Tuesday, July 21, 2015


During the Civil War, my former parish of the Church of the Most Holy Trinity in Augusta was used as a field hospital. I presume both Union and Confederate soldiers were treated as is the case in war--the injured go to a field hospital for treatment no matter what side they are on!

Pope Francis uses the metaphor of the Church as a field hospital treating the good, bad and ugly, even those who hate God and the Church (Blessed Mother Teresa was one of the first to developed hospices for gay men dying of aides, many of whom despised the Church, but she took them in and gave them a dignified death!).

But the metaphor of the Church as a hospital predates Pope Francis. I have often used the metaphor throughout my priestly ministry, not so much field hospital, but simply hospital: The Church is a hospital for sinners not a country club for saints!

But let's look at the Field Hospital metaphor and what happens in that context to bring about comfort for the dying and healing for those who can recover.

1. The proper diagnosis must be made. If someone is terminal, they are comforted until they die. Don't we give the Last Sacraments (Last Rites) to the dying and haven't we always done so, specially the comatose? Do we ask questions about their morality or church attendance? No! I have been called to the hospital in the middle of the night to anoint a fallen away Catholic who now comatose has no hope for eternal life except through the Sacramental ministry of the Church. I don't deny them the Last Sacrament!I put them into the hands of God and his merciful and just judgment.

2. Sometimes to help the dying to live, radical surgery is needed, no? We don't put a bandage on a leg that needs amputation. We cut the leg off and this leads to saving the person's life. A bandage would simple help the infection spread and kill the sick person.

We don't put  medicine and a bandage on a dirty wound, we clean it out first!

We don't receive Holy Communion with a gangrenous soul. The sin which is the gangrene is removed through repentance and the Sacrament of Penance before the medicinal effects of Holy Communion can be realized and not thwarted. 

What about moral diseases that could lead to eternal damnation. Do we place bandages on these but don't address the sin sickness? Do we tell the homosexual to remain in a promiscuous life? Do we encourage them to mock marriage and pock God in the Eye?  No, a good spiritual doctor says, you've got to stop smoking! You've got to stop drinking and using drugs! You've got to have your leg amputated! You've got to your appendix removed! You've got to stop fornicating! You've got to stop being an adulterer! You've got to stop your sodomy! You've got to stop hating God and neighbor! You've got to stop hating the Church!

A field hospital that simply places bandages on festering, gangrenous wounds should be shut down! The same for the parish that does the same! Or new personnel need to replace incompetent ones in order for the field hospital to be effective!


Anonymous said...

When does Francis ever talk to Catholics about sin and the need to stop sinning?

Is he telling adulterers to stop living such an evil way of life or is he inventing loop holes to allow them to continue so they feel good about themselves? Is he telling active sodomites to stop committing a sin that is so evil that it cries to heaven for justice. A sin that the saints have told us is so vile that even the Devil and his demons are disgusted by it because they know how perverse it really is. No, I haven't heard Francis say stop doing this. I heard him say "who am I to judge" then of course he not only goes on to judge but to condemn faithful Catholics who actually believe what the Church has always taught.

Truly it can be said that a more arrogant man has never sat upon the throne of St. Peter. Newsflash for Francis, mercy and humility did not begin and wasn't invented by you. Christ NEVER said for shepherds to "smell like the sheep". Christ said "feed my sheep". The Church has been proclaiming the gospel since Christ walked on earth and Francis is not the alpha and omega of anything. He is simply a liberal, South American Jesuit who was elected by a bunch of spiritually dead men. Men who do not have the spine to face the world and preach the gospel without compromise. A bunch of men who with very few exceptions who are nothing more than an effeminate bunch of Judases.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

You are either intentionaly lying, in which case I say to you to stop this mortal sin of calumny or you are truly ignorant of Pope Francis' teachings taking secular or ideological religeous press or blog reports as you evidence! Stop your mortal sin compounded by mKing it public and stop it now.

I have reported ad nauseam the full context of Pope Francis' "who am I to judge" comment! Read the full context!!'

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, the American Protestant culture, especially here in the south, is such that many churches, DO operate as country clubs for self-perceived "saints". Spiritual self-satisfaction and complacency are rampant in many parishes as well as the mindset of being "good, decent, church-going people."

It's a bit of a paradox. Those of us who are church-going people DO need to be good and decent. The problem is when we start thinking of ourselves that way.

Jusadbellum said...

I think much of the problem stems from the Pope's unfortunate habit of not being as clear and concise in his statements and interviews as he otherwise might be expected to be. It's undeniable that much of his off the cuff remarks and his prepared statements can in fact be read in contradictory ways by sincere people, depending on their own point of view. And that's a problem.

It's not ipso facto sinful or a proof of sedevacantism or any such foolery but it is nevertheless a problem for anyone who would know with certainty what he intends to say and where he intends to lead the Church.

I mean, do we all agonize over what our esteemed host on this site happens to feel and believe about the Latin Mass? Does anyone harbor any doubts as to where I stand with respect to Liberal progressive Catholics? Do any of us require a small team of exegetes to interpret and fully grasp what Fr. K is trying to say about a given topic? Is Gene or other long time posters' posts as clear as mud?


Most of us adults are perfectly capable of making ourselves understood in a way that is obvious and clear and pretty hard to equivocate except with malice aforethought. So why is the Pope so casual and ho-hum with his language?

I think all sides (orthodox or heterodox) have a good point in claiming the Pope as their own guy. I don't think it's unfair for liberal progressive Catholic politicians to read the Pope as a fellow traveler - he certainly has given them ammo for getting that impression even if we orthodox can certainly spin his words "in context" to our favor or at least away from their orbit.

But it remains the case that we need to spend the effort of "interpreting" and contextualizing the Pope in ways we didn't need to do with St. JP2 or B16.

Anonymous said...

Father McDonald,

I like your metaphor of the filed hospital as you understand it. If you had confidence that the pope's understanding of the field hospital was the same as yours then I'm not sure that your post would be necessary. I recall what Reagan said to the doctors just before surgery after he had been shot; "I hope you guys are Republicans." If I need a spiritual doctor I've learned I better make sure that the doctor isn't a Jesuit. Spiritual quackery can be the worst form of malpractice.


gob said...

Question.....This unknown, comatose person to whom you give "Last Rites", though he may be a serial rapist and murderer, is "saved", right?

Then there's another guy...thoroughly Catholic...daily Mass, on the way home from Confession....has an "impure thought"...gets hit by a truck...killed instantly. He burns in hell for eternity...right?

Is Heaven or Hell that kind of "crap shoot"? Really?

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anonymous at 6.58 am when he says "When does Francis ever talk to Catholics about sin and the need to stop sinning?" I think that is a question that needs to be answered. Can anyone answer it in the affirmative and, if so, can they point to such a comment or sermon where he said as much?

I don't see the pope as a simple man, yet he would have to be if all that we read he is purported to say was just the result of muddled thinking. To me it is a clever way of changing things when perhaps you don't want to be seen as changing things. I dread most of all his homeward flights where he chats with journalists because I never know what Church teaching may next be taken out of context and thus confused or misinterpreted. Obfuscation is a word that readily springs to mind when I think of Pope Francis


Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

The comatose person may receive the Last Rites impenitent. Thus the sacramental locous and prayer is one for mercy on the person's soul.
He is not gauanteed salvation without authentic repentance! The Sacraments are magic and the sinner MUST be properly disposed to the graces otherwise he receives in vain!

I don't know about your adult catechesis as you still seem juvenile. Certainly a person living a sacramental life and going to confession regularly but killed prior to going to confession and even seeking mercy immediately for a mortal sin receives confession of desire and certainly God's mercy!

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Should have written, sacraments are NOT magi

Anonymous said...

Confession of desire??? Of course....everybody's sorry if they might go to Hell.....

George said...

I agree with Anonymous at 12:26 where he posts "I like your metaphor of the filed hospital as you understand it."

I agree with your reply to gob, Fr. Macdonald.

As a Catholic, the kind of life you lead on this earth, the effort you make to follow Church teachings,to acquire and develop virtues, to practice the Corporal and Spiritual works of Mercy, to pray, fast and give alms will be what one is judged on. Every person is different and each situation is different. God, above all , who knows all things and who is the embodiment of Justice and Mercy itself, will judge with a judgement far greater than any earthly judge. We not only have the Mercy of God with which we can hope for but the advocacy of the Holy Spirit and the intercession of His Holy Mother. It is not for us to concern ourselves about and to speculate on what the judgement will be for others and for those outside the Church; for these we should pray, give alms and offer up our sufferings.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I mean by confession of desire that one goes regularly and had planned to go in the near future as a part of one's spiritual habit, like every week or every other week.

Anonymous said...

How about every three weeks...? No good? Off to Hades with you.... Sounds like you're kind of winging it on the "Confession of Desire" bit.

rcg said...

This thread has degenerated into a sounding board for sophomoric hecklers. It is an unfortunately common occurrence on this previously fine board.

Jusadbellum said...

It's one reason why we incorporate into our night prayers the act of contrition - to get in the habit of asking God for pardon for our offenses and thus not wallow in unrepentant sin.

The Lord is merciful...TO THOSE WHO CALL ON HIM. To those who acknowledge their responsibility and sin and ask for pardon....

One metaphysical purpose of purgatory (if perhaps the only purpose) is to be purified of the effects of sin. The point of the sacrament of confession is not just pardon for sin but expiation of the effects of sin. Thus being struck dead on coming out of confession may lead a soul straight to heaven while being struck dead on the way to confession may lead a soul to purgatory....

After all, your intent was to seek God's forgiveness and you already made an act of the will to turn towards God and away from the sinful desire or creature or behavior but one still suffers from the defect sin creates in one's soul.

The 'bad old days' of pre-Vatican II had devotions like the Divine while many perhaps were too scrupulous and infected with Jansenism, it's not accurate to claim that every Catholic was, we run the risk of being too lax and not so paradoxically to not even seek God's mercy inasmuch as we don't recognize our sin or guilt.

Anonymous said...

Coincidence the Confederate flag and a field hospital are shown above?!? (In the picture, obviously from Gone with the Wind.)