The Catholic Church recently has been rocked with a seismic shock which has rattled it to its foundation due to the clergy sex abuse scandals. In particular, the scandal of the former Cardinal McCarrick has moved the well-respected, former Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Vigano, to act: troubled in conscience, and no longer able to keep silent in hopes that those in authority would remedy the evils that have beset the Church for decades, he felt compelled to bear witness. The goal of his straight forward testimony was clear:
“To restore the beauty of holiness to the face of the Bride of Christ, which is terribly disfigured by so many abominable crimes…”
He went on to relate his personal experience, of evil uncovered, and frustration that it has continued for so long. “…and if we truly want to free the Church from the fetid swamp into which she has fallen, we must have the courage to tear down the culture of secrecy and publicly confess the truths we have kept hidden. We must tear down the conspiracy of silence with which bishops and priests have protected themselves at the expense of their faithful, a conspiracy of silence that in the eyes of the world risks making the Church look like a sect, a conspiracy of silence not so dissimilar from the one that prevails in the mafia. “Whatever you have said in the dark…shall be proclaimed from the housetops.” (Lk:12:3)
“The first reaction to truth is hatred,” said Tertullian. Not surprisingly, the attacks against Archbishop Vigano were mounted immediately. Despite this, many bishops have attested to the personal integrity of the Archbishop, and have called for investigation to discover the truth. But, make no mistake, it will be a battle that lasts until the end of time.
The filth that has so long marred the face of the Church, is at the same time an attack by Satan on “The Woman,” Mary, who symbolizes the Church, holy and immaculate–the Bride of Christ.
As the truth is made known, the “smoke of Satan” that has entered the Church, will begin to clear, and the Bride of Christ will once again be fully revealed in all her beauty. But for now, it is time to hold fast to the truth, turning toward the Face of Christ in prayer, reparation, and perseverance in faith, hope and love.
One of our local pastors, who has been deeply aggrieved over the scandals that have come to light, turned to Our Lord in prayer. He said that as he prayed the image of Our Lady of Sorrows came to his mind, over and over again. So, he has asked his parish to join him, in prayer and adoration, before the Blessed Sacrament on the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows to make reparation for the evils in the Church. Public reparation such as this is a wonderful idea. Please pray for all our good priests and bishops who, like Christ, are suffering so much for the sins of other priests who betrayed their sacred vows. And pray especially for all victims of these heinous crimes.
AN ACT OF REPARATION FOR BLASPHEMIES AGAINST THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
“How fair you are, O Virgin Mary, Your face is resplendent with grace.”
“Our Lady in whose face – more than in any other creature – we can recognize the features of The Incarnate Word.” ~ Pope Benedict XVI
Most glorious Virgin Mary, Mother of God and our Mother, turn thine eyes in pity upon us, miserable sinners; we are sore afflicted by the many evils that surround us in this life, but especially do we feel our hearts break within us upon hearing the dreadful insults and blasphemies uttered against thee, O Virgin Immaculate, to which we are so frequently constrained to listen. O how these impious sayings offend the infinite Majesty of God and of His only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ! How they provoke His indignation and give us cause to fear the terrible effects of His vengeance! Would that the sacrifice of our lives might avail to put an end to such outrages and blasphemies; were it so, how gladly we should make it, for we desire, O most holy Mother, to love thee and to honor thee with all our hearts, since this is the will of God. And just because we love thee, we will do all that is in our power to make thee honored and loved by all men. In the meantime, do thou, our merciful Mother, the supreme comforter of the afflicted, accept this our act of reparation which we offer thee for ourselves and for all our families, as well as for all who impiously blaspheme thee, not knowing what they say. Do thou obtain for them from Almighty God the grace of conversion, and thus render more manifest and more glorious thy kindness, thy power and thy great mercy. May they join with us in proclaiming thee “Blessed Among Women,” the Immaculate Virgin and most compassionate Mother of God.
Truth is painful, sometimes horribly painful, to the innocent as well as the guilty. It is felt in the tremendous suffering it has caused in the Body of Christ by scandal. But, in spite of the pain, an old saying comes to mind; “Tell the truth and shame the devil.” The time of telling truth is here, because where Jesus, the Truth, is present — evil is unmasked.
“Arise, O Lord, and let Thy enemies be scattered, and let those who hate Thee flee from before Thy Face!” (Psalm 67, and prayer of the Little Chaplet of the Holy Face)
As the evil in the Church is exposed, Satan’s ugly face is exposed with it. To the faithful this suffering may feel like utter defeat, but in reality it is the dawn of victory. Many seemingly unanswered prayers of the little, unknown, and powerless souls, who for years upon years have had no one to hear them but God, are now being answered. It can be extremely discouraging to pray in emptiness — to pray day after day, year after year, and see nothing change — but don’t stop praying! Never stop praying! It is not futile, as the devil would like you to believe.
“May God arise and let His enemies be scattered, and let those who hate Him flee before His Holy Face!
May the thrice-holy Name of God overcome all their plans!
May the Holy Name of the Living God split them up by disagreements!
May the terrible Name of the God of Eternity stamp out all their Godlessness!”
These imprecations are often recited at the conclusion of the Little Chaplet of the Holy Face.
And because God wills not the death of a sinner, but that they be converted and live, she also prayed the words of Christ from the Cross:
“Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.”
Yes, Christians must pray not only for those who have caused scandal but that “they be converted and live.” They themselves must also live the Beatitudes, and the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy. To do this is to have the Face of Jesus Christ painted in our own souls so that we may give witness to Him by our lives.
In the midst of the latest gut-wrenching scandal in the Church it is good to remember that there have been holy priests, who loved Christ and His Church, and were willing to lay down their lives for their flock. Such rare men did not spring out of nowhere, they were formed by holy families, schools, and good seminaries. They continued to be forged, as gold in a furnace, into the image of Christ through their perseverance in prayer, penance, and suffering.
EWTN recently aired an inspiring documentary “Bravery Under Fire”about the life of Fr. Willie Doyle, S.J., a self-sacrificial, holy priest who inspired many Saints who came after him. Men who aspire to the priesthood would do well to learn something about his life because “Holiness Begets Holiness” …
If it is true that the goal of a Christian is not only to behold God’s Face one day in Heaven, but also to bring with us as many souls as possible in our lifetime, then Fr. Willie Doyle, S.J., was a true Christian. Holiness begets holiness in others. Both St. Teresa of Calcutta and St. Josemaria Esciriva were each inspired by Fr. Doyle, a little-known Irish Jesuit priest, who in a powerful yet humble way guided each saint on the path to holiness. Fr. Willie was an Irish Military Chaplain, who was killed in action during one of the worst battles of World War I on August 16th, 1917, on the muddy, bloody battlefield of Ypres, after having run “all day hither and thither over the battlefield like an angel of mercy,” one hundred years ago. But his story is just beginning to come to come to light and inspire many, many other souls who are also seeking God’s Face.
Fr. Willie was beloved by all the men he served, ministering to exhausted soldiers of all faiths or none, with little or no sleep himself and at great personal sacrifice. There was little food, and no relief, sometimes stretching many weeks. He suffered along with the other soldiers from the cold, waist-deep mud that filled stagnant trenches, suffered gas-attacks and all the horrors of war. Fr. Willie risked his own life at every moment, administering absolution, anointing with oil faces which were so smashed by shells that they were barely recognizable as men, and then burying the dead. Once, though sick himself, he laid face down in the mud of a trench, in order that a sick doctor could get a little sleep by lying on Fr. Doyle’s back. On the last day of his life he was seen running back and forth across the battlefields giving absolution to dying men, until finally being hit by a shell himself.
But, surprisingly it wasn’t Fr. Doyle’s battlefield heroism that inspired Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who learned of this holy priest when she was a young nun, as recounted in the book about her life, Come Be My Light. Nor were his great mortifications and ultimate self-sacrifice noted in the writings of St. Josemaria Escriva. They were both inspired by something most people would consider inconsequential: the smallest sacrifice of giving up butter on his bread and sugar in his tea; sacrifices Fr. Doyle considered intolerable.
St. Josemaria wrote to a friend of an example that set him on the road to sainthood; known as “The Butter Battle.” “We were reading–you and I–the heroically ordinary life of that man of God. [Fr. Willie Doyle, S.J.] And we saw him fight whole months and years at breakfast time: today he won, tomorrow he was beaten…He [Fr. Doyle] noted: ‘Didn’t take butter…; did take butter!’ I have read quickly the life of Fr. Doyle: how well I understand the butter tragedy.” [For St. Josemaria, his own battle was the small sacrifice of not reading the newspapers.]
Fr. Doyle, who was born the same year as St. Therese of the Holy Face and the Child Jesus, was himself inspired by her “Little Way.” And he was determined to follow it, by “doing little things for God with great love”:
“Kneeling at the grave of the Little Flower, I gave myself into her hands to guide and to make me a saint. I promised her to make it a rule of my whole life, every day without exception, to seek in all things my greater mortification, to give all and refuse nothing. I have made this resolution with great confidence, because I realize how utterly it is beyond my strength; but I feel the Little Flower will get me the grace to keep it perfectly.”
He did not ask God for the courage to perform great acts of heroism, but instead begged earnestly for the grace to give up butter, sugar in his tea, salt and other little things. “How many deceive themselves,” Fr. Doyle wrote, “in thinking sanctity consists in the ‘holy follies’ of the saints! How many look upon holiness as something beyond their reach or capability, and think that it is to be found only in the performance of extraordinary actions. Satisfied that they have not the strength for great austerities, the time for much prayer, or the courage for painful humiliations, they silence their conscience with the thought that great sanctity is not for them, that they have not been called to be saints. With their eyes fixed on the heroic deeds of the few, they miss the daily little sacrifices God asks them to make; and while waiting for something great to prove their love, they lose the countless little opportunities of sanctification each day bears within its bosom.”
“Self-love,” wrote Fr. Doyle, “is our own greatest enemy.” Little things are of great importance to God. It was through being “faithful to God in little things,” those small sacrifices, that he was prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice, which is “to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Fr. Doyle knew better than anyone the value of making those small sacrifices of love that become mighty weapons in the hand of the Living God — and He will win the war!
With her great reverence for the thirst of Jesus on the Cross, and the desire to seek His Face everywhere, it is possible that Mother Teresa may have found inspiration when she read the following passage in Fr. Doyle’s diary:
“The greatest thirst of Jesus on the Cross was His thirst for souls. He saw then the graces and inspirations He would give me to save souls for Him… In what way shall I correspond and console my Savior? I went on to ________ and once more had an opportunity of a quiet prayer before the life-sized crucifix in the church which I love so much. I could not remain at His feet but I climbed up until both my arms were around his neck. The figure seemed almost to live, and I think I loved Him then, for it was borne upon me how abandoned and suffering and broken-hearted He was. It seemed to console Him when I kissed His eyes and pallid cheeks and swollen lips, and as I clung to Him I knew He has won the victory, and I gave Him all He asked.” –Fr. William Doyle, S.J.
Last year was the one-hundredth anniversary of Fr. Willie’s death. There is a new book available, on the inspiring life of Fr. Doyle, his writing and war letters compiled by Patrick Kenny, To Raise the Fallen, which may be found by clicking (here). If you are interested in reading more about the life of Fr. Doyle be sure to visit this wonderful blog dedicated to to Fr. Doyle: Remembering Fr. Willie Doyle, S.J.
Remember “Holiness begets Holiness”…and please pray for Priests!
Paul Badde’s latest book tells in a compelling way, the amazing history of this miraculous veil, and the deep significance of the processions. The Human Face of God; The Holy Veil of Manoppello, will be soon released in October, but may be pre-ordered now on Amazon. Paul has sent these beautiful photos of the most recent Transfiguration evening procession — the lights may be seen through the transparent veil but be sure to look closely, and you will also see the image of the Holy Face!
“We process toward our heavenly home in the company of God. Procession is the function of faith, which burns in our hearts and beams in our faces, and makes our voices tremulous with emotion as our ‘Lauda Sion’ bids defiance to an unbelieving world.” –Fr. Frederick W. Faber
And He was Transfigured before them, and His Face shone like the sun… –Matthew 17:2
Please pray today for men and women in every vocation in life, that in seeking God’s Will, they may transfigured into the image of Christ, and become faithful witnesses to Him in the Church and in the world:
Good Father, in Christ Your Son You reveal to us Your love, You embrace us as Your children and You offer to us the possibility of discovering in Your Will the lines of our true face.
Father, help us to be holy as You are holy. We pray You, never allow Your Church to lack holy ministers and apostles who, with the word and the sacraments, may open the way to the encounter with You.
Merciful Father, give to lost humanity men and women who, through the witness of a life transfigured to the image of Your Son, may walk joyfully with their other brothers and sisters towards our heavenly homeland.
Our Father, with the voice of the Holy Spirit, and trusting in the maternal intercessions of Mary, we earnestly beseech You; send to your Church priests who will be courageous witnesses to Your infinite beauty. Amen!
–Pope St. John Paul II, Prayer for Vocations
” O God, you have scattered the darkness with your light and have poured your light into our hearts so that we might look upon the radiant Face of Jesus Christ, –Nourish in us the desire to contemplate your beloved Son. –Lord, in your light may we see light.” –from Divine Office