Because of my sinfulness and selfishness, I was out of communion with the blessed sacrament for most of my adult life. To anyone who’s never been excommunicated, you cannot imagine the pain and humiliation of being in that state.
Being a coward, I avoided mass. I was too embarrassed. Week after week, my neighbors would see me not going to communion. I’d have to get up and let the communicants through, then kneel back down, often alone. Alone to recall the many sins I could not confess. Alone to wonder if I’d ever return to a state of grace. Alone to wonder if I’d ever again taste the body and blood of Christ.
Please don’t let the latest church scandal come between you and Christ in the sacraments.
Anger over the continuing revelations of massive criminal perversion, rape, pederasty, and cover-up in the Catholic church is understandable and appropriate. Many bishops and priests need to be incarcerated. Many, many more need to be defrocked, at a minimum, for covering up abuses.
But to leave the church because of these criminals is a terrible option. Don’t do it.
As a Catholic, you believe that God created you out of love, and you have sinned against him. God sent his son, Jesus, to die for us and to save us from the fires of hell through his resurrection. While on earth, Jesus created a Church to shepherd his kingdom on earth. He commissioned a dozen men to nurture that church by spreading the news of His life, death, resurrection, and kingdom to every corner of the earth. He entrusted the keys to that Church to one man, Peter. And He gave those first bishops the power to bind and loose on earth and in heaven in His name.
You know that those original apostles instituted a plan of succession to make Jesus’ Church perpetual. (Jesus promised that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Matthew 16:15-16)). And that His church exists to this day as one holy, catholic, and apostolic church.
You remember that Jesus hand-picked a “devil” who betrayed Him. The men of the Church, then, were never perfect because all men are broken.
You also believe that Christ directed us to be baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, to eat His body and drink his blood, to avail ourselves of confession for the remission of sins, and to be anointed by the Holy Spirit. You believe that the church alone can confer these sacraments to help you imitate Christ and obtain His promise.
You recite by memory these beliefs when you say The Apostles’ Creed or the Nicene Creed. And you know that the authority and the power to consecrate bread and wine so that it becomes the true body and blood of Christ is handed down only through apostolic succession within His Church.
Why, then, would anyone leave the church over the latest scandal? I could see leaving the Church upon learning that Jesus was such a poor judge of character that he picked Judas as a disciple. I could see leaving the church, as many did (John 6:66), after Jesus told his followers that they’d live forever if they ate his flesh and drink his blood (John 6:47-59). I mean, that’s crazy talk, right? Unless, of course, Jesus is God.
Well, leaving the church, whether because of the sex scandal, because of Judas’s betrayal, or because of the craziness of eating another human, means you don’t believe something Jesus said, right? Or you don’t want to go to heaven. One of the two. There’s no other answer.
If you believe that Christ spoke the truth, you can’t leave the Church Christ founded. The Catholic Church is the only dispensary of the sacraments.
I pray that you do not excommunicate yourself over a scandal among the clerics in the Church. Instead, I pray that you accept the Holy Father’s invitation to pray and fast for the Church. Here’s what I’m doing as obedience to the pope:
- Fast with one meal a day
- Continue my daily prayers
- Add one Chaplet of Divine Mercy for my failings and those of the whole world
- Add one Chaplet of St. Michael for the archangel’s protection for the church and for my soul
Even if you have one foot out the door of the Church, please pray and fast just one day. Ask for discernment and guidance from the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, the Blessed Mother, Pope St. John Paul II, and all the angels and saints.
What do you have to lose?