There have been times in my life as a priest where I've felt like the power of evil is being unleashed against a particular good. For instance, maybe in the course of just a few days, numerous parishioners come to me and confide that their marriages are under a sudden and enormous strain. In these instances--when it all happens at once--I have sensed that something truly evil was at work.
Recently, something similar has been occurring. During the past few weeks, I have encountered a variety of persons--various situations and circumstances--who have felt deeply wounded by the Catholic Church. In various ways, they have all expressed a sense that they have felt dismissed by the Church or betrayed and wounded by the Church. Of course, being mere mortals with wounded human nature, for as long as we march through this valley of tears, even in the Church we will experience the burdens and tribulations of fallen humanity. But, there is something more at work here, I fear.
I want to offer a word to those who are in the midst of such trials. Do not allow the Devil to undermine your Faith in what is true, good, and beautiful. I really think that he is employing all sorts of methods to destroy those things that he most hates. He is trying to destroy the communion of the Church. He is trying to destroy the relationship between priests and people, bishops and priests, and bishops and people. He is seeking to destroy people's love for the Church. He is using these things to discourage people from living out their faith.
So, my advice is this: Let's say that you're right. Let's say, (for the sake of making it as bad as possible), the people who have hurt you did so intentionally and with malice or did so from ineptitude and arrogance. Either of those things would be pretty bad. But, even if that were true, don't allow the Devil to use those things to rob you of the Truth. The Church is still the spotless Bride of Christ. The Priesthood is still a Sacrament instituted by Christ that is ordered toward the salvation of souls. The communion of the Church is still a good that deserves zealous protection.
I've been a priest for almost seventeen years. I'm sure along the way, I've said or done things that have left people angry with the Church. Boy, do I regret that. If I could tell them anything, I'd say, "Don't let the Devil use my arrogance and stupidity to shake your Faith in the Church."
The very first Pope, St. Peter, wrote these words: "Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings. The God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory through Christ Jesus will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you after you have suffered a little" (1 Peter 5:8-10).
In battle, sometimes an enemy will first launch a diversionary strike in order to draw attention away from the real attack. I suspect that something similar is happening in many of the situations that I mention above. The Devil is using diversionary strikes in order to distract people from his real strategy. His real strategy is to undermine people's faith in the most central realities. Don't fall for it. Instead, do the opposite. Love the Church more. Love the priesthood more. Love the communion of the Church more. Don't let him devour you.