Here’s what I propose we do to clean up this ridiculous monstrosity of a mess within our beloved Church.
- KNOW YOUR CATECHISM. It’s pretty clear to me that back in the days when the Catechism was not widely available in the States, communities relied on priests to dispense the “rules” of living a holy life. This gave priests wayyyy too much authority over people, and it made the position really appealing for evil men to sneak in there and manipulate communities and their children. In the 90’s, the Vatican released an English version of the Catechism, which was translated, debated, and poured over by the Bishops in the United States, to make sure it stated exactly what we believe in. Superstitions begone–the actual rules are there in the Catechism. KNOW YOUR CATECHISM, KNOW YOUR MOTHER CHURCH.
-What priest would mind a laity who knew their own Catechism? Only a coward wolf priest would feel insecure about a community who knows the truth. Only a coward priest would fear a laity who was willing to debate with him, to ask him questions.
-If the priest at your parish makes up his own rules or does not follow the Catechism, I’m sorry but you should visit a different parish. We can’t have priests who develop their own theology, and we just can’t tolerate them anymore. Look at the news, look at what is at stake: these men are not SAFE. Away with them. If they are trying to insert their own brand of Catholicism, run away!
- INCLUDE YOUR PRIEST IN YOUR COMMUNITY. Don’t forget, we want holy men in our Church. We have all been taught about how we learn holiness from our families. We must foster and reward a new generation of priests who know us well, and who share the love we have in our own family units. They help us keep our family units together, after all. Why not invite your parish priest over for a Sunday dinner? Or to a movie, the next time you go out? It doesn’t have to be with the children. Some couples do a “double date” night with another couple…why don’t you and your spouse invite your parish priest to some mini-golf or something with you guys instead? Don’t make it a Theology Night, just hang out! Companionship, community, inclusion, friendship: These are all things that promote our health and well-being, INCLUDING MENTAL HEALTH. It is not good for these men to sit alone in front of the television, totally isolated until such time as they have to lead a community. That’s an extreme existence that only Jesus could handle. These men AREN’T Jesus, that’s the point. They are men. They have a lot of responsibility. Wouldn’t you cook a meal for Spiderman, if you could? We can’t carry the burdens of a holy life for other people. But we can help them along as they carry their own responsibilities.
- SPEND TIME WITH THE BLESSED SACRAMENT. Let the Church be full of the presence of Jesus. He is the only person who can make things safe. He is the only person who can drive away evil. The Eucharist IS the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ himself. It is God, once again giving His People the bread of life so that we can have Life within us. What creatures in the universe are loved as much as we are?–that our God can come into something as simple as bread, so we can look at our God and not die. Keep your mind and your heart on the Eucharist. Keep the presence of this in you always. Let that be the difference, and when these priests (or anyone else!) look out at the laity, let them see and believe that they are seeing people who are full of Jesus. Let them look in your eyes, and see Jesus’ eyes looking back. The good shepherds will be fulfilled by service to the Good Shepherd. The wolves and cowards will see Jesus and run away for shame.
- TALK TO MARY. We need her. What man could do evil when his mother is watching? What man could betray Jesus when His mother is watching? There is this totally weird thing in Protestant churches where they seem to “pit” Satan and Jesus against each other. It’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen. Satan is NOT equal to Jesus. Jesus is God. It’s no contest. Any theatrics or whatever which depict that there’s actually a struggle between the two is just silliness. Satan is a creature, just like you and me. Jesus is not a creature. If we are to figure out who Satan’s holy counterpart is, since Satan is a creature, we have to look for the creature who is opposite. The creature who said “Yes” to God instead of “No.” The creature who remained closest to Jesus, instead of the one who rebelled when he heard God would come into human form. The only creature who has ever been able to do that is Mary. Guess where Mary is: She is found within the holy Catholic Church. If we want to learn how to live in a way that chooses what is good and rejects what is evil, Mary and Joseph are great examples to follow.
- GET BUSY. Being angry doesn’t make you right–it just makes you angry. We have the benefit of living during a time with UNPRECEDENTED access to the Catechism, AND unprecedented access to the world, and to information about EVERYTHING! About family, theology, psychology, everything. GET YOURSELF EDUCATED and START DOING GOOD STUFF. Got a family? Stop wasting time with politics or whatever might prevent you from LOVING YOUR FAMILY. Be present with them. Are you a wife? Be a holy wife. Are you a husband? Be a holy husband. Are you a neighbor? Be a holy neighbor. Whatever it is that you are, remember that you are called to use that in order to become a saint. No saint watched television all the way to heaven. Roll up your sleeves and get busy.
- START PRAYING. How is your prayer life? How is your prayer life? How is your prayer life? We are so very blessed to have a Church which has thousands of years of beautiful art, poetry, and prayers. I wouldn’t give them up for anything! Learn them, pray them, but also pray your own. Don’t let your devotion to our beautiful prayer tradition put you in such a mind of perfectionism that you forget to just talk to Jesus. If you’ve never really prayed before, and you just can’t get around having something written for you, try the Jesus prayer:
Lord Jesus Christ
Son of the Living God
Have mercy on me, a sinner.