A timely interview with Bishop Athanasius Schneider just ran at Rorate Caeli, containing some keen insights on the current crisis in the Church, with a few helpful and practical comments for the faithful (see the final four paragraphs especially).
In my read, the Golden Nugget Award goes to:
“We have to bear in mind that the Church is not in our hands, and not even in the hands of the pope, but in the almighty hands of Christ… God [has] permitted this current extraordinary doctrinal and moral confusion in the Church for the aim that, after this crisis, the truth will shine brighter and the Church will become spiritually more beautiful, especially in the married couples, in the families and in the popes.”
Throughout the interview, Bishop Schneider shows his usual healthy detachment – that profoundly Catholic “so what?” attitude in the face of earthly trials. One supposes that such an attitude may come more naturally to a man who survived the Gulag; being raised in the underground Church would likely strengthen one’s courage and resolve in defending the timeless truths of the Faith.
But I can’t resist comparing his attitude to that of St. Basil the Great, one of the Fathers of the Church who found himself in the crosshairs of the Emperor Valens’ project of implanting the Arian heresy in Asia Minor in the 4th century.
Valens had sent his Imperial Prefect Modestus to Basil, threatening the bishop with the confiscation of his property, exile, torture, and death if he would not yield.
His biographer (Gregory Nazianzen) records that Basil rejoined:
“If you take away my possessions, you will not enrich yourself, nor will you make me a pauper. You have no need of my old worn-out clothing, nor of my few books, of which the entirety of my wealth is comprised. Exile means nothing to me, since I am bound to no particular place. This place in which I now dwell is not mine, and any place you send me shall be mine. Better to say: every place is God’s. Where would I be neither a stranger and sojourner? Who can torture me? I am so weak, that the very first blow would render me insensible. Death would be a kindness to me, for it will bring me all the sooner to God, for Whom I live and labor, and to Whom I hasten.”
Stunned, Modestus responded that no man had ever before dared to speak to him with such audacity.
The Saint simply replied: “Perhaps you have never before met a bishop.”
God, send us shepherds after Thine own Heart. Amen.