Saturday, March 3, 2012

How NOT To Pray For Father Guarnizo's Situation

I received yesterday a suggestion for prayer regarding Father Guarnizo's situation; many of you readers received the same thing so you'll know immediately to what I refer.  I respect the writer as a person of prayer and a faithful Catholic, but I think some things in his letter warrant some "due diligence" examination.

In regards to the specific situation, he expresses concern saying, "I see many of us upset because of injustice, perceived lack of ecclesial backing, love for Fr. Marcel etc."    PERCEIVED????   Not merely perceived - the injustice to Father Guarnizo is all too real.  I find the use of that adjective to be most troubling, as it can have the effect of causing others to doubt the clear evidence in front of their faces and to minimize the real harm being done to this good priest.

The writer of this call to prayer correctly notices that we are upset and even angry about what is happening to Father.  From my reading of this email, it seems that he believes our anger is a problem that can cause disunity.  Well, maybe it can - if it is not utilized properly.  One way it can be a problem is if it's treated as a problem rather than as a God-given emotion that can help motivate constructive action and yes, real prayer.  St John Chrysostom said "he who is not angry, whereas he has cause to be, sins".  Here is what I believe to be a fairly balanced treatise on anger.

Let me be frank.  There is disunity, but it is being caused by the capitulation that is going on within the ranks of the chancery - the "apology" issued by Bishop Knestout (under the likely guidance by the Cardinal) being one prime example.  If there is to be true unity, must it not be founded on truth rather than emotional "calm"?  The "apology" contains a good bit of error; I'll touch on that in another post.

There is another line in that email that causes me concern.  It reads,"Through baptism in the Spirit we have the tools, the gifts that we need to act against the devil."   Does the author therefore imply that those who have not experienced "baptism in the Spirit" lack "the gifts and tools needed to act against the devil"?  On its face, that statement is incorrect.  "Baptism in the Spirit" is not the source of our gifts.  We have these through the Sacraments, through prayer, the Church's teaching and the practice of virtue.  "Baptism in the spirit", while it may be beneficial to some, is still extraneous to the Seven Sacraments.  Some of us (including the author of that email) will recall what Cardinal Hickey told the Mother of God Community when he came in September 1995 to address us: "baptism in the Spirit is not essential to the Christian life; those who do not receive baptism in the Spirit are not second-class Christians!"   The statement in the email smacks of the misunderstanding that the late Cardinal addressed in that part of his address (3rd paragraph under "teaching").  Any baptized and confirmed Catholic who is pursuing the life of grace via reception of the Sacraments, pursuit of prayer and virtue, has these same "tools and gifts".

I fear that this well-intentioned message will cause its readers to engage in "paralysis by analysis".  Of course we must pray as there is definitely a diabolical impetus behind the mischief being wrought against Father Guarnizo.  But we don't want to let a false humility lure us into a passive stance in this matter.  We must continue our efforts in petitioning the chancery to do the right thing and to stand by Father Guarnizo as opposed to throwing him under the bus to appease the ravenous wolves at their doors.  By the Sacraments that we have received, we have the wherewithal to do that.

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