Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Counting My Blessings

I'll be honest. I've been trying to put together a post concerning Cardinal Mahoney, the recent settlement of the abuse cases in his diocese, and the thorny question of what should happen now. Should the Pope demand Mahoney's removal? Should lay Catholics, especially those in the L.A. Archdiocese, agitate for Mahoney to resign? Are there provisions in either civil or church law that would allow some just punishment in this situation, provided it can be clearly proved that Cardinal Mahoney was complicit in protecting or hiding abusers?

But colliding with these chaotic thoughts has been another sort of thought altogether, and it is this: I don't, nearly often enough, stop and think about how grateful I am to God for so many different things in my life.

I'm glad I have a dear good Catholic husband, and sweet, helpful, almost frighteningly competent children. I'm glad that my husband supports our family's desire to live in a more traditional way, with him as the sole breadwinner, and me as the stay-at-home mom.

I'm glad we're all in reasonably good health, and that the minor nagging cold that's been going around is the only thing that's bothered any of us lately.

I'm glad that God called my own mother to homeschool, opening the door for me to embark one day on the same educational journey with my children. I'm glad I live in one of the homeschool-friendliest states in the nation and that I've gotten to know other homeschooling mamas, both in person and online: what a blessing you all are to me, in so many ways, on so many occasions!

I'm glad for the many opportunities I've had so far in my life (and continue to have). I'm grateful to God for challenging me, for giving me new ways to grow and learn, and for showing me the areas where I need to improve.

I'm glad to be a Catholic in America, where going to Mass on Sunday doesn't mean taking my life into my hands (provided I don't choke to death on a Marty Haugen song). Seriously, though, isn't it a wonderful luxury to be able to complain about the music and the aesthetics and those ubiquitous flapping banners, instead of having to dodge bullets and hide all evidence of our faith, as so many of our Catholic brothers and sisters around the world have to do?

I'm glad that God has sent us a new orthodox bishop, too, who is already making great strides in restoring a dispirited Church in this diocese. Though I'm deeply sad about the Scandal, and though I don't think even now the steps the Church bureaucrats are taking to resolve things are all that effective, I'm still glad that things are coming out in the open, and that the atmosphere of secrecy that shrouded these shameful crimes to the detriment of the victims is finally beginning to dissipate into the clear air. I have no illusions about how long it will take or how vigilant we'll have to be to make sure that things really do change; but even a small beginning is a beginning.

I'm glad that I don't personally know anyone who was abused by a priest, and that I've also never personally known a priest who was an abuser. I don't want to be misunderstood here: if I met, today, a former victim of abuse I would be deeply sorrowful and sympathetic. But I've watched and read enough coverage of the Scandal to realize how many people's faith was completely destroyed because a family member or close friend was a victim, or because the priest who baptized their children or who used to visit their second-grade classes turned out to be a molester. Would I have been strong enough to handle it, if a family member of mine were standing in front of those media representatives, discussing so horrible a violation by someone whom they trusted and even loved? Would I have reacted calmly if a priest who was a family friend was arrested for abusing children, and admitted to the crime? I can't help but be a little grateful that I wasn't put to that particular test.

And I'm glad that I'm not someone who is seeing all his ambitions and dreams come crashing down around him as he hears the baying of the hounds at his heels. Like a wolf himself, he abandoned his flock to the predations of other wolves, caring more for his own position and the facade he was building around himself, every bit as ugly as the facade of this building, than he did about the safety of the sheep in his care; someone who made the mistake of identifying the integrity of the Church with his own safety, not seeing that such a misidentification would inevitably lead to the destruction of both. And now, as the frenzied pack smells blood (or at least blood money) they increase their outcries, and he sees a future as bleak as this stretching out before him, instead of the comfortable and secure position of authority and honor he thought was his forever. Whether or not he ever faces punishment, he is facing disgrace; whether he is removed now, or in a few years when he reaches mandatory retirement age, he is forever tainted by the stench of corruption that permeates what has been done in his name: caring more for reputation than honor he has lost both, and in the absence of a true repentance and humility before Almighty God he will lose the most precious thing he has.

I'm glad I'm not Roger, Cardinal Mahoney.


Opal said...

I have wondered too if my faith were strong enough to stand these trying times. It is like being on a raft in the middle of rapids and you want to get off and throw up but you can't.
I hope the next bishop of LA destroys the cathedral or makes it into a school or something other than a Church.
Just like Cardinal Law,who was originally from our diocese, his days are numbered in my opinion.

Although we have not gone through what the poor victims have, we have just gone through a tough time with our Bishop who abosolutely refuses to confirm our children earlier than what the diocese has mandated (11th/12th grades). We are praying for our Bishop and priests. AND moving (we found out Tyler Texas is the place to be!!! God Bless that Bishop for going against the tide)

Opal said...

I forgot to add one thought...

What ever happened to public pennance or at least stated penance? In the CCC, it clearly states that if I seriously culimate someone in writing or speech that I have to go back and UNDO that in the same manner; write a public apology.
With these that coroporated with the abusers, not only would it be fitting that they retire to some sort of secluded place, maybe be could offer a private mass daily for the victims, crawling on his hands and knees to the altar and crawling back when he is finished? Maybe that is too extreme, maybe not.

4andcounting said...

Tyler, TX is a good place to be. That is my home diocese and while I don't live there now, I am grateful for the time I lived there. My brother is a seminarian from that diocese and speaks highly of the Bishop. I hope your move is fruitful.
Red Cardigan--I think both Dallas and Fort Worth are in for some exciting and much needed changes. God has surely blessed our area with this new leadership.

Willa said...

"someone who made the mistake of identifying the integrity of the Church with his own safety, not seeing that such a misidentification would inevitably lead to the destruction of both."

So true. The thought literally gives me a chill (and I live in the same sunny state as Cardinal Mahoney does!). I pray God preserves me and those I love from such a fate.