Love & Mercy Go Hand-in-Hand

The more you know, the more difficult it is to choose to love.

And yet we are still called to love, as difficult as it is.

Sometimes we can’t. Sometimes we honestly can’t. Sometimes we’ve been damaged in ways we didn’t even know, and our capacity to love has become smaller. But we don’t even know it’s smaller.

The New Current Scandal.

This is a bit delayed in being posted, mostly because I had to take time to make sure I wasn’t just writing from anger.

I find myself reading a lot of the statements being made by many officials in the church these days. How does one find the truth when only half-truths are given by everyone?

I haven’t much confidence that we will find out the truth of why McCarrick was granted so much freedom despite his victim’s stories circulating profusely. The fact that there must have been many who received reports from the victims and chose to do nothing. Now years later, those people who’ve ignored the cries of the suffering are in positions that garner more influence; it leads me to believe that there is strong resistance to the accusations reaching their full potential.

Side note: anytime I hear/read/type the term ‘full potential’ the image that always lingers in the back of my mind is Ninjago ninjas reaching their full potential

Add on top of this, the fighting between an archbishop and a bishop writing officially on behalf of the Vatican, who seem to hate each other (and others) but hide it in coded civility, spewing names and half-truths about what they know and don’t know about what has happened…it feels like an utter disaster.

This crisis has reached so many countries. Ireland. Chile. Australia. Germany. Poland. Canada. US. If one is to believe that this hasn’t affected EVERY. SINGLE. COUNTRY then I really think they might be ignorantly living under a rock. In some respects, I wish I could be that ignorant person again.

What We Should Be Hearing

Here’s how any official representative of the church should respond to the anger that the Catholic faithful have:

I hear you. Jane, I have heard your anger and frustration. Correct me if I’m wrong, but you’d like to see

a) bishops not ignore allegations against any priest, bishop, deacon, or person in an authoritative position in the church

b) that there be set up a non-partisan committee for reviewing each allegation carefully and thoroughly

c) that victims be given an active role in how all this should be formed

d) all those involved in covering up or ignoring the abuse, or not reporting to appropriate authorities knowledge of abuse, be named and also brought to justice

e) and that there be an international tribunal for bishops to judge whether they acted inappropriately in response to sexual abuse cases.

Is there anything else you would like to add at this time?

Thank you for your concern for the credibility of our church’s leadership. I appreciate your input. Can I share with you what we’re doing already to see how it matches up with your concerns? Here are a couple ways I can see you helping us in this, if you’d like…

Instead of my name and my concerns, place your own in their stead.

Losing Sight of the Prize

All have sinned. All are in need of God’s grace. There is no question of that. And yet, Jesus also singles out certain things that are grave matters:

‘If any of you put a stumbling-block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea.Woe to the world because of stumbling-blocks! Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to the one by whom the stumbling-block comes!

‘If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life maimed or lame than to have two hands or two feet and to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into the hell of fire.

Matthew 18:6-9

God’s mercy and grace are always near, but first, there must be the act of contrition. True contrition is necessary. And while the mercy of God is overflowing, true contrition does not mean ignoring the real consequences of actions. It means owning up to the sin and setting things right, or as right as one can do, depending on the damage. And yes, sometimes that means you are stripped of your title and position, and/or placed before courts of justice.

It means that when I find my fault, I need to be working hard to fix it so that I’m not sitting in that confessional again with the same sin. It means taking that ownership and changing myself. This is perhaps some of the hardest work that we do in our lives – changing ourselves so that we can better receive God’s boundless love, so we can better share God’s boundless love with others.

It is not easy to do, but if I, a simple faithful Catholic, understand this repercussion, how much more should our leadership know this already? I am thankful for those who respond in humbleness, and I am wary of those who respond in confidence and, in the case of these letters being thrown around, vitriol. If there is no act of temperance accompanied, in some amount, there are red flags.

It is time for all of us to go to reconciliation, having taken a long, hard look at ourselves in the mirror, and dive into God’s grace. Because, friends, his grace is enough to own up to our consequences. His love is worth humbling ourselves and letting go of all we thought we knew. And life eternal with him is worth damaging our earthly pride so as to gain that life that will be forevermore. God is worth so much more than what this life provides. When we lose sight of this (which I admit is my tendency too) we fall into sin. Let’s keep it in check to minimize the damage we do. Reconciliation and penance for the salvation of not only our souls, but for the whole world.

Have mercy on us, O Lord.

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Quiet

The initial uproar has died down.

I am mostly left with myself again.

I have made contact with the diocese in which the former-deacon-now-priest resides. I await further contact and discussions.

Proactively, I’ve also made an appointment with a therapist with whom I saw a few years ago for something else. I suspect I will need to go through my journals to bring out supporting evidence, and I can’t face that alone. Even thinking about it while I’m typing this is bringing painful tears to my eyes. This is no joke. I do not want to do this.

Jesus, I trust in you.

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Horcruxes and Sacraments

Yesterday I was watching formed.org, a study video on the Eucharist. In truth, it wasn’t the most informative thing for me (though I really enjoyed the cinematography) but I really wanted Spencer to hear it, and he was sitting on the couch reading a book. The nice thing about knowing my kids is that I know what attracts them. TV is really attractive to him, even with a book in hand.

Sneaky Mommy for the win.

As we were watching, he flipped a page in his book (A Harry Potter Guide – thanks Jacqui & James), and I was struck by the image and juxtaposition of images (recreated here:)

Now.

Have your gears already started grinding? Cause I’m just flabbergasted at myself for not seeing this before. And as I googled it, I’m just kind of slow, as this is not a completely new thing for some. But that’s okay.

Imagine Me This

Voldemort is the antagonist supreme. JK Rowling’s character is a classic bad guy – one with little to no chance of redemption. We have our equivalent in our salvation history too – Satan.

In The Lord of the Rings, which draws heavily from references of salvation history, at the beginning of the world, there is a fallen “angel” – Melkor. Long story short (and I mean loooong), he establishes his domain in Middle Earth, and there he makes his own creations (or reworks them, if you’re a purist), which are mockeries of all Eru Ilúvatar has created. The orcs as a mockery of the Elves. Trolls a mockery of Ents. And so forth.

Horcruxes are like this – they are a mockery of the sacraments. They establish a sick and twisted reality that is similar in fashion. Let’s check it out more.

Bring Us Closer To What?

Sacraments are outward signs of an invisible reality. We are able to touch them, to feel them, to be transformed by them. Their ultimate purpose is to bring us into closer unity with God. In particular with the Eucharist, we consume the body and blood of Jesus so that we are transformed – so that we can become more like him.

Horcruxes also carry this. They are signs of that invisible reality. When Voldemort is eliminated physically with Harry’s death, he is no longer visible to those around. But, he has found a way to exist without that physical body.

I will not go into explanations of how these vile things are made (it’s been almost 10 years since we learned about Horcruxes, people, google it), but suffice it to say that they carry the essence of Voldemort in another object without changing its form. The diary, the locket, the ring…they look and act exactly like those objects. But there’s more to them that is invisible to us. Okay, at least until an attempt to destroy them arises, then we see their invisible nature, to some degree. Arguably, we also sometimes see the invisible nature of the Eucharist, just look at any number of Eucharistic miracles.

With both the diary and with the locket, we see an aspect of these objects that projects its essence onto the person in contact with it. The diary – seeks to control and make its user a vessel for itself. At the end of The Chamber of Secrets, Ginny is completely used up in order that the essence can be made manifest. The locket, when worn by Umbridge in Deathly Hallows, brings out a more vile nature within her – it builds upon what is already there and makes it worse. She is becoming the essence of Voldemort. This, oddly, is the exact thing we should expect from the Eucharist, except the Eucharist is the pure, the beautiful, the good, and the true.

Smart as a Cookie. Or Something.

Voldemort intended to make seven horcruxes, we know, because in his conversation with Slughorn, he reveals his aggressive desires:

“Yes, sir,” said Riddle. “What I don’t understand, though – just out of curiosity – I mean, would one Horcrux be much use? Can you only split your soul once? Wouldn’t it be better, make you stronger, to have your soul in more pieces, I mean, for instance, isn’t seven the most powerfully magical number, wouldn’t seven -?”

Chapter 23, Half-Blood Prince

In Voldemort’s reality, he believes destroying his soul will bring him eternal life. He, also, does not share that information with anyone else because he wants that glory for himself alone.

In our reality with the sacraments, we believe that building up the soul through intimate relations with Christ is what brings us eternal life. And Christ doesn’t keep this to himself – he offers the reality of eternal life to everyone.

Whereas Voldemort keeps the ‘eternal life’ for himself, he influences others to lead them into death through his horcri (lol, what’s the plural, peeps. I just recalled some serious debate about this in my earlier years). Horcruxes do not influence one to build up the soul – they, in their own way, also destroy it. The end result of coming into prolongued exposure to these things seems to be (only from what we see in the books), death.

Okay. My brain’s about done. I’m sure there’s more in here, but there’s just too much going on.

What relationship do you see between horcuxes and sacraments?


 

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I’m still mad and terrified

In case anyone was wondering, even though people stop paying attention, this is still my reality. I have made contact with the diocese in which my abuser serves, and as much as I have confidence in God’s ability to read hearts, I fear that these people do not have enough experience with abuse nor with the serious amount of deception that takes place from the abuser. I can relate to Jesus in Gethsemane (mildly speaking), where he knew what was about to take place. He knew the whispered deceptions about him. Likewise, he knew the result of his actions and of being in Jerusalem. He also was terrified. I’m not sweating blood, but as scared as I am, not my will, but his be done. If Jesus was resurrected after all this…

The one thing I have is faith in God’s faithfulness. That’s all that I can cling to. It feels so fake, so phony saying it out on paper (so to speak), but, what else is there? This is what it comes down to for me. Without this faith, I have nothing to stand on. Here’s hoping my fears prove false.

Hopeful Wishes

I have tried to get in contact with the priest who was president of the college at the time, who spoke for me to the bishop, but his congregation has not responded to my request. He is also somewhere in the age of 80+ years; I do not know if that contact will end up being fruitful or not.

And amidst all this, I wish I could remember the last name of my therapist at the time. I only remember her first name, and I haven’t the courage to go through my journals in detail to see if I wrote down her last name.

Solace

I had the joy of being able to go to adoration last night for an hour. As I sat there, I thought about how we sometimes think that God is this unmovable statue; this constant being that disconnectedly overlooks the world and all that is in it. Like the gods of old, polished, shiny, intimidating, aloof. Worthy of worship and awe, but nonreciprocating.

But that’s not God at all.

I sat on the hard wood bench in the chapel, and it isn’t some disconnected god on the altar, but Jesus. It is his heart there, in the experience of ordinary broken bread. It is pulsing, breathing, breaking, bleeding. He is calling our names from that altar, each of us. He’s not just in some shiny monstrance, he’s presently calling to every person in that room. Calling us to be with him to join him. But how do we do that?

Look at the cross and you will know what is happening. Suffering, pain, sorrow, humiliation, feelings of loneliness, are nothing but the kiss of Jesus, a sign you can come so close that he can kiss you.

Mother Teresa

I keep coming back to this because I know he is on that cross still, he is nailed there and is bleeding over all these scandals, over all the sin. His crucifixion is my experience, and that of every other person. And he is asking each one of us in our moments of pain and horror, when we are tempted to turn our backs and look away, or give into the fear and be silent,

“But do you not want to be here with me?”

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The Work Now Before Me

Then Amos answered Amaziah, “I am no prophet, nor a prophet’s son; but I am a herdsman, and a dresser of sycamore trees, and the Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’

Amos 7:14-15

I have a collection of journals in my closet. Up until the last 10 or so years, I journaled to Jesus about life, the universe, and everything. While I’ve tried to continue that, it has been much more sporadic, especially since having kids.

Yet I know my history is kept up there in the closet.

I do not know if I kept the journals from my first year of theology, when the abuse happened. It’s possible that I threw them out, not wanting to have any memory of the vile grease left. But it’s possible that they are still up there.

I know I need to get a chair (being short) and reach up and take those things off that dusty shelf, and glance through them to see if the record of it exists in my own archives.

But I don’t want to.

I don’t want to reread the humiliation. The loneliness. The confusion. I don’t want to read about how I thought it was true friendship, that it was a good thing. I want to shake that girl who thought she saw kindness and tell her, ‘it’s a farce! run away while you can!’

But I can’t, and it pains me greatly to think how easy it was to trust in kindness. And it saddens me greatly that I can’t trust in kindness. Because I know firsthand how kindness can be a sinister deception. That kindness, instead of being the soil in which to bear the fruit of friendship, love, trust, and good works, is instead a puss-filled infection, breeding grounds for festering greed, self-indulgence, powerlessness. But it looks exactly like kindness.

And now it’s my job to go back into that wound; to cut open the scar and painfully prod into the flesh, searching for that poison. Searching for evidence of it, looking for how it got there and analyse what can be better done to prevent it from happening again. The wound might need to be put on display, so others also can analyse its corruption.

I don’t want to be here, remembering. I have been plucked from my life as a herdswoman and dresser of children. This is not where I would choose to be, but I know it is something I am being strongly called to do. There is still an infection, and it is crippling the church. The red, swollen skin is nearly pulsing with filth, evidence of both people’s denial and of Satan’s work.

How much further will the red, inflamed lines stretch across the body of Christ before the infection is dealt with? Who else is in the silence, who was either intimidated or told their story doesn’t matter? Their experiences are cells of poisonous bacteria, keeping the infection alive. Their story must be listened to, acknowledged, and then something must be done for the reparation of sins

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