Priests, especially, have a responsibility to get us all to Heaven, as Fr. Schnippel points out in his post today. The reading that got his attention is this one:
Thus says the LORD:
You, son of man, I have appointed watchman for the house of Israel;
when you hear me say anything, you shall warn them for me.
If I tell the wicked, “O wicked one, you shall surely die, ”
and you do not speak out to dissuade the wicked from his way,
the wicked shall die for his guilt,
but I will hold you responsible for his death.
But if you warn the wicked,
trying to turn him from his way,
and he refuses to turn from his way,
he shall die for his guilt,
but you shall save yourself.
Father Schnippel had his own commentary to offer:
As priests, I think we all need to get back to this, the identity that my path to salvation, to heaven, necessarily involves helping others to get there first! If, especially as a diocesan priest, I am just concerned with my own things, I will be held responsible for the waywardness of the souls in my care.
He's right. I wish all priests realized that. Many do, and they're bucking the Machine, the laity that have laid siege to the parish, insisting on a lateral theology that worships one's neighbor and makes one "feel good" as opposed to living out the TRUE message, which is a difficult thing to do.
For example; today at Mass, hearing these readings, knowing that I fall short, knowing how hard it is to correct a friend in such a way that they are not offended, or living my life in such a way that I don't offend those I love, well, sometimes it's impossible. Today's message is about what love is REALLY about. But at my parish, do you know what the recessional hymn was? Some claptrap about "accepting one another as we are".
No WONDER people leave Mass and don't do anything to change themselves or the world. It's no surprise that no one is convicted of their own sin. There's a HUGE disconnect between the lateral-theology "hymns" compared to the readings we hear and the actual SACRIFICE taking place at the altar! The readings today should convict us in some way, but when the hymns a misguided Music Director has chosen instead focus on "loving and accepting others" with no definition other than a feel-good litany that doesn't indicate any kind of change...the point is being missed. Each and every song today was inspired by "the guy next door", but I have to wonder.
Am I missing something? I thought we were at Mass to worship GOD! I thought that GOD was our audience, and we should be singing to HIM, worshiping and adoring HIM, not the person sitting across the aisle!
Some time ago, a wise priest told me that the reception of only ONE Holy Communion should be enough to turn us into Saints. Why doesn't that happen?
People say that they don't "get anything" out of Mass. Maybe because the music has worked to contradict the readings in such a way that they aren't inspired to change. The readings say one thing, the music tells them "I'm OK, You're OK, We're all OK, let's go on a hayride!"
It's that much straw.
I couldn't stop looking at the crucifix today, though. I kept staring at Jesus, the suffering and death He endured for us...and here we are in His actual PRESENCE singing to each other, ignoring Him, not caring enough that His blood is on OUR hands and we're celebrating ourselves and how awesomely we serve each other.
People think fraternal correction is necessarily judgmental. It isn't. And I've lost friends because of living out my convictions, having to make a choice quite literally between what God asks of us out of love, and my signature on a piece of paper that would cause my friend to die like Terri Schaivo.
My decision was very clear. I called my friend, hoping to be able to explain to her why I had to take my name off the form as her primary proxy in the event she was incapacitated. I was hoping to help her see the death she was asking for, and why I couldn't be a party to it because I loved her too much to let her do that to herself. She wasn't a religious person, although she WAS legitimately a caring soul. She had been there for me through some amazing and difficult times in life. For example, when I graduated from Law Enforcement Skills, a true accomplishment indeed, she was the ONLY PERSON there to witness the occasion. She took me in when I would otherwise have been homeless. When I moved to the Cities, she was my ONLY friend up here. And so, having this conversation with her was more difficult than perhaps you could imagine.
I had gone to the priests who were at my parish at the time, hoping for some pastoral advice in how to have this conversation for which I felt very ill-equipped. I KNEW that my friend would take my need to be removed from this very personal document of hers as a direct attack against her, and was hoping for some advice in how to approach her. The best I got from them was, "You wouldn't let your dog starve, would you?" NO! Of COURSE NOT! But that wasn't my question. The question was HOW to explain this, how to approach...how to be pastoral about it. Unfortunately, I didn't know that word at the time.
And perhaps it didn't even matter. There was no discussion. I had to tell her, as gently as I could, that because of my beliefs about life and death and medical ethics, I couldn't be a party to what she was asking. I believed it to be murder. There was no discussion; she demanded that I compromise my values on behalf of her lack of value, and when I gently refused and tried to open the topic for further discussion, she hung up on me.
I know that she was very hurt by what I said, taking it as a personal rejection, which it was not. And I can still hear the "click" and the dial tone, feeling powerless, knowing that her own rejection of me was rejection of God, rejection of life. It's STILL painful, and it OUGHT to be, because THAT'S what makes me continue to pray for her.
That's what today's readings were about. Not accepting others in their sin, but loving them enough to call them on to something better. Something that elevates their dignity to GOD'S DEFINITION of dignity, not our own.
Loving others means not just going to the foot of the Cross and celebrating the Resurrection with those who are present. It means climbing that wood and allowing OURSELVES to be nailed, vilified, humiliated, and abandoned.
If we can't find the Cross in the crowd we're in...it's time to get out of the crowd. If they'll come with us...great. And if they don't no matter how hard we try, well, we entrust them to Divine Mercy.
We have a decision to make; go to Hell because we refuse to help another get to Heaven, or lose an earthly friendship by loving them as God intended, and in the same way that Jesus loved us.
When you look at it in those terms, the decision isn't so hard. Just make sure you have a lot of bandages on hand...you'll need them.