Over the years, many have wondered why Jesus, in obedience to His Father, chose Judas to be one of the original Twelve Apostles. In the process, however, they often overlook the fact that the historical events in the life of Our Lord indicate something more profound. In God’s plan, the events of salvation history, especially the life and ministry of Jesus, point to profound mysteries at work both in the life of the Church and in the life of the individual believer. The Judas factor is one of these mysteries.
From the very beginning, the hierarchy has been subject to seduction by a spirit, which asks, “What are you willing to pay me to hand Him over.” Although Judas was not the first one in the New Testament to give voice to this spirit (that “honor” goes to the daughter of Herodias, who demanded the head of a of John the Baptist as payment for her erotic dance routine), he was the first in the Apostolic College to do so. But his question has tended to echo in the Church for close to two thousand years.
While most clergy do not seek thirty pieces of silver, all of us are subject to the temptation to betray the truth of Christ, or even the Eucharistic Christ Himself, for the sake of receiving praise from progressives for being open minded, compassionate, and/or humbly docile to the ongoing evolution of the Church. Such successors of the Apostles, who are willing to degrade the integrity of the Church’s doctrine, moral teaching and discipline by devising new excuses for old sins tend to be greatly praised for their codependent compassion and rewarded with various worldly accolades and ecclesiastical promotions. Likewise, those who reluctantly allow themselves to go along with such obfuscation of the Faith are rewarded. For their “open-mindedness” and willingness to violate not only the vows of their Baptism and Confirmation, but also their rightly formed consciences, they are praised for their “humble docility to the Spirit”.
Note, for example, how those who threatened and bullied the victims of clergy sexual abuse were originally praised for helping to prevent scandal. They were willing to embrace lie that keeping the Church wholly ordered to the expectations of secular society required them to help to cover up crimes and to renounce the sacred responsibilities of Holy Orders. With the reality of the evils they have sought to hide over the years now coming to light, however, their assertion, “I was just following orders”, has come to ring just as hollow as it did at Nuremburg in the 1940’s.
But the perverting “charism” of Judas continues to be embraced by members of the hierarchy in other ways. Note, for example, the USCCB guidelines for receiving Communion. The authors declined to mention that a Catholic married outside the Church need to have his/her marriage convalidated before receiving Holy Communion. Likewise, these same guidelines give credence to that moral subjectivity, which has come to assert the validity of even a deformed or sin-seared conscience. Both these efforts to avoid offending anyone by proclaiming the whole truth of God are just as much a betrayal as the feigned kiss of Judas in the Garden of Gethsemane. Merely implying the truth is grossly inadequate for confronting the seductions of the Father of Lies.
The most noteworthy betrayal of Christ, however, is found in the tacit acceptance of desecration of the Eucharistic Christ as both normal and normative. In order to allegedly avoid driving souls from the Church, priests and deacons are urged to present the Gospel proclamation as merely a proposition. Thus souls are left free to renounce a serious accountability to Church teachings. After all, whereas truth is to be proclaimed, opinions are merely to be proposed.
And since the sacred truths of our Faith are so often presented as just propositions, many have come to believe that they are free to distort or reject the Church’s doctrinal, moral and liturgical teachings in order to fit the agenda of their personal consciences. Thus it is that even a number of Church leaders have asserted that the Eucharistic Christ must to be uncritically handed over even to those who seek to abuse the Eucharistic Christ to validate their sin-seared consciences, as they continue to promote the agenda of the Culture of Desecration and Death – even if such an action is in direct violation of the rightly formed and sincere conscience of the one distributing Holy Communion.
The reality of this spiritual pathology has especially been manifested in the clergy abuse scandal. If an abusive priest chose to develop and follow a sin-seared conscience, and thus “evolved” to the point where he did not see anything wrong with “helping to liberate the libido” of a child, then that priest allegedly was free both to offer Mass and to receive Holy Communion without fear of committing sacrilege. The fact that the Eucharistic Christ did not punish him was easily interpreted as a sign that Christ was affirming both him and his ministry. Even today, this distorted understanding of the sacrament has been widely validated by many Church leaders. They have been quite careful not to avoid any mention of the fact that abusive clergy have also been guilty of sacrilege. Sadly, the fear of the lawsuit, which has tended to suppress the fear of the Lord in a number of dioceses, does not require the recognition of this as evil, much less any need for reparation for such evil.
Another factor over the past several decades has been the reluctance of American Church leaders to definitively and decisively condemn as evil any support for Planned Parenthood. The agenda of this organization includes not only the promotion contraception and brutal barbaric butchery of pre-born children. It also develops and promotes programs to groom innocent children to be more open to sexual experimentation and exploitation.
Yet Catholics politicians and judges, who work to support and subsidize these practices and programs, are left free to think that it is permissible for them to receive the Eucharistic Christ with little or no call to accountability for their actions. Thus, members of the hierarchy are giving the faithful the impression that the Eucharistic Christ Himself desires to ratify the validity of the various “sacred ministries” of Planned Parenthood with His Own Precious Body and Blood. Thus, many have come to wonder, “If even our bishops, the successors of the Apostles, have “evolved” to the point where they believe that Jesus Himself wills to sacramentally endorse the agenda and work of Planned Parenthood, why is wrong for us to integrate that agenda into our own lives?”
Recent revelations concerning clergy sexual abuse raise another interesting question. Is it possible that the USCCB’s inability to specifically condemn Planned Parenthood is due to sexually deviant clergy and their sympathizers having strategically maneuvered themselves into powerful positions, where they can frustrate the efforts of faithful bishops to clearly incarnate Church doctrine into the Church’s discipline? After all, among the many programs of Planned Parenthood are those which tend to groom children to be more open to sexual exploitation. Thus a condemnation of that organization could lead to a reduction of the availability of the “fresh meat” required to appease their appetite for perverted sexual gratification.
All this leads to a basic question. If the Eucharist and the Eucharistic Christ are neither sacred nor require that a person approach them with repentant reverence, humility and docility, is anything really sacred? Note again how those addressing the currently revealed scandals tend to avoid the word “desecration”. All sin is involves desecration – of one’s self, of others, of creation and of our relationship with God. But the misuse or violation those parts of the body designed exclusively by God to express the most profoundly beautiful and sacred dimension of covenantal love in holy marriage, which reflects the salvific covenantal relationship of Christ with His Church, is especially sacrilegious.
Sadly, this truth has been ignored even in the VIRTUS program mandated by the Dallas Charter sixteen years ago. I have yet to read in its training bulletins any mention of the need to pro-actively promote the virtues of modesty and chastity. Vigilance and damage control, rather than self-control, consistently seem to be the dominant theme of such bulletins.
Here again, we should note how the historical reality of the high priests of the People of God, who occupied the Chair of Moses, arranged to mutilate and crucify the body of Jesus for the sake of short-sighted and sanctimonious expediency. Those who assert that the high priests of the People of God today, including the one who occupies the Chair of Peter, are not capable of doing likewise to the Eucharistic Body of Christ or to the Mystical Body of Christ, put themselves and all of us in grave danger. “Let’s you and him repent” is a very dangerous premise for guiding the spiritual formation both of individuals and of the Church.
Thus it is that, whether we like to admit it or not, the June 29, 1972 observation of Pope Paul VI that the smoke of Satan has entered the very sanctuary of the Church has proven to be true in ways we would never have thought possible. And Satan has continued to effectively use the seductive appeal of expediency, popularity and overflowing collection plates over the past four decades to distract many Church leaders from their primary mission. In various ways they have allowed accountability to the whole truth of Christ to become so deeply eclipsed, even in their own lives, that they do not see any real problem in allowing a spirit of desecration to subtly insinuate itself into the lives of the faithful.
The question we now face is whether our shepherds are willing to assert anew that, in the spiritual life, the price of liberty is eternal vigilance, guided by an ongoing docile, humble and repentant accountability to the whole truth of God. The People of God can only discover their true dignity through the humility of ongoing, repentance, not through the hubris of an allegedly realized eschatology.