Pstoral Letter from Fr Joseph A. Meagher (updated)
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In this painfully revealing time in the Church, I am blessed to have such parishioners as you, who are continually praying for your priests. Thank you!!! Please keep them up!!!
As a Catholic priest whose only desire (I pray) is to be faithful to Jesus Christ and to his Church, I am profoundly grieved over the abuses and cover-ups that have plagued the Church over the past 50 plus years, especially in the United States.
Among such cover-ups is the error of simply calling this evil & perverse behavior “pedophilia” when the vast majority of what has been reported has been perpetrated on post-pubescent boys; hence such acts are in fact predatory homosexual behavior.
In any case, whether male or female, pre or post-pubescent children, with you I grieve deeply over these young people who have been sexually violated by anyone, but especially by some mentally and spiritually sick priests and bishops, and then in numerous cases only to be further victimized by a bishop who failed to protect his sheep.
I have heard the cries and seen the tears of mothers of some of these children and this helps me see that these offenses are against Jesus Himself who created and redeemed his little ones at so great a price and with such intimate love that He says even if your mother forgets you I will never forget you (see Isaiah 49:15). And He warns us: What you do to the least of my brothers and sisters you do to me (see Matt 25:40). We pray for justice and for mercy, and for healing for the victims and their families and all who have been scandalized by this diabolical abuse of power.
Although there are psychological and sociological issues in this sick behavior, and political and systemic or institutional issues in it not being addressed properly, the foundational issue is spiritual in nature -- sin & evil – because these actions are diametrically opposed to God’s will. Therefore, as helpful and necessary (or unnecessary and unhelpful) as specific programs or policies or political or institutional changes may be, fundamentally they cannot solve this without a profound repentance for sin and submission to the Holy Spirit. We need virtue. We need holiness. Lasting change has to be a work of the Holy Spirit in Whom the Church was first born on Pentecost.
In light of this, I believe that we need to go to Jesus’ teaching about deliverance to find an important component and a necessary remedy for this evil: He said that some demons are only cast out by prayer & fasting (see Mk 9:29). And so I ask you to enter with me into a Novena of Nine Fridays of Prayer & Penance.
In this Novena we participate in a mystery. We are all sinners, but by our offering we seek to console the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary who have been gravely offended and wounded by these terrible sins against the innocent, but also against the holiness of God, His Church and His priesthood. It is actually in our love for Jesus & Mary that we can pray for all of the victims in the way that we should. And we are imploring the Lord for His Divine intervention in the Church, for purification and sanctification, and we are always pleading for His mercy.
Like every Christian, the Church always needs accountability and constant renewal to stay grounded in God’s will. When the Church refuses spiritual accountability and loses Her ability to undergo the painful but refreshing spiritual renewal of regular “internal audits” of the Holy Spirit, She becomes corrupt. This internal audit of the Holy Spirit comes through honest self evaluation and listening to her prophets, including the poor & weak & wounded among us, who will expose the darkness and evil and bring Her back to godliness. When She refuses the more gentle rebuke of the Holy Spirit through her members, God needs to take the more radical and more painful approach of an “external audit” of the secular state (and the press). This is what we are now in.
I hear the pleading of the Holy Spirit through St Paul who said: “Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may judge [rightly] what is God’s will” (Rom 12:1-2).
As St Paul says, we are with Jesus to be “a living sacrifice” and those who were violated need our offering of prayer and sacrifice. We your priests (& your bishops) need your offering. The entire Church needs your offering of prayer and fasting.
Please offer these Nine Fridays of prayer and fasting as an act of reparation and for conversion of sinners. As your parish priest and a fellow sinner in need of a Savior, I ask you to join me in penance and prayer of intercession with Jesus & Mary as we plead for true conversion, purification, sanctification and healing of the entire Bride of Christ.
Please also pray for the many imperfect but faithful bishops and priests who have been falsely accused, or judged or looked at with suspicion. They too are joined to the offering of the totally Innocent One, the Victim Priest whose Sacred Heart is so deeply wounded by every sin against the innocent and to the Immaculate Heart of his most Blessed Mother, who remains with every wounded soul as she stayed at the foot of the cross with her Son and John & Mary Magdalen. Pray also that all believers, but especially those whose ordained task is to preach the Gospel may see clearly in all of this the diabolical intention to silence or muffle or deem irrelevant the Gospel and the Church.
In spite of all the human frailty and outright evil that her members are capable of, we believe that the Catholic Church was founded by Christ and is therefore holy, and she continues to be sustained by the Holy Spirit and the Heavenly Food of the Eucharist. Jesus will never abandon His bride. Even if some of her leaders have been unfaithful and abandoned Him, He will always remain faithful, because He cannot deny Himself (see 2 Tim 2:13). We believe that the gates of hell shall not prevail against her (see Matt 16:18).
May Our Lord & Our Lady work all of this for a true conversion and sanctification in the Church, and that “springtime of evangelization” which has been promised by Our Lord and so desperately needed in preparing for his final coming. Come Lord Jesus! May our prayer and penance be like burning incense before the altar of God.
Finally, at the heart of this Novena of prayer and penance is the Eucharist. There will be a Novena of Nine Friday Masses at 8pm in Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel. Please come to the Mass and bring a friend, family member or neighbor who is hurting and in need of hope and healing.
In Jesus thru Mary,