Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Holy Week and the Gates of Hades

Thomas More and I just returned from the Eternal City, where we enjoyed Triduum and very much wonderful Italian food. Instead of a lengthy post describing the trip I am including the video we made (see below), which I hope you will enjoy!

I will say this: this Lent has been a particularly difficult time for me spiritually. Scandal in the Church--which has created anguish in the hearts of ALL faithful Catholics--has also troubled me deeply. I had hoped to spend Lent in prayer for both the victims of abuse as well as for the Church universal--that we all might have renewed hope in Jesus who saves--who HEALS. As part of the Church Body I also wanted to participate in the penance that the Church must undergo as part of this healing process. When one part of the Body sins, when one part becomes corrupt, the healthy members must take responsibility for the corruption. We must lay our lives down for our brother and sister (both sinner and sinned against).

My hope of fruitful and penitent prayer was only partially realized this Lent. I found myself severely distracted by the sick media coverage of the Church scandal here in the UK. In all likelihood you understand perfectly well what I refer to, and don't want to hear any more about it, so I won't go into further detail. But I will say this: The current media hysteria places the faithful Catholic in a strange situation. The Church is in mourning for the damning sins that were committed under her roof. We want to repent corporately, to cure the disease, to cleanse our Body. But we are, at the same time, forced to defend every tenant of our religion (theology, structure, discipline, morality) to an angry secular world/media who uses the sins of the few to cast shadows on the many.

This Lent, I hated that I allowed myself to be driven from a posture of prayer, penance, and faith into a defensive stance--into anger (justified!--journalists were lying!). However justified my outrage, I allowed my mind to wander from the figure of Christ who stands at the center of Lent: the fasting, suffering Body who paid for the sins of the Church and the sins of the world--who paid for the lives of whores and adulterers, hypocrites and pedophiles--who paid for those sins too--even those.

Going to Rome for Triduum reminded me of what I had nearly forgotten: the suffering Christ, the Risen Lord who will defend His Church and strengthen her. I was deeply touched by the thousands and thousands of people crowded around the Colosseum for the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday, all trying to pray the Our Father together in a hundred different languages. I was moved by the multitude of worshipers on Holy Saturday in St Peters--thousands of priests and religious, thousands and thousands of kids in their twenties, praying together in line hours before Mass. I was blessed by receiving the Body of Blood of Christ along with all these, and with all Catholics all around the world.

During the Vigil Mass T.M. and I sat in one of the transepts facing the high altar. We had a perfect view of one of my favorite mosaic-paintings in St Peters, which depicts Peter walking on the waves towards Jesus. Or rather--Peter FALLING INTO the waves--with a look of desperate panic etched on his face. And Jesus catches him as he falls.

Doesn't He always--catch us?

"And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it." Matthew 16:18


  1. Well said!
    I've thought about you guys a lot in the wake of recent reporting. Love and miss you!