Dear St. Martin’s Parishioners,
Please pray for Fr. Sam Guise and the parishioners of St. Jane Frances de Chantal Parish, as well as the congregations of North Bethesda United Methodist and Wildwood Baptist churches. All three churches were vandalized in the early hours of Saturday, July 9. St. Jane received the brunt of the evil, as their tabernacle was desecrated, the stations of the cross were pulled off the walls, books were torn up, statues were overthrown, and the church pews were set on fire. I have a lot of reactions to the acts of desecration and destruction, but first I realize the need to pray for those affected, for justice for the perpetrators, as well as their repentance.
Catholic churches are especially prone to desecration because we are a sacramental people. By the nature of our faith we are vulnerable, because we possess the most Holy Eucharist, and we affirm the visible expression of God’s holiness in sensible form—sacred art, relics, altars, holy cards, chalices, sacraments and sacramentals, stations of the cross, incense, sacred music, etc. When God became man, he took a great risk, which eventually led him to the cross. The Church is the extension of Christ’s incarnation in time in space, which draws many people to holiness, but scandalizes and repels others. Because of our sacramental nature it is impossible for us to hide our light beneath a bushel basket. We have a prophetic vocation to make Christ known and loved, that is, to speak, proclaim, profess, call, create and act as Christ in the world. Our society as a whole retreats from the incarnational presence of Christ, even as it fosters vague spiritualities. Let us remember and recommit ourselves to our vocation as visible signs of the invisible God, and extensions of Christ’s humanity and divinity in the world. Although many will reject us, even violently, there are many more who have experienced the emptiness of life without Christ and who hunger for what we have to offer.