Posted by: Thomas Richard | June 24, 2022

How Do We Get Home, From Here?

A Church in Need

I never thought I’d see the day when the Catholic Church would become as compromised, as mixed and confused, as it is today.  Today, from the Vatican, through diocesan bureaucracies and bishop’s chairs, down to parish staff and pastor’s desk, and maybe most importantly to our Liturgy, and specifically, the Holy Mass.  The Holy Mass is our corporate and personal encounter with God in Christ, in His Self-Outpouring Gift to the Church.  That encounter with Christ, in the celebration of the Mass, is being specifically weakened today, and I wonder if we as Church realize it even as it is happening around us and to us and in us.

More and more, the world is working its way into the institutional church.  And by world I don’t mean flowers and butterflies, I mean what John the Apostle saw in the world: “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.” (1 Jn 2:16).  Many Catholics reveal that the ways of the world are very much with us even as we enter the Holy Place, even as we assemble for the Mass.  Many typically enter and depart the Sanctuary chatting and laughing together – not in the joy of the Holy Spirit and in the praise of God, but in the way of the world that knows no God, that lives as if God did not exist.  The chatting and the laughing together are about anything but the ways and the truth and the life of God; they are as if God does not exist, as if the Mass were long and far away, as if nothing has changed because of His Cross and Resurrection.  

And so the Holy Mass, for clergy and laity, is too often performed but not offered, read and recited but not prayed, attended at and present at but not participating in Him!

There are souls – few and far between – who do not approach God and His Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in this way, but enter with faces of holy and beautiful fear, in silence, in reverence, falling to their knees in prayer immediately, happy to be with Him. There are souls who do not leap back into the world as quickly as possible as do many others, but rather remain in silence on their knees, heads down and eyes closed in private prayer with Him, in secret communion, in hope and in love.  These few are prophets, though they may never realize it until they hear it from Him on that Day.  They are proclaiming God – they are living their priesthood, whether as the ordained or in the common priesthood of the laity.  

And there are others, crying in silence, in union with the Lord,

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! (Mt 23:37)

And there are those, seeing the signs of these times, who hear the Lord Present in these ancient words:

And when he drew near and saw the city he wept over it, saying, “Would that even today you knew the things that make for peace! But now they are hid from your eyes.
For the days shall come upon you, when your enemies will cast up a bank about you and surround you, and hem you in on every side,
and dash you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another in you; because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold,
saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer’; but you have made it a den of robbers.” (Luke 19:41-46)

This, it seems, is the Truth in these dangerous days.  Many, clergy and laity, are like Martha who was too busy about many things, preoccupied with the outward “doing,” which is necessary, but unaware of what is within, the “being” so sought by God, which is essential.  And there are always the few, thanks be to God, who like Mary know Christ on their knees, ever listening, learning, obeying.  They know His Cross.  They know His Resurrection.  They know His Presence, and He knows theirs.

The Four Pillars of the Faith

How has that encounter with Christ been weakened?  By our distance, by our distraction, by our preoccupation with the world in the very moments He is so close to us.  He is near, in all of the traditional four pillars of our Faith.

  • The first pillar: the Creed – the doctrinal “content” of our beliefs.  This is the Truth – the truths revealed to us by God and kept in Sacred Tradition, which we have not protected, not guarded, not treasured.  Instead, holy Truth has become cheapened in our hearts, as we have to our shame preferred the changing ideas and ideals of the world to the ways of the eternal God.  We don’t care to know the doctrines of the Church with careful precision: we have preferred the uncertain fellowship of the many in darkness, to the enduring love of God and a chosen few.
  • The second pillar: the Sacraments – the means of holy grace by which we receive a share in His holy life.  Holy grace has become unintelligible to us, unknown and unappreciated, disvalued and thus lost like sand through the fingers.  How did this happen?   Like an old friend of the past, taken for granted and ignored in preference for new and advantageous acquaintances, players in the fast and seductive world before us, we set Him aside.  We “lost touch”.  We stopped knowing Him, and thus holy grace – a share in His holy life – became as something unvalued, unimportant, irrelevant to the seductions of the life of this world.
  • The third pillar: the moral life – living the life of God in Christ.  When Truth of the Faith falls into the shadows, and grace becomes disvalued and unintelligible, moral life itself becomes loosened from its rightful anchor in God.  Our life becomes like a twig fallen into the stream, twisting and turning it flows away, downstream.  The twig follows a path away and downward by an unseen force (gravity).  The moral life of such a distracted and uncertain Catholic Christian also flows downward – the path of the world, not the one of God, not of our calling in Christ; not upward to Him in Truth.  
  • The fourth pillar: the interior life, the life of prayer.  “Prayer is nothing other than union with God,” taught St. John Vianney.  Here also, it becomes clear, that the Catholic weakened in his knowledge and understanding of God, weakened in the grace God wants to give him, weakened in the life of his calling in Christ, is consequently weakened in the communion of prayer that is his relationship with God in Christ.  How can his friendship with Christ – his prayer life – be other, when his knowledge of Christ’s Truth is undeveloped, his share in Christ’s grace through the sacraments – especially the Holy Mass – is lacking in power and unction, his moral following of Christ’s life – of self-gift, even unto the Cross – is without understanding and obedience?  How can his prayer life with God the Holy Trinity be fitting, when the other components of this essential relationship are lacking, or weakened?

Indeed, participation in the Holy Mass is an act of faith, it is an act of grace, it is an act of obedience, it is an act of prayer: it is an act of Catholic life.  But when our very life as a Catholic Christian is weakened, when we are lacking in appetite for the meat of the Gospel, and careless of the healthy foods that God has provided, when instead we decide to prefer the fast food and the junk food of this passing world, our spiritual health only declines and continues to decline, until we no longer realize what we have done.  We are starving ourselves; we are on the path, and we are very close, to death.  We, like Martha, have become so accustomed to the world, so familiar with its lifeless busyness, that we hardly know how to turn to life – life in the Presence of Jesus – as Mary did.


So what are we to do?  How do we return?  How do we get to home, from here? Well, the Church (capital “C”) can lead us home!  The Church (capital “C”) is our home on this earth, as we journey toward our permanent home in the New Jerusalem, in the New Heavens and the New Earth, in the eternal dwelling in God the Holy Trinity.  

I’m sad to say that some local churches (lower case “c”) may or may not be of much help, depending.   The institutional Church includes many local churches, and they can be very different realities for the lay members depending to a large extent on leadership, primarily the pastor, and also other local clergy, and the bishop and archbishop and of course the pope.  Some among both laity and clergy are very worldly, which they ought not to be; and some are sincerely striving toward holiness, as they ought to be.  Worldliness is the problem that is within the institutional Catholic Church.  Faithfulness – Holiness – Christ – His One Holy Church – is the answer.

We need to find the full reality of His One Holy Church.  We need to see that true Light – clear and unambiguous, pure, neither mixed nor confused with the very confused world all around us.

We need to repent; we need to pray.

Faithful Catholics – we need to pray.  Those who not know how to pray and to grow in prayer, need to learn.  The life of prayer is well-known in the Church!  His Church is rich with the supernatural treasures of Truth and Grace.  No Catholic ought to be left wanting, left hungry, in the midst of such supernatural plenitude.  We can all learn to grow in prayer, to grow toward Him more and more.  All who seek will find, as Jesus promised.

We need to find a home – a place of remaining – in Holy Scripture.  In the words of God we can hear, we can find, the Word of God our Savior.  We can read, listen to, study Holy Scripture, and the comprehensive Catechism of the Catholic Church.  We can seek out gifted laity, for fellowship and sharing, that we might feed one another from the abundance of the Spirit, that the Body of Christ might grow, and mature.  We can pray together for holy bishops, and holy priests, and holy deacons, and holy laity.  We can pray for the growth and maturation of the virtues and gifts of the Holy Spirit, in all the members of His Body.  We can pray on behalf of the Church for right discernment of the ways of this world and the ways of Christ – they are different! – that we all might turn from the one to the other, for the sake of holiness, for the sake of life!

The Church has endured through many lean years, of persecution, of moral confusion, of spiritual impoverishment, of carnal worldliness and even depravity.  Much suffering, rooted in worldliness, is our reality today.  These days may be very close to those when Jesus came the first time, proclaiming the message of His forerunner John the Baptist: “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand!” (Mt 3:2, 4:17)

Yes, then and now the Good News begins with the hard judgment, Repent!  No one can enter God’s Kingdom with the baggage of this fallen world! All of that must be left behind, rejected, cast away forever.  Only holiness is worthy in the Presence of the Holy One.  No one lacking the Wedding Garment of righteousness can remain in the eternal Wedding Feast of the Lamb with His Bride. (See Mt 22:1-14). Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand!



  1. Dear Thomas,

    Thanks so much for sharing this Message so needed in the Church today. I agree with you whole heartedly. There is nothing I can add except to do the Truth God has given and continues to give us when we ask Him and especially when we ask Him through Mary our Mother who told us: “Do whatever He tells you”.

  2. not just laughing and chatting but dressed to reveal and not conseal. Worse is communion in the hand spreading precious crumbs of our Lord, and chewing on the host like an apple………just venting sorry

  3. Thank you Thomas. It is so hard to see and hear the state of our Church, yet I know it is true. Jesus, I trust in you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: