Daily Archives: February 20, 2023

What Paul Gladstone Saw: Spiritual Reading for Lent

I’ve decided to get a jump on my spiritual reading for Lent a few days early. About a year ago, two of my sisters had begun a little book club. When I think of book clubs I tend to think of middle-aged women drinking wine and sharing the Cliffs Notes version of whatever modern piece of garbage they supposedly “read”. These two took it in a different direction by starting Malachi Martin’s Windswept House. Somehow they knew this was my kind of reading. Sidenote: my eyes have always been bad. I went from 20/20 vision to nearsighted one day in fifth grade. It got progressively worse since then until about two or three years ago when it leveled off. I’m currently at +5.00 in my contacts (or is that -5.00? I can’t recall). Only now that I’m 45, I also have this curious prespiopic thing going on as well where I seem to need reading glasses but not really. So a 650 page novel with tiny print is just what the doctor didn’t order. Anyway, in short order they had sent me a copy of the book and I dove in. Unfortunately, life being what it is and this book being 650 pages, I made it to around page 180 before stopping a while back and I never picked it up again. Until tonight.

I have resolved to read 50 pages a day for the next ten days and be done with it. It really is a fascinating story. Martin was a fascinating storyteller. Just tonight, though, I came across a passage I want to share for your intellectual exercise and edification. The female protagonist, Cessi Gladstone, has sent her older son to a seminary in Spain at the direction of a priest who had been recommended to her by Archbishop LeFebvre. She wanted to insure he was properly formed as a priest. Her younger son, Paul, however, attended the minor seminary in New Orleans where he encountered all manner of post-conciliar evil. The following is his exit speech to the rector upon his decision to leave the seminary.

“In the end, his brief intimacy with the “Conciliar Church” took an awful toll on Paul Gladstone. Unable to stomach the bawdy, ramschakle atmosphere of the once orderly Seminary, he had announced his departure to the Rector one morning with a candor so brutal, even Cessi would have been hard pressed to match it. “I am not being trained as any kind of Sacrifice-offering, sin-forgiving priest.” Paul’s eyes were blazing. “If I remain, I’ll come out as a disheveled dispenser of useless trinkets in the Great American Roman Catholic Potlatch.

“…I don’t know how to be a priest,” Paul had countered with an iciness that froze the very atmosphere of the room. “I don’t even know what it means to be a priest in a church where the centerpiece is nothing more than a ‘Supper Table.’ Oh, I know. I’ve heard over and again how this new ‘Conciliar Church’ of yours will present a more human face to the world. But I tell you this: I will not preach to ‘the people of God’ that when they gather together, they not only ‘become church’ but themselves ‘form Christ.’ I don’t begin to understand such meaningless jargon.”

Boy, if only Martin had found a way to work in the phrase “sing a new church into being” he would have captured the essence of my own seminary training.

And like all spiritual reading, this has spurred me to prayer. I hope you will join me in praying for our priests. Even the poorly-formed priests and the mal-formed priests are still men configured to Christ Jesus. They alone can forgive our sins and offer the Sacrifice. We may never bring the majority of them back to their senses but we can pray for their souls.

Our Lady, Mother of Priests, pray for us!