Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"..without me you can do nothing.."

In the fifteenth chapter of the Gospel of John, verse five, Jesus tells us: "I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.."

In so many parishes, these words are forgotten. Or if they are not forgotten, they are not taken very seriously. As so many of these parishes struggle just to keep their doors open, we hear of countless meetings and "Focus Groups" where a bunch of Catholics sit around talking and asking pointless questions instead of getting to the source of the problem. And what is the source of the problem? We have relied too much on ourselves and not enough (if at all) on the Lord Jesus. In our arrogance, we believe we can fix what's broken and resolve any and all difficulties by ourselves. We seek solutions from men rather than from the God-Man Who said, "without Me you can do nothing."

It was Pope John Paul II who reminded us (In his first Encyclical Letter Redemptor Hominis) that, "Every member of the Church, especially bishops and priests, must be vigilant in seeing that this sacrament of love [the Eucharist] shall be at the center of the life of the People of God, so that through all the manifestations of worship due to it, Christ shall be given back 'love for love; and truly become the life of our souls.' Pope John Paul II further explained in this Encyclical that, "..the Eucharist is the ineffable sacrament! the essential commitment and, above all, the visible grace and source of supernatural strength for the Church as the People of God.."

But is this sacrament of love at the center of our discussions as to how to proceed? Do we consult Our Eucharistic Lord - ever? Most parishes do not have Eucharistic Adoration, perpetual or otherwise. And yet, Vatican II (Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests) teaches us that, "..The other sacraments, and indeed, all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate are bound up with the Eucharist and are directed towards it. For in the the Most Blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely, Christ Himself, Our Pasch...For this reason, the Eucharist appears as the source and summit of all preaching of the Gospel.."

But we believe we know better. We rely on ourselves rather than on the Lord Jesus Who waits for us in the Holy Eucharist. Mass attendance drops. Parishes close. Let's meditate on the prophecy which was given to Ezekiel:

"I myself will pasture my sheep. I myself will give them rest, says the Lord God. The lost I will seek out, the strayed I will bring back, the injured I will bind up, the sick I will heal." (Ezekiel 34: 15-16). Who will we put our trust in: blind men who would lead us into a ditch or the Lord Jesus Who promises us that He will lead us, guide us, heal us, bring us back to His fold and into His loving arms? So-called "experts" and "pastoral planning committees" or Our Eucharistic Lord?

"Sophisticated Catholics" (read Catholics who have succumbed to secularism and who no longer believe in supernatural realities) will no doubt accuse me of being "ignorant," "unstable," or "too simplistic." But I will be in good company. The Cure of Ars - St. Jean Vianney - was likewise dismissed. Some of his fellow priests, envious of his success, approached the Bishop and accused him of being "overly zealous," "ignorant," and even "deranged." To which His Excellency replied: "I wish, gentlemen, that all my clergy had a touch of the same madness."

The Cure of Ars relied on the Lord Jesus and not himself. More than two hundred years later, we remember his name and legacy with reverence. But we cannot recall the names of his "more sophisticated" contemporaries. This because St. Jean Vianney lived out the Scriptural truth that "I can do all things in Him who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13) but without Him I can do nothing.

Which is it to be: shall we continue to rely on ourselves or will we instead approach Our Eucharistic Lord and cast our troubles and concerns on Him? Shall we have victory or shall we continue down the sorry road we have been traveling?
In the Blessed Sacrament
"I am Love!
My Heart can no longer
Contain its devouring flames.
I love souls so dearly,
That I have sacrificed My life for them
It is this love
That keeps me a prisoner in the Tabernacle.
For nearly twenty centuries
I have dwelt there, night and day,
And concealed in the small white Host,
Bearing through love, neglect, solitude,
Contempt, blasphemies, outrages,
For love of souls,
I instituted the Sacrament of Penance,
That I might forgive them,
Not once or twice,
But as often as they need it
To recover grace.
And He, Himself,
Feeds you with His Immaculate Flesh,
And slakes your thirst with His Blood.
If you are sick, He will be your physician;
Come to Him, He will cure you
If you are cold,
Come to Him, He will warm you
In Him you will find rest and happiness,
So do not wander away fromHim,
For He is Life
And, when He asks you to comfort Him,
Do not sadden Him by a refusal.."
A prophecy from Rome.


Anonymous said...

The mode of Christ's presence under the Eucharistic species is unique. It raises the Eucharist above all the sacraments as "the perfection of the spiritual life and the end to which all sacraments tend." In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist "the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained." "This presence is called 'real' - by which is not intended to exclude the other types of presence as if they could not be 'real' too, but because it is presence in the fullest sense: that is to say, it is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present."

- The Catechism of the Catholic Church: paragraph 1374

I agree with you Paul. At my parish, there is constant talk of meetings, studies and focus groups but very little talk about prayer or Adoration. We have no Eucharistic Adoration, no recitation of the Rosary, no Divine Mercy Chaplet.

I have tried to start a Rosary but I am always get nowhere. There doesn't seem to be any real interest. People would rather spend their Sundays or any free time shopping or watching television etc.

It makes me sad that there is so little love.

Michael Cole said...

In 1 Corinthians 7:31, the Holy Spirit tells us through Saint Paul that: "We do not fix our gaze on what is seen but on what is unseen. What is seen is transitory; what is unseen lasts forever."

Amen to that!

Anonymous said...

Samantha, many view the rosary as belonging to the Middle Ages and a more "superstitious time." The rosary is seen as "adolescent" and even "childish" by these "new church" Catholics. Paul tried to get a rosary-based MMP Cenacle listed in the Catholic Free Press to no avail.

Jesus said a tree is known by its fruits. The Diocese of Worcester has been saddled with numerous abuse cases and other scandals. Remember the quarter of a million stolen from Immaculate Conception by the "pastor"?

There will be even more parish closings within the next couple of years. It is rumored that in Fitchburg alone, several parishes will be closing.

There are, of course, Catholics throughout the Diocese who still pray and are devout. But many of those in charge no longer believe in the power of prayer. If they did, we would Eucharistic Adoration in every parish and Corpus Christi processions everywhere.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Michelle. You are right about the diocese. It seems that those who enjoy positions of influence in Worcester are out of touch with the so-called "average Catholic." Our spiritual needs or our concerns are often considered "irrelevant." When pride sets in, the views and concerns of others are considered trivial.

I keep praying for the Church in Worcester. Especially North Central - towns like Gardner, Fitchburg and surrounding towns. It has been my feeling that the Church just gave up on us. You mentioned the theft at Immaculate Conception Parish. How about Father Lewandowski's promotion of sodomite "marriage" at Saint Camillus de Lellis Parish. Or Holy Cross College promoting homosexuality openly?

And they wonder why so many of the faithful have left the Church. One scandal after another and a diocese which doesn't seem concerned with our needs. I'm amazed that anyone would be surprised.

Anonymous said...

There will be a meeting at St. Bernard's Parish on Water Street in Fitchburg tomorrow night. Parishioners there are worried too. But the concern at St. Joseph's and Immaculate Conception is much greater. There are only like 75-80 people total at IC I was told. That parish will almost certanly close within the year.

Things keep getting worse but the Chancery types like to put a positive spin on everything. The pollyanna approach might feel good as a temporary measure. But it doesn't address the real problems.

Prayer is always the first to go. Then everything else follows. Do you think priests who abused children were men of prayer? The prayer was abandoned, a soft and comfortable lifestyle was adopted, and soon materialism and lust took over.

No prayer, no peace.

Ellen Wironken said...

The situation isn't much different here in New Hampshire. Mother Teresa said that her strength came from the Eucharist. And she gave herself to the last drop. Because her Order, the Missionaries of Charity, place so much importance on Eucharistic Adoration, they are experiencing just incredible growth. This while other religious communities are dying.

But this won't speak to the hard of heart. Only those who love.

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