The Verrets are founders of Witness to Love: Marriage Preparation Renewal Ministry and co-authors of the handbook for mentor couples Witness to Love: How to Help the Next Generation of Marriages Survive and Thrive, published by St. Benedict Press, August, 2015.
This morning our pastor choked and then made us all teary-eyed at Mass as he tried to make sense of the horrors that were exposed from years of neglect in the Catholic Church. He spoke of the beauty the first week of school and hearing all the children’s voices and laughter back at the cathedral school. He smiled as he shared how hundreds of families had joined in the Eucharistic procession for the Solemnity of the Assumption and the witness that this event was for the entire community.
This week was a week of beauty and of horror. Across the country around this time, children everywhere are returning to their schools. This is a time to remember the innocence of children everywhere and the role that those in authority have. Never ever take that role lightly. Our pastor shared how he was called to the school to console a kindergartener who was distraught and wanted to leave. The little boy had just moved to this new school and was completely out of sorts. No one could console him, but our very tall pastor got all the way down to this little child’s eye level and began to converse with him and talked him out of his tears. Finally, the pastor called the parochial vicar to come in right then and there on his day off and teach the little child how to play soccer at school. It worked!
How good is the beautiful trust of a child as a leader teaches him or her to not be afraid, to be a better and stronger person and to use the gifts that God has given them? There is nothing more precious to God than the innocent and childlike trust of His little ones. To them, the Kingdom of Heaven belongs. Good fathers, good priests, good teachers everywhere know this truth.
Next to the tragedy of those who have been hurt by neglect in the Church is the tragedy of the good fathers everywhere who have to grapple with the evil in the world as they just try to be the good fathers that we all need so desperately. I have seen good fathers all over the world who fast on bread and water weekly for the couples whom they prepare for marriage, fathers who cry with a couple whose child is stillborn, fathers who take a homeless man out to dinner, fathers who hear confessions for hours without a break, fathers who journey to six different rural parishes at the age of 92 because there is no one else, fathers who have to come in and clean up the mess that a bad pastor made of a parish, fathers who work to heal a hurting community. Pray for these fathers!
There are more heroes than villains in the priesthood. These good men will never make headlines. They need our prayers. Promise to pray for these good men who are needed now more than ever. To every good priest who is a living reflection of our Father in Heaven’s love - Thank you!