The rector of Saint Joseph’s Oratory, Father Claude Grou, was attacked during Mass the other day, as a ‘tall, thin man in a white hat’ – which sounds like something out of a mystery novel – approached the priest during his homily, wielding a vicious-looking two-pronged long knife, which he proceeded to plunge into Father Grou’s abdomen. From what we can ascertain, the priest fortunately moved sideways, and the wound seems not life-threatening, although Father continues in hospital. Our gratitude to Saint Joseph and Brother Andre and all the intercessor around that holy site.
Is this an anomaly, or a sign of worse on the horizon? The anger, if so be the motive, may have its sources and its focus, if ill-directed and diffuse, for another Montreal priest is about to be sentenced on Monday for what seems an all-too-tragically true charge of multiple sexual assaults. To be a priest may soon by force of circumstance be a very courageous thing, but that may sift out the men with chests, to paraphrase C.S. Lewis, from those without. And Lewis was under no illusions what happens when men ‘lost their chests’, that is, their capacity to discern and live by an objective moral law, and instead follow their whims and sentiments, with disastrous results. For unhinged from God, men will quite literally resort to murder to get what they want – or, more properly, what their base passions want.
Cardinal George, the former archbishop of Chicago, prophesied once that he would die in his bed, his successor would die in prison, and the subsequent bishop would die a martyr, as another George, Weigl, recently reminded us. It is not Chicago’s current bishop who is likely to die in prison – for reasons I will bypass for now – but rather yet-another George, Pell by name, who has been sentenced to six long years, on what seems an unsubstantiated, unproven and unlikely charge of sexual assault, convicted in Australia by a – yes – kangaroo court. Although it was not marsupials on the jury, but vehement anti-Catholics, who would like to see the Church destroyed, and the truth she proclaims – of which Cardinal Pell was and is a vocal and courageous prophet – which so sears their conscience, quieted once and for all.
The good and the bad, the wheat and the tares. But we should beware the warning of Solzhenitsyn, that this division between good and evil runs not primarily between men – although it does to some extent – but within them, through the hearts of us all. There but for the grace of God – as well perhaps the prayers of my grandparents – go I, and we should pray for those who do grave evil, as well as for those who suffer it. As long as we live by the ‘hinge of the flesh’, and have not shuffled off this mortal coil, there is opportunity for repentance, even if breathed at the last moments of one’s life, as I wrote of the final repentance of the commandant of Auschwitz.
And while on prayer, please do peruse Father Scott Murray’s latest piece of pilgrimaging, and the specific pilgrimage he has begun and leads each year in July, around the feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, to the shrine in Cormac under the patronage of Our Lady’s mother, and, of course, our Lords’ own grandmother. We can be confident that she prayed for her daughter, her grandson, as she prays for all of us now.