Friday, July 8, 2016

And When I Awoke, The World Had Changed

The Google counter says this is my blog posting number 997.  I think it may be the most important thing I have ever written.  I’m sorry this will be a long post, but I think it is important.
My heart is heavy today.  I cried through the Friday morning Bible Study, afterwards felt and urge to attend mass, and then cried there.  And as I now sit in the chapel recalling these recent events, my eyes tear up at the thoughts.
In recent weeks I have prayed that the Holy Spirit come to me, to show me His will for me.  I think that this morning perhaps my prayers were answered in a special way, and I am so sad.
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I think the lead-up to today’s events began last Monday night in the chapel, when I prayed a special prayer for our country, and new thoughts flooded my heart.  But reflections on that prayer and those subsequent thoughts will be for another day.  Thursday night, yesterday, I had simpler prayers.  I prayed for myself and my needs, but in a special way.
It hadn’t rained in my area of Michigan in about, well now that I think about it, in about 40 days.  June was almost totally dry, as was July.  I watered my garden every other day, yet my tomato plants still looked sickly, a foot or more shorter than normal at this time of year.  So thoughts of rain were in my mind in the chapel as I looked up to the altar and prayed:  “Jesus, I trust in You.  I often say those words, Lord, but I really believe them --- right now --- in my heart.  So many days ‘a chance of rain’ has been in the forecast, but the rains have passed us by.  But tonight, Lord, I trust You will bring us rain.  I shall not worry.  And so I thank You, Lord, for the rain --- and trust my tomato plants will thank you, too.  But, of course, You know that.  Amen.” 
As I walked out of the chapel there were clouds to the West and clouds to the East, and sunshine overhead, but I wasn’t worried.  Then I looked to the South, where there were more clouds --- and over them a beautiful double rainbow.  And again I thanked God for the rain to come, and as I walked the short distance to my car, faint drops began to fall.
It was 8:30P and I thought about driving to the store to get something for dinner; I had gone from a late afternoon meeting directly to the chapel.  But as I drove I passed near the condo of a friend, and remembered some recent sadness she had mentioned, and so I turned into her driveway.  I rang her doorbell and she came outside with me, to witness the faint remains of the rainbow in the sky.  “God is good,” we said together, but He was just beginning this night.
My friend invited me in and we chatted a bit about this and that, and then she asked if I wanted to watch a movie with her, one that she had seen and enjoyed, but wanted to watch again.  And I said yes.  The movie was titled: Spotlight.
Spotlight was/is the name of a small 4-person department within the Boston Globe newspaper.  The department chose stories for in-depth research.  Not strictly reporters of news, they sought out what should be news.  The movie begins, in 2001, with a new editor taking over the Globe, a relatively young Jewish man, with a reputation for head-cutting and turning things around in his prior assignments, a task needed at the Globe, where its readership was declining.
The editor hears of a court case which had papers sealed because of their personal stories of people’s lives, and the editor was intrigued.  “Get our legal people to work on unsealing those papers,” he says.  When informed that the papers were sealed at the request of the Archdiocese of Boston, he says: “So?”  The reporters persist: “You want us to sue the Catholic Church?”  And again he says: “So?”
And thus began the story of one Catholic priest who had molested a number of children twenty years prior.  But then there came to light stories of three more priests, and a man who claimed he knew of 15 priests and the many people they had molested.  Everyone scoffed at this man’s claims, including the reporters.  But dogged research showed, one-by-one, that the accusations were true.  And along the way they discovered a lawyer who, acting as a go-between people who claimed molestation and the Diocese of Boston, was negotiating private settlements outside the court system, with no records available to the public.
The Spotlight reporters wanted to go to press with the story, but the editor wanted to go deeper.  How could this knowingly go on?  Who let it?  Where had the organization failed?  “You want us to go after Cardinal Law?” the fallen-away Catholic reporters asked.  “So?” he replied.
They found a psychologist who said his studies, over the years, showed that approximately 6% of priests had molested children, and 50% of priests were sexually active.  There were 1500 priests in the Diocese of Boston; six percent of 1500 was 90 priests.  Unbelievable!!  But through continued research, Spotlight reporters identified 87 names of possible pedophile priests, and one-by-one found proofs of their sexual abuse of minors, until finally a Church insider caved, and looking at the long list of names, indicated that the reporters were right in their suspicions on each one of them.
It was almost by chance, it seemed, that the reporters were led to look for some “missing” court records, and when they eventually were able to get copies found the missing papers to be letters, from individuals and even a bishop, to Cardinal Law, telling him of the sexual molestation problems and saying he must do something.  But he did nothing, except sometimes requiring priestly reassignments.  This was the smoking gun they had been looking for.
September 11, 2001 and the fall of the Twin Towers in New York happened, and the pedophile story was delayed, but early in 2002 it went to press, on the Feast of the Epiphany.
And the movie showed the Globe’s phones rang off the hook as hundreds of new victims called.
The movie ends showing white words printed on a black screen background.  Cardinal Law resigned.  He was appointed to a prestigious post in Rome.  Then the words said:  “These are the cities where significant numbers of molesting priests were reported.”  And then a screen appeared showing three columns of U.S. cities, and then another screen of cities flashed up, and then another.  And then a screen listing cities from around the world flashed up, and then another, and another.
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I thought the movie Spotlight was well done.  It didn’t overly slobber over the poor kids (now adults) who were molested, nor did it interview or unduly focus on the priests, nor did it focus on the evils done by representatives of the Catholic Church.  It wasn’t unduly slanted; it just reported the facts.
My friend and I talked a bit about the movie.  I mentioned studies I had read which stated that the same pedophilia was going on in schools, and even to a larger degree --- but no one wrote about that.  My friend mentioned she had read of studies that said some Protestant churches had higher rates of pedophilia; I think I read those things too.  Why was the Catholic Church singled out for the major focus?  I guess there can be many reasons assumed, but perhaps it was just a random thing --- that’s where it was first noticed by some curious reporters.
I wondered, aloud, why the story didn’t mention what I had always perceived to be a curious fact:  All the examples of abuse (or at least a huge percentage) were from events of 20 or more years prior, in the 1960’s through the 1980’s.  Most all of the priests involved were much older in 2001; some were dead by then, but what had happened in the 1990’s?  Did those pedophile priests succumb to the lower sexual drives of old age?  Did the Church finally take some effective actions?  Why weren’t there stories of new young pedophile priests preying on kids in the 1990’s?
I commented to my friend how I was aware that Pope Benedict had in his very first year done a major clean-up of the seminaries, and soon after enacted (what I perceive are unfair) new policies that required removal of priests at the first accusation of sexual abuse --- and a number of priests were falsely accused and severely treated by the Church until the accusations were proven false, accusations lured by the large money settlements rumored around the country.
But still, my question hung in the air.  In 2001, why were there no huge outcries of “And yes, it happened to my kid last week or last month?”  What changed, before any reporters or the Church or the police took any actions?  What changed?
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This morning I got up early and drove to Panera’s for the Friday morning men’s Bible Study.  I noted that it had rained overnight; I thanked God for His mercy.  And then out of the dark morning sky the thought came to me, the answer to my question:  What changed?  And I believe the answer is:  We did.  America changed, beginning in the 1960’s, but very noticeably, everywhere, by the 1990’s. 
My thoughts went back to why the Catholic priests were reported on, when school teachers or Protestant ministers were just as bad?  And I recalled the listings of all those cities around the world, and suddenly I got it.  It wasn’t just Catholic priests or teachers or Protestant ministers, it was EVERYWHERE.  All across the world, in countries, in occupations, everywhere, the world had changed.  Pedophiles began acting out everywhere.  The entire world had entered a chapter of deep sin, everywhere.
And then, there in the car, in the early morning darkness, I felt a sadness such as I have never felt before, and I began to cry.  I said I had been praying for the Holy Spirit to come to me.  Was this Him?  Did I now perceive the mind of God?  And even as I now write these words and look at the monstrance on the altar through tears, I ask: “Is this what You feel about the world?”
Thoughts came to me about the 1960’s sexual revolution, and people --- so many, many people --- vowing to “do their own thing.”  Laws, and God, be damned.  Priests and nuns left religious orders by the tens of thousands, and many of those who stayed, apparently, also “did their own thing.”  The world began to change.
What happened in the 1990’s?  I’m guessing that many of the 1960’s revolutionaries got jobs, still did their own thing when outside of work, and got promotions.  By the 1990’s many of those people were now leaders in schools and other institutions.  The teachers, the lawyers, and the judges were now more and more saying:  “You have a right to do your own thing.”  And so pedophilia, homosexuality, and child molestations likely have not gone away, but now those are no longer “bad” things.  Raped kids from the 1960’s came forth as adults who were troubled by what had happened to them, and they accused priests.  But kids today are taught “it’s only sex” from an early age.  Even our president said so.  And recent surveys have shown that elementary school children believe that 30%of people are homosexual. 
The world has changed.
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At mass this morning my soul was opened to see things differently, and I noticed prayers I had routinely mouthed before.  Blessed be God, forever.  Within Thy wounds hide me.  And I never noticed so acutely how often we pray at mass for mercy and peace.  And then at the end, our final prayer was said in tears:
St. Michael, the archangel, defend us in battle
And as I read my morning prayers, the words there seemed to jump out at me:
Lord, in your anger, do not punish me.
                             Psalm 38
My wounds are foul and festering,
the result of my own folly.
I am bowed and brought to my knees,
I go mourning all the day long.
Spent and utterly crushed,
I cry aloud in anguish of heart.
O Lord, you know all my longing:
my groans are not hidden from you.
My heart throbs, my strength is spent;
the very light has gone from my eyes.
My wanton enemies are numberless
And my lying foes are many.
They repay me evil for good
and attack me for seeking what is right.
O Lord, do not forsake me!
My God, do not stay afar off!
Make haste and come to my help,
O Lord, my God, my savior!
Do not abandon us, Lord our God; you did not forget the broken body of your Christ, nor the mockery his love received.  We, your children, are weighed down with sin; give us the fullness of your mercy.
I confess my guilt to you, Lord, do not abandon me, for you are my savior.
My eyes keep watch for your saving help.
through the obedience of Jesus,
your servant and your Son,
you raised a fallen world.
Free us from sin
and bring us the joy that lasts forever.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit
one God, for ever and ever. 


  1. (From Fran)
    In St. Luke's Gospel Jesus warns us as saying, "For nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light."
    I often think of this when someone is corrupt and seemingly getting away with it, or when someone or some group is doing bad things and you suspect it, but don't have proof or facts.

    God sees all things, and Jesus told us, do something, even in the dark, and think no one will ever know, but you will be wrong. You will never get away with it. Everything, EVERYTHING, will come to the light; (including the good done in secret!). It will come out. Maybe not in this life, but most certainly in the next. That's why it's just stupid to do evil and to think no one will ever find out. God already knows. But people don't believe that, and being deceived, they think no one knows.

    God sees all things; He sees the wounds of the people who were molested who never told, He sees their frustrated and furious tears of anger, their discouragement, and their loss of faith and trust in Him; He sees the wounds of priests who told but were rebuffed or punished for it; He sees the wounds of the parishioners who were disturbed by Fr. SoInSo's abnormal behavior, but felt ashamed for being suspicious. And so many others.

    This pedophilia and the scandal it caused the Church and the shame of the Bishops and Cardinals who let it go or covered it up (maybe with good intentions, maybe less out of self interest and more out of charity and prudence) now look like self-serving men who protected the institution above all, like any corrupt official who hides his company's wrongdoing to protect profits and reputations and avoid lawsuits.

    As if this weren't bad enough, the scandal goes deeper. These are priests and bishops and cardinals of the Church - the moral authority of the world and perhaps the last standing moral authority. And they are found to be perverted and corrupt? What could be worse? What a gleeful mockery the devil must be enjoying through this. Are we not going through troubled times?

    It seems God has allowed you to see a little too, now, of His crucifixion; what He knew all along, the cries of those who are wounded, the anger directed at Him for the injustice, and the tragic loss of souls. That is what wounds the most; the loss of souls. The devil dances, and God weeps.

    (cont. next post)

  2. (cont. from last post)

    Sometimes I find myself overwhelmed by life around me, by tragedy, by knowing the sinfulness all around, by the knowledge our society is glorying in it, by even my own inability to do the good I wish, and doing of wrong instead (ala St. Paul). I get discouraged. I think it is all too much, and God must be reeling. But with that I realize I had fallen into thinking of God as just a bigger me --- just a bigger human somewhere. But He is not. He is Other. He relates to me as a human so I can understand Him, but He is not simply human - He is Other. And with that I begin to consider that that God is big enough to handle these things. He is BIG. His Heart is big enough to encompass all of it. His Sacrifice on the cross is big enough to cover all these immense sins - to cover all the sins of mankind in all the ages that ever were and are to come. I get overwhelmed, but He does not.

    The way I see it is God, being good, has allowed this terrible pedophilia in the Church to come to light for the good of the Church. It's like doing an operation to cut out gangrenous tissue; the rotten flesh must be excised to begin healing. It hurts, it stinks, and it is painful. But God loves His Bride. She must be pure. So He allows Her sin to be revealed, so She will be purified.

    We know God is just. He punishes evil, but judges rightly, because He has all the facts. We never have all the facts. He sees. He sees. And He is big enough to handle it, and to heal it.

    I understand the brokenness of your heart, Tom. It is a gift from Him. Too beautiful to express in words. A secret, really, between the two of you.

    Bless His Holy Name.
    God bless you, Tom. ~ Fran

  3. Thank you for continuing to share your thoughts, it is a light in such darkness!

  4. Thank you for your thoughts.

    Yesterday was a most uplifting day for me; God is good; I shall compose something to describe His blessings, but I want mention something a neighbor spoke to me. We drove together for a while in the morning, and I mentioned the above thoughts to him. And he told me his experience.

    His daughter is about 35, a most beautiful woman, and single. He told me of how many of the men she had dated were addicted to pornography, and one she had dated for three years, got engaged, and on a night they were planning their wedding she chanced to look at his phone --- and saw all the messages to women and descriptions of their hookups. "it's only sex" was what she heard in response to her concerns. And she remains single, while her dad tries to find "a nice man" for her and she tells him to butt out: "There aren't any."

    But despite all this, we have hope.