By Mary Jo Weiss
I read a quote the other from Winston Churchill, spoken at a time that eerily paralleled the situation in the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo at this time.
At the height of World War II in 1941, when things were looking particularly bleak for England, Churchill spoke these words to young students at his former school:
“These are not dark days; these are great days – the greatest days our country has ever lived ... ”
Perhaps we can take a lesson from the keen outlook of this great statesman, who understood that times that appear bleak are also times ripe with opportunity for the human spirit to rise.
And while Churchill served the man-made institution of Great Britain, we in the church are members of a divinely established body.
It would do us well at this time to remember that the Catholic Church belongs to Jesus Christ, not to its members, be they laity, priest, bishop or even pope.
Furthermore, when our lord established his church, he gave us an assurance that even the “gates of hell” would not prevail upon it.
Now it would seem that as a body we have come to those very gates and gazed in – for there is no more hellish action than the violation of innocent children.
Through the perverse actions of a few, who thought their power gave them privilege to do evil, so many are now suffering.
Those fools thought that the darkness would hide their actions, forgetting that God sees all things – a basic lesson.
This human sinfulness, which has always been present to some degree in the church, grew exponentially since it was unchecked by those in authority.
Now, God’s sweeping arm of justice is moving powerfully throughout our diocese, as well as the larger Catholic Church, and the evil that was perpetuated will come to an end.
God is cleaning his house and restoring his bride – the church – to her former beauty. This cleansing is the answer to the prayers of so many of the faithful. It will not come easily, so fasten your seat belts, fellow Catholics; it is far from over and will be a rough ride.
Let’s remember our founder, and base our faith in him alone as this all shakes down.
When justice has been done, we will have a church that is smaller, purer, holier. What a great reason for hope!
Good priests of the diocese – the same light that has shown on the evil actions of a few, shines upon all the good that you do.
You are not alone, and you need only be right in the eyes of God. Have joy amidst these trials – the joy of the early Christians, who shed their blood for their faith.
Speak to us and become the heroes that these times call you to be.
As we move forward, let us cease to react to what is happening around us with shock and surprise, for scripture has told us: “The season of judgment has begun, and begun with God’s own household ... ” (1 Peter 4:17)
Leave others to bind themselves in knots over the search for the causes of this crisis.
Let us instead tighten our belts, roll up our sleeves and work side by side in the important spiritual work of repentance and reparation – the foundation of our healing.
It is only through a personal recommitment to holiness that renewal will come for the church we love so dearly, and allow it to become once again a “city set on a hill.”
Yes, Churchill would have truly understood the times we face as a church – great times!
Mary Jo Weiss, of Hamburg, is a mother, grandmother and lifelong Catholic.