I believe there are two reasons why the Catholic Church is weak today.
First, the apostasy and sins of the clergy weaken the Church from within. One cannot list all the problems, but this blog has highlighted some. The spirit of disobedience has corrupted so many priests, monks, deacons...
Second, and perhaps the most significant reason is the fact that the laity has refused to allow God to purify them.
If egosim remains in the soul, the entire Church is weakened.
Here is Garrigou-Lagrange on the need for purgation at the later stages of growth, wherein most people back off and fail to produce real fruit. My comments are in blue.
THE DEPTHS OF THE WILL TO BE PURIFIED
Before St. John of the Cross, Tauler greatly insisted on the depths of our will, which need to be purified from the often unconscious egoism that has for long subsisted in it, leading us to disturbing and fruitless conversation with ourselves and not to tranquilizing and vivifying conversation with God.
Most of the time, we are talking to ourselves. We are talking, talking, talking and not listening.
Tauler (19) often speaks of the unconscious egoism that still inclines us to seek ourselves in everything and at times to judge our neighbor with severity while treating ourselves with great indulgence. This same egoism which makes us seek ourselves in many things is especially evident when trial strikes us; we are then completely upset and seek help, consolation, and counsel from without, where God is not to be found. We have not built our house sufficiently on Christ the rock, with the result that it lacks solidity. We have built on self, on self-will, which is equivalent to building on sand; thus at times there is great weakness underlying harshness of judgment.
The seeking of consolations is a mark of the very immature Catholic. Once one gets into this state of passive purgation, suffering brings REAL JOY.
Tauler declares: "There is only one way to triumph over these obstacles: God would have to take complete possession of the interior of the soul and occupy it, which happens only to His true friends. He sent us His only Son in order that the holy life of the God-Man, His great and perfect virtue, examples, teachings, and multiple sufferings might lift us above ourselves, make us leave ourselves completely (draw us from this depth of egoism), and that we might let our own pallid light disappear in the true and essential light." (20)
This does not happen all at once. One must beg, in most circumstances, the Divinity to take complete control one's life. It is much easier if one has left all to follow Jesus, much easier.
Let Christ invite you to take up HIS Cross, not the ones you may choose. Give the entire life of your body, soul, mind, heart to God.
"This light [of the Word made flesh] shines in the darkness, but the darkness did not comprehend it (John 1:5). None but the poor in spirit and those who are completely stripped of self, of self-love, and of their individual wills, receive this light. There are many who have been materially poor for forty years and who have never received the slightest [interior] ray of it. Through their senses and reason, they know thoroughly what is said of this light, but, in its essence, they have never tasted it; it is foreign to them and remains far from them." (21)
Merely to be poor does not bring holiness and this stage of purgation. No. One must will the poverty and live it fully, not living in deceit. And, there are many types of poverty, such as loneliness or misunderstanding. These, too, can lead one to the altar of the soul where self-love is finally sacrificed.
Again Tauler says: "It is thus that, whereas simple common folk followed our Lord, the Pharisees, the princes of the priests and the scribes, every class that had the appearance of sanctity, harshly opposed Him and ended by putting Him to death." (22) God is the grandeur of humble souls, and His very lofty ways remain hidden to our pride.
How many times have I myself judged others, and have been judged unfairly.
When one is walking with God in the land of the letting go of self, one no longer cares about criticisms from those who judge unfairly.
We see, consequently, to what extremities we may be led by this depth of egoism and pride which blinds us and hinders us from recognizing our sins. Therefore it is important that the light of life of living faith and of the gifts of the Holy Ghost should penetrate the depths of our intellect and, as it were, the root of our will.
This is NOT an emotional process, but a rational one. The root of the will is in the intellect and not the emotions. It is in the soul, and not the passions.
The passions must have been purified at the earlier stage.
That we may receive this light and these gifts, it is not sufficient to know the letter of the Gospel and adhere to it; we must assimilate its spirit profoundly. Otherwise, appearing as Christians and using the language of Christians, we would preserve in the depths of our being something which is not Christian and which resists the light of life.
That is a good description of the Pharisees.
There would be in the depths of our intellect and will as it were a citadel which would serve as a refuge for self-love, which is unwilling to surrender and to allow the reign of God to be profoundly and eternally established in us. Thereby certain souls, that think themselves quite advanced but that do not recognize their defects, are in greater peril than the common run of men who admit that they are sinners and who preserve the fear of God.
I cannot stress enough that to whom more is given, more is expected. Many lay people back off, into mediocrity, at this stage. They do not want to leave their comfort zones. One must. This backing off from this purification of the will is what has weakened the Church of the laity. The laity are not living the life of the virtues and the fruits of the Spirit because they have run away from process of purification. When they mentally settle for purgatory and not heaven, the Church's ministry is undermined.
Fear of God defeats both self-will and presumption. This little citadel, wherein lies the self-will, must be stormed by God. If one keeps running back into the castle of the self, God cannot speak to the heart and mind and will. And, as John Donne states, our soul must capitulate.
Batter my heart, three-person'd God, for you,
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp'd town to another due,
Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv'd, and proves weak or untrue,
Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov'd fain,
But am betroth'd unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.
Thanks to wiki for photo
At this stage, we may not even recognize who we are. We are so different, so new, so other than what we have been before, that we need direction.
Consequently we should meditate on Tauler's conclusion: "Therefore, well-beloved children, employ all your activity, both of soul and body, to obtain that this true light may shine in you in such a way that you may taste it. In this way you will be able to return to your origin, where the true light shines. Desire, ask, with nature and without nature,(23) that this grace may be granted to you. Employ all your energy to this end, pray to the friends of God that they may help you in this work; attach yourself to those who are attached to God in order that they may lead you to God with them.
and further down in this section, one of the most important ideas-the necessity of accepting suffering:
This passive purification will certainly not be without suffering, and, as St. John of the Cross teaches, it will even be a mystical death, the death to self, the disintegration of self-love, which until then has resisted grace, at times with great obstinacy. Here pride must receive the deathblow that it may give place to genuine humility, a virtue which has been compared to the deepest root of a tree, a root which buries itself so much the more deeply in the soil as the loftiest branch, the symbol of charity, rises higher toward the sky.
For some of us, this is illness, or infirmity, or failure in the world, or even serious sin repented of and confessed...for some this is the death of loved ones, poverty, displacement, loss...Pride must go!
This center of the soul, the refuge of personal judgment and self-love that is often very subtle, must be illumined by the divine light and filled by God, rendered completely healthy, and vivified. On the feast of the Purification, at Mass and in the procession each person carries a lighted candle, the symbol of the light of life that each should bear in the innermost depths of his soul. This light of life was given to man on the first day of creation; extinguished by sin, it was rekindled by the grace of conversion and by the hope of the promised Redeemer. This light grew in the souls of the patriarchs and the prophets until the coming of Christ, "a light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of . . . Israel," as the aged Simeon said in his beautiful canticle, Nunc dimittis, on the occasion of the presentation of Jesus in the Temple.
There is NO LIGHT without purification first. All who think there is are looking at a false light, a light which seems good but is not. Only the light of Christ, in fact, Christ Himself, Who is the Light of the World, can lead us through purification to new life and the living out of the fruit of the Holy Ghost, especially charity.
This same light of life, which grew in humanity until the advent of the Messias, should also grow in each of our souls from baptism until our entrance into heaven. It should gradually illumine and vivify the very center of our intellect and our heart that this depth may be not an obscure depth of egoism, personal judgment, and resistance to grace, but a depth of light and goodness where the Holy Ghost, the source of living water springing up into eternal life, may reign increasingly.
Suffering is the only way, the only. The acceptance of suffering is key.
From what we have just said it is evident that the passive purification of the spirit, made necessary by the defects of proficients, is the decisive struggle between two spirits: the spirit of pride, which may grow even to blasphemy, to hatred of God, and despair, and that of humility and charity, which is eternal life begun in us. These two conflicting spirits may be symbolized by two trees, one of which illustrates the teaching of St. Gregory the Great and St. Thomas on the roots and results of the seven capital sins, while the other explains their doctrine on humility and charity, and the connection of these virtues with the other virtues and the seven gifts.