Stop Staring at Light Bulbs

by Fr. Gerard Saguto, FSSP.

We all know how frustrating things can get with the varied degrees of shortcomings displayed by the human element of the Church.

Temptations to question the veracity of the Church may begin to slowly foment in the hearts and minds of those trying to walk the straight and narrow path that leads to eternal life.

Prudentially, while there is some responsibility to keep ourselves reasonably informed about what may or may not be going on, there are limits to this, and especially if we find the news upsetting our inner peace and adversely affecting the performance of the duties of our states in life, one of the four principal means to salvation (something perhaps for a later post).

Keeping a cool head in times of trial and stress is important, and a contributing component to that is to keep an objectivity about things.

After all, staring at a lit light bulb long enough makes everything else around it dark, and we lose needed circumspection – and joy.

In remedy to this, these wise words of Frank Sheed from Christ in Eclipse written in 1978 and one of his last books, and indeed one that is highly recommended to be read, should be taken to heart (all emphases original).

Excerpt from Frank Sheed’s Christ in Eclipse

“In the criticisms uttered by many who do not get around to leaving the Church, there is the same failure to see Christ as the whole point.

“So much in her daily running they find depressing – the sermons, they say, take no one deeper into the reality of God or man; this priest or that cares for nothing but money, the sick neglected, the old rejected; the hierarchy know nothing of the emotional or intellectual problems that are eating away at the vitality of their people’s faith; the Curia is simply a bureaucracy, using every trick to hold on to its power; as for the pope …. It adds up to the ‘Institutional Church,’ with so many wondering if their spiritual integrity will permit them to remain in her.

“I am meeting this wherever I go. I have fallen into the way of reminding the objector that Institutional Israel, the Chosen People, as the Prophets show it, was even worse than the harshest critics think the Catholic Church: yet it never occurred to the holiest of Jews to leave it.

“They knew that however evilly the administration behaved, Israel was still the people of God. So with the Church: an administration is necessary if the Church is to function, but Christ is the whole point of the functioning.

“We are not baptized into the hierarchy, do not receive the cardinals sacramentally, will not spend eternity in the beatific vision of the pope.

“St. John Fisher could say in a public sermon: ‘If the Pope will not reform the Curia, God will.’ A couple of years later he laid his head on Henry VIII’s block for papal supremacy, followed to the same block by Thomas More, who had spent his youth under the Borgia pope, Alexander VI; lived his manhood under the Medici pope, Leo X; and died for papal supremacy under Clement VII, as time-serving a pope as Rome had had.

“Christ is the point. I myself admire the present pope, Paul VI; but even if I criticized him as harshly as some do, even if a successor proved to be as bad as some of those who have gone before, even if I sometimes find the Church as I have to live in her a pain in the neck, I should still say that nothing a pope could do or say would make me wish to leave the Church, though I might well wish that he would.

“Israel, through its best periods as through its worst, preserved the truth of God’s Oneness in a world swarming with gods, and the sense of God’s Majesty in a world sick with its own pride. So with the Church.

“Under the worst administration – say as bad as John XII’s a thousand years ago – we could still learn Christ’s truth, receive His life in the sacraments, be in union with Him to the limit of our willingness. In awareness of Christ, I can know the Church as His Mystical Body. And we must not make our judgments by the neck’s sensitivity to pain!”

November 20, 2020