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On the Road to Sunday: I pray for the restoration of the Church I love

by Cami Mann
 
Image: Hands folded in prayer resting on a bibleMy road to Sunday lately has been complicated, to say the least. On any given day, I experience myriad emotions regarding the Church. They vary from desolation, anger and grief to hope, devotion, longing and conviction.
 
I love our Church! She has cradled me during some desolate moments in my life. She has held me as I committed loved ones into the hands of God. She has sung joyfully with me as I stood and publicly proclaimed my vows to my husband and my promises during baptisms, both as a mother and godmother. I love her with a deep devotion. And right now, I stand in that love with a profoundly broken heart.
 
My long road to Sunday, which includes nearly 20 years of professional parish ministry, has helped me come to terms with the fact that while the Church is the spotless bride of Christ, she is administered by human hands. I have walked the fine line of balancing this discrepancy and, through prayer and discernment, I have come to understand that she is more than the actions, or lack thereof, of her leadership. She is eternal and we are promised that even the gates of hell will not prevail against her. She does not need the likes of me to protect or defend her. She stands on her own merit, power and glory because she is loved and cherished by love incarnate, Jesus Christ.
 
My heart breaks for those who have suffered at the hands of a grossly misappropriated use of power. My heart breaks into tiny shards because each of those who have been violated has a name, has a story. They are not a category, “victims of abuse.” They are men and women. They are members of our family, cherished friends, neighbors. They walk alongside us, if we are still lucky enough that they do so, on our roads to Sunday.
 
My heart hurts for those in leadership who, for whatever motive, felt they needed to protect her by sacrificing those she loves. And I feel a sense of compassion for those who have violated others; for I don’t lose sight that they, too, have their own story. We are not privy to that story; we are only privy to an outcome. I know the gravity of their actions. Those  actions have consequences. It is imperative that those consequences be enforced. And, as a Catholic, I also know that no one is beyond God’s redemption. So I will continue to wrestle with what it means to forgive those who have trespassed against us.
 
I am coming more and more to understand that my heart breaks in a way that only a Catholic heart can. As Catholics, we are communal by nature; we are a people, not a collective of persons. We are the mystical body of Christ. This scandal has demonstrated that we are quite capable of crucifying his body in this time and place. Our imaginations can draw the image of what it was like 2,000 years ago on that Good Friday. We need not imagine it – we are living it. But as we do so, we have the guarantee of the Resurrection. However, what we don’t know is how long we will spend in the tomb awaiting the transformation that will emerge; we go in broken, bloody, mangled and, through the grace of God, we come out transformed, restored.
 
So I await that restoration. I pray, “We adore you Christ and we praise you, for by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.”
 
 
Cami Mann is a spiritual director, writer, editor and public speaker. She and her husband, Mark, are Secular Franciscans. Contact her at cmann1897@gmail.com.