"And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free."
JOCELYNE’S RESOURCE-OF-THE-MONTH: September 2018
My Resource-of-the-Month: “Pope Francis: Letter to the People of God" & "Rosary Novena for the Eradication of Sexual Abuse & Scandal Within the Church" PDF by FreeTruth.ca
Prayer and Sacrifice
Hope in the Midst of Scandal
If you have been following the news on the sexual abuse scandal within the Church hierarchy, you have undoubtedly felt shame, sadness, disgust, heartbreak, desolation, anger, or a combination of these and other strong emotions…as I have. This is a hard blow for all of us.
Pope Francis quotes Saint Paul in his recent letter to the People of God addressing the sexual abuse scandal: “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it.” How incredibly true!
Along with the experience of these emotions, you may also be asking yourself many questions, such as: “Is this only an American problem?” Or, “What can I possibly do about this?” Unfortunately, this is a global problem. Our Canadian priesthood is not immune to these types of scandal (past or future). However, as laity, we may feel that there is not much we can do about it. The majority of us are not in a position to directly influence any changes or reforms within the hierarchy of the Church…or are we?
In his letter, Pope Francis acknowledges where the Church has failed and cries out for solidarity, writing: “Saint Paul’s exhortation to suffer with those who suffer is the best antidote against all our attempts to repeat the words of Cain: “Am I my brother's keeper? (Gen 4:9)”
Pope Francis stresses the importance of the involvement of all the baptized in the reform of these evils, laity and clergy. He writes: “Without the active participation of all the Church’s members, everything being done to uproot the culture of abuse in our communities will not be successful in generating the necessary dynamics for sound and realistic change.”
Pope Francis also identifies clericalism to be at the heart of the issue. He condemns clericalism of all kinds, whether promulgated by priests themselves or by laypeople. Clericalism is essentially what promotes and helps to sustain these evils that must be condemned. “To say ‘no’ to abuse is to say an emphatic ‘no’ to all forms of clericalism,” Pope Francis declares. So in solidarity, one thing we can do is to denounce clericalism by refusing to support any kind of policy that preserves or increases the power of the Church hierarchy.
Other than this, however, the question remains: What can the average layperson do? The answer…We can pray! We can fast and offer sacrifices! And this is, in fact, what Pope Francis advises us to do in his letter. He writes: “I invite the entire holy faithful People of God to a penitential exercise of prayer and fasting, following the Lord’s command. This can awaken our conscience and arouse our solidarity and commitment to a culture of care that says “never again” to every form of abuse.”
He continues: “The penitential dimension of fasting and prayer will help us as God’s People to come before the Lord and our wounded brothers and sisters as sinners imploring forgiveness and the grace of shame and conversion. In this way, we will come up with actions that can generate resources attuned to the Gospel.”
So in essence, Pope Francis is saying that God will use our prayer and sacrifice to inspire positive reforms within the Church that are “attuned to the Gospel.”
Pope Francis also stresses the importance of turning to the Blessed Virgin as an example. “To look to Mary is to discover the model of a true follower of Christ.” Our Holy Father then quotes Saint Ignatius of Loyola saying, “When we experience the desolation caused by these ecclesial wounds, we will do well, with Mary, ‘to insist more upon prayer’, seeking to grow all the more in love and fidelity to the Church (Spiritual Exercises, 319).”
The emotional heartache experienced in the wake of these great scandals, as well as Pope Francis’ letter have together inspired us at FreeTruth.ca to suggest that we pray together for solid reform, for healing and for an end to sexual abuse and scandal in the Church.
We would like you to join us in praying a Rosary Novena. A Novena is a special set of prayers, prayed over nine days, for something specific, usually something serious or of urgent nature. For more information, PrayMoreNovenas.com offers this excellent explanation of Novena prayer: https://www.praymorenovenas.com/how-to-pray-a-novena.
During this nine-day period of prayer, we will pray for the victims, for the Church as a whole, for clergy of all ranks, and for the abusers and their enablers. Why are we praying for the abusers? Well…they need healing too. And Jesus instructs us to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us, so this is what we will do.
Also during the nine days of prayer, we invite you to offer sacrifices (i.e. fasting, mortification), and offer your daily trials and crosses (especially those sacrifices involved in keeping God’s Commandments, and in fulfilling the duties of your state in life) through the Immaculate Heart of Mary for healing in the entire Church.
Why do we do this? Pope Francis explains the Biblical basis for prayer and fasting in his letter. It may also help to recall Our Lady’s “Message of Fatima,” an excellent summary of which can be found here: https://www.rosarycenter.org/homepage-2/rosary/fatima/.
We have chosen a to make this a Rosary Novena, as Our Lady has promised us: “The Rosary shall be a powerful armor against hell. It will destroy vice, decrease sin, and defeat heresies” and “By the recitation of the Rosary you shall obtain all that you ask of me (Our Lady’s 15 Promises for those who pray the Rosary, https://www.rosarycenter.org/homepage-2/the-rosary-confraternity/its-obligations-and-benefits/).”
This Rosary Novena, which we have laid out for all of you in PDF form, is my Resource-of-the-Month, and is a FreeTruth Original Resource. Please share it far and wide! Let us offer prayers and sacrifices together in solidarity, as we grieve with the victims of these heinous crimes. Also, be sure to follow our Facebook page, as we will be posting the daily Novena prayers there for your convenience.
Pray this Novena as often as you like, but we will pray it together beginning September 8 (the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary) in honour of the Birthday of our Blessed Mother, “the one who crushes the head of the serpent!” We are confident that our prayers and sacrifices through her intercession will help facilitate the birth of positive reforms that will promote healing, discourage sexual vice, and aid in eradicating it within the Church hierarchy! Why? Because we believe in the power of prayer! However, it should be noted that we are not always aware of the fruits of our prayers and sometimes God answers prayers in ways that we would not expect. He knows what is best and so we trust Him as we pray, “Thy will be done!”
I will leave you with one final quote from Pope Francis’ letter, a prayer that I echo within my own heart:
“May fasting and prayer open our ears to the hushed pain felt by children, young people and the disabled. A fasting that can make us hunger and thirst for justice and impel us to walk in the truth, supporting all the judicial measures that may be necessary. A fasting that shakes us up and leads us to be committed in truth and charity with all men and women of good will, and with society in general, to combatting all forms of the abuse of power, sexual abuse and the abuse of conscience.” Amen!
Your sister in Christ,
If you have questions or comments, we would love to hear from you. Please contact us and let us know your thoughts.