August 22, 2018
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In the past few weeks, we have been grieved by the news of scandalous behavior of so many priests in our Church here in the United States. As a priest myself, I am most saddened by the actions of my brother priests, who committed such reprehensible, blasphemous and even Satanic sins against innocent young people and against seminarians and priests who had been striving to honorably serve our Lord Jesus Christ and his Holy Catholic Church. It has also come to light that some bishops were negligent in preventing further abuse from occurring.
Since the 2002 revelation of widespread abuse of minors by Catholic priests, our bishops have endeavored to implement local programs to ensure a safe environment for minors and vulnerable persons. Many of you have fully cooperated and embraced these safe environment training programs, even though they are unpleasant, inconvenient, and emotionally disturbing at times. I want to thank you for your continuing commitment and participation in these trainings. Although we have made great strides in protecting children and vulnerable persons within our community, we must never fail in our prayer and vigilance against the demonic foe.
It is not by chance that the Church has been attacked in this way. The Enemy hates Jesus Christ, and he hates those who bear his image in the ministerial priesthood. Thus, he constantly tempts and attacks the spiritual fathers of his Church—those who are ordained to represent Jesus Christ, the High Priest. Furthermore, the Enemy hates fatherhood, and he detests what it represents, namely, the benevolent fatherhood of Our Heavenly Father. He therefore attacks all fathers, and so every father must be especially vigilant to guard his family against demonic attacks. He does so by praying for his family, teaching them to pray, and blessing them at home. He makes his household a domestic church, a sanctuary of holiness in a wayward world. He lives out his fatherhood in faithfulness and daily self-sacrifice, and so places a hedge of protection around his wife and children.
When Jesus sent out the Apostles for ministry, they cast out many demons. Yet, they found that they could not always cast out every demon. In the Gospel of Mark, chapter 9, verses 14-29, the Apostles ask Jesus why they could not cast out a demon from a possessed boy. Jesus answered, “This kind can only come out through prayer.”
Although our safe environment programs are necessary and prudent, we can never completely eradicate sin from the Church by way of programs and policies, for sin is part of our fallen human condition. We must pray. We must do penance, not only for ourselves, but for the whole Church. Thus, I am asking every parishioner to join me in a day of fasting, abstinence from meat, and prayer on Friday, September 7. I will offer Mass, as I always do, at Nativity BVM parish in Penelope at 7:00am, followed by an hour of Eucharistic Adoration and prayers to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Please join me if you can, and offer your Holy Communion in reparation for the sins of our wayward clergy. If you cannot attend Mass, please participate by fasting and praying on September 7.
Yours by the grace and mercy of God,
Rev. Joseph Keating