Monday, July 17, 2017

More Thoughts On The Conference

There are those who build up the City of God, and there are those who build up the City of Man.  The conference was crowded with those whose passion is to build up the City of God.  In fact, I became so accustomed to seeing supernatural hope and joy in others, that when I stopped for dinner on the drive home I was shocked at the people I saw.  It was at a Subway in Salem, and everyone was weary and withdrawn (save one old lady--bless her!).  Where was the supernatural hope and charity, where were the people who had been regenerated through life in Christ?  Well, many of them were at the conference...

When Cardinal Burke processed in at the first mass in simple attire, everyone turned in expectation, and there were audible gasps and muffled sobs.  The Body of Christ present in the Church, heaved and sighed as one at an honorable prelate who has been chased out of two jobs for living the faith "once handed down".  Later in the conference, Cardinal Burke had to fight back tears whenever his speech briefly touched on the devastation in the Church.  That was my impression as I sat ten feet away.  Later when he visited our parish (St. Stephen's) to offer mass and sit with us for lunch, I noted the joyful twinkle in his eye.  He loves as Jesus loves, and he is loved in return.  Some long time parishioners at Holy Rosary received communion from Cardinal Burke alongside their son with muscular dystrophy (I believe that's the affliction), and afterward the tired and grateful husband leaned his sobbing head against his wife's shoulder.  A rare display of emotion from a very stoic man.

While Cardinal Burke was the headliner, Fr. Gerard Saguto FSSP nearly stole the show.  As I've repeatedly said, the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) have the best priests and men around.  They are like the Jesuits of Ignatius's time, or God's Dogs for our time.  When Fr. Saguto took the podium, he looked lean and boney in a worn cassock, and looked every bit the Sicilian.  I leaned over to Tom and said, "He looks like St. Charles Borromeo."  About halfway through his impassioned and luminescent speech, I turned back to Tom and said, "That IS Charles Borromeo!"  Afterwards many conference attendees rushed to place an order for the conference's talks and homilies.  Not bad for a speech on the Offertory of the mass!

Fr. Saguto is in the center

Since we live in darkening times, let me urge everyone to find out which saints God has given you for your care, because we need their strength.  The saints are united to Christ in His Body, and just as Christ imparts his life to the soul, so do the saints "live" in us--especially saints who are our special friends.  When I went up to receive communion from Cardinal Burke, I was conscious of the presence of Blessed Charles within me as I kneeled.  I found it embarrassing, and was worried that Cardinal Burke would discern it and think, "What is this?"  Thankfully he passed along without a pause. Another time I showed Meagan and Dave our brochure, which features a popular image of Blessed Charles.  Afterwards they remarked, "That's neat you put your photo there."  I was taken aback, "What?  That's not me, that's a photo of Blessed Charles de Foucauld!"  Now it was their turn to be taken aback.  I think God briefly clouded their vision so that we could all understand that we should be mistaken for another Blessed Charles, for we are walking in his steps, the footsteps of Christ.

This is NOT me.

Our Spiritual Battle

All of my friends at the conference had trouble sleeping.  One night I simply began my day at 3 am after turning in at midnight.  It was hard to welcome sleep given the graces at work in the conference (gifts of friendship, beauty and understanding), but much of it was from spiritual attack.  The Devil knows his enemies, and the Devil knows his "friends" (or unknowing dupes).  At the conference, both Archbishop Sample and Mother Miriam lamented to me that they discern a palpable demonic gloom over Portland.  Apparently Fr. Michael Gaitley MIC said the same thing when he flew in for a "Morning Glory" conference.  Obviously I've chronicled this phenomenon on the blog when I first began walking the streets.  But I no longer feel under siege.  We are an advancing army breaking through enemy lines.  We have seen the work of God in the most wretched places, and in the most unlikely faces.  We have stood so close to the work of the Holy Spirit, that Chris and I have recoiled in awe, lest we touch the Ark of the Covenant and become obliterated like Uzzah (obviously our sweet Lord wouldn't do that!).

Yes, we live in troubled times.  Pope Emeritus Benedict just implied that the Church seems "to be on the verge of capsizing".  Cardinal Burke seconded his remarks at the St. Stephen's luncheon.  But God is raising up new saints who will invigorate the Church with their zeal and with their transcendent vision, grounded in tradition.  I have chronicled many of these young men on this blog over the years.  There are also young women like Mother Marie of Lourdes or even our own Meagan Montanari.  The Church will regain her beauty and spiritual power even as the world around us slips into a genteel barbarism.  God has known this before the inception of the world.  We live in interesting times, but they are times of great grace.  God has even given us an anointed in our midst.  He foreordained that a little boy in rural Guinea, Africa would one day become pope, and restore the supernatural vision of Christ's Bride.

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