Faithful Shepherds

Faithful Shepherds

These are challenging times in the lives of the faithful in the Catholic Church. What we once thought was behind us after the uncovering of the sex abuse scandals in 2002, has now flared into white-hot reality with the ex-Cardinal McCarrick revelations, the Pennsylvania grand jury report, the uncertainties swirling around Cardinal Wuerl, and the eleven-page testimony from Archibishop Carlo Maria Viganò.

Now the president of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB) Cardinal DiNardo and team have visited with Pope Francis, and just yesterday Bishop Michael Bransfield of the diocese of Wheeling-Charleston (WVA) has retired under the shadow of sexual harassment of adults. You may be scratching your head along with me wondering what is coming next. You may be asking if there is a side you should take, or if it’s worth soldiering on.

If you have followed along with me on this blog you know that I have asked some of these questions. I go back and forth thinking I should address the whole “enchilada” to trying to keep a local or even diocesan focus. I have written my bishop asking for clarification. I’ve heard from him, but many questions still remain. A few nights ago we had a group of friends over to watch our story on “The Journey Home” and after answering a few of their questions about our personal journey into the Church, the conversation inevitably turned to the crisis that we are living.

What does a faithful Catholic do? Of course, we know the first answer is to pray. Pray for the Church at large, pray for your bishop, and pray for your priest. If you sense there is not a commitment to purification and restoration of the Church, pray into that and let your voice be heard on the local and diocesan levels.

Recently I came across a website called “Faithful Shepherds.” You can do a search of your diocese or of your bishop, even auxiliary bishops and find where they stand on the following issues that are related to the issues that we face in the Church today:

  • Viganò Testimony
  • Amoris Laetitia
  • Pro-Life Leadership
  • Homosexuality
  • Abortion Politics
  • Contraception
  • “LGBT” Ideology
  • Liturgy
  • Marriage and Family Life
  • Education

While some bishops have spoken clearly one way or another, many bishops have not addressed any of these topics. You have the right to ask your bishop where he stands on issues that are very important to faithful Catholics. Check it out and prayerfully consider how you can take a stand for Christ and His Church in this challenging time.

O Virgin Mother of God, most august Mother of the Church, we commend the whole Church to you. You bear the sweet name of “Help of Bishops”; keep the bishops in your care, and be at their side and at the side of the priests, religious, and laity who offer them help in sustaining the difficult work of the pastoral office.

Faithful Shepherds

An Open Letter to My Bishop

Your excellency,

Yesterday I witnessed the baptism of my newest godson in a parish in our diocese. What joy to stand with my wife and our godson’s parents and respond on his behalf the desire to be baptized and affirm the Creed. I lit his baptismal candle from the Christ Candle situated next to the baptismal font and I thought about the future our Lord has for this precious boy who bears the name of two of our stellar saints.

I know his parents would be thrilled if this little boy would discern a call to the religious life, especially to the priesthood. They will do everything possible to train up him up accordingly. As godparents, we are committed to pray, encourage, and model fidelity to Christ and his Church.

I have one son, eight grandsons, two godsons, and four other boys who have adopted me as “papa”. If any of them discerned a call to the priesthood I would be ecstatic! I don’t say this lightly—it is not an easy vocation to undertake, and all the more so when a priest is committed to follow in the steps of Christ himself, and adhere to the example of some of the amazing priests in our tradition and history—men like St. John Vianney, St. Padre Pio, St. Damien of Molokai, and Father Thomas Byles who died hearing confessions as the Titanic was sinking.

I have been blessed to have wonderful priests in my life to celebrate the Mass, to hear my confession, to confirm me, to convalidate my marriage, to bless my home and to offer spiritual direction. It is evident through their lives that they are committed to Jesus Christ and his Church, and to my growth in sanctification and final salvation. I would be honored to have any of these young boys follow in their steps and minister in the same way to their own generation.

Thank you, Your Excellency for your part in making possible the parish that I am part of and the priests who minister the Liturgy of the Word and Sacrament to us on a weekly, even daily basis.

But, Your Excellency, I do have a request to make of you—something that I hold in the very depths of my heart, that causes me to cry out before God when I am alone before him. You know the burden that these children would take up if they discern a call to the priesthood. And so I ask you for them, and for all the sons of Catholic mothers and fathers, grandfathers and grandmothers, godfathers and godmothers, that you be completely committed by the authority entrusted to you in the sacred office you hold, as successor to the apostles, to be vigilant for the spiritual well being and protection of these sons of the Church.

Leave no stone unturned  to protect our sons from predators who would try to derail them in their spiritual devotion to Jesus through attacks on their chastity. Predators have no place in our seminaries, and we hold you and the office of vocations directly responsible to weed out these destructive influences. (Also it would be helpful if you would make a statement to that effect to our diocese!)

Also, our sons love the Church in all of her liturgical and historic glories. Please make sure that these sons of the Church are not viewed with suspicion because they long to learn the beauty of the historical liturgies and practices, or because they are faithful to the doctrine and teachings of the one, holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Your Excellency, I leave you with deep respect and high regard for your holy office and close with the words of St. Jude at end of his epistle:

But you, beloved, remember the words spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, for they told you, “In the last time there will be scoffers who will live according to their own godless desires.” These are the ones who cause divisions; they live on the natural plane, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, build yourselves up in your most holy faith; pray in the holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in the love of God and wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. On those who waver, have mercy; save others by snatching them out of the fire; on others have mercy with fear, abhorring even the outer garment stained by the flesh.

To the one who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you unblemished and exultant, in the presence of his glory, to the only God, our savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord be glory, majesty, power, and authority from ages past, now, and for ages to come. Amen (1:17–25 NABRE).

You are in my prayers daily.

Respectfully yours in Christ,

Gary Wiley

An Open Letter to My Bishop