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  • Fran

Sheep Without a Shepherd (Bishops, we need you now!)

Updated: Jan 20

[I wrote this in 2017, before the latest scandals and Vigano testimonies. In light of these developments, and the Bishops meeting coming up now in November 2018, I felt that I should repost it. I know that I am not alone in my feelings, and if anything they are felt more strongly and urgently. I hope that it is taken with the love and respect intended for our Bishops.]

At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity. They were lying prostrate from exhaustion, like sheep without a shepherd. He said to the disciples: “The harvest is good but laborers are scarce. Beg the harvest master to send out laborers to gather his harvest.” Mt 9:36-38

Dear Bishops,

I have tried to write this a dozen times, but the words burning in my heart never seemed to come out right. Today, after Adoration of Jesus in the Eucharist, I feel compelled to write to you.

From the papal encyclical, Miserentissimus Redemptor, comes the mystical teaching that the Mystical Body of Christ must pass through the same Passion and death as Jesus, “whatever the head suffers, all the members must suffer with it.” With all the turmoil going on in the Church now, I wonder if the Mystical Body is truly in its Passion.

Peter and the apostles loved Jesus deeply, but when He needed them most, Peter lost his strength and conviction, and the rest scattered in fear. Only John remained at the foot of the cross with Mary. There are still faithful, courageous “Johns”, and I thank God for them, but why aren’t there more, standing together for the Lord? Then, even more upsetting, it seems that some Cardinals, Bishops and priests, like Judas, have sold out Jesus, for power, lust, money, adulation, or perhaps to affirm themselves in their own sin. I don’t know, but please God, if that is the case, give them the grace of repentance. How will they answer to God, especially for souls led astray?

I have read Pope Francis’ exhortation Amoris Laetitia; his words are moving and relevant for our time. I believe that I understand his mission. It is vital to reach and draw in all of God’s people. But…. he is strangely silent when confusion and disorder in Our Lord’s Church is increasing. Cardinals, Bishops and priests all over the world are interpreting his words differently and claiming “new” moralities. This has led many people to think that the teaching of the Church has changed, or that Truth and morals are just an ideal, and in the “real world”, unattainable, as if the power of the Lord’s grace is as nothing!

Others are twisting truth, tamping it down with words more palatable, or outright defying definitive teachings. Some of our Priests, Bishops and Cardinals are bowing to the secular world instead of the Lord! I know I am not the only lay person who wonders… why is it being allowed? Why are we not hearing the courageous voices of ALL of Jesus’ chosen ones?! I think that Pope Francis has a great responsibility to clarify and defend Truth for the sake of people’s souls, and because he is the guardian of the Church and the faith, but, as our chosen Shepherds, don’t you too?

Even though this can be discouraging and despairing to watch, I am holding on to hope. Because I see how Jesus taught something to Peter and the apostles. And after realizing their weakness, they found their strength, and zeal with an outpouring of grace! Some of us are praying for an outpouring now. I know it WILL come!

The Church’s mission is to save souls, to help them get to heaven. I have children and grandchildren living in a spiritually toxic world that is death to their souls, and the insanity seems to be increasing day by day. I fear for them, and if I didn’t believe in the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary foretold at Fatima, my heart could not bear it. I hear other parents and grandparents pleading for prayers, and help. Many of our children are sucked into every trap of Satan, blinded by mortal sin or the empty trappings of the world, some rejecting their faith or even God, some lost in addictions, depressed, in despair, without hope.

Do you see? They are languishing on your watch. They need the truth and grace of Jesus Christ! They need to be stirred and steeled in these times! They need to know that they are not called to a life of mediocrity; they are called to be Saints! And I have no doubt that saints, maybe even great ones for our time, will be influenced by you, a holy Bishop or priest! You have a great responsibility to us all, but I think more so to them, because they are the future of the Church!

I was speaking with my son, who is in his early twenties, recently. He said, “When I need real nourishment for my body, I don’t need the ice-cream shop. When I need real nourishment for my soul, I don’t need the Church to be the ice-cream shop, giving me just what I like.” Our young want and need REAL nourishment. My son goes around to different Catholic Churches in his city looking for truth, direction, motivation, challenge, inspiring words, quiet and a sense of the Sacred. He struggles just like most young people, but is searching for something that is lacking, and trying to be faithful. Won’t you help him?

“They were lying prostrate on the ground, like sheep without a shepherd.” Other translations of this verse use the words dispirited, distressed, helpless. I have been pondering this line for a long time, and while it hurts me deeply to say it, dear Shepherds, this is the image I see of your people. Many have lost their faith altogether. Many don’t know or believe major tenets like the Real Presence. And some who by the grace of God are still holding on, need their Shepherds to lead us through the treacherous, narrow paths, and to quench our thirst with life-giving Truth, and inspire us with zeal and conviction! We are dying out here!

In my prayer, I am begging the Lord to help you realize that we need you now, more than ever! Have some of you been “overcome by sleep”? Please, we need you to become “fully awake”, and to be courageous now, so that we can find courage!

We are living in turbulent times in the world, and in the Catholic Church. But isn’t this a sure sign that Jesus is doing something new, something wonderful to build up His Church, strengthen our faith, and teach us something, just as he did with the Apostles?

I am sure that Mother Mary was a help to the Apostles when they needed it, and I know that she will be there for you too! She has shown me how to better love and respect Jesus in the Eucharist, and I firmly believe if we turn to Jesus in the Eucharist together, as the Mystical Body of Christ that He will shower us with grace and help for His Church, His Shepherds and priests, and the world!

You were chosen for this time to lead us, and I thank God for you! Please show us how to “draw our strength from the Lord, and His mighty power, and put on the armor of God”!

Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power. Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. So, stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all [the] flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and supplication, pray at every opportunity in the Spirit. To that end, be watchful with all perseverance and supplication for all the holy ones, and also for me, that speech may be given me to open my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel for which I am an ambassador in chains, so that I may have the courage to speak as I must. Ephesians 6: 10-20

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