Yesterday we went to Church, faithfully (albeit with heartache, since the scandals have hit the news). On our way home, we made a quick stop at Rite Aid. As we drove out of the parking lot, there was an older man with a prosthetic leg, trying to get his wheelchair in the car. “Wait,” I told Tim. “Back up.” We asked the man if he needed help. His face lit up with a smile as wide as a canyon. “Oh, no thank you. I’m fine.” He said. “But I really appreciate you asking.” Even my daughter commented on the size of his smile and how it warmed her heart.
We drove off, turning on to Main Street just behind a dark gray car. Within a short minute, the car turned left…. Immediately smashing into a tan vehicle coming the other way! The tan car was airborne and sailed swiftly by to our van, over a guard rail, halting like thunder into a large tree, then landing sideways on a bank.
My husband instantly pulled the van to the side of the road. “Wait with the kids.” He said, running across the street. He jumped the guard rail and went down the bank to the car. An onlooker called 911. The kids and I sat in the van praying out loud, together. We prayed with racing hearts, shaking hands, and teary eyes for the drivers and for Tim.
The driver-side door of the airborne vehicle was mangled shut, and the woman inside was not saying anything. Tim pulled on the metal door with the strength of an ox, and eventually got it opened. He ministered kindly to the woman who was alive but definitely hurt and badly shook. The kids and I continued to pray.
Police officers, an ambulance, rescue trucks, and a tow truck arrived on the scene and took over, getting the woman out of the vehicle to the hospital. Tim stayed with the rescue crew assisting.
“Thank goodness Dad was there,” my daughter said.
“If we wouldn’t have backed up at Rite Aid, he wouldn’t have been,” my other daughter said.
It was true. And it got me thinking. Every second of the evening seemed to have been divinely orchestrated, which gave me hope.
I’ve had such a heavy heart lately with the news of the horrific abuses that have taken place in the Church. The awful, disgusting crimes against innocent kids, that have been committed and covered up by those in authority. I love this Church so intensely it feels like a betrayal. Like I’ve been cheated on.
As a journalist, this sexual abuse problem is something I’ve been covering for more than a decade (and wrote about extensively in a book published last year) but the foreknowledge doesn’t make it any easier to hear now, especially when it’s local.
The heartbreak is only worsened by the “talk.” People chiming in, ready to throw down the gauntlet, cruelly and unfairly on the entire faith, and all Catholics near and far. Terms like “you people” and “that religion” are being tossed about like dark suffocating confetti. People without a theological bone in their body are ready to weigh in as experts against canon law, the catechism, scripture, and a thousand years of tradition.
I’ve been asking the Lord in prayer what we are supposed to do. So many people are now looking at the Church only through newscasts and criminals. How will they ever see the real beauty behind the filth? Today, as I was pondering the last 24 hours, He answered me. WE are the Church. WE are the Body of Christ. If we want people to see Him, they need to see him in US. The priests involved in those abuses have failed in their ministry. That doesn’t mean we have to fail in ours. “In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God.” (2 Cor. 6:4)
Last night, Tim and I left the table of the Lord with our kids, filled with His presence and His grace. We set out into our regular, average life and we were immediately led to God’s people in need. And isn’t that the meaning of the final blessing? “Go forth and announce the gospel with your lives.”
Some of us are called to go forth physically into situations like my husband did. Some of us are called to sit back in prayer like the kids and I did. But we are all called to minister to the people of God, with the Spirit of God… in the moments that He ordains precisely for the good of all.
We are called to LIVE the gospel, closely by His side. THIS is how the Church will shine again… through the people who persevere. If the woman in that car last night hated the Catholic Church for any reason, I guarantee you she didn’t hate the Catholic who was ministering to her in her time of need. If the man with a prosthetic leg hated the Church his smile showed he didn’t hate the van full of Catholics offering to help him.
Friends, the Catholic Church is entering its purification. Few realize that this is the fulfillment of a great prophesy and it absolutely must take place… as painful as it is for us who love the Church to watch. Evil has entered the Church because it seeks its demise… and God will not sit back and allow it to continue. So, it is being exposed, condemned, and expelled.
Those who are away from the Church and those who live in ignorance to its truth and beauty will seek its destruction too. They will use these atrocities to try to dismantle it, change it, condemn it… as well as condemn us. But with the mantra of our God, “Father forgive them they know not what they do” (Lk 23:34) we will press on… as true Catholics. We will come to His table and continue the traditions He started 2,000 years ago. We will be His hands and feet and we will minister to His people in our towns and families.
We will be tempted now to hide… but you don’t hide a light under a bushel basket, and we are children of the Light. (1 Thes. 5:5) We have a duty and an obligation to shine, especially now when darkness encroaches.
I will not defend the crimes that have been committed because they are indefensible, but I will defend the Catholic faith to my death, hopefully with my life, should God continue to provide the grace. I will not leave it, and I will support and defend good, holy priests who are struggling now even more than we laity are.