Wednesday, July 06, 2011

The Bright Line

Wednesday evening Mass at Our Lady of the Rosary is quiet and contemplative. I celebrate ad orientem and there is time for me to pray and not worry about all the details. This is when I most often have 'an experience'.

This evening, I must admit, I was feeling rather melancholy about the scandals with Fr Corapi and Kit Cunningham and the nastiness of comments on the blogs and the denial and sad soul searching that is going on.

I was also aware of my own frailty. Fr Corapi? Yes, there but for the grace of God go I. It seemed to me that being a priest was really too difficult for anyone to do, and for a moment I doubted the whole thing. What me--changing the bread and wine to the body and blood of Christ? I don't think so. In fact, the whole thing is a wonderfully ornate and Byzantine make believe. Very beautiful and inspiring, but not more than a complex network of wishful thinking.

Yes, but then I looked out at the faithful and I looked at the two boys serving Mass and holy deacon and the simple church we have and the one we want to build and I thought of all the faithful who have been in all the churches and the places in which I have been privileged to worship: Kings College Chapel, Mont St Michel, St Peter's in Rome, St Mary's Brading, St Laurence, Bradford on Avon, Santa Croce, the Holy Sepulchre, St Catherine's, Sinai, St Mark's Venice, and more--the village church in El Salvador, the chapel of the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, Assissi, Ravenna, Florence and the list goes on. How could all of these experiences, all of these moments be a wasted ephemera of my imagination?

Then I saw the pilgrimage path as a bright line of light. When I first entered the line of light it was broad and bright and full and there seemed to be so many walking with me in the path of light. I thought the path of light would get broader and bigger and brighter as I journeyed home and I came to realize that the opposite is true. The bright line is getting narrower and sharper and harder to walk. As I go to the source of light it is becoming narrow as a laser beam and just as brilliant and hard to bear. It is more like walking a tightrope of light, and any moment I may fall off into the darkness.

I thought about this as deacon read the gospel which was the list of apostles and I realized that this was the answer. Only as I walk in the path of the apostles and in the path the apostolic church sets before me do I have any hope. I can't make up the path on my own. Only by prayer and discipline and submission to the way of the church may I hope to make my pilgrim progress.

And in that realization there was peace and a joy knowing that it was never up to me anyway, and that all I can hope to do is walk faithfully as I am able and try to stay in the light.


  1. Dwight!
    Have appreciated your thoughts/comments on the sadness of Fr.Corapi etc - I would appreciate your thoughts, though, on what seems - at least under the surface, to be a new wave, not of anti-clericalism, but actual hatred of the priesthood - and from Catholics! Check out the latest article at The Tablet on the new Missal - it shows a virulent hatred of the priesthood. Fr. George Rutler once wrote that the priesthood will always be hated because a priest reminds the people that once there was a paradise and we lost it - I don't think I am wrong on this one - maybe it's not so prevalent down there in the South - but the devil certainly seems to be "striking the shepherds" - and remember what happens? The sheep scatter.

  2. May the φως be with you. A beautiful meditation.

  3. Thank you for sharing this reflection father. A most heart-felt 'thank you.'

  4. As sad as I feel for those who have been followers of Fr. Corapi, I feel sadder for his brother priests. I can understand why The Owl feels like they are under attack. Every time one of these scandals happens it diminishes the trust that the faithful have in priests in general. If it were only the progressive priests that were involved, people would simply write it off as part and parcel of deficient theology. However, since it's frequently been seemingly orthodox priests, it has had a tendency to lead people to simple distrust priests.

    I think that's truly unfortunate. We have some very fine, humble, dedicated priests out there. We are fortunate in our diocese to have The Owl as one of them. They aren't getting rich, they aren't getting famous, they don't have people flocking to their parishes for a chance to shake their hands. They are simply being faithful shepherds. And, believe it or not, there are still lots of the faithful who know that, and who are still appreciative of all that faithful priests do.

    I honestly believe that the priests who have broken their vows owe an apology, not just to the people they victimized, not just to the faithful, but to their brother priests as well. Because they've made the lives of their brother priests more difficult. An apology won't change that, but it would be nice if they'd at least acknowledge that fact.

    Unfortunately, most of them are so self-centered that an apology to their brother priests is the last thing they'll think of to do.

  5. Thanks so much for sharing this meditation, Fr. I need to remember to remember to pray for you faithful priests who try to walk the bright line. In that light, you are bigger targets, too.

  6. Thank you, Father, for sharing so much of yourself. These are difficult and confusing times , and your honesty is so very refreshing and helpful. Be assured of my prayers!

  7. Praying! And of course St. Therese is praying for you and all your brother priests. You have good allies.