I have been debating back and forth to write this post. Truthfully, I’m not sure what I can say, what I should say, or what I ought to say. These past 2 weeks have been full of tremendous pain, anger, sorrow and shame for our Church.
As a Catholic, I am so ashamed, even though I have no knowledge or contact with anyone who has suffered abuse or perpetrated it. As a mother, I am fearful and on edge, what if it happened or someday happens to one of my children? As a member of society, I am outraged that something this heinous could happen among people claiming to love and follow Christ.
Naming our feelings is just one of many steps in what will be a long, slow process of healing. We are still not recovered from the scandals of the early 200s. Wounds have been torn back open and new ones made in the wake of Pennsylvania.
In times such as these, it is perhaps understandable to want to circle the wagons, keep everyone and everything close at hand. We can read the Bible at home. We can teach our kids right from wrong at the park under our watchful eye instead of at Religious Education classes. There isn’t time for the parish potluck, and besides we don’t know who will be there.
Tempting though this attitude may be, it is not one that will bring healing and wholeness back to our Church. The temptation to isolate ourselves from our faith would be the height of achievement for the devil’s plans in this twisted mess. Bishop Barron, in his article about this situation, reminds us that “The devil works through temptation, suggestion, and insinuation—and he accomplishes nothing without our cooperation.”
As a mother, it is my job to work with my husband to raise our children in the ways of society and the truths of our faith. We would be abandoning both charges if we turned our backs on the Church in this moment. We show our children every single day what it means to be a member of society through our interactions with others. We model our faith in the exact same way. If we were to stop going to Mass or participating in parish events, we would effectively be training our children that 1. This faith stuff really isn’t the be all end all if it is so easily cast aside and 2. When there is a big problem, something bigger than just ourselves, our actions mean little and aren’t worth the effort to try and fix whatever is going wrong. Pope Francis said, “today we want solidarity, in the deepest and most challenging sense, to become our way of forging present and future history.” We must come together, not be driven apart.
Like I said at the start, I’m still not sure what to say or how to say it. What has happened, what has been allowed to happen, are crimes against so much of Jesus taught us. He exposes the injustice of society. He reaches out to those in need and to those being trod underfoot and raises them up. He loves without measure and forgives without tiring. We as a Church are in great need of His mercy now, for we have greatly sinned.
Regardless of how closely related to this situation you are, your prayers and your presence are needed. I would encourage everyone to pray in a special way through Mary, Our Lady Undoer of Knots. This is a deep, dark problem. One that we most certainly cannot unravel on our own. It will take time, patience, diligence and justice. For the victims it will take enormous amounts of mercy, compassion, healing and hope.
Some other ideas for the way forward:
Read Pope Francis’ letter to the People of God and join him in prayer for the victims of these crimes as well as their families and communities.
Write a letter to your local bishop, archbishop or cardinal.
Pray with #sackclothandashes a growing movement that wishes to participate in acts of sacrifice, sorrow and reparation to God for the terrible sins committed against God’s people. This is a call for fasting and prayer for 40 days. Though it started on Aug 22, the Queenship of Mary, your prayers, sacrifices and support are never wasted.
Holy Mary, full of God’s presence during the day of your life, you accepted with
full humility the Father’s will, and the devil was never capable of tying you up with
Once with your Son you interceded for our difficulties, and full of kindness and
patience, you gave us example of how to untie the knots in our life. By remaining
forever Our Mother, you put in order and make more clear the ties that link us to
Holy Mother, Mother of God and our Mother, to you who untie with a motherly
heart the knots of our life, we pray to you to receive in your hands (the name of
the person), and to free him/her of the knots and confusion with which our
Through your grace, your intercession and your example deliver us from all evil,
Our Lady, and untie the knots that prevent us from being united with God, so that
we, free from sin and error, may find Him in all things, may have our hearts
placed in Him, and may serve Him always in our brothers and sisters.