Should we all quit? This is a question I have asked myself for years and it is one I have multiple people asking me now. I do not mean leaving the Church. Many are asking themselves if it is worth fighting the good fight in ministry or in serving the Church at this point in time. The recent federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate, lack of supernatural leadership, emphasis on liability, and a general spiritual malaise and oppression that has taken over is weighing heavily on many of us.
A friend of mine recently made the decision to publicly resign from all his ministries and stop financial support to our diocese and parish. A decision I am sympathetic to and support because I know he is following his well-formed conscience and is seeking to do what he has discerned is God’s will. Our diocese has chosen not to support religious exemptions for those with serious moral issues with the COVID-19 vaccine mandate. The Church herself teaches that vaccines should never be mandatory, and yet, millions of Americans are now in this situation, lest they lose their livelihood.
A Lonely Decision
My husband and I prayed seriously about the vaccine earlier this year. We are in a very different situation than our friends. My husband has a dangerous auto-immune disease that attacks his lungs. His Rheumatologist told him, very honestly, that he didn’t know if the vaccine would harm or kill my husband, since he is immunocompromised, but he was certain COVID-19 could. The doctor told him it is worth the risk.
Like many of our friends, we are tired of the leaders of the Church claiming to oppose vaccines tested and/or manufactured using aborted fetal cell lines, while also brushing it away because of the “need”. It seems disingenuous, and it is doing nothing to stop the march of the culture of death as more and more medical technologies and testing are being done using aborted fetal cells or body parts. Remember the fact that Planned Parenthood was caught selling aborted baby body parts? There will always be a claim that it is “needed” so long as we talk out of both sides of our mouth. It’s time to be serious about our opposition to the use of aborted babies in any way for medical advancement or it will continue to get worse.
We were angry to be put in this position, but we decided the risk was great enough to get vaccinated. This is the point: We chose to do so after prayerful discernment. It was not forced upon us, especially as we had much to weigh in our decision. I later found out that I had been pregnant when I was vaccinated. If I did not have a history of miscarriages—five of them now—I would have been devastated that I had gotten vaccinated since there’s very little data on its impact on pregnant women.
What is God Asking?
This debate is unleashing a lot of anger, some of it righteous and some of it diabolical. We have to be very careful with the passion of anger. It is easily manipulated for the enemy’s ends if we are not careful. There are genuine issues of great importance at stake, but we must also carefully discern what God is asking each one of us to do in response.
This leads me back to my original question: Should we all quit? With everything going on in the hierarchy and the deep frustrations so many people carry right now—both laity and priests—is the answer to walk away and let it all burn? For some, the answer will be to publicly take a stand in protest. To be clear, we should never leave the Church, no matter how dark it gets. It may be necessary to stop serving within Church ministry in order to look at missions elsewhere. This will be necessary for some people in order to bring about change. The same is true with those called to combat the clergy sex abuse scandals, financial corruption, heterodoxy, worldliness, and the bureaucracy that is hampering the mission of the Church in the West.
For others, the answer will be to stay. In many ways, this is the more difficult path because it requires deep interior mortification to put up with unjust, uncharitable, and callous treatment at the hands of others, including priests and bishops. It means continuing in the mission when everyone else wants to leave. It is to carry the Cross in a ministry, often alone, because it’s God’s will and His will is all that ultimately matters.
Learning from Ministering to Priests
I can’t leave my ministry behind. I’ve wanted to. For the last few years, I have gone through an intense spiritual battle and testing. There are countless times I wanted to throw in the towel because I didn’t think it was worth it. It doesn’t help that my calling as a spiritual mother to priests, which has led to the formation of a ministry dedicated to praying for and ministering to priests, has become more and more unpopular as issues within the hierarchy intensify.
Priests are not easy to minister to, nor are they easy to pray for, especially those who seem to betray us. This is where many people are at right now. They feel betrayed by the hierarchy. They have not been met with loving spiritual fathers who understand the deep difficulties and sufferings they carry. Instead, there has been a cold bureaucratic hardening in far too many regions of the Church. There has been little compassion for those who are mightily struggling to do what is right and good in order to serve Christ first.
I can’t leave the young priests and seminarians Our Lady has sent my way to pray for, minister to, and support. I can’t even leave those who have hurt me or let me down. The Cross of the priesthood is extremely heavy. I have buckled under the weight of it countless times as I have sought to lighten their load and help carry it with them through my own suffering, sacrifices, and prayers. I am called to walk with them as Our Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Sorrows, does.
Most people have a rather superficial view of the priesthood. I get to see it up close in all its tremendous beauty, as well as the ugliness of sin that defiles it. One of the single greatest issues facing the priesthood today is that the supernatural dimension and the great heights priests are called to has been forgotten or jettisoned in favor of a spiritually dead institutionalism. This fills me with immense sorrow.
What I’ve had to learn is that if we all quit, then nothing will change. It is the priests and bishops who hurt and betray us, who need our prayers and sacrifices the most. This is the mystery of the Cross. We must fight the interior battle within ourselves to love these men even though we’d rather abandon them to their sin in our own Fallen brokenness.
What this tells us about ourselves is that we do not love as Christ loves. He loves those bishops and priests who hurt the flock and who seem to be hirelings, not good shepherds. If He loves them, then so must we. We must endure the Cross for them with Christ. It’s easy to pray for the priests who are striving to live their vocation. It is a true test of our love for Christ to pray and sacrifice for those who do not or who have forgotten their lofty calling.
Healing Our Deep Wounds
The laity’s deep wounds are not just the product of the current pandemic. They are decades of pain from those leaders who turned the Church into something in their own image, who failed to teach, to govern, and to sanctify. Those who covered up clergy sex abuse or committed abuses. The recent fact that the USCCB cannot even seem to keep leaders from using gay hook up apps or committing sacrilege on our altars. The priesthood’s image is marred by the muck of decades of sins by priests against the laity.
This does not change, however, who the priesthood is and who instituted the priesthood: Jesus Christ. If anything, the mission is much more dire to pray for and minister to priests during these dark days.
The pandemic will continue to unleash more diabolical division, fear, and desire for control. Large corporations, tech companies, and academia are seeking to build up a form of soft totalitarianism in this country that threatens the Church, but our leaders seem utterly blind to it. It is our prayers and sacrifices that Christ will use to open their eyes and to give them the strength to rise to the full stature of their calling to be crucified with Christ in order to lead souls to eternity. To truly become spiritual fathers who love with the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and are willing to give up their very lives in order to save souls.
No, we cannot all quit. We must discern through prayer what God is calling each one of us to do during these increasingly more difficult days. There is not a single calling given by God that is devoid of the Cross. We do not get to take the easy way out.
Whether we stay in the fight or find other ways to serve outside of our parishes, there will be suffering involved. We also cannot write off our bishops and priests because we disagree with them or they hurt us. They need our prayers and sacrifices.
The next time you get angry at the hierarchy, ask yourself: Do I want to see this priest or bishop condemned to hell? It is in fact this serious, and if we are ok with that, then our own soul is in serious trouble.