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Letter to a Suffering Church: A Bishop Speaks on the Sexual Abuse Crisis

I was handed this book on the way out of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Aspen, CO.  

We had planned a trip to an Air Show that was taking place that weekend in Grand Junction and decided to make a mini vacation out of it by spending a night en route in Snowmass, CO.

[P.S. Mountain towns are the best!  Even if you just have one night, I can promise you will leave feeling refreshed…but…in all fairness, I should also warn you that you’ll find yourself wracking your brain a bit trying to work one more night into your vacation. This is me every time.]

To Read Or Not To Read…

I took the book because the pastor had given such a beautifully exhorted sermon – full of conviction and edification.  And while this seems a superficial reason to take a free book from a church, it was his ability to speak the Word with such power that moved me.  He was utterly convinced that what Bishop Robert Barron had to say in this book was a saving grace; something that we all needed to hear – regardless of how little we felt the scandal had affected us.

[Order the book here]

In all honesty, after taking it, I still hesitated to read it.  (1) Because I am very limited in the time I can spend reading and therefore have to be choosy with my books.  (2) Like ‘the others’ he’d referred to in his homily, I had not felt personally attacked by the scandals and, therefore, determined the book didn’t apply to me.  In short, I didn’t count it a good use of my time and wrote it off my mind. But…low and behold…a short ways into our trip the next morning, I opened it and was hooked.

In fact, I ultimately had to force myself to put it down and wait until later because there were so many paragraphs, sentences and phrases that were demanding notation and highlights…and, as it would most often occur when we feel we absolutely must have something, Jesus allows testing for our patience.  And as it was – I didn’t have anything to make markings.

[Well, to be honest, I had several – they just weren’t within reach.  They were neatly nestled in the bottom-side pouch in my computer bag that would have been easy enough to reach had they not been at the bottom of Lars’ (my 3-year-old) stockpile of books, toys, snacks, and pillows that stood as a nicely guarded pile of loot in front of and below his car seat.  I didn’t dare wake the sleeping beast as he wasn’t going to get a nap that day…so…as the story of most parents’ lives go, the book would have to wait.]

Not A Long Book…But You Might Want To Spend Some Time With i=It

But as soon as I was able to get settled that night, I dug in.  Please note: This book is small and will not consume a month of your time to read it in full.  My husband likely could have read it in about two hours.  (P.S. I reference my husband here because I am one of the slowest readers known to man.)

[Click here to order the book from Bishop Barron.  Note that all proceeds go to trusted charities that support the victims of sexual abuse.]

As I said, more often than not, it takes me longer to read things than the average person – sometimes because the material is terrible and I have to struggle to keep my mind from wandering…but that kind of reading was not this day.  I regularly felt compelled to pause and meditate, re-read various parts in order to fully ‘soak them in,’ and take notes and pray. I can almost promise that this book would make a worth-while addition to your thoughts, memory, and bookshelf for reference.

What’s Inside?

Over the course of the mere 105 pages, Bishop Robert Barron discusses the sexual abuse crisis not as a simple plan that Satan threw together in hopes of snatching a couple souls, but as a carefully woven plot to undermine the trust and faith people have put into the Catholic faith. He explains this plot, not just in terms of spiritual warfare, but points to how humans – that were called and set apart for holiness, instead of keeping their eyes of Christ allowed themselves to be lured away agreeing to the devil’s dissent.  Bishop Barron draws light from scripture and points it at the history and previous evils found within the walls of the church.  He reminds us that we have been here before – and have still survived. 

Not because of human will, but because it is the will of God.

The Catholic church was built on the foundation that is Jesus Christ.  Bishop Barron reminds us that while we should be able to trust those appointed to our leadership, Jesus is our one true source of trust, safety, and grace; He alone is our real treasure. 

We Don’t Stay [Catholic] For The People…

We stay with the church for Him; because He is here and because we love Him.

While Bishop Robert Baron briefly describes what the church is doing to mend the processes that have too long allowed this evil to stay hidden in the dark, he also makes it clear that it is “a better and stronger laity [that] shapes a better and stronger (and less clerical) priesthood.” (p. 93)

This short, compelling book notes that change begins with the man (or woman) in the mirror.  It is a call to arms; a call to stay with the church and fight.  People will always fail us – and if we leave and go somewhere else, the people to whom we go will eventually fail us too because we are dealing with human nature.  This does not make it okay, or even something to excuse, but it is a reality we have to face on this side of life.

Your Family Is Hurting – So Do Something [Like Read A Book] About It.

If you are still thinking that this book doesn’t apply to you, I would ask that you at least pray about it.  The sexual abuse scandal is a major crisis facing your church right now – even if you are not Catholic.  It has ultimately impacted the lens through which all people see Christians.  And these are not just a small number of people somewhere else in the world who have been abused – they are your brothers and sisters

[Order the book here.  P.S. You can get a single copy for free minus the minimal $6 for s/h
…or order 20+ books for less than $1 each with free s/h…just saying]

And when someone hurts (i.e. your son, daughter, brother, sister, wife, etc.), you do something about it.  Someone who loves that family member doesn’t say, ‘oh well, I don’t really know much about (fill the sin in the blank here) so I’ll leave the problem to the experts.’  Where I come from, we call that a cop-out. In love and reality, should someone you love be abused in this manner, you’d research the hell out of it or find someone more experienced than yourself to help you take it to court.

Let’s stand for our brothers and sisters like this: by reading and educating ourselves – even if it’s just a 105 page book by a humble Bishop.

Conclusion:

This is your family and they need you.  In less than two hours you can get a brief understanding of what has happened, where it has come from, why it is worth the fight, and what you can do.  We are part of the body of Christ and as long as one of its members is ailing, (though you might not know it), you are suffering too.

In Peace,

Christina Marie

“…that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another.  If one member suffers, all suffer together with it…”  – 1 Corinthians 12:25-26

***All opinions are my own; I have received no endorsement or compensation for my views.  All information is accurate and true to the best of my knowledge but is meant for informational and entertainment purposes only.  Should there be an omission, error, or mistake, I cannot be held legally responsible as you read and choose to honor my recommendations at your own risk.  I am not a theologian so feel free to check with a Deacon, Priest, or other trustworthy spiritual mentor before choosing to follow my suggestions.  I reserve the right to change how I manage my blog, postings, etc. at any time in addition to my focus and/or my content.  Thanks for reading!

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