On the Darkest Night

On the Darkest Night December 21, 2018

It’s the darkest night of the year.

We made it. The light starts coming back from here on, at least astronomically speaking. It’ll get a little sunnier, day by day. I’m not having a party, I never have parties, but come in anyway. Sit under the SAD lamp and have a drink with me.

It’s been a very dark year.

I don’t honestly know that next year won’t be darker. It shows signs of being pretty dark for a long time yet, but I don’t like to speculate. I’d rather just pray to God for mercy.

That “pray to God for mercy” part is tricky too, this year. I haven’t been to my Eastern Catholic church since Forgiveness Sunday, and I’m stuck going to local Latin parishes and pretending I could ever hope to fit in (I can’t).  It’s been Lent for ten months for me, and there’s no sign of it letting up now. And many of my friends are in far worse straits than I am. This has been a hideous year to be a Catholic. We have witnessed failure after inexcusable failure on behalf of the people we ought to have been able to trust the most. A lot of dear friends of mine who were practicing Catholics last year just can’t believe at all now, and I don’t blame them.

For those who still believe, I see pain, and very little else.

I see friends from Pennsylvania who are too horrified and traumatized to even show up at Mass due to the abuse scandal, praying at home and wishing they dared walk into a church again. I see friends from somewhere else, complaining about how awkward it is to go to Mass when certain of the church ladies in that parish have  tried to get them in trouble with the pastor, because they (the church ladies) didn’t like that they (the family) had the “wrong” politics. I see friends leaving parishes because of cruelty and snobbery and driving far out of their way to try to find a place they can worship without being hurt again. I see Catholic men and women who have been abused in ways so painful I can’t begin to imagine what they’re suffering, speaking out about what happened, and self-professed devout Catholics slapping them down mercilessly and rejoicing in their suffering. I see people all over this country and in other parts of this world who are fed up with the Church and they feel that the Church is dying. I see bruised reeds, smoldering wicks, scattered sheep, all of us sifted like meal.

And as devastated as I am about all this, I see cause for hope.

Do you know what this means?

It means I’m not alone.

We are not alone.

If you can see nothing but pain in your faith right now– there are lots of people just like you. I am one of them.

But we are still here.

Maybe we can’t all be physically present under the same SAD lamp at the same dismal Yuletide party. I wish we could. But we are not alone. And where two or three of us are together, if only in spirit, Christ is still among us, suffering with us, bearing our wounds, holding us up to the Father’s love and proclaiming “this is My Body. These are the people that I, the Lord have chosen to be My own.”

We, all of us, are still the Body of Christ. All the faithful are the Body of Christ, not just the hierarchy, not just Catholic celebrities, not just the ones who look like they have their act together. Some members of the Body of Christ have the vocation to be leaders, priests and bishops and such– and many of those all the way to the top have gravely betrayed that vocation in ways that make me sick. But they are not the only members of the Body of Christ. Some Catholics have the privilege to be Catholic celebrity talking heads that the people look to for instruction– and plenty of those are in grave error. Some Catholics are teachers, and some of those teachers ought to be banned from ever teaching again. Some are prophets, some work miracles, some have gifts of healing, helping, tongues and interpretation; some are stay-at-home moms, some are immigration attorneys, some emergency room nurses, some actors, some professors, some administrative assistants, the first of sinners are bloggers like me. But we are all the Body of Christ.

If so many members of the Body of Christ are still here, suffering, traumatized, feeling like they they’ve been forced out and as if the whole thing is dead, but holding on as best they can even when their fingers and arms are broken, trying to find Christ in the pitch dark and chaos, crying out to Christ in anger and frustration– that is a sign of great hope for me. It’s a sign that Christ is still living in us. And, therefore, even though we die, we have hope of Resurrection.

Christ is among us.

O come, let us adore Him.

The light is coming back.

(image via Pixabay) 

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