The Third Fall: Weekly Message for 09-04-2018

Dear Friends in Christ,

There are three Stations of the Cross that imbue a kind of rhythm into that cherished act of piety.

They are the third, seventh and ninth Stations — the first, second and third falls of Our Lord on his way to Calvary.

At first glance they seem almost repetitive. No one of them stands out on its own in the same way that, say, the fourth Station does (when Jesus meets his sorrowful Mother) or the sixth (when Veronica wipes the face of Our Lord).

Yet that repetitiveness is part of the power of those Stations: the three falls show how the grueling ordeal ground down Our Lord.

Those Stations came to mind in the wake of the latest reports of Church scandals in the U.S.

If the Long Lent of 2002 was the first fall the Church suffered in the new millennium, and the news of other scandals in the intervening years was collectively a kind of second fall, this latest blow – of wickedness in the ecclesial hierarchy – was the third.

The first fall brought shock; the second, anger; the third, numbness for those who no longer have energy for outrage. When will it ever end?

This is where the Stations offer hope. Jesus arose from his third fall and moved on to complete his Father’s will. And we know what followed Good Friday.

So it can be now. With prayer, sacrifice, humility, transparency, some long-overdue no-holds-barred debates, and the help of the Holy Spirit, the Church can move forward in carrying out the Father’s will.

The good news is: Our Lord has seen this crisis coming. Which means he has a special grace to help us weather it.

“I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20), he promised. We cling to that promise as much as ever. 

In Christ,

Father Edward McIlmail, LC

Ask a Priest contributor

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