It seems that some persons’ struggles in faith are more important, or at least more tolerable, than those of others, a point well noted by this commenter. Those who excoriate their brethren for struggling to maintain the bonds of unity during what is, for many, a tumultuous and disorienting time in the Church, would do well to heed the pastoral words of Pope Francis. I suspect that our pastoral pope would be very accepting of outright struggles to keep the Faith.
44. [According to the Catechism,] “Imputability and responsibility for an action can be diminished or even nullified by ignorance, inadvertence, duress, fear, habit, inordinate attachments, and other psychological or social factors”. Consequently, without detracting from the evangelical ideal, [pastors] need to accompany with mercy and patience the eventual stages of personal growth as these progressively occur. …169. The Church will have to initiate everyone – priests, religious and laity – into this “art of accompaniment” which teaches us to remove our sandals before the sacred ground of the other (cf. Ex 3:5). …
172. One who accompanies others has to realize that each person’s situation before God and their life in grace are mysteries which no one can fully know from without. The Gospel tells us to correct others and to help them to grow on the basis of a recognition of the objective evil of their actions (cf. Mt 18:15), but without making judgments about their responsibility and culpability (cf. Mt 7:1; Lk 6:37). Someone good at such accompaniment does not give in to frustrations or fears. He or she invites others to let themselves be healed, to take up their mat, embrace the cross, leave all behind and go forth ever anew to proclaim the Gospel. Our personal experience of being accompanied and assisted, and of openness to those who accompany us, will teach us to be patient and compassionate with others, and to find the right way to gain their trust, their openness and their readiness to grow.
Likewise, let us recall and adapt some famous remarks the pope made in his interview with Fr. Spadaro.
“We need to proclaim the Gospel on every street corner, … preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing, even with our preaching, every kind of disease and wound. … I used to receive letters from [traditionalist] persons who are ‘socially wounded’ because they tell me that they feel like the church has always [marginalized] them. But the church does not want to do this. … [I]f a [traditionalist] person is of good will and is in search of God, I am no one to judge. By saying this, I said what the catechism says. Religion has the right to express its opinion in the service of the people, but God in creation has set us free: it is not possible to interfere spiritually in the life of a person.
“A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of [traditionalism]. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a [staunchly Catholic] person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person. Here we enter into the mystery of the human being. In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy.” …
Keep on truckin’, dudes, the pope’s got our backs.
Let me now close with two quotations which have helped me a great deal in the past few months. The first is from Blessed John Henry Newman:
“Is not this a time of strange providences? … Has not all our misery, as a Church, arisen from people being afraid to look difficulties in the face? They have palliated acts, when they should have denounced them. … And what is the consequence? that our Church has … ever been sinking lower and lower, till good part of its pretensions and professions is a mere sham, though it be a duty to make the best of what we have received. Yet, though bound to make the best of other men’s shams, let us not incur any of our own. The truest friends of our Church are they, who say boldly when her rulers are going wrong, and the consequences; and (to speak catachrestically) they are most likely to die in the Church, who are, under these black circumstances, most prepared to leave it. … I am very sanguine … that our prayers and our alms will come up as a memorial before God, and that all this miserable confusion tends to good.”
(John Henry Newman, letter written at Christmas 1841)
The last quotation comes from St. Augustine:
“Sing to the Lord, all the earth. Let no one separate; let no one cut himself off. You are the wheat; bear with the chaff until it is winnowed away. Do you want to be driven from the threshing floor[?] Although you are wheat, once outside, the birds of the air shall find you and gobble you up. What is more, that you should leave and fly away is proof that you were but chaff: and because you were without weight, when the wind blew, you were carried off from under the feet of the oxen. But they who are wheat, bear with the treading out. They are happy because they are grain; they grieve amidst the chaff, they wait for Him Whose fan is in His hand, Whom they know is their Redeemer [Qui autem triticum sunt, ferunt trituram; gaudent, quia grana sunt, gemunt inter paleam, exspectant ventilatorem, quem cognoscunt redemptorem].” (St. Augustine, Sermons of the Fathers Vol. 4, p. 531 [Enarrationes in Psalmos, Ps. cxlix, 3.])
Take courage! Surrender is not an option!