ST. JOSEMARIA would always say we are called to be saints, contemplatives even, in the middle of the world, to seek sanctity in the very place we are in right now, at home, at the workplace, at the school, or even at the hospital as a patient or as the one caring for the sick.
At times, however, (or should I say that is often the case), the “world” would be very hostile, as it did reject Christ, and as His followers, we can expect no less.
In this world that is growing steadily to be a militant secularist and anti-religious environment, we are faced with a number of choices—to shirk from the challenges to stand up for the Faith so as to avoid “confrontation,” or to “dialogue” and compromise so as to make our Faith still relevant to the present, or to be firm and be labeled as “fanatic,” “closed-minded,” “antiquated.”
I remember even one saying and writing that although there are official Church teachings, one can read, understand, and interpret them in a “liberal” or “conservative” manner. I imagine some to be “moderates” in their interpretation of the Church. I never thought there are groupings within the Church. There is only one Church embracing many charisms therein. One Body of Christ with different parts but never diverging teachings, one undermining the other.
We in the Philippines have been spared, at least from the time being, from the engulfing flames of scandal and intrigue plaguing the Church in Europe and America right now. With most of us so engrossed with the upcoming national elections and other domestic issues, we have been insulated from these ugly talks right now.
Most certainly, in the entire history of the Church, we have seen the many sinners and saints within her bosom. She remains holy not because of her members but because of her Head who is Christ. There were several instances when the Church was at the verge of collapse but she never did because Christ sustains her.
Indeed, there were and there are many abuses in the Church, but it does not “stain” her. The Church was already “stained” by the Blood of Christ and the blood of martyrs, and that makes her holy and perfected.
What cover-up is to the secular media is the prudent judgment of the Church on her members. She does not pass judgment and imposes penalty in a public manner. She does so silently, as a good mother does to her erring children.
What I find unacceptable is what some secular media abroad are doing, forcefully linking the person of the Holy Father to these scandals, claiming his inaction and cover-up during his time as Archbishop of Munich (Germany).
Then immediately in this one very famous international cable channel, repeated newscast or documentary on so-called Church abuses. The same documentary over and over again, and suddenly, an interview with a supposed philosopher but admitted atheist asserting that we should do away with religion in finding our moral compass. Such assertions I often see in the blogs and commentaries of some of our countrymen, to do away with “organized religion,” what counts is one’s personal belief in God, they opined.
I do not blame them, probably we in the Church are also at fault. But the Church is more than her members. The mistakes of her members and leaders ideally should not affect the Church, but we live in the middle of the world. And in this world, whether we like it or not, human imperfections turn off and scandalize many.
But whenever there are crises in the Church, it is when the Lord raises up many saints among the Church’s leaders and members. For indeed, as St. Paul rightly asserts, where sin has abounded, grace has abounded all the more. Christ will never abandon His Church. She was founded upon the Rock who is Peter, human like us, a sinner like us, but a saint in the end. Like St. Peter, we live and struggle and will be victorious in the middle of this world.
This will be the first time that I consign this into writing. A grave sinner I was and a grave sinner I am. I remember in February of 1997, when the Philippine Bishops had their ad limina with the Holy Father, then the Servant of God, the Great John Paul II. I was able to accompany my Bishop since I was a seminarian then in Rome. When it was our turn to greet the Holy Father, I had the opportunity to speak to him a little. I then said, Holy Father I am a poor and sinful seminarian, but I offer my life for Your Holiness and for the Holy Mother Church. He then briefly gazed at me and blessed me.
I hope, in our hearts and in our prayers, you would join me in that filial love towards the Holy Father, Sinful and miserable that I am, Holy Father, I renew my offering of my life for Your Holiness and for the Holy Mother Church.