The One Who Sees Us Through Disaster

Happy Transfiguration Day. This coming Sunday, at Holy Mass we will read…

The boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

(Matthew 14:24-31)

Christ at the Sea of Galilee, School of Tintoretto

O you of little faith, why did you doubt?

The God-man walked on water. He can overcome gravity, since He invented gravity. This man stands at the center of the life of His Church. He remains with us, offering us the same strong hand He offered St. Peter.

We need it. Not just individually, but as a community of Christians. Because gravity does not appear to be on our side.

What has happened here? With our communities already deeply compromised by the virus, our bishop has intervened in the life of our parishes–not help them, but to wreck them. He takes a priest—admittedly kind of an annoying goofball, but who nonetheless can show up for work every day—he takes me and throws me in the dumpster. We try to reason with him, and with his superiors, and we get absolutely nowhere.

What is going on?

It’s actually not that big a mystery. Over the second half of the twentieth century, an incredibly talented New Yorker with a moral blind spot the size of the Sea of Galilee became a highly prominent Church politician. He connived his way into becoming the pope of New Jersey. Then he maneuvered himself into the College of Cardinals and became the confidante of three popes.

St Francis of Assisi Rocky Mount

Meanwhile, Theodore McCarrick left behind him a wide trail of broken souls. Every time the man celebrated Holy Mass, surrounded by sycophants trying to please him, he delivered another painful blow to his victims.

Wait. Every time he celebrated Mass. But isn’t this Jesus Christ’s holy Presence with us? The Mass?

We need big, big faith. Because Yes, it is His Presence. Yes, Jesus Christ does stand at the center of the life of His Church. Jesus can lead us through this disaster. We need to have enough faith to believe that. Because this disaster is bigger than what we think we can deal with.

We little Rocky Mounters and Martinsvillians find ourselves caught up in a heavy drama. The man who ordained me had made it basically impossible for the people he hurt to continue to believe in the Holy Mass. And to continue to believe in the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church that celebrates the Mass.

They went to Pope John Paul II for help, and he did not believe them. Benedict XVI believed them, but he wanted to keep the whole thing hush-hush. Then Pope Francis chose mercy for his friend, Theodore McCarrick, over justice and healing for McCarrick’s victims.

McCarrick was not the only one with a moral blind spot the size of Lake Como. They had a blind spot in the Apostolic Palace in Rome, also.

The thing is this: Every time a priest who abused you says Mass, and no one stops him, and everyone acts as if everything is holy and normal, you feel something far worse than a five-fingered death punch to the face. You feel like a demon-sized lie has pinned your truth to the mat on the lowest floor in hell, like a sumo wrestler crushing your ribcage.


God must not care.

But He does. The Mass is the Holy Mass of Christ crucified.

We will have to face the fact that three popes presided over a colossal institutional failure. The institution failed so magnificently that we will have to admit that we never knew Satan was so smart. We never knew anyone, even Satan, could orchestrate something so damaging to the Christian faith.

Here in the U.S., a lot of us thought the Church saved Her credibility with the bureaucratic maneuvers of 2002, after the Boston Globe blew the lid off decades of priestly sex-abuse cover-ups. But we will have to face the fact that the lies just moved farther up the chain-of-command that year. After all, the man who called the shots in 2002 was Theodore McCarrick.

All this horribleness has now rained down pain and confusion in our little bucolic corner of southwest Virginia. It will get worse before it gets better, uglier before it beautifies.

We will have to remember that the Lord Jesus endured a series of unimaginably agonizing hours. He suffered blows and lashes and wounds all over His sacred Body. He bled from everywhere. He has drawn us into this, in our interior lives.

But He lives. We need big, big faith. He conquered all that agony, and He will reconcile us all to Himself. Truth can seem to wound. But, in the end, it heals, restores, and brings real peace.

Jesus Christ, brutally tortured and crucified to death, risen again from the dead, and present with us. The man Who pulled St. Peter out of the water. He stands at the center of the life of His Church. He stands there, immovable, full of love.

6 thoughts on “The One Who Sees Us Through Disaster

  1. Wonderful reading…then watched on YouTube….also wonderful. Encouraging words I needed …

  2. I have to wonder if my Baptism is valid. I was baptized by Msgr. Carroll Dozier who later became the first Bishop of Memphis. All evidence points to a serial pedophile known as “The Godfather” of the Tidewater area. All evidence points to the fact that the Diocese knew of his predisposition for children as dozens of my grade school classmates were raped by our own version of McCarrick. What Cardinal put in the request to promote him to Bishop and get him out of Tidewater? Google Cardinal John Wright and you can figure it out.

    On another note why does the Bishop allow Fr. Dan Beeman to post politically biased information on Twitter yet demand that Fr. Mark remove his blog. I find his twitter feed extremely offensive.

  3. Fr Mark – It makes me sad and angry that you are being persecuted for fighting the good fight (making “good trouble”) and it is very discouraging that you are going through this without the public support of any other clergy, but I am very grateful for your perseverance. It gives me hope to know that someone in the clergy has enough courage to speak up on behalf of victims, many of whom were children when they were abused. As a parent, I need to know that the hierarchy of our Church is fully transparent about past wrongdoing so that the same mistakes are not repeated. I know a lot of policies and procedures are now in place to prevent abuse at the parish level, but until the hierarchy fully discloses what it now knows about how Cardinal McCarrick and other abusers managed to not only get away with their crimes, but in some cases even rise in power and influence, then the bishops simply cannot claim children are safe. Our children’s well being must come first.
    I’ll close with something Dorothy Day wrote:
    “In all history, popes and bishops and abbots seem to have been blind and power-loving and greedy. I never expected leadership from them. It is the saints that keep appearing all through history who keep things going. What I do expect is the bread of life and down through the ages there is that continuity.”

  4. Fr. Mark White – McCarrick is a drop in the bucket. The Boston 2002 expose spotlighted that situation which opened a few more eyes to the breadth and depth of world-wide RC institutional abuse that has continues over decades / generations. And lives lost. When your priestly service in the Catholic Diocese of Richmond began, you likely were so enamored with your assignments or position that you did not take notice of the scandals here of the 1990’s, including cover-ups of abuse in the mid 1980’s? Lest you misunderstand, I support your growing understanding and stances at this time. Bishop Walter Sullivan was adept at the practices of silencing and damage-control. He had close ties with Archbishop Wuerl, then Bishop of Pittsburgh. Keep your faith grounded in the teachings of Jesus, rather than in the institutional distortions in the name of the Church.

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