The Church would not be in the crisis it is were it not for the forsaking of Christ’s admonishment in Mark 16:17: “These signs will accompany those who believe: in My Name they will drive out demons.”
It’s simple. Jesus was speaking to all His followers.
Has the modern Church followed Him — or the ways of the world? Are we following Him (or practicing Christianity only in theory)?
The issue goes back at least to the French Revolution and the so-called “enlightenment,” when rationalism subsumed mystical theology, philosophy supplanted direct ministry, psychology replaced the confessional; and the Church morphed relentlessly into a clone of the rising secular universities.
True evangelism as practiced by men with names like James and Paul and John — and Peter — fell by the wayside, and in our time is even considered superstitious by Church leaders. This has been devastating.
It bought into the “world” — and the results are all around us to see.
A Church that by and large halted the practice of deliverance, that made exorcism a rarity (unlike Jesus, Who cast out demons right and left, everywhere He strode), that stopped reciting the Prayer to the Archangel Michael, and in many seminaries stopped believing there even is a devil, found itself naked against the enemy. During an invasion that was affecting all walks of life, we became a fortress without walls. The Church was not even able to see (and in many ways still is not) where and how evil was (and is) attacking it.
A Church of dearth, when it comes to deliverance. And a Church of dearth becomes moribund. Peculiar this is, ironic in the worst sense of that word, when one considers that deliverance and laying on of hands figured into a third of Jesus’ miracles.
Or doesn’t the modern Church believe in miracles and the supernatural nature of Christ, either? It is a question for every bishop.
And so we are where we are today: reaping the fruit of more than half a century of neglect and assault. Look no further than the news of the last few days:
That was just one day.
The following day: Priest faces forty-five years for groping youngsters
No one wants to hover over the sludge. And we try not to — while, when we must, reporting the relevant facts. For the truth sets us free. We all must seek balance — knowing that the truths of our Church and the goodness of so many men in it remain. When we become obsessed with darkness, with dirt, the darkness rubs off on us. (If you want to see a brave seminarian, see video below).
Here is a headline example of what the Church should be doing:
And so this is not to attack the Church — that’s what evil did. It is to urge it to shift course on an emergency footing so it isn’t (further) attacked.
Already, there is what at times seems like a “windswept house”; at other times like Nagasaki. Was that fire at Notre Dame Cathedral symbolic: gutting large parts of it but sparing the altar, Blessed Sacrament, and Crown of Thorns?
Yet, even just last week, a few stones fell loose from the roof, which threatens to completely collapse. An excellent metaphor.
The last time the cathedral suffered so much was (if you want ironies) during the French Revolution. The “enlightenment.”
At America’s own flagship church, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, those in charge have long ignored (with what one senses perhaps has been disdain) alleged revelations of “Our Lady of America,” who in messages granted an imprimatur in Ohio implored the shrine to install a statue there dedicated to her under that title, messages of purity, messages for the priesthood — that in so doing would prevent scandal among the clergy and a catastrophe.
The request was never met and from what we could tell in contacting the shrine director many years ago, never seriously considered (because, of course, the request came from a source that seemed “superstitious”). Now we see the very director of that shrine under investigation!
Will the current crisis — severe even by deep historical standards — bring our prelates and clergy to the humility necessary to fend off the Prince of Pride, or will we continue this vertiginous arid path downward?
Naming the devil strips him of much power. So let’s name him: The devil entered the Church and brought into it or influenced priests who committed diabolical acts — thousands upon thousands. The wonder is that despite this truly fantastic onslaught, the Church, albeit smaller, albeit less influential in the “world,” albeit no longer so prone to galas, will prevail; soon no longer as complex; soon no longer as intellectually pretentious (hopefully); soon no longer as worldly and rich; returning to the true simple ministry of Jesus. If it doesn’t, it will face complete meltdown and have to be reconstructed from the basement up. The roof will completely collapse, a la the warning symbols at Notre Dame.
[Footnote: what Scripture tells us what we must do when it comes to evil:
Ephesians 6:10-18: Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Luke 10:19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.
Mark 16:17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons;
John 14:12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.
Luke 9:1 “And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases.”]