Saturday, August 17, 2019

Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai, saying, ‘Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.’ Jonah, however, got up and fled to Tarshish, away from the presence of the LORD. He went down to Joppa and found a ship bound for Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went aboard to sail for Tarshish, away from the presence of the LORD.” —Book of Jonah, 1:1-3. Jonah at the very outset refuses the call of the Lord to go to Nineveh and proclaim that its evil and sinfulness will lead to its destruction. He flees from the presence of the Lord

“I have asked nothing else of you but that you adore Me and linger in My presence… You have not yet understood that by coming to adore Me, you open yourself to miracles of grace and to a mighty development of My power in your infirmity… Come to Me, and I will make possible the very things that, in your shortsightedness, you deem impossible… There is a very real sense in which the prayer of adoration is a loss of one’s life. It is a kind of falling into the ground to die. Remember this when you adore Me. Look at the Sacred Host and see Me, who am the grain of wheat fallen into the ground and risen to life, and become the food of a vast multitude of souls, and this until the end of time.”from the book In Sinu Jesu: When Heart Speaks to Heart, The Journal of a Priest at Prayer (2016), by an anonymous Benedictine monk, p. 259, which has become a Catholic publishing phenomenon with virtually no advertising, only word of mouth. Archbishop Vigano has been reading the book during the year since he published his “Testimony” in August, 2018. In the book, the anonymous author presents passages like the one above as the words of Jesus, heard in his heart during prayer. The monk here is asked to be fully in the presence of the Lord in the prayer of adoration before the Eucharist, unlike Jonah, who flees from the presence of the Lord…

The Nineveh Code

“What I appreciate about this book,” Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano said to me a few days ago, referring to the book In Sinu Jesu: When Heart Speaks to Heart, The Journal of a Priest at Prayer (Angelico Press, 2016), by an anonymous Benedictine monk, “is its great spiritual simplicity.

“Without complicated arguments, or psychological jargon, it proposes a profound spiritual answer to the great spiritual crisis of our time.

“During the past year, I have been meditating a great deal on this question.”

“What answer does the book give?” I asked.

“Well, the Church in our time has been passing through the long torment of the sexual abuse crisis, with all that that implies,” the archbishop said.

“First, the abuse of innocent young people, sexually, psychologically and spiritually. Many priests have tragically betrayed the trust of those who believed in them, doing terrible harm to them.

“Then, many bishops and religious superiors did not have as their major concern the protection of the victims. Instead, they tried to protect the institution of the Church by covering up what had happened. This made the wound to the Church deeper and more incurable, causing it to fester and putrify.

“They were wrong.

“All of this has blackened the image of Christ’s Church before the world — including the image of those very many priests who have committed no wrong.

“So a general repentance is needed, and a universal commitment to make public the evil that has been done, and to do reparation for it, in order to begin to heal so many wounds.

“Some aspects of how to face this crisis have been explored by various bishops’ conferences, and at various meetings like the one at the Vatican in February, but the deep spiritual roots seem not to have been touched.

“Something is still missing.

“And that is what I find in this book.”

“And what is that?” I asked.

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Vigano picks up the book to find a certain passage.

“The monk author,” Vigano replied, “suggesting that the words he writes are the very words of Jesus to him during his time of prayer, says to us:

“‘The solution to the hardships and trials of priests, the answer to the problems that beset so many of them, causing them to fall into patterns of sin, is the friendship that I offer them.

“‘The Holy Spirit is poured out on every priest on the day of his ordination, and in that outpouring is given a marvelous capacity to live in My friendship and in the intimacy of My most Holy Mother.’ (p. 17)

“But then,” Vigano continued, “the author adds:

“‘So few of My priests accept this gift and use this capacity for holiness that I bestow upon them.’

“And then the author writes, speaking now in the words of the Blessed Mother, Mary:

“‘I am for all my priest sons the Gate of Heaven.

“‘If any priest would ascend, even in this earthly life, into the glory of the heavenly liturgy ceaselessly celebrated by my Son before the Father’s Face, he need only approach me.

“‘I will open the way into the mysteries of heaven for him.

“‘I will teach him the reverence, the silence, the profound adoration that befits one called to serve at the altars of my Son and in His place.'” (p. 17)

The Answer?

“But does this not seem too little?” I said, with a certain worry. “After so many years of such terrible abuses and coverups? That the Church, the priests of the Church, should return to prayer? That Eucharistic adoration is the answer to the sexual abuse crisis?”

The archbishop is silent.

“I am not saying this book offers ‘the answer’ to the crisis, or to any act of abuse that has taken place,” he says. “No. Rather, I am saying that this book offers a diagnosis, the diagnosis of an absence of relationship to Christ, of an emptiness in the spiritual life of priests.

“And this leads to a prescription: that we must all return to prayer, to re-establish friendship with Christ.

“This is, after all, what it means to be a Christian.

“This is the only possible path for us to face the evil that has taken place, and to begin again.

“We must begin with ourselves, with the corruption and evil in each one of us. We must go to the Eucharist, the source and summit of our faith, to encounter Christ. To enter into a relationship with Him, and to be healed by him. We cannot simply reform the Church. We must repent and reform our own lives, and that will help bring about the needed reform.”

I am silent a moment.

“Well,” I said, “since your Testimony of August 2018, many have seen you as a type of ‘Prophet Jonah’ for our time, bringing some of this evil into the light, denouncing the sins and coverups of the Roman Catholic Church and its members as Jonah was called to denounce the sins of Nineveh. But what is your message really: that God is about to chastise the Church, as Niniveh was threatened with destruction, or do you believe there is still a chance to renew the Church, through prayer and a renewal of priestly and lay spirituality?”

“The two possibilities you offer are not mutually exclusive,” the archbishop said. “There may be both a chastisement, which will shake and diminish the Church, and also a reform and renewal of the Church, making her more resplendent in holiness. Both are possible. The Lord is not denying grace of conversion to anyone. Furthermore, it is really the deep desire of His heart, to ask for conversion and to have us accept His love for us.”

I gather up my tape recorder, and the documents we have studied together.

“I will have to leave for a few days,” I said. “I will be traveling with a small group of pilgrims to Ireland. It is something I scheduled long ago and cannot avoid.”

“You must go then,” the archbishop said. “I will see you upon your return.”

(to be continued)

Pilgrimage with Dr. Robert Moynihan in 2019 and receive a $250 discount for you and another $250 discount for your traveling companion.

Meet and discuss the Church today with Dr. Moynihan on our 25th Anniversary pilgrimage (October 4 – 12, 2019) Women Saints (October 14 – 22, 2019), and Christmas 2019 Pilgrimage (December 18 – 27, 2019).

Click here to read about our 2019 pilgrimages.