Is it possible to bring you who read this into the very depths of my heart? Is it possible for you to understand? Will I ever be able to put into words the pain in my heart over the suffering of the Church and of the world? Can I ever show you the wounds in this heart of mine? I feel like saying to you, “Have you ever seen a sorrow like unto my sorrow?” Of course, this is presumptuous—but my sorrow was great, considering the smallness of my heart! Yes, come into my heart, my friends, and enter my sea of pain for the Church, for the Holy Father, for priests, for the spotless bride of Christ, for the world. I have wept for them; now I place them in the hands of the Lord.
What is the final answer to this new barbarism which has entered the world? Once again, as I did in those early days in Toronto, I prostrate myself, Russian style, on various dirty floors. I realize now, as I did then, that the Church needs prayer, for this is the time of the shaking of the foundations of the world.
My nights are once again vigils of God. Vigils are strange things, my friends. They come from God. He wakes you up and you become wide awake. The hour of the night matters not. It was in a recent vigil that I understood that this is the time for prayer. Nothing else will do. Nothing else can stem the barbarism of a secular world busy worshiping itself and not caring about anything or anybody except its own satisfaction and gratification.
Catherine de Hueck Doherty, Fragments of My Life
Reflection – OK, more intensity from the lovely Catherine Doherty. You know, people think that having love and profound loyalty to the Church makes you a mindless drone or a cognitively dissonant yes man, or a simple minded stooge. Somehow, that to love the Church and be intensely loyal to her takes you out of reality and is a fundamentally dishonest stance.
This is why Catherine Doherty is so important (well, one of many reasons). She loved the Church and was deeply loyal to the Pope, obedient to her bishop, respectful of the priesthood. But she never flinched from saying what needed to be said, from challenging what needed to be challenged, and from fully, utterly, and absolutely embracing the real reality of the Church—the corruption, the mediocrity, the foolishness, the wealth, ambition and worldliness, along with the startling holiness and prodigies of faith and charity present at every level of the Church.
All of it is true; all of it is real. To focus on the bad and ignore or minimize the good is wrong. To focus on the good and turn a blind eye to the bad is wrong (and in our day, next to impossible). To let all of it into our hearts, the good and the bad, the terrible evils and the heart-piercing good, the love and beauty and the squalid ugliness—to let this into our hearts will no doubt lead us to spend a few nights prostrated on the dirty floors of the Church and the world, figuratively or literally. That’s why so few do it.
It all comes down to prayer, though. Only prayer can change my heart; only prayer can bring the grace of God down from heaven upon what needs to be transformed. Prayer is at the very heart of love for the Church and passion to reform the Church, or love will die and passion to reform will be twisted into reshaping the Church into our own image.
Pope Francis is a reformer, and so we are called to enter a time of reform in the Church. He is also, I believe, a man of prayer, and a man of great love. So we have a good shepherd at the helm (to mix metaphors) leading us in this path. But we all need to get down on our knees, or flat on our faces, begging God to show each of us the way forwards, and our own personal call to love and serve and preach the Gospel with our lives. Only that level of prayer will liberate us from that terrible secularism which seeks its own pleasure and power at the expense of the good, the true, and the beautiful.
So… let’s get busy and get praying today. It’s the only way.