M A R K M A L L E T T
–––S P I R I T U A L F O O D F O R T H O U G H T–––
AS our vehicle traversed the French countryside this week, the words of John Paul II rolled through my mind like the hills surrounding Liseux, the "home" of St. Thérèse to which we were headed:
Holy people alone can renew humanity. —POPE JOHN PAUL II, Message to the Youth of the World, World Youth Day; n. 7; Cologne Germany, 2005
These words came on the heels of having visited some of the most fantastic cathedrals in all of Christendom, such as the one in Chartres, France. In that massive Gothic church, I was overwhelmed with the incredible faith and zeal that could have possibly created such a testament to the splendor of God—an outward expression of the inner life of France… an interior faith and love that has produced a litany of Saints. Yet, at the same time, I was struck with a terrible sorrow and wonderment: How, I asked over and over, could we in the Western nations go from creating such glorious structures, stained glass windows, and sacred art… to abandoning and closing our churches, destroying our statues and crucifixes, and extinguishing much of the mystery of God in our prayer and liturgy? The answer came silently as I could see with the eyes of my soul how this beauty, while at once inspiring saints, also corrupted men who bent the awe and power of our Catholic heritage to their own advantage. I understood at once that the Catholic Church, despite her holiness and providential role in the plan of salvation, has experienced in her long history the rise and fall of many Judases. They have welcomed her Joan of Arcs, and also burned them at the stake.