Our Church is once again plunged into despair and anger with the recent report of abuse and cover-up on the part of our church leaders coming out of Pennsylvania. As we search to understand the meaning of these terrible deeds, we are filled with angst and empathy for the victims and maybe not so much for the perpetrators! Even though we know and believe God is a loving and merciful God, many find it hard or impossible to cast a merciful or loving eye on those responsible for these hideous deeds.
Indeed our Church is in trouble! Where do we go from here? How can we be instruments of peace? Is it wrong to demand justice for those involved?
As we work through these feelings of hurt, betrayal and anger where do we find hope? As ministers called to lead and serve the People of God it is important to be as transparent, honest and loving to our people as possible. I do not have the words to explain this upheaval. I can listen with an open, loving heart to those in pain and uncertainty. I can pray for a compassionate heart and forgiving spirit while acknowledging my own feelings of sadness and righteous anger. The presence of evil in the world and especially in our church is overwhelming at times.
At the same time I find comfort in the blessing to the people of Thessalonica as found in our first reading of today.
May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father,
Who has loved us and given us everlasting encouragement
And good hope through his grace,
Encourage your hearts and strengthen them
In every good deed and word.
It is good to remember that our God who loves us and calls us to be members of this church gives us the hope and grace and support to carry on the mission of Christ.
Here in our parish as we move into the Fall season we become busy once again with school activities, parish programs, sacramental celebrations and all the hundreds of things we are about in ministry in this Church we call home. The Holy Spirit is alive and well in our parish as we welcome smiling children back to school, excited couples preparing for marriage, eager RCIA inquirers anxious to begin a journey to the Easter sacraments. Our refugee ministry has been planning and is ready to welcome our third refugee family at the end of this month. The parish community shares wholeheartedly in this effort to give shelter to the homeless and food to the hungry as we say hello to this family of seven from the Congo.
Today we also celebrate the Memorial of Saint Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church. Augustine’s early life was marked by dissolute living and upheaval. His conversion experience which led to his baptism and subsequent service and giftedness to the Church is something we are grateful for. We are reminded that even in the midst of the current darkness we are experiencing as Church, the grace of the spirit will lead us to a renewed sense of purpose and direction.
May we find comfort and hope in the love God has for each of us as faithful followers of Christ our brother and friend.
Theresa Secord is a Pastoral Associate at St. Agnes Parish, Louisville, Kentucky.