In one of his “terrible sonnets,” Gerard Manley Hopkins pleads with God for justice. He complains to God: “Wert thou my enemy, O thou my friend / How wouldst thou worse, I wonder, than thou dost / Defeat, thwart me?”
In our days, God could easily be thought to say the same to many Church leaders. “How could you worse defeat the plans of My heart, the salvation of souls?”
How many generations of the sheep now lie panting and lost for a lack of good shepherds, or rather with so many bad shepherds mixed in with the good?
How many grossly expensive and completely ineffective pastoral initiatives have succeeded each other in the name of innovation?
How many weeks pass by in most parishes with few or no confessions heard?
How many religious communities have collapsed into nothing?
How many thoughtlessly sacrilegious marriages and Communions go unaddressed?
How many Catholic congregations are subjected to almost flippantly casual ceremonial practices and heretical hymnody?
How many good men and women have been thwarted in their vocations because of their devotion to God and their attachment to the truth?
Can it be that the fruits of the maverick postconciliar reforms are still unrecognized: the empty churches, the invincible ignorance, the effective atheism?
A U-turn is not regression if it re-orients us to the goal. There are enough present-day oases of good Catholic practice and teaching, and their concomitant fruits, to know what has been lost, and what needs to be recovered.
O Thou Lord of life, send our roots rain.