What we're hearing about some of the men called to be our shepherds sounds diabolically disgusting. While a particular kind of rot is making headlines, I am convinced those sins are a gross manifestation of widespread denial of sin-as-sin, particularly in the realm of sexual ethics and morality, that has blinded most of our Church. Fortunately, that's not the end of the story and while I don't know when we'll get there, I can tell you what the Lord has been saying to me in this season.
In late June, I had a pivotal conversation with a friend, and during that conversation I had an image flash through my mind: an eagle-eye vision of the world and an accompanying feeling that we have an urgent mission to be prayer warriors for the Church.
In the weeks following this conversation, I asked the Lord what he wanted me to do; I don't struggle in this area, I don't have a public platform to speak for change, and offering up diapers and laundry and the mundane drudgery of housewifely work seemed insufficient for the depravity of which I was hearing.
He answered loud and clear, telling me to fast from something specific, and I was taken aback by my response: I put my fingers in my ears and said, "God, I can't quite hear you." This went on for about a month. A month. The news got darker, and I kept saying, "God, you just let me know what you want me to do, but how about something else? m'kay? great."
What he was asking me to fast from sounds small and insignificant: chocolate. But what I discovered in my stubbornness to let it go was that it didn't matter what it was, but its role in my life. I saw in my attachment to chocolate that it was a vice that I was enslaved to.
To fast from my vice - to admit that it was a vice - was penance which would bring me freedom, and because we are one body, I could offer this for the freedom of those caught in much darker vices.
On a recent evening, the Lord gave me two scriptures:
- The parable of the rich young man: this man follows all the commandments, but when He asks the Lord what more he should do, Jesus points out his attachment to his wealth, and the man leaves saddened [because he is too attached to his wealth to renounce it for the sake of the Kingdom of God.]
- My favorite reading from the Easter Vigil, Baruch chapter 3. Read it, it's timely and beautifully written.
Ask me to show you what you are attached to and offer it to me for the healing of your own soul & for the Church.
Fast and Pray.
And so I challenge you to respond to the invitation of the Lord. What are you attached to? Where are you not free?
....and, I'll admit, I've been astonished to discover that, so far, the chocolate fast that looked monumentally impossible before I said "yes" appears now to be a baby step towards more.
(And if you are a lucky non-sinner who has no vices, by all means pick your fast and offer it for the rest of us!)