Today’s find: Spewing

This is my second attempt at writing a blog post today. My dear wife spared you from the first.

“You’re ranting, you know,” she said when I asked her to read an early draft.

“Yes,” I replied, “because the Pope and Bishop Barron said I should rant. They said I…we…the people of God…need to speak up about this whole mess!”

In point of fact, it was the second time today I found myself spewing about my holy Catholic church…and its sinful handling of the sex abuse crisis. Earlier this morning, I spewed among a group of unsuspecting men…my dear friends (at least I hope they still count me a friend) at our weekly scripture study.

Spewing is not a good look for me.

Almost inevitably, it points to a more serious disorder—a dis-ease that needs tending to in my heart and spirit.

I notice that I find myself spewing a LOT lately. As I expose this negative energy to the light, I realize it’s based at least in part on a feeling of helplessness – the recognition that, on a practical level, there’s almost nothing I can do to heal wounds in the church I love, or to offer comfort to those affected by abuse.

But the ache runs deeper, too.

Reading Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano’s recent diatribe helped crystallize this notion for me. I know nothing about the state of the Archbishop’s soul. But in my estimation, his public statement earlier this week betrayed an extraordinary level of affection for politics and power-brokering. (Which makes it sad, but unsurprising, to learn that the good Archbishop has feet of clay: He is now walking-back key elements of his incendiary accusations.)

Here’s the thing: I used to be able to give most Archbishops the benefit of the doubt. Vigano’s words made me recognize that in all likelihood, my trust has been misplaced. This man clearly abuses his power. So I am forced to wonder: How many among his confreres in Vatican circles do the same?

As I wonder, I inevitably find myself spewing at the hierarchy. Soon enough, I start shaking my fist: “Dear Cardinals and Bishops and Archbishops, do you understand how much damage has been done to the church? Do you realize how you have frittered away much of your authority?”

This time, though, something a bit different happened. In the midst of my latest rant, my wife offered up a link to the single-best piece of writing I’ve seen to date on the subject. It’s written, notably, by a priest—one who’s wise beyond his years, and recognizes that “more words [of advice] from yet another priest verge on the scandalous.”

If your hearts, like mine, have been roiled in recent weeks…then I urge you to give this article due attention. You won’t find in it any knee-jerk solutions. You will find the voices of thoughtful lay people. You will find ideas that may challenge your notion of “church.”

Most importantly, you will find a call to action…encouraging us, as the people of God, to begin the hard slog of changing a culture that has persisted in our church for hundreds of years.

You may even find, as I did, that it is time—past time—for us to speak up. Preferably, without spewing.

https://www.vox.com/first-person/2018/8/31/17801204/catholic-church-abuse-scandal-pennsylvania-priest

And as we speak, let us always call to mind the wise words contained in Psalm 46:

 

God is for us a refuge and strength,

An ever-present help in time of distress:

So we shall not fear though the earth should rock,

Though the mountains quake to the heart of the sea;

Even though its waters rage and foam,

Even though the mountains be shaken by its tumult.

 

The Lord of hosts is with us:

The God of Jacob is our stronghold.

 

Come and behold the works of the Lord,

The awesome deeds God has done on the earth.

God puts an end to wars over all the earth;

Breaking bows, snapping spears, and buring shields with fire:

 

“Be still, and know that I am God,

Exalted over nations, exalted over earth!”

The light of Christ can dispel our darkness…
photo credit: Vic Jost

 

 

Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.

IHS

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11 thoughts on “Today’s find: Spewing

  1. Joe Vilmain

    Thanks John, the article may get us a little closer to some dialogue, at least it points out the necessity of same, as has Cardinal DiNardo.  I applaud your zeal and your willingness to engage as you did this morning – let’s keep the door open and the dialogue alive as we all find our way forward; God’s blessings be with you and Geri – wow, great find! Joe Vilmain

  2. Tom Will

    Thanks for your Spewing! We need more of it. I need a place to get it out, so I can feel better. I had a good discussion with my son and my comment to him was around what the church does next. We can’t change the past (but we can pray for the victims and all those involved), but our church can take a stand and make it right going forward. That’s what I want to see…..

    • Agreed, Tom: We need to be looking forward…in addition to making amends for the past. And part of the “forward”, I increasingly beginning to believe, means an ACTIVE role for us as laypeople.

  3. Michael Albers

    John:

    Thanks for putting your thoughts and feelings to words. Know that you are not alone in “spewing.” Ever since this broke, I have been doing a lot of “spewing” also.

    With respect to feelings of “helplessness,” I suggest we remember a couple of things. Per our dogma, we know that the Church is sinless. We are sinful. Our clergy has certainly demonstrated that they too are sinful. But our Church is sinless. Why is it sinless? Because it is the mystical body of Christ. Second, we know that they Holy Spirit is not only here, but is at work here. This mess is a work in progress. We, the laity, will bring the Spirit’s works forth by demanding accountability from the clergy. We will not be quiet until there is transparency and all questions have been answered.

    We who love our church will fight for our Church. There is no doubt in my mind that the Evil One is at work here and is laughing at our pain. I, for one, believe that something better will come from this tragic failure of our Church leaders. You and I may not see it in our lives, but something better will come.

    • Thanks for the reminder, Mike, of the hope and Truth we have in our church…the Mystical Body. And Amen, I do believe, that Jesus our Lord can redeem even all this brokenness.

  4. Jane

    Thank you for your thoughtful insights and call to love ❤️

  5. Ron Peters

    If one man can bring so much harm to the church with his sinfulness, how much more can one man’s holiness restore our church. Let all of us strive to be more holy that evil will be destroyed…..Ron

  6. Thank you John. These are just the words I needed to hear today. As you know I came to the Catholic Church as an adult convert. I always say I did not choose this church, it chose me. I have been wounded many times, but I have also been blessed beyond measure. At times like these I look to the saints. I see their struggles as a guide for me today. I have no answers to any of this. I just feel hurt and angry most of the time. I also feel hope growing in my heart. I have to learn to trust that the Holy Spirit will lead us. I pray that good people will stay and work to heal these wounds.

    • I appreciate your thoughtful comments, Dan. And I agree: “good answers” to the problems we face are not easy to come be…
      Which makes it encouraging to me, when fine people like yourself continue to show up. None of us has answers…still, we share a bond in faith. A bond that is strengthened by our continued presence!

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