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Will You Pray With Me This Lent?

In the face of the enormous problem of clergy abuse and cover up, it’s hard to know what any person can do that will actually make a difference. While there are no easy answers, my hope with this blog is to offer a variety of concrete actions that the average lay person can undertake for the good of the Church.


So far, I have suggested two specific actions for our little community: for Milwaukee folks, sending a letter to Archbishop Listecki in response to the Catholic Stewardship Appeal and for everyone, supporting the Archangel Foundation’s important work with abuse survivors. If you haven’t done these yet, it’s not too late! Please take a moment today to write your letter and make your donation.


(Of course, the other action that is implied throughout this blog is simply taking the time to be informed. I firmly believe that if we want to fight for our Church, we need to better understand the history, the current situation, and what can be done moving forward.)


Today, as we enter into the season of Lent, I invite you to join our next community action: offering prayer and sacrifice for the people of God.


I know that in today’s culture, it’s common to dismiss “thoughts and prayers” as just another way to avoid taking real action. But we are people of faith - people who believe in the power of our God, who is always working on the side of justice and healing. So, prayer does matter, and in the face of this rather overwhelming crisis, I believe we’re in need of God’s help more than ever.


If you’re a practicing Catholic, you have probably spent some time over the last few days ruminating on “what you’re doing for Lent.” In the Church today, we have drifted away from the practice of offering our little struggles and sacrifices to God. However, Lent is the one time of year that this idea creeps back into our communal consciousness, and there really is tremendous power in this spiritual practice. So, whatever practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving you have settled on for these 40 days of Lent, I invite you to offer those sacrifices for the healing and renewal of the Church.


This morning, I came across a reflection by the brilliant and insightful Meg Hunter-Kilmer, who presents a succinct explanation of what it means to “offer up” our sufferings:


“Offering up our suffering isn’t just Catholic code for getting over it. It’s a deeply spiritual approach to suffering by which we unite our hearts to the Lord in his suffering on the Cross. Rather than running from our own crosses, we embrace them, lifting our eyes to the Lord and telling him that we’re enduring our suffering with joy for love of him.”


In her reflection, Meg suggests a simple, earnest prayer that she uses to focus her heart when encountering suffering, large or small. I would recommend a slightly modified version of this prayer for all of us who desperately desire the healing and renewal of our Church and want to offer sacrifices for her this Lent: "My Jesus, I love you. ______ your people."


Ok, I realize there’s a gap in the prayer. I thought of many words that might fit in that space, so I invite you to choose the language that resonates most with you right now:


My Jesus, I love you. Lead your people.

My Jesus, I love you. Protect your people.

My Jesus, I love you. Heal your people.

My Jesus, I love you. Save your people.


Lead, protect, heal, or save … just choose the word that feels right to you. Then, as you make your Lenten sacrifice - when you feel a twinge of longing for that cup of coffee or when you’re mightily tempted to scroll through Instagram - I invite you to repeat that simple prayer and offer your little sacrifice for the sake of the Church, the people of God.


When you say this prayer, you might bring to mind survivors of clergy abuse, as well as their family and friends. You might picture Catholics who have recently or long ago left the Church, or those who have stayed but are struggling. You might visualize the good and holy priests who are suffering the effects of this scandal in their own lives. You might call to mind bishops - both those who are fighting to bring about positive change and those who are resisting change at every turn. You might think of Pope Francis and other prominent leaders of the Church. You might reflect on the members of your own parish or Bible study or immediate family. Truly, all of God’s people need our prayers, and I think this is the perfect time of year to begin praying and sacrificing in a more intentional way.


I will be praying this Lent. It's not the only thing, but it's something.


Will you join me?


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My Jesus, I love you. Lead your people.

My Jesus, I love you. Protect your people.

My Jesus, I love you. Heal your people.

My Jesus, I love you. Save your people.

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©2020 by Sara Larson