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Monday, July 13, 2015

What We Really Need

I recently read a news article titled: “Does the U.S. need a nationwide exorcism?”  You can read it here: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/does-the-us-need-a-nationwide-exorcism/

My knee-jerk response was to shout at the computer screen, “No!  What we need is a Church leadership to do the job they abdicated decades ago.”

Now that I’ve let the article percolate in my brain for a while, I’d like to offer a more thoughtful response:

Darkness cannot coexist with light. Not only does Scripture declare this to be true, but experience also testifies to it. Walk into any dark room and flip the light switch. Darkness flees even from the corners. But turn off the light, or shroud it with a thick fabric, and darkness floods back.

It is to that focus of darkness, of light, and of exorcism Jesus said what he did to those in the first century. And He says the same to us in the 21st.

“Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came’; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. 45 Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation.”  Matthew 12:43-45

If you skimmed that biblical text, please go back and read each word. Jesus’ comment specifically addresses the spiritually blind remarks you will read in that news article.

Jesus said of His ‘evil generation’ that the demon left its host for a while, only to return to find it swept, put in order – and empty. So the demon brought with it seven others more wicked than itself.

And therein lays America’s problem.

For the last several decades the Church has dutifully worked to sweep out despair, poverty, sickness, and hatred across this land. We’ve built hospitals and orphanages, we’ve established social agencies and raised vast numbers of men and women who feed the poor, clothe the naked, visit the sick, and build homes for the homeless.

The record is easily accessible to anyone who cares to do the research, and so there is no need to itemize all the Church has done to sweep our American house and put it in good order. But in our sweeping, we neglected a critical element. And so our house is essentially unoccupied by God’s word.

I have witnessed in the past 40 years a slow, nearly imperceptible shift from teaching the fullness of God’s word to selectively proclaiming a most narrow picture of God – a picture framed exclusively in the word, “Love.”

When was the last time you heard the word, “sin” mentioned during a Sunday morning homily or sermon? When was the last time your pastor made specific reference to the multiple sins promoted, legitimized, defended, and commended in the media, the internet, our educational systems, our politics, our corporations – and even in our homes?

When was the last time your pastor warned of the ‘Lake of Fire’ promised by God for all those who persist in their ardent rebellion against His laws and the historic teaching of the Church? Where are the men and women of faith who are unashamed to proclaim the entire gospel of Christ – the full gospel which includes not only Christ’s great love and mercy, but also His many and dire warnings of judgment for those whose lifestyles betray Him worse than did Judas?

Our house has been swept and put in order, but we have dimmed the light of God’s word. In some places, we’ve extinguished it. And so we don’t now need to look further than tonight’s newscasts to see the dreadful evidence of our state being so much worse than at the first.

No, we do not need a national exorcism. We simply need God’s shepherds to do their primary job. We need them to fully, clearly, and courageously proclaim the whole of God’s word – not just selective texts here and there – but the word of God in all its truths, even truths we don’t want to hear.
Only then will His light dispel our every darkness.


Barb Schoeneberger said...

I agree totally with what you said about our shepherds needing to do their jobs. Calling for a national exorcism is premature when we won't even enshrine the Word of God in our hearts. Nature abhors a vacuum. The emptiness will be filled with something. Unfortunately, our narcissistic obsession with self-gratification leaves no room for the self-denial that opens the way for Christ to live in us and in our nation.

When every parish sustains Eucharistic Adoration to some degree, teaches lectio divina, offers Benediction after one Mass once a month, and starts celebrating the sacred liturgy according to the GIRM, we will have made a great leap forward. Without this happening, a true relationship with Christ isn't even on the radar, and without the Light, we haven't any sense of sin, nor have we a sense of the presence of Satan. Just our own miserable obsessive-compulsive drive to please ourselves.

Rich Maffeo said...

But I have to admit, Barb, most days I feel as if we are voices crying out in the wilderness, and there's no one around to hear us. I do get depressed, I suppose.

Barb Schoeneberger said...

Don't get discouraged. That's a temptation from Satan to silence us. All we have to do is God's will and leave the rest up to Him. He isn't a results-oriented manager which belongs solely to the earthly realm. He judges us by our faithfulness to the job He as given us. Since He sees all and knows all, the rest is up to Him. I often remind myself that if even one person is saved because I did my job, everything is worth it, and I don't have to know who that person is. That will come in the next life. Meanwhile, get some sunshine and fresh air and behold God's beauty in nature.

Rich Maffeo said...

I like that idea -- get some sunshine and fresh air, and enjoy . . . .
I don't do that enough.