|St. Seraphim of Sarov|
I just returned from a Conference where Fr. Christopher Crotty CPM spoke. I have heard him give these types of talks many times over the years, but this occasion was special. First of all, he has been looking different: he now has a long beard. Makes him look like an Orthodox priest. I like it. Secondly, he constantly refers to Russian and Greek Orthodox Saints: his current favorite being St. Seraphim of Sarov. I found it all fascinating. But first, I must admit, that in the beginning, I found Father’s healing practices a bit weird and freakish: I often thought to myself: All those people swooning. What’s up with that? But now, I get it.
Lately, as I have been trying to get my own book published, I feel as I if I am constantly pushing against a concrete trend in the Catholic Church: a sort-of Protestant over-reliance on Scripture; sola scriptura. Have we lost the mystic? But Fr. Crotty, like the Church itself, is a universal thinker. He pulls from all the diversity of the Catholic tradition. He can quote chapter and verse from The Bible as accurately and as quickly as any scholar, but he can also delve straight into the realm of levitations, the stigmata, and the relentlessness of the devil. He understands that there is the Word, but also that the Word became flesh. Likewise, he is a man of this world, but also completely outside of it. He has seen the dark side, but also the light. He is entirely grounded, but able to transcribe the eternal. He is methodical, but also prone to going where ever the Holy Spirit leads him.
On a very personal note, Father is a Holy-Warrior: part scholastic monk, part front-line soldier. Through him, the Holy Spirit swooped down and saved me. The breath of God took away my fears and I could finally trust in Our Lord. And indeed, Father titled his web-site “The Institute of the Holy Spirit.” And it is in the Spirit that he finds strength. St. Seraphim said: “It is necessary that the Holy Spirit enter our heart. Everything good that we do, that we do for Christ, is given to us by the Holy Spirit, but prayer most of all, which is always available to us.”
Sadly, and almost completely out of their control, I think many priests, especially diocesan, have become bogged down in the mundane and the purely material. They appear more as career purveyors of religion rather than in persona Christi. Father stills holds that wonder for me. Not because of any force of personality, as I found in other dynamic priest-speakers who have since fallen from Grace, but because he is simply a conduit to God; much in the same way as the Eastern icons that Father loves so much. He understands the road I have been down: filled with demons popping out of every corner. I laughed when, during his talk, Father said that he doesn’t like horror films. Like me, he knows there is enough real horror already in the world.