Last evening, we gathered with some 15 young people at our Church to discuss the recent news concerning the Church in these last few months. I first and foremost wanted to establish what they had heard, then line out what we know, what's happening now, and further what can we do as the lay body of the Church. For this effort I embraced the teaching of the Gospel according to Saint John 15:5:
"I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."
It is in this same spirit I prayed and felt it would be needed to share the words I sent home with our teens with others who may be sorrowful, hurt or disillusioned by recent revelations in the Church. I welcome dialogue and discussion but do not wish to see more divisiveness shared. This is the time to work towards being a unified body, all pointing ourselves towards Christ.
Remain Informed- This is huge. This is your Church. Not your Church someday. Not your Church when you get married and have a family. This is your Church TODAY. Stay informed and follow credible sources for news and information about the current issues facing your Church. Go the extra step and discern which sites are giving you information without an added slant. Focus your attention locally and grab a bulletin from the back of Church and follow your Bishop's blog. Join in on what discussions you can to know what is happening.
Remain Active- It is tempting to wash our hands like Pilate and think that the Bishops and Church Hierarchy got us into this mess, so they had better figure it out right? We are all ONE BODY however imperfect we are as humans. We must remain strong together. How do we do that? By keeping the Sacraments, showing up for them, being a part of your Church community and standing together. As Christ spoke to St. Francis - Rebuild my Church; as God spoke in the heart of St. Catherine of Siena to inspire her passionate writings to reunify the Church, God uses all of His Church. We too must rise to the occasion in the historical context of what troubles plague our Church, and work to remedy them.
Remain Prayerful- Did you know your prayer has great power? It’s incredible the amount of power God grants us in prayer. And it all doesn’t have to be devotions like the Rosary or silence in Adoration, though they are wonderful and you should do them regularly! You can pray by doing: Clean the house - pray; Weed the garden - pray; Do your homework without complaint - pray; Watch your brothers or sisters - pray.
Many survivors of abuse are hurting desperately, pray for them. People in our Church are feeling lost and disillusioned, pray for them. Priests are hurt and angry at the damage inflicted on the faithful and their vocation, pray for them. You who are hurting, or upset, or sorrowful, or confused, pray for you too. We can pray, and fast and offer intentions at Mass. Don’t forget all you do can be offered up on behalf of others to the Father!
Remain Engaged- If you feel overwhelmed by all of this, and you haven't heard this yet, let me be the one to tell you: that’s okay. I often feel overwhelmed and angry, and sorrowful and disheartened myself. Sometimes all of those things at once. And I reach out to others to whom I can speak with bold honesty. Find your person or your people that you can talk to openly and honestly. Get. It. Out.
Remain Vigilant- There is a real bit of human nature that is common from age to age. And that is for anything that causes us distress to go away. We as humans have a tough time dealing with subjects that cause us to go places that are challenging, uncomfortable or cause us pain or duress. But now that these cases are known to us, we must work to stand in the bold light of truth. We must discuss and seek to understand what has happened, empathize and process with others.
We have to go to places that cause us to be disquieted so that we can walk with others who have shared unbearable pains. That is our mission as Church, as Disciples of Christ. He who walked the Via Delarosa for us, all he asks is that we pick up our cross daily and follow Him.
Remain Hopeful- Remember in the Gospel according to Saint Matthew Jesus promised us that the Gates of the Netherworld shall not prevail against his Bride, the Church. As well remember we are in the midst of a Spiritual War, and there is a dark intelligence at play in the revelations that have come to light. Don’t let this cause more division. Don’t let this steal your faith or your joy. No matter the sins of others, the Church remains unfailingly Holy, the Sacraments are still valid.
The Bride of Christ is indeed facing illness from within, but we must not forsake her in this hour or ever. Jesus has never broken a promise to his Church. Do not forget that. Find whatever bits of hope you can, and hold fast to them. Grow them, nurture them. That is where the Holy Spirit rests in your heart.
And remember everything we do, we do in Christ's name. We remain in Him, and He always remains in us. Amen.