Thursday, April 8, 2010

Belated Easter Post

So....yeah, I'm late on posting about Easter. But you know, when you're this fabulous AND concerned about your soul, you have quite a big plate to fill. Plus I've been moving some stuff out of my parents' house (they're selling it and I can no longer be that college student living away using my parents as a storage unit) so I've been kind of busy.

Anyway. Easter. Easter, Easter, Easter. What is it? Obviously, it's the single most important day on the Liturgical Calendar. It is the fulfillment of prophecy and the proof of our salvation through the resurrection of Christ. But it's more. For Catholics, it is the core of our celebration in the Eucharist. As Christ symbolically gave us his body at the Last Supper, he literally did so upon his crucifixion and resurrection. This union of bread and body, wine and blood, that we call transubstantiation is present at every mass, every day, every year, and has been since day one, and will be until the end of time. This miracle, this single act of the miraculous power of God is central to the mass, especially at Easter, for it is then that we are not only celebrating Christ's resurrection after a sombre Holy Week, but we are also celebrating the moment that his divine nature and his human nature became eternally fused in the hypostatic union. Easter is a celebration of all that makes us Catholic. Which brings me to the next, not so celebratory point.

His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, came under fire in the runup to Easter concerning a German priest who molested several boys (one paper said over 200 without a citation. Yellow Journalism anyone?). When the story first broke, one of the Papal representatives (not sure if it was a Nuncio or not) made statements to the effect that while this priest was in Benedict's diocese (then only Bishop Ratzinger) that His Holiness knew nothing about it. Then it was found out that he did know. So what are we to do? The Holy Father tried to defend himself when he presided over the Easter Mass. The media has actually kind of dropped off it since Easter, making me feel that it was staged quite carefully to embarrass the Church during its holiest time. So why did we allow them to do so?

I have had my issues with the Holy Father, but I have also found much in him that is commendable. My whole life I only knew one Pope, the epically awesome Pope John Paul II. But as I grew older and grew in my faith, I realized that Pope John Paul's celebrity was primarily concentrated in the West--specifically America and Canada. In more religious communities in Europe, Africa, South America, and Eastern Europe, he fell under a much greater amount of criticism. America lauded him for helping end Communism. Europe scorned him for allowing far-reaching liturgical abuses. America lauded him for his humanitarianism. Africa scorned him for not doing more for the AIDS pandemic (Africa has the highest growing Catholic population in the world, BTW). I came to realize that Pope John Paul II had his flaws as well, and what makes Benedict commendable is that he has his priorities straight...for the most part.

He is working on revising the English Liturgy. I say scrap the English and put Latin in the Novus Ordo (I'm not really a fan of the passivity of the Tridentine Mass...but I like Latin), then we won't have this problem. He is also working on reinstating a number of traditional practices and institutions that disappeared after Vatican II. He is primarily concerned with furthering Catholicism, building the universal church, healing the Schism between the Latin Church and the Orthodox Church, and healing the Schism between Anglicans and Catholics (which is apparently seeing much greater success). So when it becomes apparent that he allowed a priest to continue working with those parishioners who were under the greatest risk, what do we think?

First, there is a sense of betrayal. That the Holy Father, guided by the Holy Spirit, has let us down. Maybe some feel anger. Maybe some threaten to leave the Church (sorry sister, but it doesn't work that way. God won't let you boycott the One Holy Apostolic Church because a priest did something bad). But ultimately, just as we celebrate all that makes us Catholic at the Easter Mass, we must forgive. God gave his only son for us that we might live in Him. When we allow a scandal to determine whether we live in Him or we live for ourselves, we obviously do not have our priorities straight. Dogma is the highest Catholic teaching. It is law. We are required as Catholics to believe it. Doctrine is next. Tradition influences and follows. Scandal is pretty much at the bottom in importance. Scandal should be avoided, as the Cathechism points out, but those that allow it to govern their feelings of the Church are ignoring the principle Dogmas of the Church. They are ignoring the personage of Christ and the all-encompassing love of God.

Those children suffered. This no one can deny. And just as Nietsche refused to believe in God "so long as a single child suffers" (sic), we must remember that for every child that suffers, God weeps exponentially more. He gave us free will. Part of our capacity in regards to free will is the ability to choose to do wrong. Unfortunately, someone who is innocent of wrongdoing must be at the other end of this. And God weeps for them. We know He weeps because we are moved to such emotive responses when we hear of these things. If we, passive bystanders are moved to such responses, what is the response of our Creator? What must His burden of pain be when such a scandal begins? Remember--we just found out. He's known all along. God forgives all who do not die in Mortal Sin. And he removes the pain of those who suffered and brings them to the Beatific Vision. The Holy Father is guided by the Holy Spirit to an extent that Bishops and Priests and the Laity are not. What went on when Bishop Ratzinger was in charge is not the fault of Pope Benedict XVI. The man who wears the robe will have some questions to answer, I'm sure, but the person of the Pope is different from the person of the Bishop, and we must remember to forgive and pray that the Holy Spirit guides him to wisdom.

So that's my Easter post. Belated, but reminding us all that Easter is the epitome of what it means to be Catholic, and a reminder of the harder tasks we have as Catholics to forgive, to understand, and most of all, to love. Too often we see the churches filled to the brim on Christmas and Easter and the nearly empty for the other 50 Sundays of the year. How heavy our crosses must be, but heavier still when we seek to emulate Christ and bring ourselves to fulfill our duty not only as Christians but as Catholics. They are heavy crosses indeed, but when brought to bear against the evils of the world, especially those that purposefully attempt to besmirch God's holiest institution on the planet, they will prevail and the light and wisdom of truth will shine as that proverbial city on a hill.

No comments:

Post a Comment