to if it is not worth dying for, and the leadership doesn’t even seem willing to lose power for it.
Sure, things are confusing right now. But we need to step back with objectivity and keep a few key points in mind.
First, the Devil hates you. The Enemy wants you detach yourself from the means to heaven that Christ gave us, Holy Church with her teaching and her sacraments. Do NOT let the Enemy win.
Next, the Church cannot become something that she isn’t. An acorn cannot become a giraffe and the Catholic Church cannot become some sect or NGO. As part of her necessary make up, a sine qua non is that the Church is indefectible: she cannot fail until the End of the World. Christ has promised this. We must at the same time grant that Christ made no promises about the Church in these USA or wherever you happen to be. That’s another matter entirely.
Also, it is possible that, because of the antics of her members and the machinations of her enemies – in other words attack from within and from without – the Church can be so slimed over that she is hard to recognize. You might think about the restoration of a painting by a famous artist. Over time, various things might have been done to it: it was exposed to lots of smoke from incense and candles, air pollutants. It was stored improperly. It was given a bad preservation treatments by being varnished. Some idiot touched it up. You get the idea. It take a long time to get a painting dirty, a short time to varnish it, but exacting and painstaking work to clean it, section by section. It’s hard. But when the restoration is finished, the painting shines again.
To use another analogy, Holy Church has been abused by her custodians. They have dressed her up in false colors and made her to dance to dreadful tunes, on display for the world. It is time for the Church Militant to rescue her from her captors.
If the Lord suffered being dressed up and mocked and tormented, then there is no reason why His Church, His Bride won’t be singled out for mocking and mistreatment.
The Church is the Church is the Church. The beautiful Barque of Peter remains beautiful even when incompetents are in the ward room. Especially so, perhaps.
The Church was founded by Christ for sinners.
It must not be a surprise to us, therefore, when sinners sin at every level of the Church.
We could extend analogies, but I think my point is clear.
What we can do is this.
Most people have a vocation which is fairly quiet and contained. By living their vocations in the here and now they are playing the part that God gave them from before the creation of the cosmos and everything in it. Hence, by fidelity to their vocations, they play an important role, and God will give them every grace they need.
It could be helpful to remember a few things.
First, Popes come and go. *pffft*! They are gone, one after another. The Romans have a phrase, “The Pope dies, you make another.” Some Popes were really important, some not. Some wicked, some saintly. We don’t put our trust in Popes but in Christ, whose Church it is. Christ is the head of the Church, not the Pope. As far as officials around him are concerned, they may as well be riding around in clown cars with ooga horns, for all of their lasting significance. And, by analogy, some Councils were important, some not. We look at the overarching span of history to see the truth of these people and events.
Also, since 99% of vocations are, like politics, local, it won’t harm to pay less attention to what is written about the Church in this or that place, or what dopey thing this or that Jesuit has done. Pay attention to your prayers, your vocation and its duties, good reading and you’ll probably be happier.
Not everybody needs to be in the front line, in the trenches all the time.
Next, God helps people who suffer. If you are in pain and suffering because of all these things, wrap them up in a beautiful mental package and give them to Mary and to St. Joseph. She is Queen of the Clergy and Mother of the Church. He is Patron and Protector of the Church and Terror of Demons. They’ll handle them. And at Mass, visualize making all your care items into a liquid and then pouring them into the chalice that the priest prepares at the altar during the offertory to be transformed and elevated by God.
You are not without options and resources. Be of good cheer.
And, to start you off right,…
GO TO CONFESSION.
That always helps.