Jesus, Carry Me. Mary, Hold My Heart.

These past few days have been a whirlwind of emotions.

Yesterday mid-afternoon I walked into St. Paul’s Co-Cathedral, already full of anxious anticipation. A woman named Anne introduced herself to me. Bishop Mark, she said, had asked her to come sit in on this meeting with me. He felt it was important that another woman be present to support me. I learned a little later that she is also a trauma counselor.

We were led to a meeting room and chit chatted before Fr. Tim arrived, the man I had been in contact with since September. The one who had flown in, by his bishop’s request, to listen to my abuse story and to create a picture of what happened so that the Calgary diocese would know how to proceed. A report, in essence.

The meeting lasted just shy of two hours. A remarkable time frame, given that what I went through in two hours had previously taken me six months. Six months. Six months of every-other-week therapy (and occasionally weekly) so that I could start to feel functional again (spoiler: I’m not there yet). Six months to get to a point where I might not become so overwhelmed that I couldn’t continue with the story.

Prior to this meeting I had come to a point where I wouldn’t randomly become overwhelmed with emotions, all connected to my abuse and triggered by some source. It varied, what would trigger it. Oftentimes it was due to not being busy, so being busy helped to control that which felt uncontrollable. Every time I went in to therapy, though, it felt like a safe space where it didn’t matter if I lost control. It didn’t matter my feelings of inadequacy or shame or confusion rattled around the room, bouncing off the walls. Here, they could be set loose and understood. And slowly, I continued to understand.

It felt jarring when during that meeting, new emotions that had not previously been loud came forth. Trapped. I had not encountered this one in therapy yet. Trapped with no where to go, no one who could understand the complexity, no one who could come and save me without drawing judgement, being trapped in a room with him and being sick to my stomach at what was taking place. This emotion sucked my breath from me and only later did I realise how my hands were shaking.

A break, Anne called for. A break. Let’s reset. Look around the room, change your sensory input, drink some water, let’s walk a bit. A break. And then, I continued on. My strategy changed when I encountered betrayal. And I continued forward until there was nothing left. 

It’s All About Brokenness

I took time at a church after the meeting. First, I drove around for awhile before realising it was probably not a terribly safe way to drive, with all these emotions still running around in my head. So I went to a church and sat in front of Jesus. I prayed the Sorrowful mysteries, which seemed most appropriate. And I felt the agony in the garden. I felt my suffering and agony as close to Christ as it could be. I know Mother Teresa tells me that these feelings, when they are such, mean that I come so close to Jesus that he could kiss me. And I felt his companionship in the agony. The thorns were the sins committed piercing his flesh, bringing forth heated drops of blood. I did not feel the thorns as he does, but felt his companionship continuing through.

My pencil slipped out of my bag with a notebook. I was intending to write down my thoughts, my emotions, all that felt chaotic. But instead, I wrote suffering. I wrote praise. I wrote gratitude. For in my own suffering, Christ suffers with me. And even though he is suffering, he embraces me, he catches me, he ensures I do not crash to the ground. He carries my own sinful self amidst his own suffering because he is my shepherd and he will not lose his sheep.

From here

The steps from this point are unsure. The report will be discussed with bishop McGrattan, and he will no doubt wish to discern. Fr. Tim was kind and genuine; I felt he desired to see that I receive healing out of this, which I have no doubt will be a part of that discussion.

I am still recovering out of having to relive in detail the events of my abuse. I have more work to unpack all of this. I am being triggered more often, which makes it hard to feel confident leaving my house. The anxiety of having shared this publicly, of knowing that people are concerned, and yet not being in a safe place and cannot necessarily relieve concerns.

Healing will come to me, but it will take time. I may have more set backs in front of me still, but all I know is the here and now. I know the strength of Jesus, who can carry me while also carrying his cross. And I have given my heart to Mary, whose own heart is inflamed with compassion and a mother’s love. She carries my heart with resolute tenacity. I could be in no better company than these.

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O Sapientia

We’re well into the O Antiphons already, but I can’t help to reflect on the first of the Antiphons, my most favourite of all:

O Wisdom of our God Most High, guiding creation with power and love: come to teach us the path of knowledge.

For nearly as long as I remember, I have always associated Wisdom with the Holy Spirit. I know, these O Antiphons are technically names in the Old Testament for the Messiah, but it doesn’t matter terribly to me. Perhaps another odd thing is that I’ve always associated Wisdom/Holy Spirit as female. Wisdom is feminine in form while the Holy Spirit is in male form in Scripture. I have no explanation except that the Holy Spirit’s presence in my life has always been distinctly feminine.

When I hear this Antiphon every year, I marvel at the Oneness of God. Our experience of God is in trinitarian form: Father, Son, Holy Spirit. But God is one. My experience of Wisdom as Holy Spirit and as Jesus has this dimension that God cannot fit into our normal expectations all the time. God is revealed in Scripture a certain way, but God continues to work in our lives and be revealed to us today.

Surprise!

This is only magnified in the Incarnation, when God became human. The Jewish people had their tradition, their normal understanding of how God worked in their relationship – their covenant. And then Jesus came. A baby. Not born in riches, not born into renown.  He was decidedly unlike how they expected him to be. They had studied what the prophets said. They had been as faithful as they could in understanding God’s covenant and God’s promises. Jesus did not fit. And so he was accused throughout his public ministry and unto his death.

This baby – how could he be Mighty God,

be Wisdom,

be Leader of the House of Israel,

be Root of Jesse’s stem,

be Key of David,

be Radiant Dawn,

be King of all nations and keystone of the Church,

how could this little, vulnerable baby be Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law?

No swords. No fire and brimstone. No angels with flaming swords defending the King. No army. Just human. and divine. In one little, tiny parcel, wrapped in rags, and laid in a manger. Snuggled with his mother, his father protectively close by.

Our God is the God of surprises. Do not forsake what you know of God from his own revelation, but be prepared to be surprised. She will not disappoint.

O Sapientia,
quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti,
attingens a fine usque ad finem fortiter,
suaviterque disponens omnia:
veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.

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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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