Sometimes I get overwhelmed by the steady stream of news about the Church as most of it is just bad news. It’s bad news because there is a constant effort to undermine the Faith and to distort it so that it means nothing more than the old tales of Greek mythology or the fables of Aesop that I read as a youth. If bishops and cardinals and even the pope seem to me to demean the Faith and those who aim to practice it fully, then why should I point that out? Why should I bother? If this is what Jesus wants for His Church, then who am I to raise my voice and yell “stop!”?
Yet, at other times, I am not convinced that Jesus wants this for His Church. Often I read and hear that these trials are a chastisement that we must bear. That irks me, but perhaps that is the correct view. After all, the Church is made up of sinners, including me, and we have all done some outrageous sins, and even though we have confessed them and been absolved, justice requires that we pay for those sins. And we are told that God chastises those he loves.
Moreover, today most Catholics will approach and receive the Eucharist even though they have unabsolved mortal sins, or decades of even venial unconfessed sins. For example, last night I went to Mass. I sat in the last row. It was supposed to be a retreat night but the weather was bad so the retreat portion was postponed. I presume most who showed were there because of the retreat, part of which was going to be confession. I was there first for the opportunity to go to confession. In truth, I didn’t want to go, and when the weather was so nasty I really didn’t want to go even more. But I went, against my own will.
So the Mass was celebrated and at Communion time, I and a woman in front of me were the only ones to not receive. I watched. I couldn’t help noticing. I know, I shouldn’t be paying attention and normally don’t; I take it for granted that everyone goes every Sunday and I try not to let it bother me anymore. I watched because part of my prayer at the start of the Mass was for forgiveness for the sacrilege committed by the unworthy reception of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. On this night of reflection and introspection during Lent when we are focusing on our sinful nature and seeking forgiveness, I guess I expected that many more people would have been not receiving.
Catholics have lost on a grand scale the understanding of Who the Blessed Sacrament is and how they should approach and be worthy to receive such an awesome gift. Perhaps that is partly why the Church is being chastised. Even though I don’t receive when my sins become great, most do. Our sins affect all of us, as we are one body. We don’t have that understanding as something real anymore either. The whole “who am I to judge” cop out really shows itself to be stupid from the point of view of the Church being the Body of Christ; if we know someone is committing a sin and then receiving the Eucharist, we are to discriminate and admonish them, for they harm not only themselves but all of us. Hasn’t Saint Paul told us that about how to handle a fellow Christian who sins against us, to talk to them first, then with a few others, and then, if he or she doesn’t listen, that we are to take it to the whole Church? What would he say about ignoring the sins, and telling people to receive the Eucharist while covered by years of sins, or even with one mortal sin? We are to judge in that sense, but not in the sense that we are to condemn them to Hell.
The night before, I was reflecting on why I should care, and whether I should just lighten up and lose some of my zeal. I turned away from anything Faith-related and turned on the television as an escape. Soon it was time for bed but I flipped the channels. I ended up on a showing of “The Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers” and watched, even though it was midway through. Men are getting ready to face tens of thousands of Orcs in battle and are greatly outnumbered. A small army of Men, mostly old men and youngsters, are supported by a dwarf and a few Hobbits and a few Elves. As the battle approaches, an army of Elves arrives to support the Men, the Ents are convinced to join also and the Men are able to make a great defense.
Frodo and his friend Sam have also now journeyed a great distance and dealt with great ordeals, battered and worn, and pursued by the dark forces that want the Ring. Frodo and Sam talk about how they are the ones who have been doing this, how unlikely that is, and how it is overwhelming. They talk about the great stories of past heroes and how they also had undergone great challenges.
Sam: It’s like in the great stories Mr. Frodo, the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn’t want to know the end because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end it’s only a passing thing this shadow, even darkness must pass. A new day will come, and when the sun shines it’ll shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you, that meant something even if you were too small to understand why. But I think Mr. Frodo, I do understand, I know now folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going because they were holding on to something.
Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?
Sam: That there’s some good in the world, Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for.
In that scene, in that statement, and at that moment, it was as if my own questions were answered. Indeed, there is good in the world, the Church and the Faith, and it is worth fighting for. And so, even though I may be no more than a small Hobbit in a world assaulted by tens of thousands of Orcs fighting for the victory of the Dark Lord, even though I may be overwhelmed and battered and worn, I will continue to fight, for it is indeed the most worthy of things for which I might fight, the real Good in this world.
Sometimes it’s good to turn on the tv.