The Lost Sheep
Thomas A. Droleskey
Our Lord told the parable of the shepherd who left temporarily a flock of ninety-nine sheep to look for the one who was lost. Upon finding the lost sheep, the shepherd gently placed it on his shoulders and carried it back to the flock to join the other ninety-nine. The moral of the parable is pretty easy to understand: one who has the obligation of shepherding Christ's flock by virtue of his ordination to the priesthood had better be concerned about seeking out the lost sheep and leading them to the one sheepfold of Peter.
The lost sheep include those of the true flock who have wandered away, as well as those who have never been gathered into the flock. Alas, most bishops, who have the fullness of the priesthood, and priests have abandoned the lost sheep. There is no sense of urgency to seek out fallen away Catholics or to invite non-Catholics into the Church. The false ecumenism of the past forty years has resulted in the inevitable triumph of religious indifferentism as the normal attitude of most Catholic bishops and priests. The Holy Father himself has added to this sense of indifferentism by various words and actions, including the Assisi events and his kissing of the Koran. The average Catholic is thus led to believe that it "doesn't make any difference what you believe as long as you are a good person. Everyone goes to Heaven." And when you add in the elements of human respect and simple sloth as additional factors explaining the abandonment of the lost sheep by Christ's shepherds, you have quite a recipe for spiritual and temporal disaster.
That is, the state of the world depends upon the state of souls. A soul enslaved to Original Sin has more difficulty discerning truth clearly and acting wisely. Certainly, such a soul has difficulty with such things as suffering, death, disease, injustice, war, poverty, and all of the other consequences of fallen human nature. A soul steeped in Original Sin knows nothing of Divine Mercy, being prone to harbor grudges rather than to offer forgiveness when offended or done an injustice by someone. A soul steeped in Original Sin, lacking a belief in Our Lord's Resurrection, cannot accept the death of a loved one without great personal grief, if not a protracted depression. Indeed, the aging process itself is something that must be avoid by the use of hair dyes and plastic surgery and liposuction. Such people turn to astrology, self-help books, psychologists, politicians, political ideologies, or any number of other means to deal with the "issues of life," sometimes spending their entire lives searching for the "meaning of life" in all of the wrong places, winding up being unhappy and miserable.
A similar state of affairs can afflict a soul steeped in unrepentant mortal sin. Although such a soul has lost the supernatural virtue of charity, he does have the embers of the supernatural virtues of faith and hope. Nevertheless, a soul steeped in unrepentant mortal sin can become so blinded by the allure of the world, the flesh, and the Devil that he becomes as lost as one who was never baptized. Souls that have not sought out the healing balm provided by Our Lord through an alter Christus in the hospital of Divine Mercy that is the confessional become hardened in their ways over the years, so much so that they seek out affirmation from others for their abandonment of the Faith (and for their support of various social evils). Lost souls are in need of shepherds to guide them back to the true flock of Christ-or into the flock for the first time. Nothing less than the salvation of individual souls and the state of temporal order depend upon the willingness of shepherds to do their duty in this regard.
Although I am always conscious of the need to pray and to work for the conversion of souls to the true Faith, there are times when the current ecclesiastical attitude of indifference to the lost sheep really hit home. To wit, I was getting a bagel at a bagelry in Queens, New York, one Sunday a few weeks ago while en route to the Traditional Latin Mass in Manhattan. The area where the bagelry is located is predominantly Jewish. As I drove out of the parking lot to get back on the Long Island Expressway to continue our trip into Manhattan, an elderly Jewish man was pulling into the lot in his car. I thought to myself as our paths crossed, "Who is doing anything to evangelize this man? Don't any of our shepherds understand that they have the responsibility to try to save this man's soul?"
Naturally, I remembered in a flash that the answer is a decidedly negative in that regard. If Cardinal Walter Kasper and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger can both state that Jews expectantly await the coming of the Messiah and that they are saved by the Mosaic covenant, then why should shepherds actually take seriously the traditional words of consecration pronounced over the Chalice? Hic est enim Calix Sanguinis mei, novi et aerteni testamenti: mysterium fidei, qui pro vobis et pro multis effundetur in remissionem peccatorum. "This is the Chalice of My Blood, of the new and everlasting testament: the mystery of faith, that will be shed for you and for the many unto the forgiveness of sins." We have reached a point when princes of the Church can deconstruct the plain meaning of the words of consecration. The words "new and eternal" do not mean that that which was old and transitory has been supplanted. The Church had it wrong between 33 A.D. and the Second Vatican Council. Thus, individual souls are left to live out their lives without ever being invited to join the true Church and to be fed with the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity made Man. People are left to fend for themselves amidst the wicked currents of the culture of death, sometimes even being reaffirmed by Catholic priests and bishops in their false or superceded religions.
Not all priests have abandoned the flock, however. There are plenty, although relatively small in number, who do work zealously for the conversion of souls to the true Faith. Many of these priests are in regular diocesan situations. Some of them celebrate only the new Mass, doing the best they can with what has been given to them. Others celebrate the new Mass and offer the Traditional Latin Mass under the "indult" granted-sometimes willingly, most of the times reluctantly-by diocesan bishops. Each of them, however, knows that he has been ordained to serve souls, that his own Particular Judgment depends in large measure upon how hard he has work to back the sheep who have strayed and to bring in the sheep who have been lost all of their lives.
One of these priests is Father Daniel Johnson, who has been for twenty-three years the pastor of Saint Mary's by the Sea Church in Huntington Beach, California. Sent to that parish, which was considered to be a remote outpost at the time, as a punishment for his refusal to give out Communion in the hand, Father Johnson literally went door to door to invite fallen away Catholics back into the Church and to evangelize non-Catholics. He started conducting a thrice yearly convert instruction course, which consists of a total of thirteen lectures each time it is offered. Anyone who can do simply arithmetic can figure out that Father Johnson is giving this convert instruction course for a total of thirty-nine weeks a year each and every single year in order to properly teach souls about the Faith. Word began to spread. People who take the course once prior to their baptism and/or confirmation frequently take it again so as to soak in the richness of the patrimony of the Deposit of Faith Father Johnson summarizes so cogently. My own wife and her sister were the beneficiaries of Father Daniel Johnson's zeal for souls, quite a contrast to the indifferentism that plagues the postconciliar church in most places. Indeed, Father Johnson has even had converts from Mohammedism, which is quite a work of grace. Scores upon scores of people take and complete his classes each year. His true pastoral zeal as a shepherd of souls is something that should be the norm among priests, not the rare exception that it is.
Father Johnson does not stop with baptism and/or confirmation. Oh, no. He gently exhorts his converts to explore the beauty of the Traditional Latin Mass, which he himself offers so exquisitely each Sunday at noon whenever he is physically able to do so (he has been battle recurring bouts of skin cancer lately). He frequently uses the pulpit Our Lord has given him in a church named after Our Lady to extol the glories of the Traditional Latin Mass, trying to motivate those who attend it to pray and to work harder for its restoration worldwide within the Church. He has not accepted the new theology that contends it is unnecessary or even unseemly to work actively and zealously for the conversion of more and more souls to the one, true Church, the Church founded by the Redeemer of Man Himself upon the Rock of Peter, the Pope.
That having been noted, however, as a matter of very simple justice, it is obviously the case that the new Mass of its nature and the entirety of the diocesan structure reaffirm people in sloth and indifferentism. Indeed, the Novus Ordo Missae was born as part of the false spirit of ecumenism that has taken hold in the past forty years. As one of its goals was to "simplify" the rubrics so as to appeal to Protestants, the new Mass lost the glory of its Catholicity. The Mass should not depend upon the priest or the parish or the time of day. It should reflect the permanence and the stability of God Himself, not the vagaries of whoever happens to be the "presider." A growing number of converts, such as my own wife, found their way into the true Faith as a result of being led by Our Lady to discover the Traditional Latin Mass. One does not have to "hunt," so to speak, for the meaning of the Faith in the Mass of tradition. Every bit of its constituent elements conveys the glories of Catholicism, which is one of the reasons that so many converted to the Faith in the Nineteenth Century in the United States.
Acknowledging that God uses all things and all people in His Providence to effect His Holy Will, it has been proven down through the centuries that the best way to evangelize people as Catholics is to invite them to the Traditional Latin Mass. The sense of mystery and awe present in the Traditional Mass beckons people to learn more and more about the Faith. It is not pedestrian. It is not earthbound. It communicates in all of its elements that it is both the unbloody re-presentation of Our Lord's Sacrifice of the Cross and a foretaste of eternal glories. There is no better means of evangelization than that which is the closest thing to Heaven we have on earth: the Traditional Latin Mass. It is no accident that the overthrow of the Mass in most parts of this country and the world has resulted in a loss of zeal on the part of shepherds for the strayed sheep and for those sheep who, as I noted before, have been lost their entire lives.
We pray to Our Lady of Prompt Succor to help all Catholic bishops and priests everywhere to rediscover the glory of the jewel that is the Traditional Latin Mass in all of its fullness with any revolutionary influences whatsoever, realizing in it the most efficacious means to reinforce their own manly, priestly identities as shepherds who have been ordained to work hard for the conversion of all of the souls placed within the diocesan and/or parish boundaries where they find themselves. For it will not go well for shepherds in this life if they face the Good Shepherd at the moment of their Particular Judgments without having sought the sheep for which He shed every single drop of His Most Precious Blood on the wood of the Holy Cross.