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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Last Temptation of the Mystical Body of Christ

In these final hours before we begin the Sacred Triduum, it is obvious to see the temptations being put to the Bride, the Mystical Body of Christ. As we get closer and closer to the Most Sacred of days, the voices become louder and angrier, more frenzied and it becomes hard and harder for us to remain calm in the face of this storm of rabid hostility.

This morning as I prayed the Divine Office, I went through the depths of the temptation to lash back at Pope Benedict XVI's (and therefore OUR) persecutors. I read these words with gritted teeth:

Psalm 52
Against a calumniator

Why do you boast of your wickedness
you champion of evil
planning ruin all day long,
your tongue like a sharpened razor,
you master of deceit?

You love evil more than good;
lies more than truth.
You love the destructive word,
you tongue of deceit.

For this God will destroy you
and remove you for ever.
He will snatch you from your tent and uproot you
from the land of the living.

The just shall see and fear.
They shall laugh and say: 
"So this is the man who refused to take God as his stronghold,
but trusted in the greatness of his wealth
and grew powerful by his crimes."

When I reached the end of that passage, I was ready to pray the imprecatory psalms - those psalms that are NOT in the psalter or used at Mass. I was ready to, in anger, call down fire and brimstone upon those who so hate us and so hate Christ.

Then I read on:

But I am like a growing olive tree
in the house of God.
I trust in the goodness of God
for ever and ever.

I will thank you for evermore;
for this is your doing.
I will proclaim that your name is good,
in the presence of your friends.

Father, you cut down the unfruitful branch for burning and prune the fertile to make it bear more fruit. Make us grow like the laden olive trees in your domain, firmly rooted in the power and mercy of your Son, so that you may gather from us fruit worthy of eternal life.

Ant.  I have put all my trust in God's never-failing mercy.

Having finished that section, I was amazed at how quickly I had passed from near-rage into calm thoughtfulness, and That's when it hit me.

We faithful Catholics are angry. We are angry about the abuse of children, yes, but also angry at the continuing abuse of these victims at the hands of money-grubbing, vile souls who are victimizing them again, all  for personal gain. We are angry at the bigoted media vipers and their henchmen who ignore the facts and instead perpetuate lies against the Holy Father.  Oh, yes, we are angry, and many bloggers, Catholic journalists, and Catholics on the street are fighting back.  Some honorably, and with use of intellect and  reason. Others, though, are lashing back with the same kind of anger and hatred as our attackers.

I realized in that moment, that this is the last temptation of the Bride. THIS is what is separating the proverbial goats from the sheep. THIS is a true test of the entire Mystical Body of Christ. Who will be ripped from the Head that is Christ, by their own choosing and behavior, and who will remain and follow the example of Jesus Himself?

Jesus was ridiculed, and false charges heaped upon him. He was beaten, he was scourged, even having been judged as innocent by the AUTHORITIES who had juris diction of this type of proceeding!  Jesus was dragged into dungeons and a crown of thorns placed on His head. He dragged His heavy cross up the hill and outside the gate to the Place of the Skull where he was nailed to that terrible tree in utter humiliation and made to face the whole world in His nakedness.


And He uttered not a word.

Jesus did not respond to His persecutors. He did not "correct" them. He did not come to His own defense, but took the assault as though what was happening to Him actually meant something else.

Oh, yes, it did. It meant eternal life for His Beloved.

When Jesus DID speak, He prayed for mercy for those who crucified Him.  He told the repentant thief who was crucified next to him that he would join Him in Paradise.  He PRAYED for MERCY for His Persecutors!

How we react in these terrible days, as faithful Catholics, will forever speak of us as a Church, as the Bride of Christ, as the Mystical Body.  How we respond, personally or professionally or both, will speak to the world of our Faith....or lack thereof.

Do we give into the temptation to lash out?  Or instead, do we turn into the Church Militant and do what we are called to do?

We are called to fall down on our knees and beg for mercy for the Holy Father's, and our persecutors!  THAT'S the battle! THAT'S the frontline! THAT is what will turn the tide and send the enemies scattering in terror!  BEG for mercy for them for indeed, they know NOT what they do! We want to pray for ourselves, that we will have the same zeal for the salvation of souls as did Christ himself!

Do not fall into the temptations that come from the Prince of this world, but rather, look to the Cross of Our Lord and the Salvation that is found in Christ alone. Look to His vicar, Pope Benedict XVI who guides us by his own example, which clearly is patterned after Christ.

Do you want to know why so many are attacking so strongly? Because they can see the image of Jesus in Pope Benedict XVI's actions, and it sends the demons that possess this world into a frenzy of hatred and terror.

So be it.

We must be as gentle as lambs but more cunning than the wolves that seek to destroy us. Our weapon:  prayer for those who persecute us. Love in the face of hatred. Life in the face that calls for death. NOTHING can withstand that kind of power.


Son of St. Philip said...

Wonderful post. Good insights and a consolation to us priests in the trenches. This is how I think too... You summed it up well and have a gift for writing ! Have a grace-filled Triduum.

Rachel said...

Very insightful post here. Thank you so much. Your words are so powerful and they're so calming, because they speak the Truth. :)

Happy Easter!