Viper-bitten and Polarized in Lent

I’m a little behind and late getting this linked, but my column is up at First Things, where I am reflecting on todays readings and how viper-bitten the whole church seems to be, this Lent:

The Church seems always to be challenged during the Lenten season, but this time the attacks are not foreign, as it were, but domestic: Interior factions are attempting to pull the Church toward their own interests, and as Holy Week approaches the Body of Christ seems as openly vulnerable as Leonardo’s Vitruvian Man, with each splayed limb tied to a blindered, huffing beast, all too eager to charge in its own direction.

We have seen this before, or course. Today’s Mass readings seem eerily apt: Led out of Egypt by the stuttering murderer, the imperfect Moses—upon whose faulty shoulders God placed the burden of migration and formation—is laid the dissatisfied, impatient, and unhappy grouse: “Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert, where there is no food or water? We are disgusted with this wretched food!” (Nm. 21:4)

And because they are distrustful, disobedient—disinclined to trust whom God has chosen, or God’s own meandering “plans of fullness” in the midst of seeming chaos—they are bitten by vipers; they become ill. They are struck down.

Our Lenten time in the desert has felt similarly discordant and serpent-struck. Our Christ-loving Pope—I wouldn’t want to be in his place—is beset on all sides; his curia often “helps” him into more difficulties; his faithful priests are besieged and brokenhearted, and the unfaithful ones must still be converted and, like recalcitrant sheep, coaxed back into line. The laity are confused, mostly ill-catechized and grazing farther and farther afield, where they are prey not only to the brazen wolves, but the ones disguised as fluffy lambs, too.

The answer is always for all of us to look at Christ crucified on the Cross, who brings balance and in whom there neither chaos nor confusion can exist. Chaos and confusion are anti-Christ.

You can read it all here.

More on today’s readings; a good piece!

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  • Honey Badger

    *Yawn* I think I need a nap.

    [Honey Badger don't care. Honey Badger just eats snakes -admin]

  • Young Canadian RC Male

    Mrs. Scalia

    Your piece is a great and insightful recap of the sad state the Church is in today, with much polarization happening at the parish level as well as the Catholic Blogosphere. You have covered everyone from the Catholics who are liberal and spreading their liberalcy (more out of ignorance an dbadly created Religion textbooks, but some people like skirting the Truth and being forceful on the passive majority) to the “… Church-militant layman with another fiercely loyal fan base and an “unapproved apostolate” …”

    I admire that you are willing not only to stand and realize that there are not only libs attacking the church but those of us Catholics who have gone too far right and are actually damaging the faith. It’s more today like Liberal vs. Ultra-conservative vs. Church hierarchy, with all three attacking the average pewgoer, but pewgoer cannot be versus as very few know how to ward off attacks or are courageous to stand against the array of foes.

    Thank you for that powerful and true message. Continue to be. like Christ, centered on the beams of the Cross and many blessings to you for bearing it from all sides of this spiritual (and to an extent earthly religious-political) war!

  • Dan

    So “the unfaithful {priests mind you!} must still be converted and, like recalcitrant sheep, coaxed {coaxed!} back into line.”

    One would be hard pressed to find a more feeble understanding of the role of the executive within the Church. Christ however, forthrightly spoke to the issue, and said that those tending the vineyard must “PRUNE” the vine.

    There are thousands and thousands of religious who desperately need to be tossed.

    Just get rid of ‘em.

    No “coaxing,” no pleading, no hand-wringing, just toss ‘em.

  • Deacon Greg Kandra

    Dan …

    “Which of you men, if you had one hundred sheep, and lost one of them, wouldn’t leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one that was lost, until he found it? When he has found it, he carries it on his shoulders, rejoicing. When he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I tell you that even so there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance.”

    Luke 15: 3-7

    Dcn. G.

  • Dan

    My comment about tossing them was narrowly tailored to their being “religious.”

    Get rid of them, for they are indeed nothing but “the blind leading the blind.”

    Just because you’ve tossed them out by the thousands doesn’t mean you’ve cast them from the Church, nor does it mean you’ve denied them access to the Sacraments, nor does it mean you’ve cast them out into the outer darkness, {where sadly many of them already dwell}. Stripping them of their status as religious is not equivalent to excommunication.

    Let them work out their salvation without dragging others into disbelief or error. How much damage are you willing to countenance from them?

    And for what?

    Or have we gone so utterly imbecilic that we can no longer make such a distinction?