Assumption Day, 2021

El Greco Virgin Mary

Today, some 1,978 years ago, our Lady finished her earthly pilgrimage, and the Lord took her to Himself. Mary went to heaven, body and soul.

Thirteen years ago today, this little weblog began. And right around three years ago, it became… controversial. Controversial, at least, in the eyes of the Catholic bishop of Richmond, Virginia.

In a couple weeks I will make a pilgrimage to visit some holy sites in Italy.

Good Lord willing, I will pray at the birthplace of St. Thomas Aquinas, his childhood school (which houses the tombs of Sts. Benedict and Scholastica), and also at the abbey where the Angelic Doctor died. Near there, they keep his skull in a reliquary, in the ancient cathedral of Priverno.

Also, good Lord willing, I will visit the duomo in Florence, where they keep relics of St. John the Baptist, the Apostles Andrew and Philip, and St. John Chrysostom. Near there is the Shrine of St. Mary Magdalen de’Pazzi. Also I will visit the tomb of St. Gemma Galgani and the grave of St. Elizabeth Anne Seton’s husband. (After he died, she embraced the Catholic faith.) I will return just in time for Becky Ianni’s talk in our speakers’ series.

I am trying to get the manuscript of my book Ordained by a Predator ready to send to a potential publisher before I leave.

McCarrick Bootkoski Checchio
Two former bishops of Metuchen NJ, Paul Bootkoski and Theodore McCarrick, with the current bishop, James Checchio

As I edited my chapter on McCarrick’s career, I realized that I had two unanswered questions pertaining to the first diocese that he governed as a bishop, namely Metuchen NJ.

Question 1:

On December 5, 2005, McCarrick’s third successor in office in Metuchen, Bishop Paul Bootkoski, called the papal nuncio to tell him about two of McCarrick’s seminarian victims.

One of these victims had formally complained about McCarrick over a year earlier, in August of 2004. The other victim had first complained well over a decade before that. (The Vatican had actually received a report about this seminarian’s abuse in 1997.)

Why, then, did Bootkoski choose to communicate with the nuncio about this on December 5, 2005? Why that particular day?

It just so happens that, earlier that same day, the Vatican official in charge of bishops had told McCarrick that he would have to resign as Archbishop of Washington.

Did McCarrick call his old friend Bootkoski and tell him that there was no use trying to keep the matter secret from the Vatican anymore? That seems like the most reasonable explanation for Bootkoski calling the nuncio on that particular day.

A second Metuchen question:

When the Vatican released its McCarrick Report last fall, the Diocese of Metuchen issued a statement which claimed: “The first allegation against McCarrick was received by the diocese in 2004.”

In point of fact, McCarrick’s successor as bishop of Metuchen received his first complaint about McCarrick’s abuses no later than 1989. And before then, the Vocations Director of the diocese of Metuchen received complaints about McCarrick from seminarians while McCarrick was still in office as the bishop there (1981-1986).

How, then, can the diocese claim that the first allegation against McCarrick came in 2004?

A few days ago, I submitted these questions to the Office of the Bishop in Metuchen. I have not received any response yet, but I hope to get honest answers soon. After all, Bishop Checchio wrote in his letter about the McCarrick scandal: “We must forge forward, penning the future chapters of our Church’s history with integrity and transparency.” Seems like that means you answer the questions of a researcher trying to put together a fair historical record.

Vatican II stalls…All this moves me to reflect on two little passages from the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, which the Fathers of the Vatican II gave us. The first passage comes from Gaudium et Spes para. 37:

Sacred Scripture teaches the human family what the experience of the ages confirms: that while human progress is a great advantage to man, it brings with it a strong temptation. For when the order of values is jumbled and bad is mixed with the good, individuals and groups pay heed solely to their own interests, and not to those of others.

Certainly this insight helps us understand corruption in government, generally speaking. It also helps us to understand corruption in the government of our Church.

What I have seen, in my experience as a priest, is a cadre in the hierarchy that has paid attention solely to their own interests, and not to those of others. Theodore McCarrick created a huge spiritual problem for all of us whose lives he touched. Instead of confronting that problem honestly and bravely, those who knew about the problem sought to hide it, to protect themselves from having to deal with it. Now that we all know about the problem, those same leaders try to pretend the problem is solved.

To be clear: the compromised individuals here include the pope himself, the pope’s closest advisors and co-workers, the ecclesiastical governing apparatus of Washington DC and New Jersey–which includes our own bishop here in the diocese of Richmond VA (an alumnus of McCarrick and Donald Wuerl’s chancery in Washington), the Metropolitan Archbishop of Baltimore (who knew about McCarrick long, long ago), and quite a few other prelates as well.

I see us mid-Atlantic Catholics stuck in a near-total malaise. The true spiritual mission of the Church cannot advance with any vitality under our current compromised leadership.

I entertain no delusions that the malaise will lift anytime soon. That, however, does not mean it’s all over–our life as Catholic Christians. It doesn’t mean that at all.

Here’s part of Gaudium et Spes 38:

For God’s Word, through Whom all things were made, was Himself made flesh and dwelt on the earth of men. Thus He entered the world’s history as a perfect man, taking that history up into Himself and summarizing it. He Himself revealed to us that “God is love” and at the same time taught us that the new command of love was the basic law of human perfection and hence of the world’s transformation. To those, therefore, who believe in divine love, He gives assurance that the way of love lies open to men and that the effort to establish a universal brotherhood is not a hopeless one.

Our Church can and will be Herself again, someday. It’s not hopeless. I, for one, am not giving up.

Coming Out from Under the ‘Rona, Etc.

Yesterday we commemorated the immaculate conception of Our Lady in the womb of her mother, St. Anne.

The festivities began on the eve of the Solemnity, at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, with the NFL upset of the year. Team-formerly-known-as-Redskins solidly defeated the league-leading, as-yet-unbeaten Pittsburgh team. 🙂

Then our Holy Father paid a quiet visit to the statue of the Immaculata at the base of the Spanish Steps in Rome.

Pope Francis Immaculate Spanish steps

The pope gave us a letter about St. Joseph. The letter has a couple paragraphs about fathering…

Being a father entails introducing children to life and reality. Not holding them back, being overprotective or possessive, but rather making them capable of deciding for themselves, enjoying freedom and exploring new possibilities. Perhaps for this reason, Joseph is traditionally called a “most chaste” father. That title is not simply a sign of affection, but the summation of an attitude that is the opposite of possessiveness.

Chastity is freedom from possessiveness in every sphere of one’s life. Only when love is chaste, is it truly love. A possessive love ultimately becomes dangerous: it imprisons, constricts and makes for misery.

God himself loved humanity with a chaste love; he left us free even to go astray and set ourselves against him. The logic of love is always the logic of freedom, and Joseph knew how to love with extraordinary freedom. He never made himself the center of things…

When fathers refuse to live the lives of their children for them, new and unexpected vistas open up. Every child is the bearer of a unique mystery that can only be brought to light with the help of a father who respects that child’s freedom… When he sees that his child has become independent and can walk the paths of life unaccompanied, he becomes like Joseph, who always knew that his child was not his own but had merely been entrusted to his care.

In every exercise of our fatherhood, we should always keep in mind that it has nothing to do with possession, but is rather a “sign” pointing to a greater fatherhood. In a way, we are all like Joseph: a shadow of the heavenly Father.

dad3Today would have been my dear dad’s 83rd birthday. May he rest in peace.

Public service announcement. If you catch the coronavirus, how do you know when to end your isolation?

I have had to find an answer to this question, and I have learned something. I think the general public remains confused on this. (I know I was.)

Testing does not help, when it comes to determining when to end coronavirus isolation. I spent fourteen days in isolation. My symptoms had long since gone away. But I didn’t want to expose anyone to possible infection. I went to the CVS drive-thru and swabbed my own nostrils twice–and got two positive results. 😦 Finally, I got wise and talked to my doctor.

I should have talked to him three weeks ago. Turns out, in October the Center for Disease Control eliminated testing from their criteria for determining when to end coronavirus-patient isolation. The fact is, positive tests continue for months, even long after you’re no longer sick or infectious.

If you catch the virus and never experience severe symptoms, the CDC recommends discontinuing isolation ten days after the symptoms first appeared, provided you have at least 24 hours without a fever.

(Good Lord willing, dear reader, you will get immunized before you ever need to take this information into account.)

Two Next Steps

old-booksNumber One

With the Lord’s help, I will write a book. Tentative working title: Ordained by a Predator.

I plan to write five chapters:

1. Summer 2018

2. What I Think Happened with McCarrick

3. The Church We Believe In

4. The Bishop-Knestout Affair

5. “Justice for Father Mark?”

May the good Lord give me two weeks of peace and quiet to write a draft. May He send me a book agent who could help me get it published. (Please let me know, if you know someone.) May He guide my mind and my pen.

Send thoughts and ideas, if you have them. (I may or may not be able to answer, these next couple weeks, but I promise to read any ideas I get.)

Richmond Cathedral WRIC screenshot2

Number Two

This Sunday, we will keep another prayerful vigil in front of the Cathedral in Richmond, beginning at 4:00pm. 823 Cathedral Pl, Richmond, VA 23220.

Please come. We have seats available on vans from Rocky Mount and Martinsville. Call or e-mail Joe Kernan: 540-263-1516 or 276-632-9941 or

O God, who crowned the Blessed Virgin Mary with surpassing glory, grant, through her prayers, that we may merit to be exalted with you on high, through our Lord, Jesus Christ, your Son.

(from the Collect for the Vigil Mass of the Assumption)

El Greco Virgin Mary

Happy 12th anniversary of this little weblog ❤️

Mothers’ Day Bilingüe

In Mexico they always celebrate Mothers’ Day on May 10, no matter what day of the week it is. Aquí en los estados unidos, celebramos las madres el según domingo de mayo, no importa la fecha del mes.

guadalupe facePues, guess what? This year, lo mismo, el dia! May 10 falls on the second Sunday.

La Virgencita nos cuida a todos nosotros, como nuestra madre celestial. She loves Spanish-speaking people, Vietnamese-speaking people, Tagalog, English, everything—she loves us all the same. She mothers us all with her tender loving care.

Santa Maria les enseña a las madres como madre, and she gives all mothers the super-human strength and patience that mothers need.

I haven’t seen my own dear mother for two months now, because of the cuarentena, menos por facebook videochat. Thank God for facebook videochat. Luchamos cada dia para amar bien, y cuidar a nuestros queridos, por esto desafio unico, desafio una vez en la vida.

Even though the virus makes it challenging, let’s make this the most-loving Mothers’ Day ever. Feliz Dia de las Madres, madres queridas. May the good Lord shower His graces upon you.

I have fallen way behind on my personal correspondence. If you have corresponded with me personally lately, dear reader, please forgive my silence. I will answer as soon as I can.

I have had to face the imminent possibility that diocesan locksmiths will come and change the locks on my own parish house, leaving me stranded.

I remain the lawful pastor of my two parishes, even while unjustly prohibited from exercising the sacred ministry. I continue to have the clear duty and right of residence in the parishes. I will provide a full canon- and civil-law digest of the situation, as soon as I have the leisure to do so.

But I have had to make provisions for the possibility that I will come home from buying milk, and my key to my own front door won’t work anymore. That has left me behind: on my writing projects, e-mails, phone and social-media messages, etc.

No te preocupes, dear reader. The Lord provides. Generous people abound. I will have a roof over my head, come what may. And we will be able to continue our conversation.

I persevere in the solid hope that, after a brief span of time–and with the help of my worthy canonist–we will return to the normal, peaceful parish life that we have shared happily and fruitfully.

Dearly beloved of Rocky Mount and Martinsville: please share that hope with me. And share it with all our troubled and suffering brothers and sisters of St. Francis and St. Joseph.

Second Annunciation Day

(written 12/20/2019)

What’s it called, the mystery of the Holy Rosary, that we read about every December 20? The Annunciation.

unbornWhen is Annunciation Day? Correct: March 25. But we get a kind-of second Annunciation Day every December 20. Commemorating the beginning of the pregnancy, just as it reaches its conclusion.

Which moves us to consider the Blessed Mother’s nine months of pregnancy. Her experience during those nine months. We know she traveled south to Judea at the beginning of her pregnancy, and also at the end.

Seventy-mile trip, each way. Mary is “all-pure,” to be sure. But no delicate flower. She made at least three 70-mile treks on the back of a donkey, while pregnant. Her exquisite maternal loveliness included the weather-beaten skin of Middle-Eastern overland travel.

It’s impossible not to contrast the Blessed Mother’s experience of pregnancy with the horrible violence of procured abortion. We hear empty political slogans like “American freedom includes reproductive freedom!” Then we meditate on the Blessed Mother’s nine months. And we see the slogan for the destructive nonsense that it is.

Our Lady of Guadalupe

(written 12/11/2019) English follows Spanish

guadalupe face

Regresamos, en nuestras mentes, a la mañana fría del 12 de diciembre de 1531. San Juan Diego vio a nuestra Bendita Madre en el cerro de Tepeyac y juntó las rosas milagrosas en su tilma.

Algo de la significancia más grande pasó en ese momento. La historia de nuestro continente cambió completamente. México, América del Norte, todo el hemisferio—nuestra tierra se convirtió en un lugar nuevo y diferente, porque Nuestra Señora visitó a Juan Diego, le habló, y le dio su imagen en su tilma.

América se convirtió en un lugar que conoce al Mesías. ¿Quién es ella, la Señora de Guadalupe? La mujer que dio al mundo el Mesías, el Salvador. El que hace que la vida tenga sentido, Quien hace que vale la pena vivir. Jesús.

La Señora de Guadalupe cargó al Hijo de Dios en su vientre. Lo tuvo en sus brazos en Su sagrado nacimiento en Belén. Y ella Lo tuvo en sus brazos otra vez, cuando los soldados Lo bajaron de la cruz.

La Señora de Guadalupe lleva a Cristo—es quien es ella. Dios unió todo su ser en una sola cosa completamente unificada: la Virgen María lleva el Cristo de Dios, da al Cristo de Dios al mundo. Es quien es la Señora.

El 12 de diciembre de 1531, vino la Virgen al Distrito Federal a darnos Cristo. Dio a este continente esa nueva vida. Podemos poner al paganismo atrás de nosotros, con toda su autodestructiva violencia sin sentido. Podemos poner a la oscuridad sin esperanza de un mundo que no sabe del amor de Dios—podemos poner eso atrás de nosotros, para siempre.

Nos dio al Cristo la Virgen. Nos dio a Quien nos hace la gente de Dios. La Virgen y su Hijo nos han mostrado nuestro destino: A vivir por siempre en la carne inmortal de Dios hecho hombre. Y nos enseña la Virgen el camino: nosotros, también, tenemos un solo propósito, por el cual Dios nos une en una sola cosa, unificada.

Existimos para llevar el Cristo. A hacernos un templo digno para El. A llevarlo por donde andamos. A darle a todos los que encontramos, como Nuestra Señora dio la gracia del Mesías salvador a nuestro querido antepasado, Juan Diego, en este día sagrado.

Let’s go back, in our minds, to the chilly morning of December 12, 1531. St. Juan Diego saw our Blessed Mother on Tepeyac hill, and he gathered the miraculous roses in his tilma.

Something of the greatest significance happened at that moment. The history of our continent changed altogether. Mexico, North America, the whole hemisphere—our land became a new and different kind of place, because our Lady visited Juan Diego, spoke to him, and gave him her image on his cloak.

America became a place that knows the Messiah. Who is she, la Señora de Guadalupe? The woman who gave the world the Messiah, the Savior. The One Who makes life make sense, Who makes life worth living.

She bore the Son of God in her womb. She held Him in her arms at His holy birth in Bethlehem. And she held Him in her arms again, after the soldiers took Him down from the cross.

The Lady of Guadalupe bears the Christ—that’s who she is. God gathered up her entire being into one single, totally unified thing: the Virgin Mary bears the Christ of God, gives the Christ of God to the world. That is who the Lady is.

On December 12, 1531, she came to el Distrito Federal to give the Christ to us. She gave this continent this brand-new life. We can put paganism behind us, with all its senseless, self-destructive violence. We can put the hopeless darkness of a world that doesn’t know God’s love—we can put that behind us forever.

She gave us the Christ, Who makes us God’s people. She has shown us our destiny: To live forever in the immortal flesh of her Son. And she shows us the way there: we, too, have one single purpose, by which God gathers us up into a single, unified thing.

We exist to bear the Christ, too. To make ourselves a worthy temple for Him. To carry Him wherever we go. To give Him to everyone we encounter, just like our Lady gave the grace of the saving Messiah to our beloved forefather, Juan Diego, on this holy day.

Homily for Our Lady’s Presentation Day

The city of Jerusalem did not recognize God made man when He came. But our Lady did.

We have talked a fair amount about how genuinely difficult it was to recognize the Christ. How much faith the first believers had to have. Yes, He worked great miracles. He also walked around pretty much like you and me. And then, as we will discuss on Sunday, He got crucified.

El Greco Virgin Mary

At the foot of the cross, the disbelieving Pharisees and priests scoffed at Him, along with one of the other criminals, and many of the soldiers and bystanders. Bitter and unkind, to be sure. But, at the same time, can we blame them? After all, what kind of Christ is this? A convicted blaspheming Jew, put summarily to death by cruel pagans.

They did not recognize Him. God came to visit them, in Person. He came as a lamb led to slaughter. As the Prince, not of power, but of Peace. He came with pure, divine love. Love that chose to die in sacrifice, rather than visit any wrath or vengeance. God did not get mad when they failed to welcome His visit. Instead, he died for the very people who rejected and killed Him. ‘Father, forgive them. They think I’m a blasphemer. They don’t recognize Your Eternal, Only-Begotten Son.’

Meanwhile: The Blessed Mother beheld everything exactly as it truly was. Because she never deviated one iota from her faith in what the Archangel Gabriel had told her, when the whole adventure began.

Her child is God. The wandering Nazarene rabbi was no blasphemer. He had innocence that extended to truly infinite depths within Him. She watched the innocent divine Lamb die, knowing exactly what was happening. She did not doubt that God’s will was getting fulfilled, even though it made no apparent sense.

She did not know what would happen next. But she knew that God had chosen her to live through it, exactly as it was, whatever came. Then she saw her Son again, risen from the dead.

Mary Our Queen, Wedding Garment, Upcoming Trip

St Vigilius of Trent and companions
Saint Vigilius of Trent and his companions

A week ago we discussed how our Lady, inseparable from Christ during their pilgrim lives, remains inseparable from Him in His life of glory.

In the parable in today’s gospel at Mass, we hear the Lord describe the life of glory as a banquet. Everyone receives an invitation, the bad as well as the good. At Sunday Mass, we will hear Him use the same image: heaven is a banquet. All are invited. But not all wind up inside.

In the parable we hear today, the king expels from the banquet someone without a ‘wedding garment.’

El Greco Virgin MaryWhat does He mean? To understand, let’s contrast the improperly dressed man with the one who wears the consummate wedding garment, the queen herself.

Our Lady wears the necessary wedding garment: Faith, hope, and love. Humility, prudence, courage. Patient perseverance.

The interior garment of grace.

Mary received the garment when her parents miraculously conceived her without the stain of original sin. She wore it throughout her pilgrim life, making it more and more beautiful with every act of love.

We receive the garment in Holy Baptism. We lose it when we sin gravely. But we can put it back on again, by confessing our sins to a priest.

…In ten days I will depart on a little pilgrimage to the ancient city of Trent, in northern Italy. Five centuries ago, some of the bishops of the world met there to try to reach an agreement about disputed points.

Like: Grace. Baptism and all the sacraments. Having images of our Lady, and other saints, in our churches. Many other things, too, including: the discipline of bishops and priests.

Trent lies “on the border,” so to speak, between Italy and the German-speaking world. They held the ecumenical council in Trent so the bishops could meet in a neutral place, between Rome and Martin Luther.

I will have much more to tell you about this, of course. I will pray for you at the tomb of the martyr St. Vigilius, ancient patron of Trent. Not to mention the fact that, on my trip, I will pray for you at the tombs of St. Charles Borromeo in Milan and my baptismal patron, St. Mark, in Venice. (You can hardly go all the way to Trent and not go to Venice also, after all 🙂 )

Pray for me, too, please.

Mary and Jesus, Intertwined

angels nativity

As we make our way through the year of grace, we encounter Lord Jesus and Our Lady at different stages of their pilgrim lives. And we see how totally intertwined their lives are.

At Christmas, we encounter Jesus newly born. And Our Lady, new mother. Good Friday we encounter Jesus dying on the cross. And Our Lady at the foot of the cross. Pentecost we encounter Our Lady praying with the Apostles for the Holy Spirit. And Our Lord pouring out the Holy Spirit.

Today Our Lady entered heaven, body and soul. Because Our Lord took her there, by the death-conquering power of His body and soul.

My point is: it doesn’t require rocket science for a Christian to grasp the inseparability of Jesus and Mary. God entered the world as a human being by taking flesh from the body of one person—His mother, Mary. Mary came into her own as a human being—became the person God had preserved her from original sin in order to become—by being Jesus Christ’s loving mother.


Jesus the eternal God would not have been our brother and Savior—were it not for Mary. Mary would not have become herself, without Her Son.

Now, God became man in the Virgin’s womb in order to do… what? To reveal the love of the Father. By consecrating the human race through His own self-sacrifice—the sacrifice that conquered death and gave us our true destiny. To live as children of God, forever.

Of course there’s no separating the Blessed Virgin from this mystery. She lived as a pure vessel of divine love. She joined herself completely to Christ’s perfect self-sacrifice. So she shares fully in the undying life that her Son lives in His risen body. She shares it so completely that the sting of death could not touch her.

Now, do we presume too much to think: Okay, Mary and Jesus, inseparable. I want to be, and can be, that inseparable from the Savior, too! Do we presume too much to aspire to that?

Hardly. That’s the whole idea. Mary is not something other than a Christian. She conceived a child by believing in the promises of God. She gave her own flesh and blood to Him, while she carried Him in her womb, because of her total dedication to His mission. She prayed with Him. She listened to His every word, in order to know the revelation of God. She believed all His teaching and obeyed all His precepts. She followed Him faithfully to the end.


Mary’s inseparability from Christ is not beyond us. To the contrary: She has shown us how. How to intertwine our lives with His. How to intertwine our very identities with His. She is the saint that we can never go wrong imitating.

Her faith. Her humility before God. Her courage in obeying Him. Her patience with the unfolding of His Providence. Her perseverance. Her tenderness.

Our Lady’s Assumption into heaven teaches us what to hope for. Her life on earth was Jesus Christ. So of course she shares His heavenly life now. The inseparability extends beyond just this short pilgrimage of a few decades. Just so, the Christian, whose whole life on earth is Jesus, inherits the heavenly life of Jesus, when this pilgrimage ends.

Guess where else it occurs–the intertwining between Jesus’ life and ours? In church. At the altar. The Sacred Liturgy.

We most imitate Mary in sharing Jesus’ life when we participate in Holy Mass with sincere faith and love.

The Faith of Abraham and Mary

In our second reading at Sunday Mass, we hear some of St. Paul’s letter to the Hebrews, chapter 11. St. Paul praises the heroic faith of the ancestors of the Messiah. We hear this sentence: “Abraham prepared to sacrifice his only son Isaac, reasoning that God could raise the dead.” [Spanish]

Maybe you remember that we focused on this, on Palm Sunday: Abraham’s faith in God’s power to raise the dead. That day we heard in the gospel reading about the repentant thief who said to Christ, as the Lord hung on the cross: “Remember me when you come into Your kingdom.”


Only the faith of Abraham could have moved the thief to ask such a favor. After all, what kingdom could he possibly mean? Here’s a poor rabbi, dying unjustly in agony, with no prospects of any kind. No kingdom to hope for. Except if you reason that God can raise the dead.

We hear some more of Hebrews 11 Sunday morning. By faith Abraham set forth from his home and dwelt in a tent in the fields. Because he had his heart set on the heavenly city, prepared by God. By faith Sarah conceived a child, even though she had lived barren, way past her child-bearing years. By faith Sarah become the mother of countless descendants. The mother of God’s chosen people, the people that gave the world the Messiah.

Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead. Then it actually happened; God exercised that power.

That’s why we frequent the local church building. That’s why we honor the Lord’s day on Sunday, the day of the Christ’s resurrection. That’s why the Holy Mass gives grace, gives life—because the sacrifice of the altar gives us the flesh and blood of Jesus, risen from the dead by the infinite power of God.

It’s also why we don’t just honor Abraham’s wife Sarah as our mother in faith. Sarah conceived by faith, to be sure, as St. Paul put it in Hebrews 11. But another lady conceived by an altogether more sublime faith. A virgin. And she gave birth to the child that Sarah’s son Isaac prefigured.


Abraham prepared to sacrifice Isaac, reasoning that God could raise the dead. But then the angel stayed Abraham’s hand. In the fullness of time, God accepted the sacrifice of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s Son. She stood by His cross and offered herself to the Father along with Him. The Blessed Mother offered herself with pure faith in God’s plan. Reasoning that God can raise the dead.

Thursday we will keep the Solemnity of the final fulfillment of Our Lady’s faith. When Jesus, risen from the dead, raised His mother up to heaven. Raised her up to the eternal city, whose architect and maker is God.

The Solemnity of August 15 lifts our minds up to the final goal and spurs us on in hope and confidence. But it’s also a rough anniversary this year. Yes, fiftieth anniversary of Woodstock. But that’s not what I mean. As Providence would have it, exactly one year ago, on Assumption Day, the Pennsylvania Grand Jury released its crushingly damning report on abuse in the Church.

If we read widely, we can find two basic accounts of what has happened since then. According to one version of the history of the past year: the grand-jury report unfairly published old news as if it were new. The bishops had actually fixed the problem seventeen years ago. And the pope and bishops have shown even more decisive leadership during the last year.

El Greco Virgin MaryAnother account sees something different: An institution in the grips of a problem it appears unable to solve, because the entire leadership is compromised. This second point-of-view has multiple versions, casting blame on homosexuality, or abuse of power, or on a communist plot to infiltrate the Church.

Let’s thank the good Lord that, in the midst of all this, He has kept us close to Himself. He has continued to pour out the grace of faith, faith in His only-begotten Son. He has kept us in His Church–not by blinding our eyes to the problems, but by rooting us so firmly in our faith in Christ that we can face the problems honestly.

When the Lord drew our Lady up to heaven, He freed her completely from all the pain and confusion of this fallen world. He united her with the truth about God’s love. And the truth about herself. That she was made for eternal love. He made us for eternal love, too.

We exist because of God’s all-conquering love. He formed us out of nothing, so that we could give Him glory, by becoming ourselves in full. By trusting God enough to step forward without fear, into the future He has prepared for us.

On Good Friday, the thief said, “Remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” As he said that, Mary stood there, quietly offering her broken heart to the heavenly Father. She trusted in God’s Providence even at the moment when her only son died. Both the repentant thief on his cross next to Christ’s, and our Blessed Mother at the foot of the cross–they both thought along similar lines: They reasoned that God can raise the dead.

Having that kind of faith opens up a road before us. A road that leads to a city with celestial foundations. A city free of abuses, of cover-ups, of lies, of confusion. A city free of shootings and violence. The city of peace and truth. Faith in Christ lead us to the city whose architect and maker is God.