The Proliferation of Petty “Ministries” in the Catholic Church Today
That father of all misery and lies appears
to be consistent in his choices and uses the methodology that worked
so well — and to so disastrous an end — in the beginning. He seeks
to seduce the Woman. But this time there is a twist. The first woman
sold herself into sin to the desolation of her children. The second
Woman, Holy Mother Church — is sold into sin by her children, into
desolation by those whom she bore and nourished and who sell her
into prostitution that they may benefit from her. There
is no polite word, no adequate euphemism, for this betrayal of the
Mother by the children. It is vile.
How eager they are to seduce their own Mother that they may profit from her shame, and once surfeit with power, how readily they would sell Her into prostitution for profit! Having acquired power in Her and through Her, they now use Her to their own evil and selfish ends — and make a wage for themselves, and a living to boot! Brood of bastards, they plunder the inheritance of the children — and subdue them lest their power and profit fall to the heirs. This is the genealogy of power. It is the genesis of sin.
“ ...all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them; why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?" 3 Upon which Moses replied, “You have gone too far! ... would you seek the priesthood also? Therefore it is against the Lord that you and your company have gathered together.” 4
Even Miriam and Aaron reproached Moses — jealous of God’s intimacy with him, and resentful that the power given Moses was not equally invested in and shared among the people of Israel at large — who coveted that power for themselves.5
How familiar this scenario ... how contemporary as it is ancient!
The laity indignant of, even as it covets for itself, the power
of priest! How many
Catholics, dissatisfied with and disaffected from the call to holiness
in their own vocations, clamor for a share in priestly
power, for a charism as unique to the priest as wedlock to the spouse.
It is a grave misunderstanding of the notion of holiness to which
all alike are called, although not all in like manner.
In the end, this pernicious effort is the illegitimate demand to stand “in locus Christi”, in the place of Christ, which belongs to the priest alone. Unable to become priests, they become “Ministers” ... a term which, in American and European culture, is fraught with historical implications of competing and always presumably sacred power invested in the “Minister in place of the “Priest”.
— the personal acquisition and exercise of the power of
— acquires a value of itself and precisely through the power perceived
within it, a relished power that takes precedence over all else
— especially the
who become merely a means to an end that is neither in Christ nor
in themselves. The end, under whatever pretense and however cleverly
articulated, is the participating in perceived power, the possession
and the exercise of power by those who, in the end, are ministering
to themselves under the guise of ministering to others. In their
newly acquired pseudo-sacerdotal role, unlike the faithful, they
are not the needy, but the benevolent dispensers of what is needed
... and which is now in their power to give ... and equally,
albeit implicitly, to withhold. This is power. It is power as petty,
and all the more reproachable for its pettiness.
Because this power is petty, it is never anonymous. It aggressively asserts itself through faces, offices, titles, photo ops; it is splashed across Church bulletins, promoted, advertised, publicized ... that the benevolence of the one in possession of power is not overlooked, unrecognized, and unappreciated.
So many of God’s servants and handmaids are being lured away from the holy humility that is ever acceptable to God — enticed by the meretricious glory, the petty power, the sinister whisper of the spirit of this world, by glamour, name recognition, the promotion of personalities, by the bright lights ... instead of the promotion of the Gospel of Jesus Christ at the expense of which — because it is the means through which — such petty power is acquired.
All — Bishops, priests, religious, laity alike — have a sacred duty to the Christ we claim as our God and our Redeemer, to call hearts back to Him from errant paths to empty places.
The people ... like abandoned sheep with no earthly shepherd — perish for lack Christ, and we are all responsible! We have lost sight of the simplicity and the urgency of the Gospel message of love and in our arrogance sought Him among the crumbling towers of Babel where all the tongues are clamoring for power.
All of us need to look again into the mirror of the life of Jesus Christ and see our own lives in that mirror. We are not to lord it over one another as the pagans do but to serve each other in humble love. Jesus did. And we are not greater that our Master.
Jesus Christ used all the powers of His intellect , of His heart and soul — and they were poured out in his Self emptying and giving, making manifest His Father’s love to us here on earth that we may know the path to eternal life. Jesus Christ willed our total good. He wills it now. This is love ... that which nurtures and promotes the good of others and gives life.
Mary said, “Behold, the handmaid on the Lord , be it done unto me according to thy word”. In this we have the example to which we are called by grace — to imitate and indeed to become, other Christs, other Marys in this world — not through power, but through love. Jesus Christ — “the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords”, surrendered Himself to dwelling within an apparently ’powerless’ piece of bread, the Most Holy Eucharist — wherein, in such utter humility, the plenitude of God Himself dwells.
The greatest King that ever ruled exercised the greatest power ever wielded ... from the Cross, nailed and bound, emptied of everything but love — and of His kingship, of this power, there will be no end.
After all, now even Catholics in the Novus Ordo Mass add the non-Scriptural “The Kingdom, the power and the glory are His” ... not ours ...
1 Genesis 3.20
2 II St. Peter 2.22
3 Numbers 16.1-3
4 Numbers 16.7-11
5 Numbers 12.1-15
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