As spring comes to an end, each day brings yet another new disparaging headline and another chapter to the homosexual abuse crisis. Depression does not describe my general demeanor, nor my state of mind, it's so much more!
For so many years, I had kept what had happened to me in my youth private; I consoled myself with the thought that it was just an isolated incident, other priests were not this bad, nor was what Fr. Cozzi did to me that common. This spring, as the full ugly extent and breadth of the homosexual priest predation crisis comes to light, it is just so gut-wrenching, deeply disturbing and overall depressing!
For myself, I find consolation in images that depict the Risen Lord looking sad, as He must be! I also for the first time in my life understand in my gut why the image of Our Lady of Czestochowa depicts our Blessed Mother looking so tragically crestfallen — She must be!
I also find consolation in this image of Our Sorrowful Mother by Julien Lasbleiz. Lasbleiz took the facial features for this image of Our Lady from the shroud of Turin, as well as from images of Our Lady painted by Bouguereau. Here is the Madonna of the Lilies, but without her child to hold, eyes looking at us instead of down, with a face bathed by tears, a Mary who has seen Her Son repeatedly rejected and then crucified.
The sexual predation of thousands of young people at the hands of Catholic priests is almost as hard to stomach as Our Lord's crucifixion on Golgotha. It is a desecration, a sacrilege. Maybe it is harder to stomach, as Our Lord went willingly and to good purpose, and what hurts is that we know our sins helped put Him there.
But this? As the enormity of the problem sinks in, as we realize that so many young people, mostly male, have been harmed in every diocese, in every state and seemingly in almost every country, it is too much to bear, too hard to carry on, without supernatural faith and grace — because this is pure evil and can have no good purpose.
On Golgotha, Mary witnessed Her Son's crucifixion and death. Today, as this homosexual predator crisis continues to unfold, Mary witnesses this sacrilege also. Her sad countenance reflects her meditation upon this crisis.
In this painting, I see in her eyes the questions, "When is all of this going to end? How many thousands of young people need to be harmed before whatever good bishops remain find their courage and bring all of this evil to an end?"
Notice: Church renewal required! The renewal needs to happen at all levels, including her canon law. Canon law needs a major overhaul to ensure that perpetrators and those complicit with the cover-up of such crimes are imprisoned when appropriate. Under no circumstances should these evil men continue to get passes, to go on as if nothing has happened, squandering the Church's patrimony in the process. Addressing the right revision of canon law would be a book in itself, and that is not the purpose of this article.
The purpose of this article is to validate all the faithful out there who are suffering like I am from battle fatigue. It's a real condition for those of us suffering in the trenches. As this battle against the devil continues to unfold, it is easy to succumb to weariness and malaise!
And this is happening to the faithful, despite their recitation of thousands of Rosaries, chaplets, devotions and faithfully keeping the sacraments! Perhaps you are like me, asking God what headway have we made with any of this. And you have to admit, if you are honest with yourself, we have not made much headway or won any battles; maybe a little battle here or there, but the ones with the power are not budging.
Archbishop Viganò wrote his letter this past August, so we are getting close to a year since it was submitted to the universal Church. And despite all of Viganò's points being confirmed, the hierarchy of our Church continues to operate with the "gay current" still firmly in control.
So what consolation if any, do we take from this battle having been stalled? For starters, we can take consolation from Our Lord's resurrection! Just as Mary did not despair at Our Lord's death on Golgotha, Mary today is urging us not to not despair in our crucifixion.
Mary knew on Golgotha that death was not going to be the final end to Her Son, in a similar vein, Mary urges us today beyond our current crucifixion to the restored Church.
Jesus said that "the Gates of Hell would not prevail" over His Church! (Matthew 16:19)! Take consolation today in this fact and in that Mary is with us in this current crisis and will remain with us until the institutional Church is purified and renewed.
The splendor of the Church, the body of Christ, will again shine for all to see. Moreover, take to heart Mary's messages given to the faithful at Fatima and at Garabandal. Sincere prayers offered to God atone for personal sin and convert sinners. Prayerful sacrifices, atonements, Rosaries, chaplets, Holy Communions received in a state of grace, all these gifts offered to God, in addition to being redemptive for the person who offers them, also atones for the sins of others and works for their salvation.
Saint Paul said in his letter to the Colossians, "Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church" (Colossians 1:24).
This concept, in addition to being just a phenomenally consoling thought to reflect upon, means that we can participate with Christ's redemption of humanity. Ponder it for a moment, our current sufferings, if we persevere, if we remain faithful to God, to the Church and to the sacraments, can be transformative, opening up souls to God!
So troops, be strong, be courageous and do not despair; the fight is far from over, but winning this war is a must, and the victory has been promised!