I don’t know about you but I’m a history buff. I chose to study History at Notre Dame and Church history was definitely my favorite topic. I learned that the Church is both human and divine, but having learned about the many divisions and schisms in the Church over the centuries, too often the human dimension threatened to overshadow the divine. I then learned an important maxim that always bears repeating: Ecclesia semper reformanda est, which is Latin for, “the Church must always be reformed.” The Second Vatican Council was guided by this spirit of reform or “aggiornamento” (updating).
I never dreamt in those early years of my seminary formation that our Church would ever face a crisis on the level of the sexual abuse crisis that we have experienced for decades now. Sadly, it first came to light when I was graduating from Notre Dame in 1985. It has marked the entire time of my priesthood, though nothing could match the intensity of what we experienced after the revelations from the Grand Jury investigation in Pennsylvania.
On September 29, 2018, Pope Francis asked Catholics everywhere to pray the Rosary each day during the month of October and to conclude Mass with the prayer to Saint Michael. He asked us “to pray that the Holy Mother of God place the Church beneath her protective mantle: to preserve her from the attacks by the devil, the great accuser, and at the same time to make her more aware of the faults, the errors and the abuses committed in the present and in the past, and committed to combating without any hesitation, so that evil may not prevail.”
We have prayed the prayer of St. Michael these past several months for the repentance, conversion, and reform of the Church. Only St. Michael himself knows the power and effect of our having prayed this prayer together. I am grateful that important measures for the safeguarding of children are now in place, though it will take many years to restore the Church’s credibility and authority.
Having consulted with the Parish Liturgy Committee, we will no longer recite the prayer to St. Michael at the end of Mass. Still, we must continue to pray for the Church, and we do this in a particularly powerful way in the Eucharistic Prayer at Mass.
May Christ hear our prayers for the sake of all the Catholic faithful throughout the world, and for the mission of the Church which he entrusted to it.
Yours in Christ,