As far as “polarization” goes, I think part of it is due to the fact that, at the end of the day, none of us can (humanly speaking) do anything to change anything. So we turn to talking to each other and from there, arguing with each other. I’m beginning to think that, in my own life, there is nothing for it but prayer and the attempt to be obedient to the Spirit as best I can. Unremarkable insight, I know. But there it is. The prophets’ message, when you break it down, is similarly unremarkable: “He has shown you, O man, what is good and what the Lord requires: Do justice, love mercy, walk humbly before your God.” Leaving the Church is absolutely out of the question. It is Christ’s Church. I reject utterly the idea that I even have the right to leave him over this–as though the sins of other people are somehow vastly more grave than my own or as though they can or should separate me from Christ and the Church which is his body. At the same time, leaving the Church as it is, is out of the question. But I have no power to change anything by firing off letters or writing this blog, at least as far as the hierarchy goes. But I can attempt to obey Christ (I’m bad at this) and I can try to bleat about wrongdoing and try to encourage people about what’s still good.
There is, by the way, still a great deal of good. Remember, remember, how newspapers work. They never tell you what’s good in the world. Doesn’t sell papers. Their task is to announce “Admiral Bangs is Dead!” to a world that never knew Admiral Bangs had been born. And so you hear *only* about Scandal and come to fear that there is only scandal. There isn’t. There is the million year old priest who heard my first confession and set me on a road to healing whom I can never repay. There is the Catherine of Siena Institute. There is Scott Hahn. There are the burgeoning lay movements that are raising up holy laypeople who will parent tomorrows reformers. There is (still) this Pope, whose contributions to the betterment of the human condition and the progress of the gospel are epic. There is Rod Dreher. There is Gerard Serafin. There is Tom Hoopes. Passionate laypeople who, at the end of the day, desire life, joy and prosperity for all the members of Christ, not the destruction of the Church and the triumph of the culture of death. There is my parish and (in the case of many of you) your parish. There is my family, a colossal gift. There are good bishops, not absolutely flawless (who is?) but good, wise, holy, compassionate, and *honest* bishops. There are the kids who went to World Youth Day (including my own) who long for the challenge of a holy life. There is, in the end, unstoppable till the Last Day, the Holy Eucharist which continues to call people. There is the woman who walked up to my priest after months of sitting in the back of the Church and said, “How do I become Catholic?” When he chatted with her to ask what the attraction was, she said, “You know that little thing you give everybody to eat? I want that!” There is the Holy Spirit who says “Very well. You shall have that!”
J.R.R. Tolkien once remarked, “I am a Catholic. I do not expect history to be anything but one long defeat.” But we are not of history, we are merely in it, for the present.
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
or, as Lady Julian or Norwich relates the Lord Jesus told her, “All will be well and all will be well, and all manner of thing will be well.”
Situation desperate, Christ has triumphed. But now we must roll up our sleeves and get back to work.