In the midst of this nightmare, a strange thing happened to me. I came to believe even more deeply that the Catholic Church is the one true Church established by the God-man, Jesus Christ.
I came to believe that the devil is a real dark force working viciously to drag souls to Gehenna. Reason entered into my thoughts as I tried to process each bombshell revelation. First, I thought of scripture. Jesus predicted this would happen.
“Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. “(Matthew 16:18)
When C.S. Lewis first read the New Testament, repeated talk of a Dark Power surprised him. He put it all together and it fit. Life is a battlefield and we are bivouacked in enemy-occupied territory. Friends questioned him. How could a smart man like you believe in a devil — hooves and all? He did not know about pitchforks and horns, but he gave a definitive answer. Yes, I do believe in the devil.
In this summer of scandal, I have come to appreciate our good priests all the more. I have read emotional posts on Facebook by priests who deeply love Our Lord Jesus Christ and his Church. They are heart-broken, discouraged, and feel betrayed. I viewed sermons online by priests who had to stop preaching momentarily, so near were they to tears. I heard one priest reveal that he had a permanent lump in his throat, so real was his grief. Some priests are embarrassed to wear clerics in public. People grimaced at the sight of a white collar and even crossed the street. I have come to believe that our holy priests are white martyrs, persecuted for the faith. It is time to pray harder for our priests.
Two month ago, I tweeted that there would be a lay uprising. I had read of the first revelation of sin in the highest levels of our Church. Little did I know that more bombshells, bigger bombs, would drop. Sure enough, online signature campaigns demanding truth quickly garnered thousands of signatures. Catholic news journalists called for independent forensic financial audits of church accounts. A new website popped up could track every U.S. bishop and his loyalty (or disloyalty) to the magisterium.
In all of this, I saw an outpouring of hurt and love for the holy Catholic Church. Yes, the holy Catholic Church. In any battle, the enemy knows his target. The devil wants to see walls tumble in Rome, at the Vatican.
A more personal change has come to my heart. In weekly Eucharistic adoration, I sometimes struggle in a desire to feel the Real Presence. Like St. Thomas, I want tangible results. I want to get something out of this quiet time in the chapel. Now I have a different attitude. I want to console Jesus. I picture him on the cross once again betrayed, once again beaten. I want to just be present for Him and not for me.
Thousands of victims were severely damaged emotionally, spiritually, and physically by evildoers protected by secrecy and cover-ups. Now we know the horrible facts and it must stop. I am thankful the truth has come to light, so that no more children, seminarians, or other good priests will be harmed by the evil few. We pray more earnestly for those victims of abuse.I live in Maine where hills roll out to the sea, covered with blueberry bushes. In the spring, farmers burn blueberry bushes. It scorches the earth, turning soil into black soot. Burning knocks down weeds and destroys pest habitat. If this measure is not taken, weeds quickly grow and smother low bush plants.
I believe this summer of scandals has scorched our Church. It was bad, worse than any of us could have imagined. Without these revelations, worse infestations would have taken root. One day, green shoots will poke through the black soil. Like blueberry blossoms, bell-shaped and pink, our Church will flower again, bright and beautiful, a glorious city on a hill, dazzling for all to see.
Copyright 2018 Kathryn Swegart