May 19, 2012

Comfort in Ruin

In various places I saw this week the announcement from the Canadian bishops' conference regarding bishop Raymond Lahey having been dismissed from the clerical state. (Read the whole thing here.)  Lahey, you will recall, was caught with child pornography at the Ottawa airport.

The bishops' announcement details the effects of the penalty: "loss of the rights and duties attached to the clerical state, except for the obligation of celibacy; prohibition of the exercise of any ministry, except as provided for by Canon 976 of the Code of Canon Law in those cases involving danger of death; loss of all offices and functions and of all delegated power, as well as prohibition of the use of clerical attire."

But it's the next sentence that struck me the most: "Lahey has accepted the Decree of Dismissal, which also requires him to pray the Liturgy of the Hours in reparation for the harm and the scandal he has caused, and for the sanctification of clergy."

I find that very comforting.

Even I should make a complete ruin of the vocation God has given me in his mercy, and even if I should become such a wicked priest as to require my dismissal from the clerical state, I will still have the Liturgy of the Hours and the privilege of praying it for the Church and the world. Even if I should make such a mess of the vows of my religious profession and the promises of my ordinations, that promise I made to pray the Hours on the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary in 2006 will always be with me. Even if I should die and go to hell, it will be my last joy to tell the devil that it was the privilege of this ruined soul to pray his breviary up to that moment.

One doesn't just all of a sudden have a laptop full of child pornography. I'm guessing that on the way to such a thing there are various moments when one might notice the destructive and abusive descent he was making. But anyone who is a sinner knows the power of concupiscence and denial in this regard.

So as I was praying the Office of Readings and Morning Prayer today, it was one of my intentions to pray for those who were abused in the production of the images on Lahey's laptop. And I pray also that all the victims of sexual abuse by priests would forgive me for praying for them without knowing what else to do about the sicknesses in the clergy at the root of their victimization. And I hope that Lahey, according to his decree of dismissal, is praying for me.


Metaphysical Catholic said...

Perhaps we could dedicate a Novena to the Holy Spirit for this intention. And perhaps we don't have to wait until we make a shipwreck of our Faith to pray the LoH for our reparation of sin. Our own first.

saintlysages said...

The Divine Office is powerful prayer indeed on many levels, Father Charles. All the more reason for a penitent to embrace it.

Some thoughts on falls from grace, from a Franciscan perspective in the article "Franciscans on Humility" at

Pax et Bonum!
Dave (Third Order member since '72)

Mark in Spokane said...

Another great post, and a fantastic reminder that no matter what befalls us in our respective vocations, we all have the ability to pray as fits our state of life. A wonderful motivator for me to pick up my copy of the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary and pray this evening, for my own soul and for the souls of others & the good of the Church.

-Lou (Louis) said...

I love the LotH. :)

Judy Kallmeyer said...

Since you have closed out your Facebook acct, I can't think of any other way to contact you. Just want to say arrivederci. Have a safe flight under the care of Raphael. Enjoy Assisi to the hilt and exult in the Eternal City. Give my love to both cities, two of my favorites in the world, Lourdes being the third. I am sure that you will be a great success in your new ministry. Rome's gain is the USA's loss.

Brother Charles said...

Thanks Judy! Let's be praying for each other!

Celeste said...

Thank you Brother Charles, your post inspired me greatly. May our Lord and Blessed Mother continue to protect, guide, and aid you on your journey :)