Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Hope of Holy Week

The centurion and the men with him who were keeping watch over Jesus feared greatly when they saw the earthquake and all that was happening, and they said, "Truly, this was the Son of God!" (Mt 27:54)
This is Holy Week. This is the week when we journey with Christ on His Way of the Cross. This is the week when we observe the suffering, the dying, and the resurrection of Jesus the Christ.

The sexual abuse issues in the Church don't seem to want to go away. The news coming out about the Philadelphia diocese having to suspend over 20 priests really jump-started my feelings of grief this Lent. Is it ever going to be over?
And then along came Hope. With a capital H.
It came in the person of an archbishop from Ireland who gave the opening address at a 2 day conference at Marquette University (I knew nothing about this. Did you?). The conference was called "Harm, Hope and Healing: International Dialogue of the Clergy Sex Abuse Scandal."
I read the opening remarks by Archbishop Martin from Dublin. You really need to read them for yourself but he made it clear that the children need to come first. Here is one particularly moving section of his speech: 
"One victim constantly reminds me that the stern words of Jesus in Saint Matthew’s Gospel (Mt 18:6) about the “great millstone” to be fastened around the neck of anyone who becomes a stumbling block for the “little ones”, are quickly followed (Mt 18:12) by the teaching on the Shepherd who leaves the ninety-nine sheep to find the one who has been lost.  
This victim reminds me that it is the lost child, the molested child who should be at the center of our attention. The Church should be actively seeking out victims to embrace them with the healing power of Jesus Christ. Victims rarely feel that they are been given priority over the ninety-nine."
Amen.

I had requested a Mass intention this week for survivors of child sexual abuse and I was able to attend that Mass. After I brought up the gifts, I was sitting in my pew, only half-listening, thinking about what it had meant to me to bring up those gifts.
I felt as if I was representing all survivors of sexual abuse. It was as if I had been offering myself and my pain and suffering to God in the hope of healing for all survivors.
Tears came to my eyes as I thought of Hope and its meaning. The hope that God is with us always and we will one day be with him and he will wipe away all our tears.
The Hope that is Jesus.
We all suffer but we never suffer alone.If we ever lose hope, we only need to travel with Jesus through Holy Week.
If we ever lose sight of what Jesus did for us, and does for us, then we need only travel with Him these holiest of days.
Dear Jesus, thank you for saving us and healing us and loving us. Thank you for suffering for us and with us. May we never lose sight of the hope you have given us. You are all we need.
Amen.

8 comments :

Karinann said...

Colleen,
Your bringing up the gifts at that Mass was a prayer in itself, a way to lay your own suffering and that of all those who suffered and suffer abuse, on the altar to be transformed by Christ's Body and Blood.
Thanks for the link to the Archbishop's remarks.
Hugs and blessings!

Colleen said...

Karinann, thank you! You said just what I was TRYING to say. Hugs and God bless!

Owner of Homeschool Faith and Family Life Website said...

This is sooooooooo beautiful.
THANK YOU Colleen for being such a forgiving, compassionate, STRONG and courageous woman. You know...I thought of you during the homily at last night's service for Father Jack kept repeating: "Humiliation brings Transformation"...and spoke about how our suffering and pain is not lost or in vain, if we can find it within ourselves to "give it to Jesus" and allow Him to "make us new" through it all. I couldn't get you...and your fellow survivors, out of my mind.
THANK YOU ALL.

Colleen said...

Thank you Judy. That is really a beautiful note and touches my heart.
I love that - Humiliation brings Transformation. How true that is. I have lived it. And I continue to need to give it to Jesus.
I think you wrote on my post the same time I wrote on yours! Go figure!
God bless.

Jade said...

Thank you for this post, Colleen. This is an important issue that you've brought light & healing to. Beautiful prayers, both the act of bringing up the gifts and the words.

Colleen said...

Thank you Jade. God bless!

Joanna said...

Colleen, your compassion reaches far beyond yourself, thanks to the grace of God.

Here is a prayer by Fr. John Hampsch, CMF for healing the family tree. We should remember that most cases of sexual abuse are perpetrated by family members, so our prayers should reach beyond the priesthood and those harmed by
delinquent priests.Prayer for healing the family tree

Colleen said...

Joanna, I so agree. If we can heal all survivors, oh, what joy! And I feel the church should reach out to all survivors, not just those harmed by priests. We need a safe and healing place to be. If not Christ's church, then where can we go?
Thank you for the prayer. God bless!