By Father Gordon J MacRae
The scales of Saint Michael the Archangel symbolize the balance of God’s justice with God’s mercy. Can the Church reflect justice with mercy for fallen priests?
(These Stone Walls) A few older posts on These Stone Walls keep showing up in our monthly stats revealing new reader interest. Nine months after I wrote “Father Benedict Groeschel at EWTN: Time for a Moment of Truth,” it still draws lots of readers and new comments. Another post, “Goodbye, Good Priest! Father John Corapi’s Kafkaesque Catch-22,” is two years old this week, but still draws scores of readers searching for news of Fr. Corapi. A reader sent me a well written take on that controversy titled “Father Corapi and Praying for Priests” posted June 6 by Matthew Brower on his blog, Catholic Stand. Part of it caught my attention:
“I am aware of some of the events that transpired when things seemed to fall apart for Fr. Corapi and there is much more that I do not know. During those days it seemed like the Catholic media and blogs were spilling over daily with reports and wild speculation. Some of what was reported was no doubt true but it certainly seemed to me we were witnessing a sort of Catholic tabloid frenzy where the line between fact and irresponsible speculation was blurred. I believe very few do have all the relevant facts.”Matthew Brower, an attorney in private practice in Montana, is a Notre Dame alumnus who earned his Juris Doctor with honors at Ave Maria School of Law. His post two years after Fr. John Corapi’s fall from grace is not at all a defense of the priest, nor do I defend him here. That wasn’t Mr. Brower’s point and it isn’t mine. He wrote further:
“Most of those I know who looked up to Fr. Corapi as an inspiration and confirming voice have remained close to the Church and seemingly grown in faith, understanding well that it is God alone we worship and not those he has sent to draw us closer to Himself.”I say “AMEN!” to that, and “Bravo” to Matthew Brower for having the courage to point it out. I have written elsewhere that I became very uncomfortable with the pedestal upon which Father Corapi stood – whether he wanted to stand there or not, I do not know – and from which he fell from grace two years ago with a loud crash. I was troubled by the self-description of so many of his admirers that they were “followers” of Father Corapi. It was a lesson learned. I don’t want followers. I can’t have followers. I don’t recall the specific post, but I remember writing a plea to TSW readers in reaction to this: “Please don’t follow me. Follow Christ!” If ever the day comes that I point only to me and not to Christ, it is that day that I must stop writing.
There is another of my posts that endures in reader interest, and it shows up in current stats more than any other. It was written nearly three years ago, but it drew over 300 new readers in May. That post is “Angelic Justice: Saint Michael the Archangel and the Scales of Hesed” in which I wrote about the symbolism of St. Michael’s iconic scales.
After that post was published, readers sent me dozens of holy cards with icons of Saint Michael (laminated cards are not allowed), all of which are now on my cell wall. One is on my coffee cup. Some of the nicer icons have since migrated over to my friend, Pornchai’s side of the cell. When I inquired, he said, “Well … umm … He does have wings, you know!”
After posting “Angelic Justice,” a friend sent me a Saint Michael medal. On the back is engraved, “Justice for Fr. Gordon MacRae.” It’s very nice and a privilege to wear, but there is a lot more to the story of Saint Michael. He isn’t just the Patron Saint of Justice. He is the Patron Saint of Mercy as well, and the two cannot be separated for as that post reveals, they are among the highest attributes of God in Judeo-Christian tradition.
Saint Michael’s scales do not signify the meting out of God’s justice, but rather the balancing of God’s justice with mercy. The two aspects of the justice equation symbolized by Saint Michael’s scales cannot be separated, for justice without mercy is little more than vengeance, and vengeance is not ours to have (Deuteronomy 32:35; Romans 12:19)... (continued)