A Pastor’s Descant
Today the Latin Mass calendar permits an “external solemnity” of the Holy Rosary whose proper feast day will be Friday, October 7. In this parish dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary we like to take advantage of these exceptional opportunities to honor Her in a way such that the whole parish can participate in them.
Speaking of the rosary, sometimes I recollect on the frame of mind that a person of faith must needs maintain in this skeptical age, an age of doubt and secularism. Does it make a difference to keep on praying–praying in general and the rosary in particular–when we find no evidence that our prayers are being heard? Such an attitude, I would say, is a betrayal of the divinely infused virtue of hope, a disloyalty to the omnipotent and good God. We may pray for a time, perhaps even a long time. When we see no visible results we begin to be weary and to waver. Perhaps, we think, we’re just wasting our time. Maybe God doesn’t hear us, or not favorably disposed towards us. We perhaps ought to give up. This cessation of prayer need not necessarily be impudent or disrespectful. It may be that we have decided that our failure to obtain what we ask is an indication of divine disapproval and that therefore we ought to give up, however politely, and with resignation. In fact, however, this is a sin (though not necessarily mortal) against the virtue of hope. Our Lord wills that we pray with a great confidence in His goodness and His compassion. He did not ask us to pray merely for a given season, or with waning fervor, but to persist in knocking until gaining admittance.
We, of Assumption Grotto Church, in this small nook of the Christian universe have been asking Our Lady through the rosary to obtain mercy for our country in view of the horrendous evils which our people continue to perpetrate. That prayer is both a petition to be spared a terrible, though deserved, punishment that would bring great suffering to the people of our country; it is also a means of making atonement, or reparation, for the selfsame evils. In either sense, it makes sense that we should persevere trustingly in the divine providence which has directed the Holy Rosary to gain heaven’s favors. How can it be that God would grant the immense benefits we ask for with our relatively small prayer, I can’t say. I do know that God has done great things in history with paltry means whenever there is much faith, even if but the size of a mustard seed. Could it be that the Almighty would spare our country’s people on account of the prayers of the few in this parish? From the looks of it, the answer would be No: too little expended for too great a gift. Does God weigh prayer in this way? I would say No, though I have no way of explaining the inscrutable ways of the beneficent God.
The essential unwavering confidence in God–a posture so pleasing to Him–came to the fore in a little off-stage discussion with Joseph Pearce last Sunday. (Those of you who missed his talk are irretrievably deprived of a cultural pleasure). After a rather recalcitrant youth, Joseph was deeply converted to the Catholic faith and is now, through the medium of his books and lectures, an apologist for the Church through his commentaries on some of the world’s great literature, particularly that from the English speaking world. In all he has maintained a rock solid trust in what we would call (from the catechism) the “indefectibility” of the Catholic Church (a word which neither my spell check nor many a Christian likes). Brief, it means that the Church will ever survive in this world; it will never be extinguished. This follows from the divine promise that the “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” and that the Lord would be present to His apostolic Church until the end of time. So, no matter how bad things may seem to be in the Church, how the numbers of the faithful may have dwindled, how few the loyal clergy, how puzzling the statements of the pope, the Church of Christ on earth will continue to exist, to perdure until the end of time. And this is manifestly evident in the lives of faithful individuals and families unyielding in the profession of the faith, obstinate in prayer, and who never wince over the ‘treason of the clerics’ or the disaffection of the laity. Their faith has roots too deep to be overturned by the tempests that assail the Church. This faith is like a house built on rock.
I want Grotto people to become Catholic believers of this kind. If they succeed, they will retain serenity amidst the whirlwinds and be able to enter profoundly into the interior of their souls where dwells the Blessed Trinity. Far too many Catholics get caught up in various agitations of the day. They fret and frown over the news reports from Rome; over statistics culled from opinion polls about the beliefs said to be (or not be) held by Catholics; over the menace of governmental overreach which appears to be ever antagonistic to the moral teachings of the Church. Worry is not what has been enjoined by our Savior. “When they persecute you and revile you rejoice and be glad.”
I urge all my parishioners to cultivate a firm trust in divine providence (“Jesus, I trust in Thee”) and thus discover the peace of Christ which surpasses all understanding.
P.S. CCD opens today. Beware! We’re bent on tightening the screws. You had been forewarned by the pastor in a recent sermon.
Categories: Fr. Perrone