No. I Don’t Think I Am Done Here.

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I Don’t Think I’m Done Here, Yet.

I have written and deleted several versions of my response to the Church Sex Abuse Scandal.  I have been struggling to write something that doesn’t sound like either a melodramatic diary entry or a dry technical manual for using a stapler.

In terms of a direct response to the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report, there are countless individual Catholics who have published opinions or otherwise publicly expressed their feelings. My writing partner, and sister friend, Mary Bishop, represented the heartbreak and struggle of devout Catholics so eloquently here a few weeks ago. As I haven’t even been a practicing Catholic –since several years BEFORE the Church Sex Abuse Scandal in the Diocese of Boston broke in the Boston Globe—I feel like I may be a bit out of my lane to even dare add my two cents. I was quite willing to let her words speak for our blog. She and I—and so many of us in so many areas of our lives—keep talking about it, though.

So, while I have not been a practicing Catholic for over thirty years, I have made a career in early childhood education and care. My field of expertise is in family support, and I have extensive specialized training in supporting young children who have suffered trauma. Protecting and nurturing children is my vocation.

Because of my training and education, I know that it is believed that 5% of adult males are pedophiles (there are no good statistics on female pedophiles, though it is generally accepted that it is far more rare), meaning that they are adults that have strong sexual desires and fantasies about prepubescent children. Not all pedophiles act on their urges. I also know that child sexual abuse isn’t always perpetrated by pedophiles. Where pedophiles have issues that are sexual, many abusers have issues with anger, violence, power, and control.  The abuse is grossly underreported, but based on reported rates, 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys are victims of sexual abuse in their lifetimes. Overwhelmingly, children who are victims of sexual abuse know their attacker very well.  In many communities, the parish priest would be considered someone a child—particularly an altar server—would know well.

Again, I am not a practicing Catholic, so my opinion is worth what it is worth. I am firmly in the camp that believes that the Bishops should voluntarily resign, and any priest found guilty of criminal behavior should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. The non-offending priests, Bishops, Cardinals, Popes who were complicit in the covering up of priests should also be prosecuted. I am not in the business of defending the Catholic church. That being said, it is of small comfort to know that pedophilia rates among Catholic  (and Protestant) clergy are only slightly higher than the rates for the male population at large.

Because of my training and education, and well, because of personal experience, I know what sexual abuse does to a child, to their family, to their community, to society. What I can bring to this discussion is my take as a child protector. Here it is: We—as a society, as communities, as dioceses, as parishes—FAILED OUR CHILDREN. We failed. We let men who were charged with leading our sacred communities hurt our children. Repeatedly. We—society, the Church,  the laity—failed at holding the abusive priests accountable.

We failed. All of us. And my soul is sick over it. Judging by what I’ve been reading, I am not alone.

So now what?

Mary asked if we are all done. Can we still be Catholic?

Well, again, I haven’t been Catholic in decades. Except for when I have been.

What does that even mean?  Well, I was Catholic first. It is my original context for learning about the things of the spiritual realm. Then my view of the spiritual realm expanded through years of Baptist ministries, decades as a non-denominational Evangelical Pentecostal, as a world traveler who has befriended Muslims and Buddhists and Wiccans and others, as an employee of a Jewish university. All that wandering, and I find that I keep coming home again. I keep returning to my friends who are nuns, monks, and priests when I have a tough question. I keep returning to the Church Ladies at St. Charles’ and St. Agatha’s who give up their free time to feed the poor and love others. I keep returning to the rituals and prayers of my childhood.

So, yeah. I lean Catholic. I’m still not sure I can come back, though.

Here is what I am sure of:

There is a spiritual realm. I believe it is a crucially important part of our lives. For as long as I can remember, I have known this to be true.

I believe with all my heart that God is Love.

I believe that Love God, Love Others is the prime directive. I have spent my life trying to do that the best I can. When the priest in my family told me as a teen attending parochial school in his diocese to do what I can to meet Jesus beyond the stained glass windows and the secret handshake that is Catholicism, I took that as permission to figure out how to Love God, even when that meant leaving the Catholic church.

I am not arrogant enough to believe that the hot mess that is humanity has figured out how the spiritual realm works. I am not confident that any one church has THE answers.

And so, for the past eight years (since my father died) I have wrestled with the Big Questions of Life and Faith without a Faith Community to shelter me. I feel pretty good about where I am with God these days, but I sorely miss being a member of a strong Faith Community. Thanks to individual nuns, monks, and priests in my life, plus the quirky, yet very smart and thoughtful folks over at Sick Pilgrim, I was on the verge of returning to the Catholic church and joining my local parish.

Literally, the very week I had that thought, the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report came out, bringing back all the things that make joining the Catholic church (or any organized church, really) unthinkable. There are legion reasons NOT to return to (or stay in)  Catholicism. The sex abuse and the cover up, the patriarchal hierarchy, Natural Family Planning (which reads like a plot of a dystopian novel to keep women in subservience), colonialism of missionaries…

I walked away decades ago. The problems in the Catholic church are not my problems. And, yet,  here I am, still wrestling with the Almighty, and hanging in there with my Catholic sisters and brothers trying to find a way through the tough days.

Unexpectedly, it was a Jewish composer who helped me realize that I am still in this fight–alongside Catholics. Seriously.

See, Leonard Bernstein would have been 100 years old on August 25th. That is my youngest son’s birthday, as well. My son is a remarkable young man, who asked if he could celebrate his 18th birthday at Tanglewood with some of his friends at the ASTOUNDING event the Boston Symphony Orchestra hosted to celebrate one of their favorite sons.

Bernstein was a brilliant, complex genius. I love his music. I love his commitment to his art—the way he dared to simultaneously pursue classical music and writing for Broadway; the way he remained true to his faith, writing Hebrew music for not just Jewish, but all audiences. I love that he was deeply committed to civil rights.  I love that he was a messy and complicated person, like me, wrestling with the Big Questions.

Leading up to the Bernstein Centennial, I was compelled to learn more about man who grew up not far from me, was trained at Tanglewood (a place I consider personally sacred, my happy place), and taught at the university I now teach at. Notable in a truly remarkable life, I learned that Jackie Kennedy commissioned Bernstein to create a work for the opening of the Kennedy Center for the Arts. Bernstein was fascinated by the nation’s obsession with President Kennedy’s Catholicism. In response, he wrote a very theatrical piece, called “Mass” which led the audience through the Catholic ritual, questioning the hypocrisy of the leadership, railing against injustices and abuses of the church, and ultimately coming to a place of hope that God is still God–and is in fact Love and is in fact Good–despite the Church.

Bernstein wrote this powerful piece almost 50 years ago. The struggling against the church (Catholicism, Judaism…) is not new. We are not the first, and we likely won’t be the last to push against all the places where the very human rubs against the holy sacred.  That doesn’t make the current day any less heavy to bear. It is somehow comforting, though, to know that others have gone on before us, and held up their weights. We stand on shoulders of giants—or at least steadfast heroes.

So, no, I am not really any closer to returning to the Catholic church. However, I know that I am not done wrestling with the Big Questions. I haven’t given up hope, yet.

In the end, I have to say, “No, I’m not done, yet.”

 

 

A Challenge for September: Infuse Your Day with Sacramentals

 

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One thing Kristen and I have shared from the beginning of our writing journey has been a deep faith in God, independent of formal religion. I’ve been particularly grateful for that as the latest wave of sex abuse scandals have rocked my church yet again, and it’s increasingly difficult to know how to proceed as an individual and as a family (I discussed that here).

Kristen’s recent piece on blueberries and granite got me thinking more about sacramentals. Sacramentals within the Roman Catholic Church have a pretty strict definition and intent. There are lots of rules (for example, a sacramental is an object or action blessed by a priest, believed to be backed by the prayers of all the faithful, intended to bring the user closer to God, for starters).

That is not what I’m talking about here.

I’d like to challenge you—and myself—to take a look this month at the objects, prayers, and rituals we use in our own lives to bring ourselves closer to God, particularly in light of the fact that some of us are more suspicious than ever of a traditional patriarchal structure. My husband pointed out recently that faith is in God, while trust is in human beings. So if we’ve lost some of that trust, what can we do on our own to uphold our faith?

The words said during Catholic baptisms come to mind here: “Just as Jesus was anointed priest, prophet, and king, so may you live always as a member of his body sharing everlasting life.” So how are we living as priests, prophets, and kings (or maybe queens) in our own lives?

I love Kristen’s practice of finding stones to finger in her pocket as she walks, or paying prayerful attention to the plunk of blueberries in a bucket.

I still enjoy saying a good old-fashioned rosary myself. The beads and rhythm are comforting, and I like using one that belonged to my mom or dad. There is connection there. But I also like to hold a stone that a dear friend brought back from Jerusalem, imagining Christ walking by it, kicking up dust. I like lighting a candle before I pen letters to loved ones, focusing on the light, praying for the recipient. I like walking under the moon, knowing that countless saints and sinners alike, in every corner of the globe, through every age, have looked on the exact same glowing face. Talk about being one family.

I offer no rules, and only one suggestion: try to focus on things that draw your attention to the Almighty, rather than drawing your attention to the object or process itself. (It’s easy for ritual to become an end in itself.)

Does this sound a little heretical? I sincerely hope not. That’s not my intent. It’s just a result of a soul still wanting to reach for God while standing in the muck.

Today happens to be my youngest daughter’s Baptism Day anniversary, and she asked if I’d bake her favorite cookies. The smell is wafting to heaven, chocolate incense carrying prayers of gratitude for her own status as priest, prophet, and princess.

 

 

Labor Day Meditations on the Hard Work of Living

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Mary and I had been discussing a Labor Day post. She was thinking about transitions. I was thinking about how, as a career educator and perpetual student, that this, the beginning of the academic calendar, is my New Year’s Eve. I’m not really going to write about either of those things, now, though, because my dear friend Bob is in the hospital, and I find I am compelled to write about the hard work of living.

Bob and I have been friends for over thirty years. In this age of disposable relationships, that is remarkable enough. When you realize that Bob was born with large VSD back before today’s effective treatments were developed, and wasn’t expected to live past infancy, you recognize that being Bob’s friend at all is a miracle.

Bob is a testament to the power of a positive outlook and unshakeable faith. His brightly colored wardrobe, that cackle of a laugh, and his obvious delight in everyday living makes him memorable.  Meet him once and you will never forget him.  It is impossible to stay down when you are spending time with Bob. (Although you may be embarrassed to eat out with him, because his enjoyment of a meal borders on the obscene.)

My children love Bob like an eccentric uncle. So, it did not surprise me at all when my youngest son made sure he was invited for the tie dye party he was having with some of his friends this Saturday. As an aging hippie, making tie dyes is one of Bob’s favorite things to do. It was a fun, messy time, followed by homemade pizza. It was a great way to spend Saturday night. Until it wasn’t.

Very calmly, Bob asked me to call for an ambulance. I was frightened by the sudden decline in my friend—even more so when an EMT announced that his blood oxygen level had dropped to 64. For those of you who don’t know, as I did not until Saturday night, humans typically have 90-100% oxygen saturation of their blood. When it drops below 90% it is considered low, requiring some attention. At 64%, people are typically unconscious—or already dead. Bob, well, he was still walking—albeit slowly—and talking–mostly coherently–to the EMTs. He’s confounding, my dear friend, but he was dangerously ill. So off we go, first to the local community hospital, where he continued to confound medical professionals, and then into another ambulance to send him to his team of specialists at a World Renowned Hospital in Boston.

While I’ve been fretting and praying for my friend, I had the realization of how much hard work it takes Bob to keep going each day. To a great degree, I have been fooled by Bob’s amazing outlook and joie de vivre. I mean, I have always known that he is greatly challenged by his heart defect (and the complications that have arisen after over fifty five years of treating it). I just never realized how much of a challenge it really was for him to get through his days. Yes, even though we’ve talked about it, often. Dang, but his life is really, really hard work.

He’s told me many times,  though, that it’s not so bad, because he just enjoys his life so much. He does, too. I mean, sure, he complains about housework, and paying bills, and all the same things that we all complain about. At the same time, he understands how precious it is to even be around to be able to complain about these things. This guy knows how to appreciate his life. Every meal is delightful. Every band is great. Every truck or motorcycle he sees is awesome. Every person he meets tickles him. He doesn’t find living to be hard work, because he loves it so much.

This Labor Day weekend, as I reflect on work and play, productivity and rest, I find that I keep coming back to Bob and the lesson he teaches me over and over again. Perhaps this time I will finally master it:

Living is hard work, but it is all joy when you love it.

Whatever you labor at, I pray that you come to appreciate it, find the joy in it, and ultimately learn to love it.

 

Meeting the Challenge: Sit Down & Read

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From Mary:

A few weeks ago I accepted Kristen’s challenge to read this month. I confessed that it’s actually more difficult to find the time to read when the kids haven’t started school yet (and they still haven’t), and I mused that I would have to set an alarm and get up early to find quiet time to read.

HAHAHAHAHAHA!

Oh! Whew. Sometimes I slay myself. I love sleep. And while I did get up early some days, it was to get out and hike a bit while the world was quiet. It’s much more difficult to fall back asleep when I’m hiking than when I’m reading.

I did, however, carve out some time during the day—not every day, but most days. In many homes, mine included, there is no end to what could be done. There is always cleaning, organizing, meal prep—there is no point at which everything is finished and I look around bored, wondering what to do. (Perhaps this changes when all the kids are independent? I’ll let you know when I get there.) Thanks to Kristen, I forced myself to reevaluate what absolutely had to be done, and what could wait for 30 more minutes while I grabbed a book and took a break.

I’m so glad I did. I reconnected with some old friends, including tracking down a book that made its mark when I was young, but I had nothing more to go on than “I think it’s about the world ending or something…there’s a boy in it, unless it was maybe a girl…at one point he (or maybe she) sees a cow.” The internet really can be a useful tool.

I also made some new friends, including a lovely and horrifying little graphic novel that I thought would be for kids but definitely is not. I’m currently in the middle of The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell, a book that’s been on my wish list for years and I’m finally making time to read. (Russell is the keynote speaker at the conference Kristen and I will be speaking at in November.) So far it is engrossing, and I find myself mulling over its mysteries at all times of the day—nothing makes my brain happier.

From Kristen: Yes! I love that feeling when a book really consumes me, even when I am not reading it.

As I was laying down this challenge, I knew I was doomed to fail. I returned to teaching in the first week of August, and I began two summer graduate courses. I did not have nearly as much free reading time as I had in July. That was partly why I wanted to take on this challenge.  I wanted to push myself to read. It was more of a struggle than I expected, though. Like Mary, I REALLY had to work at carving out any time for reading (that wasn’t for my coursework. I read hundreds of journal articles this past month!) Beyond that, though, I realize now that I also just frittered away good hours of reading time mindlessly scrolling through screens.

Still, I did have a summer romance with books. I made regular trips to my local library. It is such a beautiful space, staffed by delightful women–many of whom I know, because it is a small town–and it is a real treasure trove of resources. To preprare for this coming school year, I reread many of my favorite children’s books, and over all, they stand up to the test of time. I am especially smitten with Pippi Longstocking. I’ve been reading the book to my preschool class. Their obvious delight with the ridiculous adventures of the young Swedish orphan makes me love the book even more.

I had a quick little fling with an old flame, Stephen King. When my daughter was born, my long-time love affair with Stephen King soured. I simply didn’t get the same thrill from being scared anymore. Being a first-time parent was terrifying enough. About ten years ago, I started reading King’s writings about baseball, and on the craft of writing, and other non-scary subjects. Mary loves horror stories, and talking about that with her rekindled an old passion. Coincidentally, a friend gifted a group of us Library Book Sale copies of Richard Bachman’s (Stephen King) Thinner to read for our poorly organized (but the snacks cannot be beat!) “Book Club.” What a great romp that book was!

I have several other books started, but not yet finished. I have piles of books all over the house that I haven’t yet begun. The month is over, and I am disappointed in myself. I am disheartened by my time-and-brain-sucking screen habit. I want to do something about that.

On a bright note, though, I remembered how much I love talking about books with people. So, I want to keep reading, just so I can talk to Mary about what I’ve read.

 

 

Are We Done Here?

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Are We Done Here?

I have spent much of the last week nauseous over the revelations of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury’s report on sexual abuse in several Catholic dioceses. If you have somehow missed the news, the report revealed credible accusations against 300 priests and bishops, detailing either direct abuse or the cover-up of the abuse of over 1,000 children over the course of decades.

You can read the full report here . Warning: the report is detailed. I tried to only scan the appendix of the accused for names, but mixed in with the names are descriptions of their alleged actions. I could read only a little, and it gave me nightmares. Several times over the past week, my husband walked into the room to find me crying and shaking because I’d tried to read more. The things these children suffered are unspeakable, and I have begun praying daily for whatever healing they may be able to experience. They are first and foremost in my mind.

This of course isn’t the first time sexual abuse by Catholic clergy has been made public. I will make a confession here: When the abuse scandal in Boston broke decades ago, I was still able to fool myself into thinking it was a Boston issue. I felt for the victims, I prayed for healing, but it felt isolated. I allowed myself to believe that local conditions had allowed a vein of abuse to fester in an otherwise healthy organism. I can only beg forgiveness from all the victims for being so blind.

The Grand Jury report is only the latest from the last few years. It came on the heels of the scandal involving Cardinal McCarrick, and not long after reports from Chile, Australia, Ireland. It’s clear now that this is an ongoing systemic problem, and what’s worse, it’s been known, documented, and hidden.

The question now for many of us is, are we done here?

The Church, in an effort to save its own reputation, willfully put the youngest and most vulnerable of its flock in danger, in the direct path of its own predators.

While denying the Eucharist to the divorced and remarried, and denying LGBTQ members the ability to marry at all, some of its clerics sexually abused young children and used the fear of God to keep them quiet.

Are we done here?

While telling women they were unfit for ordination, even in the deaconate, its old boys’ club was covering up we-don’t-know-how-many illegitimate children fathered by priests by telling the mothers to abort their babies, a sin that would exclude them from the Eucharist until they confess it to—you guessed it—a priest.

Some laity are calling for the resignation of US Bishops (all bishops in Chile offered resignations after the abuse scandal there as a public act of repentance; the pope only accepted a few of them), while the pope is calling for the laity to pray and fast in an uncharacteristically tone-deaf letter to the faithful (http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/it/bollettino/pubblico/2018/08/20/0578/01246.html#ingl).

Are we done here?

This is a painful question for many of us. I can only speak for myself, but I am a cradle Catholic. My Catholic identity has always been a large part of who I am, and the church has been a place I felt I could turn for guidance, reconciliation, and hope. I still believe the Creed we recite at Mass, even as my faith in the leadership of the church has disappeared.  I also still have young children at home. The thought of raising them outside the church, without the sacraments, the community, the tradition and art and music, saddens me. It was a legacy I’d hoped to pass on, deeper and wider than ancestral heritage.

On the other hand, I know my children are watching. The homily on the Feast of the Assumption, the morning after the Grand Jury report was released, centered on the hurt caused by the church countered by the hope and healing we can receive from God. I was relieved and grateful that our pastor addressed the issue head-on (our parish, from what I can see, is vibrant and healthy, led by a priest who is outspokenly sickened and angered by the abuse and its coverup). On the way home I had a brief discussion with my youngest two about priests who had done some very bad things, and about how they should never do something they know is wrong no matter who asks it of them—priest, police, teacher, anyone. When they are older they will understand more of what is happening today, and they will know what I did or didn’t do to keep them safe, and what I did or didn’t do to lead them to God despite it all.

I still don’t know yet if we’re done here. My husband and I continue to grapple, pray, discuss. We did not take the family to Mass this past Sunday—the first time we have ever elected not to go for reasons other than illness or travel. We read the readings together instead (well, my husband did—it was the Bread of Life discourse and I had to hide my face and cry). We will be taking the donation from last Sunday and sending it to SNAP—the Survivors’ Network of those Abused by Priests. More information can be found at www.snapnetwork.org. We will not be sending another dime to the Bishops’ Annual Appeal, ever. For however long it takes us to decide, we will give our weekly donations to local charities usually funded by our parish—we don’t want local outreach to suffer because of the sins of the shepherds.

But that doesn’t settle what we’ll do with and for our children. Bible reading around the dinner table is lovely, but not a substitute for the Eucharist. I’ve been driving around all week with the registration form and check for religious education in my car, unable to bring myself to turn it in (it’s due this Friday). The youngest still turn to us first for answers, and we have none to give.

Suggestions are welcome.

Lord, have mercy.

I just don’t know if we’re done here.

 

 

 

 

 

Granite & Blueberry Beads

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Photo by Kristen Allen

     Growing up Catholic, I belonged to a parish that did not put a lot of emphasis on the Rosary. I was taught the prayers, of course, and I knew that some of the old women sat in the back of the church with their beads clicking. It was just not a ritual that was impressed upon me. When I left the Catholic church in my early twenties, I became a member of a non-denominational, Evangelical, Pentecostal congregation. Rote prayers and such rituals were actively discouraged, mocked, even.

Then I was taken in by the Church Ladies. This was a group of women that ran the food pantries in my city’s churches. With the exception of the three sisters from Georgia who were leaders in our community’s predominately black Baptist church, and the world-traveling retiree from the Episcopal church, the Church Ladies hailed from the city’s Catholic parishes. I came to know these women through my work in a local social service agency. Over the years, I have joined them (and their congregations) for special prayer services, holiday craft fairs, concerts, weddings, and funerals. Over countless cups of tea and slices of cake, through sharing our stories and rituals, they persisted in cutting through our professional boundaries to develop personal relationships with me.  They have made me a better woman.

The retired Catholic-school PE Teacher that ran one of the larger pantries in the city with the ferocity of a winning coach also organized her parish’s annual retreat. Every fall she invited me to come with her. Every fall I politely declined. Then there was the autumn that every adult member of my mama’s side of the family was hospitalized, one after another. That year, I accepted the invitation. It was in that peaceful chapel in a forest surrounding a tiny bay on Cape Cod, that I joined a group of women for the Sorrowful Mysteries with borrowed rosary beads. I struggled to remember some of the prayers, but was buoyed by the murmurings of the women around me, as the stars rose in the sky through the floor-to-ceiling windows behind the altar.

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Photo by Kristen Allen

When it was over, the eight or ten of us said our goodnights and split up for our rooms. I didn’t feel like I had experienced anything, well, spiritually impactful, as I often felt when leaving a prayer service from my Pentecostal days or even from my childhood youth group days.  I remember that I was disappointed at that. I sorely wanted the experience to be powerful and transformative.

I did not pick up a rosary again until years later during my second trip to Rwanda, where two of my fellow travelers, devout Catholics, both, convinced our tour leader to make a “slight side trip” (read that as  several hours out of our way through difficult, though stunning,  mountainous terrain) to the Shrine of Our Lady of Sorrows in Kibeho.   I have been a long-time skeptic of Marian visitations. Regardless of what I believe (or don’t), this is one of the few places of claimed Marian Visitations in the world that Vatican officials have deemed authentic.

In any event, I was profoundly moved by my day spent there. The stories of the visionaries’ experiences are chilling and compelling. The visitations (between 1981-1983) predicted the Rwandan Genocide of 1994 with horrifying detail. Among the admonitions the “Mother of the Word” was said to give the visionaries was to pray the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows  .  In the primitive gift shop at the Shrine, I purchased a set of these special beads—beautifully  handcrafted out of jacaranda wood–for a nun who is a dear friend. On impulse, I picked up another set for myself, as a remembrance of my day spent in this place.

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Photo by Kristen Allen

     It is now five years later. The set of rosary beads I got at that retreat center, and the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows I got in Kibeho sit together, unused, in a drawer in my bedside stand. Recently, though,  ongoing conversations with friends who do practice praying the Rosary regularly, have me in a place where I now find myself  thinking about a variety of meditation practices, about Mary, and about the Rosary.

I’ve caught myself collecting 10 small stones on my regular hikes along the river, tiny beads of granite that I finger in my pocket as I move through the familiar trail, thinking through the problems—the mysteries– of my day. I’ve taken to reciting under my breath decades of Hail Mary’s while rubbing a restless preschooler’s back to sleep during rest time. Then just last week, when my stress level peaked and worry threatened to drown me, I fled to my garden, where I hoped the ordinary, mindless task of pulling weeds and picking produce would calm me. Getting scratched by the prickly cucumbers was a tactile representation of what I was feeling in my mind.  Balancing the sheer volume of ripened tomatoes was too overwhelming for me to manage, and I left a trail of tomatoes from the yard to the kitchen. It wasn’t until I got into the blueberry bushes, with the steady “Plunk! Plunk! Plunk!” of the berries, one at a time hitting my bucket, that I began get any relief. The feel of the little round berries in my fingers, the repetitious sound they made as they collected, was a prayer repeated again and again. And just like that, I found a bit of peace.

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Photo by Kristen Allen

We’re Going to Need a Minute

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I’m from Massachusetts. I grew up in the Diocese of Boston, and when the Boston Globe broke the Church Sex Abuse Scandal story in the 90s, it hit close to home. Almost thirty years later, this week’s news out of Pennsylvania is a gut punch.

Like anyone who writes about matters of faith–particularly folks like Mary and me writing from a Catholic lens angle–we will surely have some response.  Today is not the day, though.

Today we will weep and pray with and for the victims, known and unknown.

Let us catch our breath.