"During the two weeks she told me three secrets but I was not to speak about them to anyone and so far I have not." (from a letter of St. Bernadette - Office of Our Lady of Lourdes) Bernadette recounts one of the details of her Marian apparitions.
I was talking on Skype last night to a much younger priest friend, who lives half way around the world. He was sharing the challenges facing different groups of young parents he knows in two different cities, as they struggle to band together and give their children the opportunity to study in a school which truly professes and teaches Catholic values. In one city, the public option was so thoroughly debased and permeated by relativism the parents went to work and put together a private elementary school program for 125 children. In the other, the existing so-called Catholic schools had too many teachers who were anything but role models for their children, neglecting sound fundamental moral teaching, so the parents banded together and opened their own Catholic school.
One school's parents were seeking my priest friend's advice as to how to deal with their bishop's opposition to the project, not overt but evident enough to keep potential priest chaplains away from the school. In the other case, a wealthy man in the neighborhood had brought an injunction against the school, even though it was in an area zoned commercial and not residential. Besides urging Father to exhort the parents to courage and prayer, I was able to respond to some canonical questions concerning the celebration of the sacraments on the school premises.
What came to mind as we were talking was a post I had read the other day by Anthony Esolen: More Ways to End the Vocations Crisis, where he speaks about courageously countering the "strategies of suicide", the fatalist mentality which withdraws people from standing up and resisting the spirit of the age, which is death-dealing, to say the least. Much in the same vein, I won't cite the reports of the last days about 75% parish closings in one Dutch diocese or the total disarray of the once great Catholic Church in Belgium.
Here in Ukraine, many people experience, on top of the trauma of Russian aggression and inner division, a sense of abandonment from all around. It is hard and stirs one almost to angry rebellion against "the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" or something like that.
Either Bernadette or Our Lady of Lourdes came to the rescue this morning with a happy thought about secrets told to children. Think of Bernadette! At the time of the apparitions at Lourdes, she was a basically unschooled girl from a rural village. Worlds do change, by God's love, shared in confidence to a child by the Mother of God.
Just as Esolen exhorts to determined action in the face of evil for the sake of the life of the Church, just as parents need to band together to give their children the benefits of a truly Catholic education, so each one of us and all together must do our part to resist aggression from outside and reform Ukrainian society from within. I see signs already that the propaganda edifice, the web of entangling falsehoods which holds whole peoples in thrall is beginning to crumble and unravel. We entrust ourselves to the Lord's mercy and Mary's secrets told to children.
Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle!
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