In the Gospel, when the disciples asked Jesus for a sign of his return, Jesus offered the parable of the wise and foolish virgins; the point of which was to underline the real danger of spiritual sloth on the life of faith.
In the parable some virgins (Christians) are awaiting the return of the bridegroom (Christ) in anticipation of a great marriage feast (heaven). The wise virgins are attentive to their duties (the spiritual life) and keep their lamps fuelled with oil (the gift of divine grace) and so enter with the bridegroom when he arrives. In stark contrast the foolish virgins are inattentive to their duties (the life of prayer) and have thus run out of oil (grace and holiness) and, leaving it too late to find some at the last moment, miss his return and are locked out forever.
Jesus gave this parable as an indication of the conditions in this world prior to his return. Either we shall find the Church active and holy, choosing to live out her life faithfully, obedient to his will and building up the life of grace for the salvation of souls. Or we shall find her slothful, inactive and disobedient to God’s will meaning souls will surely perish and chaos and confusion will spread.
The choice is down to us. A holy generation, living out the faith in fullness, will produce good and holy clergy worthy of their calling. An unholy and worldly generation, undermining the faith at every turn, will produce only rotten fruit; corrupt clergy unworthy of that calling. Ultimately we get the standard of clergy that the quality of faith collectively lived out in our lives and homes deserves. Raise holy children and you get holy priests. Secularise and corrupt children and guess what happens? You got it!
All of which is to state that a sleepy, inactive church creates foolish virgins, people lacking requisite grace to carry out God’s mandate. But when the Church is awake and active, carrying out her disciplines and duties, obedient to God’s word and where people are helped to repent of sins, there authentic holiness will be fostered and found.
The crisis in the church today is that too many Christians are akin to those foolish virgins. Sleepwalking through life inattentive to spiritual duty and therefore woefully short on supernatural grace. We find them lazily moulding the faith for their own comfort and convenience rather than living it out with courage for their sake of eternal salvation.
God has, I think, two words for the church today- WAKE UP!
So arise from torpid slumber and live out the faith authentically! Build up grace in your home. The Church is suffering grievously at present because she is sleeping on her watch. Because she is led, and who could deny it given so many scandals, by incompetent foolish virgins (if only they were in some cases!) That is to say deeply corrupt men lacking the necessary grace to revive faith, restore trust and breath new life into the Church.
We are as foolish as them if we continue to look to these charlatans for answers. There are a good number of Cardinals and Bishops who have, these past years, proved beyond doubt that they have no oil to offer. So instead we should seek out with discernment only those prelates who show forth virtue, fidelity and holiness. And, whilst there is time, return to the source and giver of oil; to the one true God whose Church it is. That we ourselves might be made the solution to the crisis by cultivating a fresh generation of authentic disciples; then the church may yet be reformed and led by wise virgins, that is to say, good and holy Saints.
The age of nominal Catholicism is over. It has failed us spectacularly and its rotten fruit is everywhere before us. The age for convicted and convincing Christianity is upon us. The enemy is at the gate, his minions have clearly broken into our ranks. But it is not too late for victory. The bridegroom is still on his way. So let us trim our lamps together and go out and rediscover the oil of holiness- without which there never can be any hope for reform.