reality and a 5 minute retreat

The international clerical sexual abuse and cover-up scandals are again making Catholic news head-lines this week. Signs of progress are coming from an Abuse Summit taking place at the Vatican. From heart-wrenching personal witnesses by victims, to public penitential prayers, to acknowledgement of the accountability of both bishops and priests; there is hope that eyes are being opened and denials will no longer be accepted. John Allen’s daily reports over at the National Catholic Reporter give an insightful commentary on the summit proceedings.

Another NCR article chronicles a well-known story of massive cover-up and re-victimization of the abused not just by the offending clergy, but by their own families and parishes. Clerical power thwarts victims in Poland is a difficult article to read. I found my heart racing, and my body filling with angry tension. This is the country of my heritage with a culture of devoted Catholics, colorful pilgrimages, and love for the Blessed Mother. Yet, it is also the Church that angered my grand-father decades ago for its clericalism and greed.

By now, we know that our Church consists of sinners and saints. We cannot run from the reality of evil, for it must be faced and eradicated. But we also need to be nurtured and reminded of the existence of a loving God. We need to be reminded that we are beloved by God. And, we need to be reminded that we are loved by others. This is especially true for those who have been so deeply hurt and wounded.

I began my daily online reading with an uplifting piece from Sandy Prather’s column, Breaking Open the Ordinary in the Prairie Messenger. It raised my spirits, and I returned to it again after the depressing reading later in the day. If you can, take some time to read the entire reflection. It makes for a wonderful 5 minute retreat…

We likely will never have the actual experience of clouds parting and seeing the Holy Spirit descending like a dove upon us, but each of us needs to hear at least once in our life the spoken words: “You are the beloved; in you I am well pleased.” As disciples of Jesus, we carry the message to each other: God delights in you. It is to be affirmed into life.