2020 marks our fifth year of publishing articles by (and for) survivors of abuse, family members, clergy, clinicians, scholars and educators, ministers and nuns.
The Solemnity of Mary, as the Mother of God, offers us a pathway into the coming year in our Church. The pathway that is a reflection of her heart, pondering everything, feeling and thinking. without denial, certainly not passively, but first and foremost centered on what is real: a broken heart whose trust is secure in God.
In this magazine we are helping each other step into a shared space of reflection and new awareness. There is no denial of the crises or the gravity of what has happened or what lies ahead. How could there be? All the Founders have suffered greatly. We are here to offer what we have found to be our rock in the suffering, that is, we stay focused on God no matter how broken our hearts.
Here, all of our writers and readers share an experience. Anyone can speak and be heard. We All listen and learn. It’s how we heal, together, and why we cannot heal fully when in solitude. This is our message. We have each other and our faith.
The Healing Voices Magazine honors the diverse approaches taken by different survivors and others who are addressing the crisis of abuse in the Church. For our part, we have chosen to create a sacred virtual space where we interact with respect and welcome.
This is how we each foster a quieted and hearing heart. This is how we take a slow-walk forward. Each week our comprehension expands and matures based on finding new insights in The Healing Voices. We ponder, and return for more.
We admittedly hit an unexpected hiatus of incoming submissions after the news of then-Cardinal McCarrick. Since then, even though Readership has grown, our writers seem still in a quiet mode. Abuse has a way of doing that – leaving us at a loss for words. Sometimes for a very long time.
And, so, together let’s ponder. Some of us are keeping ideas flowing to you. We know you’re reading – and passing the newsletter around. It’s okay. You don’t have to speak or write until you’re ready. We are here, a candle burning in the window.
It has been said every Catholic has a broken heart these days. The wounds of abuse have re-awakened in so many survivors and families. Wouldn’t it be an amazing alternative if the reform efforts were as radical and decisive as the abuse was damaging to us and to Church? The fog of the abuse needs such a light, which we have among us like nowhere else. We have the Light. We are meant to reflect the Light.
For now, it seems, such institutional mercies are not to be found broadly, but only in instances. For now, we are left to grapple with the crumbling and losses which, if you’re survivor like me, you’ve been watching since the 1980s like a slow motion cataclysm. I choose to embrace the hollow that is created In these difficult cycles, as a place for the Spirit to move and settle into my broken heart.
Come, Holy Spirit, come.
This magazine and the significant volunteer effort it requires is about attesting to the hope in the promises God has made to us. We offer our experience to encourage constructive ways to grapple with the reality of child sexual abuse and other abuses of power.
And we offer our experience for everyone Yo be free to talk about healing. As most people know from experience, the process of healing can hurt. The more dire the illness, the more likely the pain of the protocol. We must carry through to the end of treatment where most survivors of critical diagnoses will say the healing begins.
Like overcoming illness, there is an important opportunity for rediscovering each other, for relationships to recover, too. That is the hope with which Mike and Sooz and Kathy and I and others create this sacred online space.
The division within the Church weakens our capacity to suffer the past, and endure whatever needed treatment, and heal together. Division is, to this survivor looking in from the outside, based not in a failure to understand but on a choice not to learn and not be willing to see other points of view. Why? I wonder. My best guess is fear, but I find no reason to fear any truth when we have faith.
The Healing Voice lets us read in the privacy of our own corner in the world. It’s set up to make sharing articles easy for a friend in need or clergy in need of understanding. Our archive tops 300 articles now.
We Listen. We ponder. Some of you share how you react through email. A few post a comment online. In the process some, we hope, can find some portion of the peace in Mary’s broken, mother’s heart brimming with sorrow and faith.
What we receive here, together, we also share in the real-space world where we live and work and socialize and pray. How we let ourselves be transformed here – and be engaged in the fuller healing of our lives – we bring into the world, because we are in the world. It is that simple. No added effort is required.
You tell us often (thank you!) the value of our work. You say it gives you hope, and you are often someone isolated geographically or spiritually. You tell us about inspiration from seeing ways that others heal as individuals, families, and parishes.
Publishing these voices for all of us to read has been and continues to be a labor of love and an act of Incarnation, consciously bringing into words and out into the open (before a virtual community of faith) what is true, what is good, what is suffering without flinching because we have sure hope, and what is new life without hesitation because we have stories that show the treasure of faith and a relationship with God no matter how dark a season of life we have endured.
Mary with her beautiful mother’s heart is a de facto patron to our work here. She held the full suffering of her Son in her heart, and bore as quiet witness the myriad sorrows He faces, like inexplicable injustices, cruel rejections, pride, stupidity – and the unwavering call to trust God.
Mary’s was far from a passive interior life, but it is her interior life that guides some of us into our own Magnificat – that is, our own “yes” to God’s fulfillment of our respective purposes regardless of abuse and regardless of the Church not feeling like home for many Survivors and even some Catholics.
Our fifth year begins with the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. Her love is not marred by division. Her life was characterized by an ability to ponder as an act of faith within a broken heart while her Son upended settled paradigms that failed to bring people to God.
Mary has quite a reputation in the world of survivors of abuse by clergy or others in the Church. She has been solace and refuge for survivors and family members. They tell me how she has helped them feel sure of God’s presence or love, despite what condemnation or dismissal they Have heard from the institution or its media or other Catholics. Even as survivors grapple with how parents failed, Mary has been a reliable option for unconditional love and soothing care.
In my favorite post published about two years ago, readers were encouraged to have rosaries nearby, just to hold, even if you choose not to – or don’t know how to – pray them. It’s a bit like having Mary in your pocket, her hand and yours. (If you would like rosaries, please contact us here. We will send you rosaries if you are comfortable sharing a mailing address of your own or of your trusted friend.)
There is no one right way for faith to help you recover from the impact of abuse on your life, or on your relationships, or on your connection to the Church. Grace works on your nature as a unique child of God, more distinct than a crystal of snow. Your faith story is like no other, with a capacity to help others in ways no other story can.
One way to heal is to rest in the company of Mary, who was the first to ponder in her broken heart the failure of the Apostles as disciples – and the beloved one to whom her Son left his most beloved disciple and his Church for care and protection.