Sunday, March 21, 2010

Pondering the Holy Father's letter.

The invisible stigmata.
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One very poignant paragraph of the letter stands out for me.
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"At the same time, I ask you not to lose hope. It is in the communion of the Church that we encounter the person of Jesus Christ, who was himself a victim of injustice and sin. Like you, he still bears the wounds of his own unjust suffering." - Letter
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I have written and painted about this many times, referring to it as the invisible stigmata, which the violence of sexual abuse imprints upon its victims.  No matter how old one gets, how healed one may be, the wounds remain.  The Holy Father recognizes that - he understands that - he 'gets it'.  It can be a very consoling paragraph in his Pastoral Letter - once one is able to come to terms with it...
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Benedict XVI doesn't say, "Get over it, move on."  Not at all.  He recognizes, acknowledges, he actually sees as it were, the stigmata:
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"Like you, he (Christ) still bears the wounds of his own unjust suffering. He understands the depths of your pain and its enduring effect upon your lives and your relationships, including your relationship with the Church." - Letter
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Maybe Catholics shouldn't cover their statues this Passiontide - especially images of the scourged, crowned with thorns Jesus.  Perhaps we will thereby more easily comprehend the machinations of denial and cover-up and the harm it perpetuates.  Maybe it will help us understand that not everyone is immediately consoled simply by an apology. 
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I think the Pope gets that one too.
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Art:  Ecce Homo, Gregorio Fernandez, The Sacred Made Real exhibit, National Gallery, Washington, DC

4 comments:

  1. Living in Utah the Catholic Church isn't quite in the forefront as it is in many other areas....in many ways we are still "mission territory." So in that aspect we are also "Stepford wives" Catholics as the "cradle Catholics" are few and far between, and us converts and new Catholics bring a different perspective, especially the Mormon converts..

    The Mormon chruch definitely has their share of sexual abuse problems, especially among Boy Scout and other youth adult leaders...I remember a few years back the Mormon
    Church locally went through a particularly heated abuse scandal..then a priest abuse allogation (the abuse happened 20 something years ago and just brought to light) came up and the press was all over THAT..one of my Mormon coworkers came up to me--knowing that I'm Catholic-- and said something like, "Well--it looks like the Mormons aren't front-page news anymore..."

    It is sobering news, and I am disappointed, but not discouraged. My faith is not shaken, and for those of you who are, I do hope that you take the Holy Father's words to heart. And that there are many prayers (and pray-ers) out there..This may be a time that St John of the Cross describes in the Living Flame of Love, the flame that cautarizes but does not consume, it cleanses and makes pure as well as strengthens and builds up. He did not say that the work of the flame would be painless...

    Peace and prayers.... Sara

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  2. Austringer6:16 PM

    I was humbled (and edified) by how often the Holy Father presents Jesus as the source of healing for the victimized and the scandalized, as well as a corrective model for bishops and religious. Jesus is the antidote to, as the Pope puts it, "the tendency during this period, also on the part of priests and religious, to adopt ways of thinking and assessing secular realities without sufficient reference to the Gospel". How refreshing this is -- instead of suggesting more bureaucratic structures and policies, he calls for holiness, for a turning to Jesus.

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  3. I don't know if you noticed Sara - but I'm Mormon.

    Aaron Eckhart

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  4. Hey Aaron--

    Why don't you pick me up next year when you're at Park City for the Sundance Film Festival?? You could get me in to all the way cool parties.. :)

    And I'd have a Designated Driver to boot :)

    Sara

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