Over the past week, several Regnum Christi members (both current and past) have shared with me their heart-wrenching experiences as more accusations arise against Fr. Maciel. Most of these Catholic are mothers of families, although some fathers and singles have written me as well. The big question, I keep hearing, is the following: What do we do to help those left behind, those who refuse to believe any of the allegations, and who don’t want to discuss the truth?
Simply put, we pray for them. That’s all we can do. They have had over six months to digest what’s happening, and to make sense of this information. If they still are not ready to do so, or if they have done so and arrived at a conclusion different than your own, or wish to await the outcome of the apostolic visitation, then we must respect their consciences. Perhaps some may still change their minds, at which point they will come to you.
However, don’t remain idle until then. Here is something else you can – and should – do. That something is to become a cofounder and formator to the family God gave you. Your family is your first priority before God. Spend more time with them, enjoy their company and lead them to Christ.
God works in mysterious ways and the message to focus on family was hammered home to me on at least four occasions this week:
1 – The first was Tuesday evening when many of the new accusations against Fr. Maciel were still breaking. I was tempted to work on it well into evening, given the queries I had received, but my wife was physically exhausted. She has held the family together for the past six weeks while I was away doing ministry for all of July and then catching up with my day-to-day apostolate upon my return in August. So she and the baby went to bed, and the other kids and I went to the auto races like I had promised them.
I used the time driving to and from the racetrack to pray several decades of the rosary with my children, teaching my three-year-old the words to the Hail Mary. Come Wednesday morning, the LC/RC still had its problems. However, my wife was feeling rested, my children were telling all their friends what a good time they had, and my three-year-old was running around in a pull-up praying to the Blessed Mother.
LESSON: You have one priority as a parent when it comes to apostolate. That’s your family. Become a cofounder with Christ to the family God has blessed you with.
2 – Had a short conversation sometime this week with a friend of mine who use to dabble with schismatic traditionalism. He has since returned to the Church, but we spent years hammering each other online. However, our conversation this week had nothing to do with traditionalism. We simply exchanged pointers for ministry among friends and family, how to bring them closer to Christ despite the challenges of today’s culture, and how to overcome personal hurts to evangelize. He signed off telling me how spiritually rewarding it felt to be a father to his children, introducing them to their prayers and Church teaching. This is something he never felt as a keeper of liturgical minutiae. Nevertheless, the arguments we engaged in a decade ago are still waging, despite the fact neither of us participates in them any more.
LESSON: There will always be a surplus of apostolate in the outside world, as well as religious arguments and people willing to argue them. So don’t neglect your immediate family and friends.
3 – My parish pastor approached me about starting a catechetical program for young married couples in the parish. “You write for every Catholic publication in Canada and the United States promoting family,” he said. “And you travel all over the place promoting family. But young couples and families in our parish are falling away from the practice of the faith because I have nobody to put together a family religious education program in the parish you attend every week with your own family.” Point well taken.
LESSON: If there’s not enough apostolate in your family to keep you busy, there’s plenty in your local parish.
4 – I was reading one of St. John Chrysostom’s homilies on the New Testament after having read several messages from people discussing how much pressure they had felt to send their children to apostolic schools, or enroll them in this or that apostolate directed toward young people. “Don’t leave your children’s spiritual education to monks,” the Church father and doctor said, before exhorting parents to raise their children in the ways of the Lord.
LESSONS: A) There is much spiritual wisdom and advice in the saints and Church fathers that you can rediscover in your free time. 2) The Church has always recognized parents as the primary educators of their children, particularly in spiritual matters. Don’t neglect your own children’s religious education to boost your checkmarks on the apostolic deeds column.
In the end, pray for those who are taking the news hard, and keep a shoulder open for them to cry on when they need it. However, do a careful examination of your current priorities when it comes to apostolate and the prioritization of your time. Your family should come first. You should first become a cofounder to the family God gave you. This is what Christ has called you to do.