The controversy over the Irish government's plan to force priests break the Seal of the Confessional has been bringing people together. As I noted in my post yesterday, members of the Association of Catholic Priests have said that they will go to prison rather than violate the Seal. In this they are at one with the rest of us.
Speaking with some brother priests all of them are ready to go to prison, and indeed some are speaking of the advantages. Of course the media will brand these priests as abusers themselves for not breaking the Seal, but, suffering such punishment for remaining faithful to Christ's sacrament may bring many blessings, and perhaps offer a sacrifice of reparation for our unfaithful brothers. It will also give us an opportunity to share in Christ's condemnation, and also provide us with a means to live with those in prison, those who may need to come to know Christ and his message through the presence of his priests in their place of confinement. Sometimes sharing the fate of the condemned wins souls.
I was looking at some examples of holy priests who, unjustly accused and in prison brought many souls back to God. The late Cardinal, now Servant of God, Francis Van Thuan, when in prison, converted his prison guards, a whole host of them. Who knows what pastoral opportunities await those innocent priests condemned under the unjust law.
So that can only be good. I hope, for Ireland's sake, things do not come to that, but I sense, and I have said it before, persecution is coming in one form or another. There is an air of 1930's Spain about in Ireland today, a people once Catholic have lapsed and are now angry and seeking vengeance on the Church, usually for her teachings. Yes, members of the Church in Ireland have contributed to that anger, and those priests and bishops who have failed us will, in time, bring on the heads of innocent priests and future bishops an ungodly rage with demonic consequences, a rage they may not even see: others will bear the punishment for their sins - and many of them still do not know it, perhaps don't even care, they are too busy justifying their inaction or plotting how they can keep their quiet life intact.
But there are other things stirring the pot too, and we must be ready. Prayer and sacrifice, greater love of the Holy Mass, Our Lady, devotion to the passion of the Lord and to the holy priests who have suffered for him: these will prepare us for whatever comes. And of course, hope.