I hope you don’t mind this open letter.I know we’ve privately corresponded, but I want the world to know that there are other priests who are proud to stand with you. All the apostles ran away when Jesus was crucified. But at least John came back to stand in the midst of the full onslaught of hell, in solidarity. You’ve discovered first hand how weak we priests can be, how fast we can run, how ready we can be to betray. So…
I want to thank you on behalf of all faithful priests. I want to thank you for being a priest’s priest, showing us priests the way, serving priests in this way, priests who will be falsely accused in time to come, showing them how to do it, how to be faithful to our Lord in the most adverse of circumstances, how to plead not guilty and suffer horrifically for it, how to be one with the priesthood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who was falsely accused before us, going to His death, and for showing us how to do this, as a great hero, for the youngsters who truly have been abused, and who have been doubly raped by those who falsely accuse others, cashing in as they do on the sufferings of the real victims. Thanks for being the hero of the real victims, in perfect solidarity with their great sufferings. Thanks, because of that, for being a hero for all us priests.
I know that Jesus brings good out of even the most diabolical evil so that as many get to heaven as possible. That is my hope for you and all my fellow priests who are suffering in any way. If only we could all recognize that it is such a great privilege to suffer for the sake of Jesus’ Name. If we could only see a bit of the glory veiled by the darkness of Calvary, why… why we might even be envious of you! Why was I passed by? Doesn’t Jesus love me too? I know that some of our fellow priests and bishops will gasp in their shock at such exclamatory questions, but that’s part of the problem, isn’t it? Do they gasp as much at the suffering of Christ when they offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass?
When being hit with horrific injustice, when one is facing it so very closely, does one not then know that experience is always a better teacher than conjecture? Is it not in the midst of such chaos that we find ourselves becoming the little children Jesus demands that we be in order to enter into the kingdom of heaven? Is it not in the midst of such hell that the simplicity of a trusting love is purified to the point of not so much putting ourselves forward to pray, but watching with joy as Jesus draws us closer to Himself? Do we not then find real transcendent joy, real beatitude in the ever so paradoxical beatitudes? Even as trusted friends cover their eyes in shame, turning away, Jesus says, “Blessed are you when they speak all sorts of evil against you! Rejoice and exult!” Jesus knows well the friendship in which He holds us.
Father! Thank you for your steadfast fidelity over so many years of adversity. I especially appreciate your faithfulness during those years when you could only long to celebrate the Sacraments, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, to adore Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament, but were deprived of this. I am sure that this was the same longing you felt and continue to feel, desiring to once again be a Father of the Family of Faith in a parish, for love of God and love of neighbor are but one act of love for the Body of Christ.
There can be a perception of being rooted up every time one is moved about in prison, especially if this is done with frequency. Often parish priests can have a similar experience in being moved about from parish to parish, even if this may happen only once every six years or so. As soon as one gets to know a few people, one finds oneself in a different set of circumstances with a different set of people.
But here is where the Fatherliness of Jesus’ good friend, His priest, is manifested. The same steadfast love for Jesus in the Eucharist is provided in a simultaneous act of love for whatever member of the Body of Christ it is that Jesus has placed before one at any given time, whether this be a long time friend or a total stranger. The unfathomable mystery of our Heavenly Father bringing us more, always more into the universality of His Fatherliness cannot but bring us into ongoing, humble thankfulness. Being thankful always and everywhere, in whatever circumstances, is this not a taste of heaven?
I do hope you are well. I do hope you get out soon. I do hope that those who need to learn some lessons in solidarity will learn them.
You have my prayers and blessings. Do send a Fatherly blessing with your prayers for me! What a wonderful family of faith!
May Jesus continue to bless you abundantly according to the perfect intercession of the Immaculate Conception.
Your fellow priest in this Church Militant,