I don’t know about you, but I’m not really feeling in the mood for Lent this year.
After the display we’ve witnessed for nearly a year now, from the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report last summer to that useless Vatican Summit a week ago– and, for me, the recent knowledge that a priest I knew and trusted had abused as well– I am not feeling pious. I don’t even know how I’ll be able to go back into a church at the moment.
We have been completely betrayed.
Christ knew this would happen and warned us. The stewards have betrayed their trust while the Master was away; they have failed to do their duty for the other servants, they have abused us, and they have set themselves to feasting and drinking. This prophecy has been fulfilled before our eyes, yet again. It’s going on right now.
They inform us that they’re very sorry and resolving to reform now, but I don’t blame anyone who simply cannot believe them. I can’t.
And now it’s Lent, and what am I to say?
Well, here’s something.
When Christ came, He did not come as a priest. He came to be our new High Priest, but He wasn’t in the priestly class of His faith at His time. He wasn’t the High Priest or in the Sanhedrin. He was a working-class Man, like us in all things but sin. And despite not sinning, He fell afoul of all the powerful people– not just the secular Romans but the High Priests, the Scribes, everyone. Caiaphas the High Priest counseled that it was better that one man die than a whole nation, and the priests resolved to murder Him. His own disciple betrayed Him with a kiss. They took Him to the house of the High Priest, and the leaders of the people clamored to Pilate until Christ was condemned. They tortured Him– they abused Him emotionally, physically, sexually– and then they murdered Him. He died naked, stripped of all dignity one human being can strip from another. The very best people in His culture did that to Him, the leaders of His Faith and also the secular leaders. Everyone who should have taken responsibility betrayed Him and abused Him. He died.
He rose from the dead.
He is coming back to bring justice.
Let that be what Lent is about this year.
This Lent, when you fast, when you meditate on Tenebrae and the Way of the Cross, when you do your prostrations, or even if you stay away from all religious practice because you can’t stand it anymore, remember: Christ could have had any kind of life He wanted, when He came to dwell among us. He could have chosen to be a king, a priest, a warrior, or any other sort of human. He could have chosen to be a success in the eyes of the world. He chose, instead, to be Someone who was abused by priests.
Christ is with you.
He is with the abused, not the abusers.
If you have been spiritually, emotionally, physically or sexually abused by the Catholic Church: Christ is with you.
When He returns, He will reveal to your abusers that it was Him they abused all along.
I’m not saying that’s enough. Nothing I say can ever be enough, but let that be a beginning. If the people who ought to have known better have hurt you, Christ is not with them. He is with you.
Christ is not a clericalist. Christ is Someone who was abused by clerics.
I will be re-sharing my old Way of the Cross and meditations on the Seven Last Words on the Steel Magnificat Facebook Page this Lent; I’ll also try to do a new series on the Tenebrae Responsories. That’ll give you a prayer to pray with me just about every day until Easter if you visit me daily there. As you read them, please remember that I’m praying with you, for you– with everyone who has been abused by the Church, because you and not the clergy are the icon of the suffering Christ. You, not them, have been Christ to me. They may be In Persona Christi as the head, when they say Mass, but you have been in persona Christi as the Crucified, for me.
That is my intention for Lent.
(image via Wikimedia Commons)