Now is the time to be a saint. That is, if being a saint means as it always has carrying your cross and being persecuted for Christ. If the apostles rejoiced because they were persecuted for Our Lord, then we too should rejoice. We live in a special time of persecution because our orthodoxy. This goes across the lines drawn by so many Catholics. Traditional and Novus Ordo Catholics alike suffer because they are orthodox. Good priests are suffering because they refuse to bend when it comes to Catholic Doctrine. These are not even the radical priests who are trying to restore the Mass our fathers. These are mainstream priests who feel the heat radiating from ecumenism. (I can't pronounce it but I can spell it). Then there are the usual parishioner attacking parishioner persecutions which has always been part of our tradition. This is now heightened by nonstop documents coming down from the Vatican designed to divide and conquer. Can you imagine the meditations going on during the rosary these days, regardless of the whether we need a new set of mysteries or not? A person in one pew might be saying, "Are they going to say the Luminous Mysteries? I hope they do." Next pew. "I hope they don't. Oh, what mystery are we on?"
All in all nothing has changed despite the fact that everything has changed. Our Lord was persecuted. He was betrayed by one of His own. This is the case now as we are betrayed by our own mother, Holy Mother Church. For centuries we knelt for communion. Now the tap of a send key and an e-mail goes out to the American bishops. No more kneeling. We wait as we have waited for centuries for Our Lady to be proclaimed Co-Redemtrix, Mediatrix of all Grace, and Advocate. She already is. She has been and always will be. We are told now, though, what is cannot be proclaimed solemnly. We don't want to offend the Protestants suddenly.
There are a flurry of these novelties. I guess things moved slower in previous generations just for the fact that they needed time to inform everyone in the vast Catholic world. Now the Internet sends them out faster than people can process. The rosary is not a weapon but the next day another Zenit flash says it is a weapon. What's a good Catholic to do? What did Our Lord say? Take up your cross and follow Me. Now is the time. Conditions are similar. Error is king. It's a perfect time to become a saint.
Saint Therese of the Child Jesus rejoiced when she was humiliated. Especially when she was right. She would not seek out humiliation, but she said "why be foolish enough to refuse treasures offered so generously." I did not understand humiliation in my early days of conversion. I was so in love with being Catholic. A wise priest, Father Henry Marchosky, told me that it would come. He was explaining how Our Lord was giving me so much consolation as a recent convert. He himself was a convert from Judaism who understood this well. Who knew by today's standards he needed not to convert. He explained with a twinkle in his eye that "God loves to humiliate". I just looked at him puzzled and thought why is this good news? Father Marchosky knew something that I did not.
I would soon learn though. God gave me the grace to understand, not that I prayed for understanding. Some time after I attended the 2001 Chrism Mass in Orange County, California. Oh, it was spectacular. Over three hundred priests processed into the Cathedral. I was so proud to be part of the Catholic Church. My conversion is a witness to Our Lord's mercy and Our Lady's perseverence. Somehow though in my ignorance I was troubled. In all the pomp and glory of this tradition where was the dignity? Most of the priests were practically high five-ing people in the audience. I use the term audience because it was more of a show than a Mass. I put this aside, though, because I was just happy to be on the inside. I felt saddened because I did not live in a time when the Church displayed the full glory and honor that is due God.
I attended the mass. I read along in my traditional missal to properly prepare myself for receiving communion. This was something I did because I only knew the Traditional Mass. I converted to the Faith because of the Traditional Mass, and this was what I knew best. Then it came time for communion at that Chrism Mass and the priests came to the middle of the cathedral where we were sitting to distribute communion to those in the back. I did what I always did. I walked up with my head bowed and my hands folded. I am easily distracted so I do this because of my own weakness. I wasn't paying attention to what others were doing. I was before the priest and ready to receive, so naturally I knelt. Suddenly, I heard the priest talking to me. It was confusing. He was saying something about it not being their custom to kneel for communion. What? I stood up and stared at him anxiously. I said, "No, thank you." I don't know why I said that but I knew I didn't want to be disrespectful of the Church I loved so much. I had only received communion kneeling. I couldn't receive standing. So I started to walk away. He looked at me now with anxious eyes. I remember the look because I felt the same way. Confused and scared. I felt both humiliated and disobedient at the same time. A person should not be scared in his own house, much less the House of his Mother, Holy Mother Church.
I went back to my pew and cried. I did not want to be bad. I felt as though I had done something wrong. I cried for myself and then I prayed to Saint Lucy as I always do to help me see. Suddenly, I remembered that it was Lent and Our Lord had given me such a special sacrifice. Out of the hundreds of people Our Lord had given me such a gift. And the consolation of Our Lord was indescribable. I now understood Father Marchosky's joy. The joy of humiliation. Oh, now I was really crying. Not just sniffle, sniffle. I was sobbing. People around me were asking why the priest had refused me. My sister Bridget was explaining. People were complaining and consoling me. My sister was thinking 'poor, poor Sharon'. All I could do was sob to her that, "No, I was crying because I was happy. It was good." She must have then thought 'poor, poor Sharon, first humiliation and now she has lost her mind.' After that, however, the Norbertine priests from Saint Michael's Abbey suddenly came from the front of the church to the back to receive communion. They, too, knelt for communion before the same young priest who had denied me Holy Communion. He had to politely explain to them their custom. So they all genuflected before receiving. The poor priest was confused because as I had known nothing but kneeling he was probably taught nothing but standing.
After Mass I explained to my sister and her husband what had really happened. They were amazed but on a human level they were still outraged. They then explained it to some nuns they knew who they happened to run into in the parking lot after the Chrism Mass. They were also outraged. I explained to them that I had received a great gift, but it is hard to put into words such consolation.
Yes, what the priest did was wrong. Yes, there are problems. Yes, it is a different religion as my husband, Dr. Thomas Droleskey, says. But, yes, we can use these experiences to grow in sanctity. We can accept that God is allowing this and we can strive to become saints. Being orthodox is the path of the cross. Rome embraces everyone except the Traditional Catholics. Great saints rejoiced because of persecution. Saint Paul was shipwrecked, stoned, attacked, despised, and yet he rejoiced. Only he didn't have to receive Holy Communion in the state of the church today. I pray to Saint Paul each time I go to receive Holy Communion at a Novus Ordo mass because it is a persecution. You never know what to expect.
I am writing a children's book about Saint Therese of Lisieux, so she is very much on my mind these days. She rejoiced in even the little sufferings she was able to offer to Our Lord. During silent prayer one of the sisters fidgeted with her rosary. It made Saint Therese crazy. She became a saint, however, precisely with such small offerings (and larger ones later on). Imagine how we can offer up to Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart the commotion that is present in most of our churches today as we try to pray before the Blessed Sacrament? Saint Therese also said "My heart thrills at the thought of the undreamed-of torments which will be the lot of Christians in the time of the Anti-Christ! I want them all to be my lot."
Finally, what better persecution for sainthood for the sheep than that which comes from the shepherd. Recently, sheep were beaten over the head with the staff of their own shepherd on the day which should have been such a glorious celebration. The day, which so many people had prayed for for so long, had arrived in their diocese: a weekly Sunday Indult Mass. I'm sure they had offered up so much up over the years for this intention. At long last their prayers had been answered. So on this glorious day of victory the shepherd comes in and hits them over the head for being "angry" sheep. They should be grateful because they were given all that they had asked for. The sheep were only asking for the very basics for survival. Food. After being saddened by the news of this latest pummeling, I thought this cross was so perfect it could only be designed for these sheep by God Himself.
This particular shepherd had been so loved by the sheep. If you had told these sheep years ago that they would get their mass and it would be offered by this shepherd they would have thought it too glorious for words. Well they were right it was too glorious for words. They were given a sacrifice which Saint Therese, herself, would have loved to offer.