Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

From Father’s Desk – A Commentary on Church History and the Current Crisis

August 16th, 2018, Promulgated by SamanthaGillenson


Today’s post will not be written by me, but rather by a priest friend of mine, who was my pastor back when I still lived in New Jersey before moving to the Rochester area. Let me give you a short introduction to him.

Fr. Brian Ditullio is from the Diocese of Patterson in New Jersey, ordained to the holy priesthood on May 27, 2006 by Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli. He is currently the Chaplain/Teacher at Saint Pope John XXIII HS, and he was previously the pastor of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish in Swartswood, NJ. He is currently in residence at Our Lady Queen of Peace in Branchville, NJ.

I am personally honored to call Fr. Ditullio a friend and a confidant, and I am proud to present his words to you all today. From here on, I will turn things over to Father, and let his words do their work. If you wish to read more of his work, his homilies can be found on his personal blog,

By: Fr. Brian Ditullio, Diocese of Patterson, New Jersey

As many of you know, I have taught theology in an academic setting for three years, and one of my favorite classes to teach has been Church History. And, while it is incredibly fascinating, it also proves the fact that no matter how much we screw up the Church, the Holy Spirit still prevails.

Case in point, Pope Paul III, woke up one day and decided to call the Council of Trent. Now, most people think it was called as a result of the Protestant Reformation, and it was, but the larger purpose was because Martin Luther forced the Church to look at itself and see how far away it had gone. In fact, it is said, that Martin Luther, as a Catholic priest, overlooked a lot of things in the Church, but it was only until he went to Rome, when he saw liturgical abuses, parodies of Masses, and priests not living their call to celibacy, that he finally decided it was time to say something. Fun fact: (ask the students, they always loved the fun facts) there was a representative appointed by the pope to sell indulgences, where might that have been you ask? Why in Wittenberg, the same place, “ironically,” Martin Luther posted his famous 95 Theses.

Why do I mention the Council of Trent? Because, it was more than a Counter Reformation against the Protestants, it was a wake up call for the Church to change its ways. In fact, Pope Paul III was the least likely Pope to call for the Council. He was a father of multiple children, he was very close with a powerful, aristocratic family, known as the Farnese family, who helped him rise in ranks to become Pope, he was known to be very worldly, and his sister was one of Pope Alexander VI’s mistresses.

Yet, people took him seriously because he was willing to repent, he was willing to not just reform the Church, but to also reform himself. When I say he woke up, to use the slang the kids like to use he was “woke,” he realized the error of his ways and sought to change.

However, if Trent was strictly against the Protestant Movement, then there wouldn’t have been a desire to reform the clergy, to re-emphasize clerical celibacy, to form seminaries, to give the priests structure by “forcing” them to pray the Breviary, and by reigning in the bishops who would leave their diocese for months at a time. Incidentally one of the other things it did was create a Catechism, so as to create a simple guide to the Church’s teaching, which they encouraged the priests to use to teach the laity.

Ultimately, the Church saw that the indulgences were merely a symptom of a larger problem, which is why the Counter Reformation was not just the Council of Trent, but also the rise of the Jesuits, known as the foot soldiers to the pope, and, most important of all, spiritual renewal, a renewal that happened as a result of the great mystics like St.Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and St. Philip Neri, among others.

Why do I mention this? Because the Church recognized the problem and addressed it, the difference is that today the Church sees a problem and uses secular means to fix it. When that happens, you simply have cover-ups, payoffs and the like.

Think about this, the Church saw a problem, addressed the problem and fixed the problem, not by bureaucracy, but by prayer. The Counter Reformation created saints, and it was sainthood that saved the Church. The crisis always has different names, but it’s the same solution, for, as St. Josemaria Escriva says: “A secret, an open secret: these world crises are crises of saints.”

However, I think it was St. Alphonsus Liguori who put it well: “But what…if he saw our priests employed in mercantile affairs, acting as the servants of seculars…forgetful of the works of God; if, in a word, he saw them seeking, as St. Prosper says, ‘to advance in wealth, but not in virtue, and to acquire greater honors, but not greater sanctity… ‘What a misery,’ says St. Gregory, ‘to see so many priests seeking, not the merits of virtue, but the goods of this life!”

I know we have to avoid the simple solution to a complex problem, but it always seems that the crises in the Church is a symptom of a larger problem, and that problem back then is the same in 2018; if we don’t have holy priests, if we don’t have shepherds, those willing to do what is necessary for the laity to know his name, to hear his name, then we are simply spinning our wheels and speaking without doing or, in some cases, failing to listen to the Holy Spirit speaking in us.

Perhaps this is what is necessary for the Church to grow, maybe the Church has become stagnant, not because of declining numbers, not because of lack of vocations, but lack of holiness in the priest.

What that means is the good priests have to continue to be good, to strive for holiness, to look to the true Shepherd to learn his ways, and the bad shepherds have to either strive for holiness or make the difficult decision to give up their post and let another shepherd take his place.

These are simply my thoughts as I try to process everything, because it’s all so overwhelming, disappointing, and sad to see so many priests and bishops guilty of so much.

I’ll end with this, because it helps me put things in perspective. One day I had a conversation with a very holy priest who told me how one night he was visited by a demon or the devil. He was annoyed and frustrated by this visit, so he said to the demon: “I don’t understand what’s wrong, I’m just being a priest.” I then asked this priest what the demon’s response was. It was sobering. He said: “I know, and that is why I hate you the most.”



3 Responses to “From Father’s Desk – A Commentary on Church History and the Current Crisis”

  1. Ginger says:

    “Modern men and women seem to have declared war on their children. In societies dedicated to the pursuit of unrestrained sexual pleasure, the child has become an obstacle to be circumvented, even an enemy to be destroyed. The dominant contraceptive mentality is intrinsically contra-child, for the contracepting person wills a child not to be. The cult of homosexuality, too, is a practical hatred for the child, because it is the rejection of woman and therefore of the fruit of her womb, an ultimate compact with sterility and death.”

    The sin against the child is the sin of this and every century, the sin of the world. From the beginning, the fallen angel, who is proud and will not obey his Creator has struck out at the child, whose very being signifies humility and the receptivity required for the entry to the Kingdom. The Serpent is a perpetual enemy of the Seed of the Woman; he wants to kill and devour her Child – the Divine Child and in Him every child.

    from the preface of The Way of the Lamb by John Saward

    You may purchase the book or read the full postscript available at the preview page on Amazon. This might help you understand.

    “The Woman crying out is also the Church Militant, as she strives, in the face of Satan’s fury, to bring forth sons in the likeness of Christ.” From the postscript

    Fr. Brian,
    May the Peace of Christ be with you

    I see a generous donor has made a tuition free year available for all students at a Catholic school in the DOR.

  2. Mary-Kathleen says:

    Thank you for posting this, Sam. We need more St. John Vianneys: “A priest goes to Heaven or a priest goes to Hell with a thousand people behind.”

  3. raymondfrice says:

    St. John Vianneys: “A priest goes to Heaven or a priest goes to Hell with a thousand people behind.”

    When St, John first arrived in Ars, he came by way of coach. Later, because of the crowds coming to Ars to see him for Confession, they put in a railroad line. I often wonder how he conducted his confessions.

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