How the Summer of Scandals Has Built My Faith

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All of us had that moment this summer when we had a shock of insight. Something big, something terrible, something diabolical was happening to our Church. Tabloids screeched their headlines: “Mass Devastation!” We read horror stories of deviant priests targeting altar boys for abuse. I could not even look at the face of one disgraced ex-cardinal.

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.

"The summer of scandals" by Kathryn Swegart (CatholicMom.com)

By Dennis Jarvis from Halifax, Canada (DSC_9881 – Blueberry Fields) [CC BY-SA 2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

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

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About Author

Kathryn Griffin Swegart was born in Boston and holds a Master’s degree from Boston College. Married since 1981, she and her husband have raised three children on a gentleman’s farm in rural Maine. Amidst dairy goats, chickens, and gardens, they homeschooled for twenty years. They enjoy tending their apple orchard, volunteering at church, and visiting their nine grandchildren. Kathryn is a professed member of the Secular Franciscan Order and the author of Heavenly Hosts: Eucharistic Miracles for Kids. Visit her blog at KathrynSwegart.com.

4 Comments

  1. Anne Marie Hennigan on

    Thank you for this post. Here in Ireland we have lived with shocking clerical scandals for many years. 1979 750,000 people came out to greet Pope John Paul Ii. In 2018, we could barely muster 140,000 to greet Pope Francis. BUT, the faith of those who greeted Pope Francis was so much stronger and deeper. We have been tested like gold in a furnace. We remember that even at the Last Supper, the very moment of Christ’s offering of Himself at the first Euchatist, Judas was present. We remember Christ’s promise that the Gates of Hell will not prevail against His Church. We entrust ourselves, our Church,our country and our world to Our Blessed Mother to intercede for us to the great God who made us in His love for us, who saved us by His life death and Ressurection and by His spirit leads us through His Church to be heirs to His kingdom. BLESSED BE GOD FOREVER.

  2. Anne, This is heart-rending., but so true and in that truth lies hope. I have heard 3 prophesies about these dark times. One in 1975 from Ralph Martin who is a highly respected Catholic layman, one from the future Pope Benedict XVI in 1969, and this third paragraph of the original St. Michael prayer. In 1884 Pope Leo XIII had a mystical experience in which Satan threatened attacks on the Church. Here is the prophesy as revealed in the third paragraph of the original prayer.
    “These most crafty enemies have filled and inebriated with gall and bitterness the Church, the spouse of the immaculate Lamb, and have laid impious hands on her most sacred possessions. In the Holy Place itself, where the See of Holy Peter and the Chair of Truth has been set up as the light of the world, they have raised the throne of their abominable impiety, with the iniquitous design that when the Pastor has been struck, the sheep may be.”

  3. Too often we have put men on high pedestals …. what furtile ground for Satan !!!! The Mother Church will be saddened because of the sins of these men but will not be moved for the Love of Christ is stronger than anything Satan can throw at It!!

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