Sex Scandal, The Ruined Church and the Stations of the Cross

The Stations of the Cross in Daily Life

Well, I want to do a blogrimage series within the blogrimage about the stations of the cross in everyday life.

Stations are places of waiting, places of transportation, places of transition. To be stationed also means to be fixed, and as I embark on this little spiritual journey leading up to Easter, I wanted to take 12 days and share reflections with you about how things are going, and what I’m learning along the way.

Stations are places of waiting, and as I engage this series I’ll take time each day to wait on God, specifically. This little exercise is going to be about walking with Jesus in daily life, through the stations of the cross.

The stations of the cross, for those who don’t know, are a devotional exercise used for meditative purposes and reflection on walking with Jesus along the way of the cross.

The object of the Stations is to help the faithful to make in spirit, as it were, a pilgrimage to the chief scenes of Christ’s sufferings and death, and this has become one of the most popular of Catholicdevotions. It is carried out by passing from Station to Station, with certain prayers at each and devoutmeditation on the various incidents in turn. – New Advent Encyclopedia

I figure since this blogrimage is a pilgrimage via blogging, what better to do than make a small spiritual pilgrimage?

So, we start now.

Station 1: Jesus stands silently before Pilate, Condemned to Death

Jesus is standing before many people who are yelling and saying hurtful things to him. The stand accusing him, pointing fingers. They fear him, and the feed the hysteria of the masses with each other. They scream at him, they jeer him. Some of them tell lies about him, saying that he did evil or bad things.

But Jesus stays quiet, even though he knows that he will be hurt.

The Following is Pope Benedict’s Address to the Irish Church. Please read it, if you have the time.

I was shooting back and forth emails with a couple of friends on the whole sex scandal issue that has rocked the Vatican, and maligned the Catholic Church in popular culture once again. Meditating on this while considering the stations of the cross has led me to think in the following way:

The Catholic fellowship is a lot like this in our culture, as is the Church at large. We are under the scrutiny of the Empire, and everyone expects the Church to be something. People point at the Church, at Christianity, and say mean things, hurtful things, sometimes true things. Jesus and the church are separate entities, and while Jesus was sinless, the Church’s people are sinful. There have been abuses, there have been children forced to silence, and priests relocated. There have been moral abuses and it seems that lust has reared its ugly head from within the walls of the Vatican. However, we must not be like the crowd, or like Peter who “watched from a distance,” (Mark 14.54).

While we must go about justice, destroying the Church is not the answer. The church is in ruins and there seems to be no justice. If you would decry my statement, please recognize that I’m not saying it’s the end of the world, but this is an outward sign of some decay that has happened to our unity, our communions and our religion as a whole.

In an email last night, I responded to someone’s concern about this issue and said “Let us weep together, for the church is in ruins and there seems to be no justice,” to which they replied “Let us rather weep for the thousands, tens of thousands, of molested, damaged-for-life children, and the justice denied them!” My response to this, is yes.

Yes.

God of Our Mothers and Fathers, who allows it to rain on the just and the unjust, whose mercy knows no bounds, hear the anguish and feel our tears.

Let us weep, let us beg the Lord for mercy, let us pray for the fallen, for the oppressed, for the voiceless and the faceless. Let us pray for the priests, for their hearts and their lives, that God may show them mercy, and cleanse them of their sins. Let us pray for the fallen leaders, for those who have committed evil. Let us pray for the weak and the weary priests who are tempted to leave the Church, and for the faithful who are discouraged by this. Let us pray.

Let us pray for the strong, the ones who guarded these abuses and hushed them under carpets, let us pray for those who have attempted to settle this without making it a matter of open and public discipline. Lord hear our prayer. For the ones who had bad intentions in hiding these things, and the ones who only meant to do well. For the power brokers who use this as leverage against the Church Universal, and the disenchanted who cannot find it in their hearts to forgive, hear our prayer.

For the children my lord, and the women without faces, for the weak and the oppressed, hear our prayer. For the ones starved of justice, abused and forgotten, shoved into shadows, forgotten or broken, hear our prayer. For the molested, discomforted, discouraged and confused, hear our prayer. For the good priests mistreated every time something like this happens, and the weary in heart whose faith hangs on a string, hear our prayer.

For the abused, the choir boys, the altar boys, the girls and the young men and women, hear our prayer. For those who have been damaged, forced into a psychological state they did not ask for, whose bodies have been made instruments of pleasure, hear our prayer. For the ones still in hiding, who have a problem and won’t come forth for fear or pride, have mercy. For the marginalized, the single mothers whose would-be-husbands are priests, have mercy. For the children of priests who will never know their fathers, hear our prayer.

Lord Jesus, have mercy on all, and bring justice to your faithful, in the loving redemption your embrace demands. Bring redemption to the fallen and expose the wicked, the weak and the betrayers, bring them to justice, and have mercy on them. We pray you expose the works of the wicked, and bring to nothing the plots of the evil and the conspirators.

For the homosexual Christians, who feel out of place, the children who may never return to normal life again, and the bishops who face this challenge, we pray. For the betrayers of trust whom our Lord has said it is better that they have a millstone tied around their necks and they be cast into the sea, we pray. Lord Jesus, for those who have wounded you in all this, we pray. For the ones who have suffered grievously, the families and their children, who know nothing can undo the wrong done, we pray.

Holy Spirit, eternal breath of the Living God, comforter and advocate, guide us into a renewal of the ancient ways, the ways of holiness and apostolic unity. Bring forth a new dawn over the Emerald Isle, as well as your Church throughout the world. Bring comfort to the families of the afflicted and bind up the broken hearted, in and through we your servants, fallible and broken, weary and mourning.

For the ignored, the maligned, the innocent and the guilty we pray,

Lord, Have mercy,

Christ, Have mercy,

Lord, Have mercy.

We cannot ignore the problems we face. We are facing serious problems, vicious, large and maybe even very old problems that we’ve turned a blind eye to. The Catholic sex abuse scandals are bigger than the Catholic communion, they affect all of Christianity, and we have a responsibility to pray for them, as our brothers and sisters in Christ.

I urge you, my brothers and sisters in Christ, and all who read this, my brothers and sisters in the global village, to be courageous if this outrages you. To renew your dedication to Christ, and to take the path of Nehemiah. Return to the ruined church, and rebuild her walls. Have the courage to obey the call of the Lord, and to return to the Church with a renewed commitment to fix things. Be that witness which you desire to see among the Christians.

I encourage you to stand silent before the jeering world with its taunts, and to not respond when the empire comes knocking in the name of the people. Shore up the ruins, embrace the ruins and dwell among them, faithfully. Faith involves disciplining the mind and the imagination to conform to Christ Himself, in faithful adherence to the Church and her teachings. As angry as you ma be, have mercy, that you might receive mercy in return.

Do not desire to run away from this and seek a more strongly professed perfection, instead, be of the mind of redemption. Shore up the ancient ruins, Embrace the power of intercession, and desire not to stand aloof, but to be a participant at risk. Desire to expiate for the sins of others with your prayers, for in this you will live.

“The proper effect of the Eucharist is the transformation of man into God.” – St. Thomas Aquinas. Recognize communion as the power to transform you into Christ, and give you the ability to mercifully stand in the gap.

“Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, so that they may also obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.” – 2 Tim. 2.10 (NRSV) Let us also endure everything for the sake of the elect, and run to the broken church, in faith. Let us run to her expecting God’s redemption, and Christ’s healing touch. We must turn to the broken past in full faced shame and embrace, in order to receive a redemptive future. There is no reconciliation without embodiment, the incarnation makes this clear. If we want a fully redeemed church, we must  rebuild what is broken not run off and build another thing that breaks as well.

Let us say to the Lord, “Send me to Rome, to Ireland and to Boston, to the cities of our fathers, that we might rebuild the walls.” (Adaptation of Nehemiah 2.5)

“This city, [The church,] is hallowed by the presence of the Lord, and to return to its sanctuaries, however ruined, is to return to the instruments of redemption that God has graciously provided. We must suffer its ruins if we are to rebuild its walls.” – R.R. Reno In the Ruins of the Church (2002, Brazos Press)

If you will not weep for the ruined church, or her wounded people, the least you can do is join me in praying for our ruined souls, and the guilt we bear towards one another. If you cannot bear to imagine that you’re affected by these scandals because you’re a devout protestant, or your “relationship with jesus” puts you in a place of superiority, I ask you to consider that the weeping and the broken need no anger, they have plenty of it. They need no indigfnation, there’s more than enough to go around. They need redemption and a voice that will stand beside them, they need your prayers. If you fancy that you’re not like those “idolaters” who got what they deserved, your heart is hard, and I offer a prayer up for you.

Consider the weeping Christ who stands accused, and do not be in the crowd, be the one taking the abuse. Consider the broken church, and do not hide among the cynical voices, rather open yourself to endure the same. Stand in the gap, and do justice. Plead for the redemption of the abused children and their families. Love mercy and pray for the abusers who violated our trust, pray for those who need redemption. Pray for [the church](has been redacted) who stands broken and ashamed before us. Be willing to be a vessel through which God exchanges Beauty for the ashes we bring before Him. Transfigure the world you see into the Kingdom we know, through the loving redemption of Jesus our Lord being made manifest in your body.

Walk humbly, and stand firm expecting the Lord’s redemption. Build up old connections study the apostolic tradition, be faithful to Christ despite the unfathfulness of some persons in the Church. I encourage you to stand firm, and suffer with Christ, the accusations against our brothers and sisters. I encourage you, not to point the finger at mandatory celibacy, or the abuses but to weep with the broken families and the betrayed bishops and parishes. Consider Christ our Lord, and stand with him before the accusers, in silent, loving patience. So that when they say “Are you the Church of the Son of God?” we shall say:

I am.

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4 thoughts on “Sex Scandal, The Ruined Church and the Stations of the Cross

  1. “Pray for the Church herself who stands broken and ashamed before us.”

    I do not mean to be dissident, but this is a terrible way of presenting the situation. The title and your use of the word Church (capital C) throughout your blog seem to indicate either a misunderstanding of the term or a syntactic mistake. The Church (capital C) is incapable of standing broken and ashamed before the masses. She is perfect and infallible in herself. Priests may stand broken and ashamed, as can lay individuals. However, to claim that the Church had done anything herself that would lead to shame is heresy. I could further explain my point and I will be glad to should your readers claim me to be a mindless Pope-following robot, but I think you can understand where I a coming from without too many more words on my part.

    Be careful with how you use the word ‘Church’. Do not confuse it with ‘church’.

    No Worries,

    Sneagan

  2. I by no means consider you a pope quoting robot, you’re a brilliant young man, and I’m glad you caught it. If Harrison had seen it, he’d accuse me of being an angry liberal or something. haha.

    I’m just concerned that we have to take seriously the errors of people in the Church, and mayhap i expressed this too strongly, which my redaction following your advice makes clear.

    Thanks for reading Sneagan, and for your thoughts.

    With all sincerity,
    Eli

  3. Like I said, I’m sure you meant no harm. It is the understanding of the other readers that would cause misuse of the word to be a problem. 🙂

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