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Let us hear, intensely, the words of this priest named Father Anthony Bus, author and pastor of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church in Chicago. Let us listen because his story portrays the spiritual battle in the Church in a nutshell.
A nutshell and a bombshell: It is an important story because it touches on the issues that have caused crisis in the Church and an important account because it touches us all spiritually.
He was born on Holy Saturday in Cristobal, Panama, was Father Bus, the son of a career man in the U.S. Air Force, and like so many of his era, he was alienated by religion. From the time he was ten until age 13 he had possessed a burning desire to be a priest, but that had waned, as with so many of that era.
“The Catholic Church was in the throes of the so-called reforms of the Second Vatican Council,” he recounts. “Every beautiful thing I associated with the Church was seemingly discarded as pointless or meaningless to the practice of religious faith in the modern world.
“At the same time that statues, rosaries, and vigil lights were tossed into the garbage, priests and religious were in exodus. They divested themselves of the symbols and signs of their consecration and were being dispensed from their vows. Having only seen the Church through the eyes of a child, my adolescent mind could not comprehend what seemed to be a ‘desecratory spirit run rampant. I felt deceived. I felt I had been seduced by the fiction of Catholicism and needed now to move on. I ceased the practice of the faith.”
Strong words, but how many others went through this? How many left the pews as the mystery disappeared and a non-spiritual intellectualism now stood at the pulpit?
For five years Father Bus — this young man who once had a calling! — did not attend Mass, and after high school, like so many from the Sixties, he headed toward a spiritual abyss.
But during college he reinvestigated Catholicism — decided to take one more look at it — and through the Eucharist, through the Mass readings, through the simple feeling of grace, Jesus drew him back. The call of his vocation was rekindled and he was ordained in 1984.
Unlike so many others, Father Bus made it to the sacristy. But there was still a huge hurdle in the way of demonic attack and aridity.
For years, as a priest, Father Bus prayed the Rosary only with difficulty. “Just lifting the rosary into my hands was a burden,” he recalls, and this troubled him since he had always been devoted to the Blessed Mother. But on the 15th anniversary of his ordination, an anniversary card arrived from a Missionary of Charity nun named Maria Guadalupe, and it quoted Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
“Holiness is nothing special for a priest,” it said. “It is a duty for a priest to be holy because he comes in such close contact with Jesus. Be a true lover of the Cross of Jesus in which lies the mystery of your priesthood.”
Bingo. That hit home. The aridity was to lift. Sister Guadalupe added a note that said, “Mary has a very tender love, a special protection also, for every priest, if he would only turn to her.”
And that, in 1999, Father Bus did.
Deeply touched by the card, the priest took his rosary from his pocket and now found it was light as a feather. “From that day the rosary became anew, the chain that bound me to God,” he writes — in a splendid page-turner called A Mother’s Plea. “And I began praying the Mysteries daily.”
Soon, the Chicago priest had done the total consecration of his life to Jesus through Mary according to the direction of St. Louis Marie de Montfort, and it was during the 33-day preparation for the consecration that interiorly he heard Our Lady, in a “distinct” voice, say, “Give me the parish. Make me Mother and Queen of the parish.”
Right there Father Bus consecrated the parish to the Blessed Mother and three days later, this impoverished parish, in need of repair, including $400,000 for a roof, received an archdiocesan grant for $850,000.
It was only the beginning. There would be more miracles. There would be spiritual warfare. All this he writes about in his intriguing book, which bears an imprimatur. Miracles? “One day while exercising, the rosary seemed to press against my chest in a way that irritated me,” he writes. “I was doing nothing to force its weight against my chest. Finally, the rosary broke and fell to the floor. When I stopped to pick it up, I noticed immediately that the chains had visibly turned gold, a definite change from their previous bright silver.”
Even before his reawakening, Father Bus had experienced demonic attack.
“Soon after I began my assignment in the parish of St. Stanislaus Kostka, Jesus made me understand the nature of the battle on which I would embark when three similar experiences took place in the course of one week,” writes the priest.
“One night I had no sooner gone to sleep when I was awakened and realized my body was in a state of paralysis. I could neither move nor audibly speak. My eyes, though, were open. I felt a horrific evil presence moving about my room. I was facing the wall, so I could see nothing behind me. A fear enveloped my whole being as I felt the destructive power of this evil presence. I imagined that I would be strangled or that my body would be subjected to assault by a weapon of some sort. The closer it came towards me the more intense the evil became. I wanted to jump from the bed, but the paralysis prevented me from doing anything.”
In his mind, Father Bus “heard” Jesus tell him not to fear and felt a “shield” come over him as the evil presence moved in the room. The experience repeated itself other nights. On the third, “the enemy came so close that I felt his breath roll down the back of my neck. Each night the adversary seemed to leave as it came. It was just there, and moments later it was gone. The shield that protected me also seemed to just go away, and as it did, so did the paralysis.”
We see in this the spiritual attack that priests endure, and why so many have been led astray. They need our prayers and old-school devotion, such a Divine Mercy and the consecration to Mary. With such tools, they are protected, as are we all.
“The Lord showed me that no matter how violent the enemy’s attacks may be, God’s shield of protection would keep me out of harm’s way,” says Father Bus. “Even so, I would have to learn to wrestle with the demons without compromising the Will of God. To encounter God is to awaken Satan. We are living in his domain. Jesus calls him the prince of this world.”
And the “prince” uses every available means, notes Father Bus, to “discourage, distort, and destroy” a priestly mission.
That task is made all the easier by a lack of seminary instruction.
“The devil and his adversaries, with the ensuing battle waged against God and His disciples, were lightly treated in the formative years of my preparation for the priesthood,” notes Father Bus. “If the topic would surface from time to time, it seemed a cause for embarrassment as some sort of barnacle of an outdated theology or demonology still clinging to the hull of the Church.”
But there was the Virgin and there was the Eucharist. They gave insight the seminary did not. Next, we will look at what this enlightened priest says about the Church. We will see how his own mission progressed. But for now, take it from the good father: That protective “shield” against evil comes especially through Mass.
“Even in silence when the Voice is not heard, He speaks,” the Chicago cleric reassures us. “Lying prostrate before the Holy Eucharist, I am in the company of the High Priest, the Supreme Prophet, the King of Kings, the Hero Warrior. I hunger and thirst for Him that I become the Flesh that I eat and the Blood that I drink.”
A fine sermon this is!
With the Eucharist the breath of evil can not reach us.
Priest Sees Crisis In Church As Result Of Pride And A Lack Of Holiness, Devotions
When we left off we were telling the story of Father Anthony Bus, a now-devout priest who nearly missed his vocation. He had been “called” to the priesthood back when he was a boy of ten, but he’d lost that calling (temporarily, thanks to God) in the wake of Vatican II. Returning to the Church, and becoming a priest, he was to find a spiritual component to Catholicism — and a set of wonders — that he had not heard about in the seminary.
As Father Bus describes in an engaging book, he encountered spiritual attack. He encountered miracles. He felt called to construct a multi-million-dollar Adoration chapel with the theme of Divine Mercy at the church he now pastors, St. Stanislaus Kostka in Chicago. Wonderment after wonderment has followed.
So have trials. This is a priest’s story, and it opens a window to problems in the Church, as well as solutions. The key dilemma, it would seem, is that seminaries have cranked out intellectual products but in too many cases not spiritual ones. “I believe that the only solution to the Church’s infirmity is holiness in life,” writes Father Bus in A Mother’s Plea. “Many of her members have so saturated themselves in the illusions of the world that the Church, too, has become afflicted with its very disease.”
The reason? It gets back to the oldest of temptations. Behind many of the Church disturbances, says Father Bus, is pride. There is “egocentricity” among the consecrated. “Too often, hidden beneath the guise of sheep, are wolves that, perhaps unknown to themselves, devour the sheep,” he says. “Pride, pomposity, sloth, egocentricity, and arrogance do more harm to the mission of the Church than those in the world who profess to be unbelievers or with honesty show their disdain for the Christ.”
The lack of training and spiritual depth have led to another problem, refusal to discuss the devil, which has allowed him to run rampant, including through those seminaries. Satan is not mentioned much from the modern pulpit even though Scripture calls him “prince of this world.” And then there is that issue of holiness. It has been shunted aside, as if an embarrassment.
Parishes are now oriented around programs instead of prayer, points out this priest (whose book bears an imprimatur). “Priests are so pressured into sustaining and participating in a multiplicity of programs, meetings, services, committees, and councils that the sacraments and prayer run the risk of being relegated to an afterthought,” he warns.
Those programs are man-made. What the Church needs is what God has designed. Father Bus found freedom when he allowed himself to be formed “in the spirituality of the Blessed Virgin Mary.”
That freedom included a liberation from the shifting psychologies, spiritualities, ecclesiology, and even moralities that whipsaw too many clerics who seek approval of the world.
Father Bus quotes Pope Paul VI: “The tail of the devil is functioning in the disintegration of the Catholic world. The darkness of Satan has entered and spread throughout the Catholic Church even to its summit. Apostasy, the loss of faith, is spreading throughout the world and into the highest levels within the Church.”
“Perhaps, unconsciously, we’ve shrouded the sacred in an impenetrable veil through secularism or sheer laziness, or worse still, we’ve consciously desecrated the sacred,” complains the priest, “gouging the eyes from the Holy Face of God that we not be exposed to Him to Whom we must render account.”
Remarking on the sex-abuse scandal, Father Bus makes a surprising observation: those who tried to sugar-coat it by overly focusing on the good priests may have caused the good priests more harm than good. “On the one hand, aside from the horrific wound inflicted on the victims, certain members of the presbyterate had grossly and sinfully violated the integrity of priestly celibacy and chastity and abused power,” he states. “On the other hand, through the campaign to assure the public that priests were good men in spite of the failings of some in the presbyterate, faithful priests of good character were being coddled and pampered as if their recourse to the Christ would not, or could not, give them the backbone to bear with the suffering and persecution they needed to endure.”
But he has taken the route of holiness — as have so many heroic priests — and as a result of devotions, he has seen many miracles.
This is the remedy! When he needed $400,000 for a roof, a sudden grant for twice that came.
When he needed $50,000 for an architectural plan, he prayed for it during a holy hour that started at 3 p.m. and at four came the call that a patron was donating $75,000 a year for the next three years.
The chapel is designed to have an icon of Mary and an icon of Divine Mercy, set as pillars at the entrance, recalling a vision of St. John Bosco. As Father Bus knows, Adoration solves problems that Church councils can not. Why Adoration?
“In the Holy Eucharist, there is a truth that does not deceive,” says this priest. “Satan may seduce us, friends may betray us, parents may abandon us, and priests may disappoint us,” but Christ does not, writes Father Bus.
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