St. John Chrysostom on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians

St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church (+407), wrote and preached extensively on the mystery of Christ as revealed in Scripture and Tradition. In his Homilies on Ephesians he comments on our predestination in Christ before the foundation of the world and how this economy of grace was foreordained. He also speaks of the immutable purpose of God and how all things, including the Angels, are under the headship of Christ.

Ironically, while he illustrates so many points that confirm the Franciscan perspective (which is the perspective of St. Paul, indeed of God Himself! – one can read my own exposition of the Pauline perspective here), St. John frequently speaks as if Christ’s coming was occasioned by sin. Here is but one example: “It was well near come to this, that man had been made in vain, brought into the world in vain, nay, rather to his ruin; when all were absolutely perishing, more fearfully than in the deluge, He devised this dispensation, that is by grace; that it might not be in vain, might not be to no purpose that man was created.” One senses from these words that Christ is a sort of “plan B” which God devised to salvage man. Although Chrysostom does not seem to have held what is today called the “absolute” primacy of Christ (sin or no sin), nonetheless, he offers many insights which clearly uphold the position of Christ’s absolute predestination and primacy.

Commenting on Eph. 1:4 he writes:

Ver. 4. “Even as,” he [St. Paul] proceeds, “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish before Him in love.”

His meaning is somewhat of this sort: Through whom He has blessed us, through Him He has also chosen us. And He, then, it is that shall bestow upon us all those rewards hereafter. He is the very Judge that shall say, “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Mt 25:34). And again, “I will that where I am they will also be with Me.” (Jn 17:24). And this is a point which he is anxious to prove in almost all his Epistles, that ours is no novel system, but that it had thus been figured from the very first, that it is not the result of any change of purpose, but had been in fact a divine dispensation and fore-ordained. And this is a mark of great solicitude for us.

According to St. John Chrysostom, St. Paul is anxious to drive home the point that all graces, all spiritual blessings come to us from God the Father in Christ: “…ours is no novel system,” he writes, “…it had thus been figured from the very first, that it is not the result of any change of purpose, but had been in fact a divine dispensation and fore-ordained.” This plan to make us His adopted children in Christ was established by God before creation, before any consideration of the fall, and this was not “the result of any change of purpose.” From the Franciscan perspective (which, as one can see, is rooted in Scripture and Tradition) the decree of the Incarnation was an immutable one. Sin or no sin, God wills to bless us in Christ Jesus. Because of sin that purpose remains unaltered; however, as a result of Adam’s sin Christ comes also as Redeemer and manifests not only God’s love for us, but also His infinite mercy.

St. John Chrysostom continues:

What is meant by, “He chose us in Him?” By means of the faith which is in Him, Christ, he means, happily ordered this for us before we were born; nay more, before the foundation of the world. And beautiful is that word “foundation,” as though he were pointing to the world as cast down from some vast height. Yea, vast indeed and ineffable is the height of God, so far removed not in place but in incommunicableness of nature; so wide the distance between creation and Creator! A word which heretics may be ashamed to hear.

And this incommunicability of the divine and human nature, this abyss which separates creation from the Creator on the level of being, does it not make sense that for all of the elect, both the Saints and the Angels, that ontological separation would be bridged by a Mediator? “There is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, Himself a man, Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5; cf. Mt. 11:27; Jn. 14:6; 1 Tim. 2:5; Heb. 8:6; 9:15; 12:24). Indeed this is what God “happily ordered for us before we were born… before the foundation of the world.”

But wherefore has He chosen us? “That we should be holy and without a blemish before Him.” That you may not then, when you hear that “He has chosen us,” imagine that faith alone is sufficient, he proceeds to add life and conduct. To this end, says he, has He chosen us, and on this condition, “that we should be holy and without blemish.”

The plan is stupendous! But it is not by faith alone that it is accomplished in us. We must correspond to God’s plan for us in Christ by a life of virtue if we are to enter the eternal blessedness of His kingdom. As St. John of the Cross would say, “Love is repaid by love alone.” Chrysostom goes on to say:

Ver. 4, 5. “In love,” says he, “having foreordained us unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto Himself.”

Do you observe how that nothing is done without Christ? Nothing without the Father? The one has predestinated, the other has brought us near. And these words he adds by way of heightening the things which have been done, in the same way as he says also elsewhere, “And not only so, but we also rejoice in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rm 5:11). For great indeed are the blessings bestowed, yet are they made far greater in being bestowed through Christ; because He sent not any servant, though it was to servants He sent, but the Only-begotten Son Himself.

Christ is, to use the expression of Bl. John Duns Scotus, the summum opus Dei – the great Masterpiece of God’s creative hand. The Father does nothing in the universe without Christ, the Word Incarnate. If God gives us every spiritual blessing on high in Christ, as St. Paul says, then this means that God gives no spiritual blessing apart from Christ – whether to Angels or to men. While the blessings are great, they are “far greater in being bestowed through Christ.” Is it even possible to think that this perfect, sublime plan of God in Christ is but a remedy for Adam’s sin? Does Scripture reveal to us a different way, truth and life for the good Angels and for Adam and Eve before the fall? No. Before the foundations of the world God established one economy of grace in Christ.

St. John Chrysostom clarifies what St. Paul means in v.10 by the word ἀνακεφαλαιώσασθαι – often translated to re-establish.

Ver. 10. “Unto a dispensation of the fullness of the times to sum up all things in Christ, the things in the heavens and the things upon the earth, even in Him.”…

The fullness of the times, however, was His coming… [for more on St. Paul’s phrase “the fullness of times” one can read here]

That “He might sum up” [ἀνακεφαλαιώσασθαι] he says.

What is the meaning of this word, “sum up?” It is “to knit together.” Let us, however, endeavor to get near the exact import. With ourselves then, in common conversation, the word means the summing into a brief compass things spoken at length, the concise account of matters described in detail. And it has this meaning. For Christ has gathered up in Himself the dispensations carried on through a lengthened period, that is to say, He has cut them short. For “by finishing His word and cutting it short in righteousness,” (Rm 9:28) He both comprehended former dispensations, and added others beside. This is the meaning of “summing up.”

The root of the word ἀνακεφαλαιώσασθαι (anakephalaiosasthai) is κεφαλ- which comes from the Greek word for “head”. The prefix ἀνα- means up or upwards. What the Holy Apostle is literally saying is that God’s dispensation which is realized in the fullness of times is to bring all things – both in Heaven and on earth – under the headship of Christ. “Sum up” is closer to the Greek than the Latin instaurare or the English “re-establish.” The significance of the verb in Greek is clear – God’s will before the creation of the world was that all things be brought under the headship of Christ, summed up in Him. This is dealt with more in-depth in my commentary on the christocentric canticle of Paul in Colossians 1:15-20.

It has also another signification; and of what nature is this? He has set over all one and the same Head, i.e., Christ according to the flesh, alike over Angels and men. That is to say, He has given to Angels and men one and the same government… So also here He has brought all under one and the same Head. For thus will an union be effected, thus will a close bond be effected, if one and all can be brought under one and the same Head, and thus have some constraining bond of union from above. Honored then as we are with so great a blessing, so high a privilege, so great loving-kindness, let us not shame our Benefactor, let us not render in vain so great grace. Let us exemplify the life of Angels, the virtue of Angels, the conversation of Angels, yea, I entreat and conjure you, that all these things turn not to our judgment, nor to our condemnation, but to our enjoyment of those good things, which may God grant we may all attain, in Christ Jesus, our Lord, with whom to the Father, together with the Holy Ghost, be glory, strength, etc. etc.

St. John Chrysostom is only confirming the teachings of St. Paul that Christ is Head of the Angels: “the Head of every Principality and Power.” (Col. 2:10). But how can the God-Man be Head of the good Angels who have no need of Redemption? Because Christ was predestined as Head of the whole Church, of all the elect, before any consideration of sin. Below is a video where I explain this notion of Christ’s headship according to St. Paul.


In conclusion, let us ask St. John Chrysostom to intercede for us and obtain for us the graces to penetrate ever more deeply the wealth of Christology found in St. Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians.

St. Maximilian M. Kolbe on the Fall of Lucifer

The text below is taken from “The Writings of St Maximilian Maria Kolbe – Volume II: Various Writings” from section 1311. With a Marian accent St. Maximilian articulates the Franciscan school on the test of the Angels and the fall of Lucifer and his minions.

The Immaculata before Her Coming into the World
Niepokalanów, August 5–20, 1940
by St. Maximilian Kolbe

After creating the Angels, God willed that, in full consciousness and will, they should give proof that they would always and in everything desire to accomplish His Will. He showed them the mystery of the Incarnation, that is to say, that He would call into existence a human being, with body and soul, and that he would raise up such a creature to the dignity of Mother of God, so that she would become also their Queen and they would have to venerate her as well. Countless legions of angelic spirits joyfully greeted the one whom their Creator had decided to raise so sublimely and humbly paid homage to their Lady. Some of them, however, headed by Lucifer—forgetful of the fact that all they were and possessed they had received from God, while they alone were absolutely nothing—rebelled and refused to submit to God’s Will. For they considered themselves superior to a human being covered with flesh. Such an act of veneration seemed to them a debasement of their dignity. They allowed themselves to be carried away by pride and refused to do the Will of God.

Because of that, immediate, eternal punishment befell them: separation from God, Hell. Being pure spirits, they possessed penetrating intelligence, whereby their action was fully conscious and voluntary, and in their guilt the features of mortal sin, committed with absolute awareness, were most evident. That is why those angels immediately became demons, and forever.

Since then, the memory of the fact that this creature had become the affirmation of the good Angels and the assurance of their eternal happiness, while to the demons she was the cause of scandal and separation, filled the latter with hellish hatred toward her, a hatred like the hatred they harbored toward God, of whom she was supposed to be such a faithful image.

In the Garden of Eden, Satan saw a being like the one who was the object of his anger. He cannot reach God, he cannot reach her [Mary], but pours out his hatred onto her future mother, on the first mother of mankind [Eve]. He manages to persuade the woman to oppose the will of God and to seek perfection not in submission to God’s intentions, but in following one’s reason. He wins her over with pride. The human being, who knows with the help of the senses, is far from the clarity of knowledge that a purely spiritual being possesses. And it is for this very reason that man’s sin is much less severe. That is why God’s mercy promises [to our first parents] a Redeemer, while to Satan God predicts that the victory he has achieved over Eve, the mother of the foretold being, will not in any way alter the divine plan. Indeed, He predicts that “she will crush his head,” although he continuously “lies in wait” for “her heel,” as happens to this day”

Lady Poverty – How the scandals will help purify the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church

“For covetousness is the root of all evils, and some in their eagerness to get rich have strayed from the Faith and have involved themselves in many troubles.” (1 Tm 6:10)

When I was studying theology as a seminarian in the late 90s with the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate my professor in dogmatic theology, Fr. Peter Damian Fehlner, made an unusual comment about the problems plaguing the Church. “It will be a wonderful day when the Church is broke,” he exclaimed. Why? Because, in his opinion, it was money that kept all of the dissenters in the Church. In other words, if there were no paychecks they would pack their bags and go elsewhere.

Well that day seems to have arrived for the Catholic Church in the USA. Since 1950 over $4 billion dollars have been paid out (legal fees, settlements, etc.) for sexually abusive priests and 14 Dioceses have filed bankruptcy since 2002. Because of the Mccarrick scandal and the PA grand jury discoveries many people, including myself, have come out publicly to share our own stories of abuse and harassment (I have posted mine here). Consequently, we can expect that there will be many more legal expenses and settlements in the wake of these enormous scandals.

Perhaps the most important element of creating a “poor Church” is the financial support of the lay faithful. The Cardinals and Bishops by brushing aside victims of priestly sexual abuse and defending and reassigning the predators (like Cardinals Law, Mahoney, Mccarrick and Wuerl), by disregarding the root problem of the majority of the scandals (namely, active homosexuals and homosexual activists in the clerical state – see this interview with Cardinal Burke and this article from an EWTN panel discussion), by working strenuously to protect their own reputation, by guarding their own positions and seeking to advance their ecclesiastical careers, by thwarting their good priests and advancing their bad priests, by neglecting the salvation of souls, etc. etc. have lost the trust of the faithful. “Not one more penny,” is the cry from the laity, “until you reform yourselves, the seminaries and the priests in your dioceses!” I can assure you that this will be extremely effective if done consistently over a period of time and coupled with prayer and penance. Actually, this may be the only way to oust the gay network from the Church. They will retaliate in diabolical ways – sometimes in subtle and covert ways, other times in blatant and obvious ones. The lavender mafia is strong and insidious. They will resist tooth and nail. But if the funds stop rolling in, if the lawsuits and investigations continue to pile up and to expose the guilty, and if the faithful continue their rightful demands for chaste and holy Bishops and priests, then things will begin to move in the right direction. The ranks of the Bishops will be purified and will begin to purify the seminaries and the ranks of the priests.

Many active homosexuals and homosexual activists teach in Seminaries, work in Chanceries, and run parishes across the country… If there is no paycheck then they have a choice, to serve God or mammon. The mammon-servers will leave. Take, for example, the priest in the Diocese of Syracuse who went public as being an active homosexual, Fr. Fred Daley. Not only has he been permitted to continue as a priest and pastor during these past 14 years (which means all of the perks: salary, insurance, food, lodging, etc.), he was even reassigned from his parish in Utica to a parish in Syracuse itself! When he first came out of the closet in 2004 I immediately wrote a personal letter marked “confidential” to the Bishop about how this was creating scandal and confusion among the laity and asked the Bishop if he was going to say or do something, and the response? Crickets. If priests (and Bishops, for that matter) were reduced to the poor stable of Bethlehem or the Holy House at Nazareth or the poverty of the Cross on Calvary, would they continue? Would they stay? If they did, it would have to be out of love for Christ, His Church, and the souls entrusted to them.

I’m not saying that money cannot be used for noble, holy endeavors, but I’m simply making the point that serving Christ and His Church – the Church that teaches that sodomy is morally wrong, that homosexuality is an intrinsic disorder – means leading a life of prayer and sacrifice. If the Church becomes truly penniless the clergy will be forced to serve God for the right reason – for the pure love of Him – and to seek that treasure which is in Heaven.

A poor and purified Church would also be genuinely concerned with the poor and vulnerable – like the victims of priestly sexual abuse and those who could be potentially abused in the future, like the seminarians who want and need solid formation, like the laity who want and need the unadulterated truth of the Catholic Faith and need chaste, dedicated priests to assist them along the way. Many of the Bishops, to date, have shown by their actions that they have been more concerned with the finances and reputation of their Dioceses (and themselves) than the eternal salvation of the souls entrusted to their care. This is frustrating and infuriating. There are many ways of giving in the Church without enabling the gay mafia; there is also the possibility of setting aside one’s offerings and retaining them until one is sure the funds will be used properly. Whatever method is used, the reason for it needs to be communicated to the priests and Bishops (like printing out a slip of paper saying “Dear Bishop, Not another penny until you get rid of the homosexual priests in the Diocese,” putting that into the parish offering envelope, and dropping it into the collection basket). They will get the message loud and clear.

The entire situation in which we find ourselves today reminds me of the sobering question of Our Lord: “Yet when the Son of Man comes, will He find, do you think, faith on the earth?” (Lk 18:8). And the explanation of St. Paul regarding the end times, “Let know one deceive you in any way, for the day of the Lord will not come unless the apostasy comes first…” (2 Thes 2:3). Whether what we are currently experiencing is the great apostasy or not remains to be seen; but there is indeed a great apostasy and therefore a tremendous need for purification in the House of God – starting with my own sinful soul. “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.” May her Immaculate Heart triumph in my heart, your heart and in all hearts that beat upon the face of the earth.

 

Dr. Mark Miravalle – Franciscan Thesis and the Test of the Angels

Dr. Mark Miravalle, one of my professors of Theology when I was an undergraduate student at Franciscan University of Steubenville, speaks of the moral test of the Angels. Why are there Holy Angels and fallen angels? What proved the good Angels to be “good” and the fallen angels to be “evil”? Why is there a spiritual war raging between Lucifer and St. Michael?

From beginning to end the Bible tells us that the battle has to do with the Woman and her Offspring (cf. Gen 3:15 and Apoc 12). The Evil One, “that great dragon…, that old serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, who seduceth the whole world… stood before the Woman who was ready to be delivered; that, when she should be delivered, he might devour her Son” (Apoc 12:7,4) – spiritual warfare is centered on the mystery of the Incarnation.

This is not a coincidence. According to the Franciscan school Satan (and a third of the angelic host with him) was condemned to Hell forever and lost his glorious light because he refused to serve Christ as King and Our Lady as Queen: non serviam! I even wonder if this is the reason that he goes after Eve, the first woman, instead of Adam in the garden of Eden… he either suspected her to be “the Woman” or despised her because she represented that Woman. Although I treat of this and draw upon the writings of Fr. Gabriel Amorth and the Ven. Mother Mary of Agreda here, here and here, nonetheless, the topic is always fresh and worthy of further meditation. I am posting a 10 minute presentation where Dr. Miravalle gives insights into Mary’s role as Queen of the Angels. After the introduction to the topic he speaks of the Franciscan thesis and how the Incarnation of Christ and the divine maternity of Mary were presented to the Angels, that it was revealed to them that they would have the joy and privilege of serving Christ as King and Mary as Queen if they accepted God’s marvelous plan. The Holy Angels are the ones who embraced the will of God and make up the nine choirs of Angels in Heaven. Here is Dr. Miravalle’s reflection:

Pope Benedict XVI – Monastic life and the absolute primacy of Christ

On November 20th, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI mentioned the “absolute primacy” of Christ in his address to the Plenary Assembly of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. Besides his reference to the absolute primacy of Christ (clearly a reference to the Franciscan and Benedictine tradition of Christ’s primacy quite apart from any consideration of sin – Pope Benedict has spoken very highly of the Benedictine Abbot Rupert of Deutz and specifically underscores his Christology), note how this entire paragraph regarding religious life stands on its own quite apart from any mention of Christ’s redemptive work:

Christo omnino nihil praeponere [prefer nothing to Christ] (cf. Rule of Benedict 72, 11; Augustine, Enarr. in Ps 29: 9; Cyprian, Ad Fort 4). These words which the Rule of St Benedict takes from the previous tradition, clearly express the precious treasure of monastic life lived still today in both the Christian West and East. It is a pressing invitation to mould monastic life to the point of making it an evangelical memorial of the Church and, when it is authentically lived, “a reference point for all the baptized” (cf. John Paul II, Orientale lumen, n. 9). By virtue of the absolute primacy reserved for Christ, monasteries are called to be places in which room is made for the celebration of God’s glory, where the mysterious but real divine presence in the world is adored and praised, where one seeks to live the new commandment of love and mutual service, thus preparing for the final “revelation of the sons of God” (Rm 8: 19). When monks live the Gospel radically, when they dedicate themselves to integral contemplative life in profound spousal union with Christ, on whom this Congregation’s Instruction Verbi Sponsa (13 May 1999) extensively reflected, monasticism can constitute for all the forms of religious life and consecrated life a remembrance of what is essential and has primacy in the life of every baptized person: to seek Christ and put nothing before his love.

Pope Benedict XVI underscores a point that is central to the doctrine of the absolute primacy of Christ, namely that the primary reason Christ came in the flesh, and the primary reason that the Angels and the elect exist, is for the glory of God – ad majorem gloriam Dei as St. Ignatius of Loyola puts it. The Incarnate Word gives the maximum glory to God in His Sacred Humanity; we are called to give glory to God per ipsum, et cum ipso, et in ipso, viz. through Him, with Him and in Him as we pray in the Sacred Liturgy. This is God’s plan, sin or no sin, and the Pope’s words ring true not only for monks and nuns, but for all the faithful: By virtue of the absolute primacy reserved for Christ, monasteries [and by way of extension families, parishes, our souls, etc.] are called to be places in which room is made for the celebration of God’s glory, where the mysterious but real divine presence in the world is adored and praised, where one seeks to live the new commandment of love and mutual service, thus preparing for the final “revelation of the sons of God” (Rm 8: 19).

He mentions adoration and praise of the divine presence. Sin or no sin, we were created to adore and praise God. Our Lord Himself tells the Samaritan woman, “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. For the Father also seeks such to worship Him. God is spirit, and they who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth” (Jn 4: 23-24). Christ, then, who tells us that He is that truth (cf. Jn 14:6), is the Mediator, the High Priest, the one through whom we can adore the Living God. Christ exists for the glory of God; we also exist for the glory of God, but for us that glory is given to Christ and through Him to the entire Trinity. For this reason, as Pope Benedict XIV states, “a profound spousal union with Christ” reveals “what is essential and has primacy in the life of every baptized person: to seek Christ and put nothing before His love.”

According to Franciscan Christology these beautiful expressions would hold true even if Adam had not sinned – in other words, in a sinless world we would still be called to seek Christ and put nothing before His love and to give glory to God through, with and in Christ. Because of sin Christ comes in passible, mortal flesh and works out our Redemption on Calvary. The divine design is the same – man is called to glorify God and be one with Him through the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus – but because of sin Christ had to suffer, die and rise from the dead to conquer sin, Satan and eternal death forever [for more on this topic, including diagrams and a video click here].

According to the Franciscan school God willed one economy of grace which He offers to Angels and the elect through Christ (gratia Christi) and not two economies, one for Angels and Adam and Eve before sin (gratia Dei) and another “better” economy for Adam and Eve and their progeny after sin (gratia Christi), a sort of “plan A”, but because of sin God gives an even better “plan B”. Bl. John Duns Scotus points out that “there could never be but one Head in the Church from which there is derived the influx of graces upon the members.” (Ordinatio, III, d.13, q.4, n.8.).  So Jesus is the Head (Col. 1:18); in Him dwells the fullness of Divinity corporally (2:9); from Him, as the Head, the whole body is supplied and built up (2:19). That is God’s eternal decree, sin or no sin.

The primacy of Christ and scandal

St. Peter Damian

“Truly, this vice [of homosexuality] is never to be compared with any other vice because it surpasses the enormity of all vices.… It defiles everything, stains everything, pollutes everything. And as for itself, it permits nothing pure, nothing clean, nothing other than filth.…”  St. Peter Damian, Doctor of the Church

It has been a sad week for the Roman Catholic Church, especially in the United States, and the reports of scandals among the priests, even Bishops… even Cardinals – ex-Cardinal Mccarrick (now more accurately known as Uncle Ted) and Cardinal Wuerl’s negligences which will probably be exposed by the PA Grand Jury in the weeks to come, have reached the ears even of this hermit. The scandals are part of the ongoing spiritual and moral crisis both in our society and within the Church.

Personal encounters with scandal

I saw that some priests, like Fr. Desmond Rossi (see here), Fr. Roman Manchester (see here), former priest Peter Mitchell (see here), former seminarians John Monaco (see here), John DeFilippis (see here), and an anonymous H.R. (see here) have gone public with the gay culture they encountered as seminarians, and even Michael Voris has shared how he was harassed by a priest (Fr. Richard McBrien?) at Notre Dame (see here). I too experienced being groomed by a Jesuit priest during high school. Fortunately no crime or sin was committed, but the diabolical disorder and seductive methods of these homosexual priests is frightening and deserves to be exposed. As St. Maximus the Confessor once wrote, “He who puts on a show of friendship in order to do his neighbor some injury is a wolf hiding his wickedness under sheep’s clothing” (Ad Thalassium, 25). So let me describe exactly what happened to me…

Fr. Joseph Casey, SJ

It was 1984. I was 15 or 16 years old and a sophomore at Brebeuf Preparatory School in Indianapolis, IN, which was run by the Jesuits. I don’t remember the circumstances, but one day a priest, Fr. Joseph Casey, SJ, (who happened to be the President of the school) said hello to me and invited me to stop by his office sometime. He didn’t mingle with the students much because he was usually in his office, so the encounter was strange to begin with. I was a straight A student at the time and so, being asked by a priest and the President of the school to come by his office, I felt it was my duty to stop by. I did. I had no idea why he wanted to see me, but I expected it to be like my other encounters with the faculty – academic or business oriented. Well, he told me that he had seen me at the school dance and that I was a very good dancer. I had the bizarre feeling that this priest was stalking me.

I was on the swim team at that time. One afternoon we had a swim meet and as we were piling onto the bus there was Fr. Casey. Apparently he was coming to cheer us on. Really, no one came to our swim meets and certainly no one traveled on the bus with the team, so this was quite unusual. It never occurred to me during the swim meet that he was coming to watch me – like he had done at the school dance – only now with nothing but a Speedo swimsuit on. After the swim meet we all piled back onto the bus. Fr. Casey got on the bus and made it a point to sit next to me – I was basically trapped between him and the window. It was very dark and the windows were all steamy because it was so cold outside. I put my knees up against the back of the seat in front of me and tried to get some rest because I was exhausted. Fr. Casey never said anything or did anything, but I felt awkward and tense for the entire bus ride… Fortunately my tale ends here. Nothing happened. I never went to his office again and he never reappeared in my life. But when I look back, especially in light of all that has come to the fore in the last 20 years, it makes me tremble. I was so, so vulnerable at that time. Besides being a teenager, my parents had just divorced. It would have been devastating for me if anything had happened.

Brebeuf, as it turns out, has always been notorious for abuse. The Dean of Students in the 1970’s, Fr. James Grear, molested boys (see here); in my freshman year in 1984 I remember Michelle, a cheerleader, telling us that the computer teacher, James West, had taken her into his office and offered her an “A” if she would let him spank her; a credible accusation was made against Fr. Bernard Knoth, SJ, for sexually abusing a student in 1986 (see here) when Knoth was Principal of the school; Rick Doucette, a religion teacher (full blown heresy, by the way) and wrestling coach, would frequently take the wrestlers and other boys to hotels for overnights and even “chaperoned” a trip to Italy – he was released from Brebeuf and later caught red handed molesting a minor twice as soccer coach (see here). [N.B. during all 4 years that I was at Brebeuf (1983-87) the Principal, President and only male religion teacher were all homosexuals and all secretly preying on male students]

After my own conversion to Christ and His Church in 1988 (before I knew about his misbehavior), I met with Fr. Bernard Knoth, SJ, twice as I myself had started discerning the priesthood. In my first meeting with him he confided to me how, as a Jesuit seminarian, he had been raped by another seminarian. In my second meeting with him he told me that the Eucharist was not the Real Presence and that Confession was just a psychological phenomenon – in other words, he had lost his faith but continued to “function” as a Jesuit priest. My heart goes out to him and many others who, through being molested, lost their faith and went on to hurt others. Pray we must, for both victim and perpetrator.

As if this wasn’t enough, my spiritual director who helped me discern the Franciscans informed me in 1997 that his Bishop threatened to suspend him as a priest if he would not perform homosexual acts with him. My director refused and was indeed suspended as a priest. It turns out that the Bishop had also been going on a regular basis to the red light district and hiring men and woman prostitutes. They called him “the Bish” and knew that they would get wined and dined like kings or queens before the dirty work would begin. My director, after getting nowhere with Rome, went public (anonymously) with The Wanderer around that time of 1997-1998 and finally Bishop Daniel Ryan resigned in late 1999 (see here).

Protest by RCF in the late 1990s

I could go on (just with examples I have come to know about personally, let alone what’s hitting the news and what you can find in books like Goodbye, Good Men), but it would be pointless.

A particular problem: Sodomy

Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah

As noted, the problem is a spiritual and moral crisis in the world and in the Church. But most of the priest scandals in the Church are specifically related to the sin of sodomy (see Fr. Regis Scanlon’s article which calls a spade a spade and this interview with Cardinal Burke and this panel discussion from EWTN). While this sin is nothing new (think of Sodom and Gomorrah), we are living in a society that is telling us on all sides that homosexuality and gender-confusion is not a disorder, but just part of an enlightening evolutionary process and that everyone needs to be open minded to where that process is leading us.

The fact is that vast majority of pedophiles are sodomites whose disordered passions lead them to seep down into lower age brackets. In the world it is legal for a young man to look at internet pornography, but not child pornography. Well it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that as long as there is no restraint in looking at pornography there will continue to be a market for child pornography. Similarly, as long as homosexual priests are not disciplined (like Fr. Fred Daley who for 14 years now has been publicly professing himself to be a gay priest) there will continue to be those who prey on children (not to mention teenagers and seminarians). Enough is enough! If a priest does not accept the perennial teaching of the Scripture and the Church he should be shown the door; and if he does not live that teaching he should be disciplined; and “pink” seminaries should be shut down. Otherwise the accusations and lawsuits will continue to plague the Church and her credibility will continue to crumble.

The solution: Jesus Christ

One of the beauties of the doctrine of the absolute primacy of Christ is that He became flesh to glorify the Father in the most perfect way possible in a created universe. “And where sin abounded, grace did more abound” (Rm 5:20)… in other words, nothing will eclipse the perfect glory given to God in the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. Christ invites us to be forgiven and freed from our sins and to glorify God through, with and in Him. But even if nobody were to accept His invitation, perfect glory would still be given to God in His Sacred Humanity. Sin never has the upper hand in God’s plans; sin never has the last word.

Christ does not need us; we need Him. Will we follow Him? Will we take up our Cross and be His disciples? Will we be pure of heart so that we can see God? The merciful invitation to repent and believe remains. And whether individuals (including clerics) respond to that invitation or not, He will nonetheless come in glory to judge the living and the dead. Then He will submit all to His Father for His eternal glory: “And when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be made subject to Him who subjected all things to Him, that God may be all in all” (1 Cor 15:28).