A Prayer for Angry Catholics
Dear God, sometimes I get so angry at your church.
I know that I’m not alone. So many people who love your church feel frustrated with the Body of Christ on earth. Priests and deacons, and brothers and sisters, can feel frustrated, too. And I’ll bet that even bishops and popes feel frustrated. We grow worried and concerned and bothered and angry and sometimes scandalized because your divine institution, our home, is filled with human beings who are sinful. Just like me.
But I get frustrated most of all when I feel that there are things that need to be changed and I don’t have the power to change them.
So I need your help, God.
Help me to remember that Jesus promised that he would be with us until the end of time, and that your church is always guided by the Holy Spirit, even if it’s hard for me to see. Sometimes change happens suddenly, and the Spirit astonishes us, but often in the church it happens slowly. In your time, not mine. Help me know that the seeds that I plant with love in the ground of your church will one day bloom. So give me patience.
Help me to remember that Jesus promised that he would be with us until the end of time, and that your church is always guided by the Holy Spirit, even if it’s hard for me to see.
Help me to understand that there was never a time when there were not arguments or disputes within your church. Arguments go all the way back to Peter and Paul debating one another. And there was never a time when there wasn’t sin among the members of your church. That kind of sin goes back to Peter denying Jesus during his Passion. Why would today’s church be any different than it was for people who knew Jesus on earth? Give me wisdom.
Help me to trust in the Resurrection.The Risen Christ reminds us that there is always the hope of something new. Death is never the last word for us. Neither is despair. And help me remember that when the Risen Christ appeared to his disciples, he bore the wounds of his Crucifixion. Like Christ, the church is always wounded, but always a carrier of grace. Give me hope.
Help me to believe that your Spirit can do anything: raise up saints when we need them most, soften hearts when they seem hardened, open minds when they seem closed, inspire confidence when all seems lost, help us do what had seemed impossible until it was done. This is the same Spirit that converted Paul, inspired Augustine, called Francis of Assisi, emboldened Catherine of Siena, consoled Ignatius of Loyola, comforted Thérèse of Lisieux, enlivened John XXIII, accompanied Teresa of Calcutta, strengthened Dorothy Day and encouraged John Paul II. It is the same Spirit that it with us today, and your Spirit has lost none of its power. Give me faith.
Help me remember that when the Risen Christ appeared to his disciples, he bore the wounds of his Crucifixion. Like Christ, the church is always wounded, but always a carrier of grace. Give me hope.
Help me to remember all your saints. Most of them had it a lot worse than I do. They were frustrated with your church at times, struggled with it, and were occasionally persecuted by it. Joan of Arc was burned at the stake by church authorities. Ignatius of Loyola was thrown into jail by the Inquisition. Mary MacKillop was excommunicated. If they can trust in your church in the midst of those difficulties, so can I. Give me courage.
Help me to be peaceful when people tell me that I don’t belong in the church, that I’m a heretic for trying to make things better, or that I’m not a good Catholic. I know that I was baptized. You called me by name to be in your church, God. As long as I draw breath, help me remember how the holy waters of baptism welcomed me into your holy family of sinners and saints. Let the voice that called me into your church be what I hear when other voices tell me that I’m not welcome in the church. Give me peace.
Most of all, help me to place all of my hope in your Son. My faith is in Jesus Christ. Give me only his love and his grace. That’s enough for me.
Help me God, and help your church.
James Martin, S.J.
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I so needed to hear this today as I have been struggling with the notion that the times I find myself "in trouble" with the Church are those times when I hear the Gospel, and feel called to follow it closely... and my following doesn't sit well with the "authorities."
I so needed to be reminded that his love and his grace are enough for me.
It's often helpful to look up from our own preoccupations and see the bigger picture.
I'm going to share this prayer with my family and friends!
As an American, I feel the same frustration with our country - which is also very divided.
There is nothing new under the sun. There has been friction from day one, but I did't live then, I live now. I get afraid that we may see schism again. But I will not let my hope die, no matter how frustrated I get. Thanks for the prayer that so well puts into words what I am feeling.
The late, beloved Bishop Ken Untener used to say, ''Never speak of 'the Church' without using the pronoun 'WE.''' This is almost becoming an exercise in wishful thinking.
When gifted, discerning theologians are censured for their writings not replicating the teachings of the institution, how, as non-ordained women, do they have the privileged opportinity and responsibility to help shape the teachings of the Church, the tradition of the church, so that it may remain alive and consonant with human experience? Women are sinfully excluded from the decision-making processes of the institution. May our faithful God keep prophets strong, and renew in all the grace of Baptism.
Thank you for your honest prayer. You will never know how it resonates within so many hearts. I join my voice to yours, confident that we are more than two or three.
I have tried to focus on the journey being to God, not to Rome.
I know that having a placid and trusting and faith-filled spirit are truly blessings and I desire them also. But if they somehow mitigate against action for change - and sometimes confrontational, non-violent civil and religious disobedience - then these sentiments descend into something else, I think.
I surely believe and have -in various places in heart, home, work. and car -Julian of Norwich's consolation of "All shall be well," but I also beleive that I have sometimes an uncomfortable role in attempting to do my own little part to make it well with as little ego and self-righteousness and awareness of my own pride and sinfulness as possible... but we must act also and not simply let things go...
I am indeed grateful to you for composing this prayer. It ''covered'' everything I feel, fret, hope and pray about.
You made today a new and better day for me. Many thanks.
G.K. Chesterton once said, “The riddles of God are more satisfying than the solutions of men!” The word “riddle” is defined as, “an enigma, a mystery.” Your prayer addressed very well the enigmatic and mysterious riddles of God impregnated in Faith an impregnation affecting the lives of all, especially Believers. Once understood, which your prayer helped to do, Faith in God, in the Church, not only enlightens, but also satisfies.
The Italian writer, Carlo Carretto who despite admitting of “much scandal” in the Church prayed nightly that he “might die in (the Church’s) warm, loving arms” even though countless times “he felt like leaving (the) Church!” Everyone knows Carretto’s full message so I won’t tire anyone repetitiously. Anyway your originality said it BETTER! Again, thanks.
To Dave, maybe we don't need to take drastic action. Just being honest (to clergy and lay people alike) about who we are as thinking, commited, and open-minded Catholics may be sufficient witness.
I believe that the Holy Spirit guides the Church, but I am not sure that I know what that means. Just because the Spirit is trying to guide us, doesn’t mean that we are following the guidance. Just because the Spirit is there doesn’t mean we are going in the right direction, does it? Wasn’t the Spirit guiding the Church in the Middle Ages when the Church had 3 popes? Anyone with thoughts on this?
All I can say at this point though is... maybe.
I'm not into posting a 95 theses or simply going quietly, but I will admit that this sense of discouragement gets heavy. I am extremely grateful for my own pastor and parish and his courage in the face of much and there are perhaps two other such priests in our diocese, but if they are censured or whatever, it will be very, very bleak...
Fr. Martin's reflection on the Paschal mystery of what must die for new life to grow may involve much more than any of us can imagine.
To quote Bob Dylan - "It ain't dark yet, but it's gettin' there."
I think you summarized and advanced well what I am struggling with and attempting to say. The parallels are not exact, but I know that Martin Luther King, Jr. did not just pray for change thugh he believed "the arc of thh moral univese is long and bends towards justice." That doesn't mean we're exempt from doing our part to influence the arc - and that goes for the "a (ark?)rc of the Church" as well.
If you believe that, I have a nice bridge over the Golden Gate to sell you very cheaply.
If that is true, then the HS is very cruel in her/his form guidance.
If what we have is the result of the HS's guidance, then it's definitely time to decamp for greener pastures - which hundreds of thousands of us have already done and continue to do on a daily basis.
Stop visiting that river in Egypt as part of your day dreaming.
Is the Holy Spirit absent? Or do fallible,prideful and ambitious men simply turn away and refuse to hear? Jesus never promised the Spirit would guide the Curia or a conclave or a bunch of bishops in a council. Jesus never mentioned a ''magisterium''. Jesus promised that his spirit would guide THE church - not a small group of men who occupy an institutution's corporate offices in Rome.
However, secular scholarship can and has broadened the Church’s competency, providing the Church with excelling secular wisdom, contributory to greater clarity in explaining objective truth according to the authority of Christ and always in fulfillment of the mandates of Faith and Morals universally applicable to all humanity. The Church is obligated to this and in this has the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Dave, as I understand it it’s that simple! How is all of this energized? It’s energized through vibrant Faith which according to St. Paul is “the evidence of things not seen.” Could it be that the big reason why so many don’t “see” is because they lack the vibrant “evidence” called “Faith?”
That is the danger in the passive ''obedience'' of so many Catholics. Jesus went into the temple and overturned tables. He didn't stand by because he owed ''obedience'' to the men, the religious leaders of the temple, who had betrayed God. Those who think that many in the leadership of the church are guilty of betraying the gospels and Christ MUST speak out, must work for change, must sometimes be ''disobedient'' to the human beings who run the church - this disobedience to men is sometimes necessary in order to be obedient to God. Discernment is admittedly difficult - but turning away from the challenge in the name of ''obedience'' alone is an abdication of moral responsibility. And this concept of ''obedience'' to men presents another potential moral danger - that of substituting men and an institution for God, a violation of the first commandment.
I do make an effort, but it is difficult sometimes.
??As a youth, a wonderful priest - one of the first of? that era to leave after a crushing from the bishop - instructed our little group ("cell" for those who remember the Douglas Hyde era) in t?he? French JOCist model of "ob?serve, judge, act." That has been a mant?r?a - at best suffus?ed with prayer, trust, and humility - but also aw???a?re of Newman's adage that ?"whatev?e?r is worth doing is worth doing poorly." We must take? our place in the mandala....
The timing of sharing this prayer cannot be better.
It is very unsettling indeed for Catholics to see the Church in conflict.
We need to be reminded on the fundamentals of our Faith in order to stay strong and to be more understanding and tolerant till things work out. I like to mention one of the songs that is always sung in mass : " Glory to God, Glory to God , Glory to God in the highest, And on earth, peace on earth, peace to people of goodwill." Amen.