In the Wake of Scandal, Choose Sanctity

In the Wake of Scandal, Choose Sanctity

I mentally planned for the day.  I supplied myself with some resources, I opened pertinent tabs on my computer, and I waited for the moment.  Unanticipated, I felt a sick pit grow in my stomach and my heart ached a little at the prospect of what I was to do.

So I started with gauging their prior knowledge, as some teachers are apt to do.

“Have you heard about the sexual abuse scandal in Pennsylvania?”  Depending on the class and the age, a few or most heads would nod the affirmative.

“How about Archbishop McCarrick?  The papal nuncio Archbishop Vigano?”  Fewer heads nodded with each question, a few gesturing with their hands to show that it sounded vaguely familiar.

Then, to the best of my ability, I outlined for them situations that had been unfolding for the last several weeks.  I emphasized the lack of clarity and focused on what our bishop is asking from us as a response.  In a textbook we use for class, it says, “One of the few things in life that cannot possibly do harm in the end is the honest pursuit of the truth.”  And while that doesn’t mean that the truth won’t be painful to uncover, I encouraged them to pray for the truth to be revealed, regardless of the personal cost involved.

As I spoke to them, I felt a certainty in the Church settle into my heart and I felt like an older sister or a mother as I gently explained to them things that pained me.  While the circumstances are awful, the Church will endure and new saints will rise up to combat the evils of the present age.

Each generation is converted by the saint who contradicts it most.

G.K. Chesterton

Most of the classes listened closely with sad eyes and asked a few questions to understand the situation more.  One class reacted with more anger and bitterness.  It wasn’t entirely unsurprising because it is a situation where anger is justified.  Yet for young people who are initially uncertain about the Church, the blatant hypocrisy of the scandal is too much to take in.  I saw the scandal through their eyes and I wanted to cry.  My small heart ached and I felt the weight of these sins in a manner that I hadn’t yet permitted myself.   Continue reading “In the Wake of Scandal, Choose Sanctity”

That Others May Be Chosen

That Others May Be Chosen

The Litany of Humility is one of those prayers that I hate.  And love.  And wish I loved more, but am a bit scared by.  If ever there was a prayer that could level a solid crushing blow to the ego, I believe the Litany of Humility is a top contender.

“That others may be chosen and I set aside,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.”

There are several parts during this prayer that cause me to cringe, and this line is one of them.  This cringing comes from the fact that I do not actually desire this to be true.  It seems like it would be too difficult if this went from prayer to actuality.

Simply put: I want to be chosen.

Doesn’t everyone want to be chosen?  I want to be the chosen confidant.  I want to be the dearly loved and chosen friend.  I want to be the favorite teacher.  I want to be the one people choose to ask questions because they think I will know the answer.  I want people to choose to read what I write.  For so many things, I want people to choose me. Continue reading “That Others May Be Chosen”

Getting to the Heart of the Matter

Getting to the Heart of the Matter

“I will not let Satan use my heart against me.”  

Arguably, the topic I write about most is the human heart.  This is probably because I am always struggling to come to terms with having one.  The Lord redeemed the human heart  when He became incarnate.  I am certain it provided difficulties for Him, also, but He handled all of those temptations and challenges to prove that, with His grace, it can be done.

Scripture speaks often of the heart.
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Mt. 6:21)
“My heart overflows with a goodly theme; I address my verses to the king; my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe.”  (Ps. 45:1)
“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”  (Proverbs 4:23)
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 4:7)

Fyodor Dostoyevsky, in The Brothers Karamazov, said, “The awful thing is that beauty is mysterious as well as terrible. God and the devil are fighting there and the battlefield is the heart of man.”  Beauty is a powerful force and both God and Satan use it for their own purposes.  It moves our hearts, sometimes against our wishes or in spite of our intentions.

Our hearts are being fought over and so I guess it makes sense that mine so often feels like a war zone.  Too often, however, the main focus can be me and not about how the Lord could be using feelings, situations, and circumstances to draw me closer to Himself.  And when the focus rests on me, it becomes a pretty dismal outlook.  In The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis recognizes this tendency in a letter to Wormwood, a young demon-in-training.  “The simplest is to turn their gaze away from Him towards themselves.  Keep them watching their own minds and trying to produce feelings there by the actions of their own wills.” Continue reading “Getting to the Heart of the Matter”

A Heart Like His

When I was in high school, a Totus Tuus team would come to my parish each summer.  One year, on the night we were having Adoration, I thought about how the team would do the same program each week.  Each week they would have Adoration and I found myself thinking that it must not be that novel of an experience anymore.  If they did it week after week, they must get used to it and not be as excited as I was, since I rarely had the opportunity to go to Adoration.

Fast forward a few years and I was a member on a Totus Tuus team.  I realized how wrong my earlier assumption had been.  It was because I was closer to Christ that the night for Adoration seemed so much dearer to me than it had before.  No, it wasn’t a particularly new experience, but I yearned for that hour each week when I could just sit before Our Lord.

This memory came to mind because today in my sophomore class I showed a couple clips from “The Passion of the Christ.”  As Jesus carries the cross, there is a part where Mary is racing to reach Him as she recalls a similar incident that took place when He was a child.  My heart was aching with this dear mother and I found myself near tears.  Part of me thinks I shouldn’t have this response anymore since I’ve seen the movie several times.  Yet I think it is almost a requirement that as we draw nearer to the Lord, we develop more of His Heart.  He has a tender heart.  Sin makes us harden our hearts, but Jesus gives us new hearts, hearts of flesh.

 “A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”  (Ezekiel 36:26)

Hearts of flesh feel experiences more intensely.  I find myself wanting the heart Jesus has and yet being fearful of what that will entail.  My heart is already very sensitive at times, how would it respond to being more aware of the impact of sin in the world?  Could I handle a heart like His that would be vulnerable and open to all?  Wouldn’t I get wounded?

We fear being wounded.  Rightfully so, because it hurts.  Yet if we want to follow Jesus, we must carry our cross and live as He did.

And Jesus was wounded.  

His heart could truly love because it was truly open.  In my mind, I seem to imagine that Jesus had this loving heart that was also fiercely guarded, like the armor of a knight.  That is incorrect.  Jesus is the Divine Healer who allows Himself to be wounded for our sake.

The closer we come to the heart of Jesus, the more we will experience in union with Him.  Hearts of steel and stone cannot deeply love.  Jesus desires us to have hearts of flesh.  Hearts that can be wounded, but more importantly, hearts that can love and be loved.

Heart of Jesus, sanctify my heart.

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