Monday, June 20, 2011

To Follow Christ is to Work Within the Sacraments

Not everyone has followed the Fr. Corapi saga as it has unfolded.  I'd seen him preach on EWTN once, the crowd and the venue were impressive and his words were pretty good at the time.  Now I've heard him give his first speech --announcing he would no longer be called Father, that he was leaving the priesthood but that you could buy his videos and other items commemorating his 20 years as a priest and continue to follow him on his new website with a logo that paralleled his upcoming new book and a brand name that he had copy protected a year ago. 

And I've heard his second speech where he proclaims that he will still be a priest and that no one can take that away from him --even though he verbally declared he was done with it last week; and that the loss of being able to perform the sacraments in public life was no biggie as he hadn't really done all that much of it as a priest up until then.  Those words would not let go of me.

It struck me in that moment, that  either he did not understand what he was surrendering or he was being disingenuous. If the former was the case, then he also did not comprehend what a vocation is.  Though he cried through Father's day, he thought somehow God's call was outside the sacraments.  His words indicate an inversion of the nature of a vocation --a holy life lived always comes closer to the sacraments, needier of the sacraments, desperate for the sacraments.  I hope it was the former case, that he has yet to comprehend what loving God means. 

A vocational life, be it religious or married or through service, cannot be lived outside the sacraments.  A married couple is still married even if one is half way around the world because of a job; there is no moment when a wife is not a wife or a husband not a husband if they are living out their vocations as married; there is no line between them, there is no line outside of the life with the other. They are always in that sacrament of marriage no matter the circumstance. 

Likewise a priest is always a priest, God's servant first.  A priest may have a vacation, but even there, he is still a man of the cloth.  Fr. Corapi or Mr. Corapi or whatever is the proper --I'm not trying to be irreverent, merely correct, has drawn lines around the role of a priest, separating his speaking and teaching from the vocation of priesthood, or more accurately, creating false barriers to keep God's pull at a safe distance.   Vocations take all of one's self, it is a surrender and a gift and a promise to God.  Given his statements, it seems that the surrender was perhaps half hearted, the gift taken back, and the promise broken.  

There's a lot of "I" in his voice that doesn't ring with someone broken hearted as a spouse would be if the other broke it off; God hasn't called off the vocation, Fr. Corapi has. Corapi seems conflicted and at odds with himself, unable to surrender wholely to the Priesthood, equally unwilling to surrender the name he's made for himself that in part whether he performed the sacraments or not, came from being a priest.

Why does this matter?  Because little deaths matter, divorces matter, politicians and priests who fail and fall publicly matter. It adds darkness, it adds fodder to the fires of those who delight in doubt, despair and disappointment and tempts tepid and wayward souls to fall into error or not avail themselves of the stronger medicines supplied by the sacraments.  

My two cents? Pray.  Pray hard. And then? Pray harder.  The World and the Church needs humble good priests. The World and the Church need luminous marriages. We need leaders who have courage and wisdom and charity, and we need peace in our hearts, homes and world both virtual and actual. We need to live in the sacraments and for them, not keep them at a distance to be picked up solely for our pleasure, like a soda you pick up when you're thirsty at the 7-11. 

As a sideline observer, I wish for this man every grace in all it's shocking overwhelming fire and glory, God comes and overwhelms, it is His nature.  I hope that this man stops shouting that the world should listen to him and can hear the thunderous whisper of God.

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