Sunday, April 4, 2010

On the way to the resurrection

Alleluia! Christos anesti!

The words ring across the world with excitement, joy, wonder and exuberance. The dark days of lent and the darkest ones of Good Friday are over and the world rejoices in the return of the Sonlight. Austerity now gives way to celebration, penance to rejoicing. The church will celebrate Easter for two more weeks while Christians will celebrate it every Sunday throughout the year. The world -- well, it will continue on its path.

One thing that I take away from Lent and Holy Week, even if I don't "do" Lent in the way many others do, is that the end of Lent at the base of the cross, doesn't mean I can breathe easy come Easter morning. If I've done it right, Lent has taken me through a personal inventory, a checkup of my spiritual health as well as where I am on my spiritual journey. I know many devotionals encourage me to walk in Jesus' footsteps -- living simply, serving widely, loving unstintingly -- but they also encourage me to see myself as a reason Jesus went to the cross. The most shocking one (that still sends shivers down my spine) is that I "crucify Jesus every day all over again" because of my sins. I really have trouble with that one.

If I do crucify Jesus, or even if I only make Jesus (and God) sad because I have missed the mark in so many ways, I am supposed to learn from those errors, not dwelling on them ad nauseum and wear a hair shirt for years for each sin but enough to reflect on them, learn from them, acknowledge them and, when it will not hurt me or others, make amends. That learning and acknowlegement doesn't stop on Holy Saturday night at 11:59 pm but should go on through Easter and beyond.

Which brings me to the Roman Catholic Church and the abuse by their clerics of innocents. Instead of looking inward, learning, acknowledging and making amends, the RCC and the Pope seem to be trying to bluster their way past the whole thing and blame others for calling them to repentance and justice. They tried to sweep it under the rug years ago when the scandals in Boston and other places in the US were reported and it didn't work. They blustered their way through it while trying to maintain their holy image. Now, more and more, reports from around the world of abuse by priests who were never reprimanded as severely as they should have been and who were quietly moved to other, usually unsuspecting, parishes and dioceses to begin the cycle of abuse, exploitation and then quiet removal all over again. I would be willing to bet that for every reported case of clerical abuse ther are probably at least 50 - 100 who have never come forward out of shame, disgust or disillusionment. I sometimes wonder how faithful Roman Catholics maintain their faith in an organization as flawed and which seems to defy practicing what they preach -- repent, confess, make reparation.

On the way to the resurrection this Easter morning, the RCC has forgotten the road they themselves have insisted others follow: if they fall into sin, repent and return to the right path. The very hands that lift the body of the Lord and bless the cup of his blood bear blood of their own, the blood of the innocents they have sacrificed to their pederasty and their collegiality. They have sought to point fingers at homosexuals, at the press, at disillusioned Roman Catholics and claim they, the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church on Earth, created by Jesus and blessed by God and the Blessed Mother, are persecuted because of the calls for their repentance from grevious sin. The leadership of the RCC has forgotten that the path to the cross isn't easy and requires honesty and contrition, not blustering and "poor me-ism."

I'm not perfect. God knows I'm not and I am very aware of it myself, but God help me, I can't help but feel sick when I contemplate children being abused by people supposedly called by and consecrated to be servants of God and their fellow human beings. The wholesale-ness of the sin is overwhelming and the finger-pointing to deflect calls for needed repentance are nauseating.

On the way to the resurrection some of us have taken detours on the road to the cross. We've tried the easy way, the deflective way, the evasive way. Only by the grace of God do we have the audacity to proclaim the good news of the resurrection, the forgiveness of sin, the hope of eternal life. Only by the grace of God can we call ourselves to repentance and ask others to be as honest. Only by the grace of God can we leave the foot of the cross and approach the empty tomb with hope and gratitude -- and remembrance that we, as sinners, are still in need of penance and restoration, in more ways than one.

Alleluia, Christos Anesti! Alithos Anesti! Kyrie Eleison.