How do we pray amid Church scandals? One helpful way is to return to the basics: The Our Father. For this meditation, I’ll look to the various parts of the prayer in reverse order.
Deliver us from evil — Father, you alone are holy. You alone are pure. The evil within your Church overwhelms me. It is too much for me to understand, let alone overcome. Please purify your beloved Bride, beginning with my own heart.
Lead us not into temptation — There are many who will be tempted not just to abandon the clergy, but even you. Keep your flock close to you. Drive away the wolves of division, hatred, unbelief, and despair.
Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us — Father, you offer true forgiveness. You neither cover up nor condone our failings, but rather, you remove the venom of our sin and heal the wounds we inflict, uniting perfect mercy with perfect justice. Please forgive me of my own sins, but also forgive even those whom I am tempted to condemn as unforgivable. Maybe I am not yet ready to forgive them completely, but you are. Teach me to be merciful as you are merciful.
Give us this day our daily bread — There is no quick fix to this scandal. I fear it will linger and spread, even if only off and on. Please, Father, sustain us each day. Feed our souls, lest this journey of healing and correcting be too hard for us.
Thy Will be done on earth as it is in heaven — Amid scandals, I’m unsure about what the next step is. I hear the cries of those who would watch the whole thing burn. Lead me in your path. Lead your Church in your path.
Thy Kingdom come — Renew your Church. Keep her true to herself, to be your Kingdom on earth. Keep her far from any desire for earthly power or prestige—such is a pittance compared to your power and glory.
Hallowed be Thy Name — May we seek above all that your name be held holy by all peoples. May we not seek first to protect our own names, even if that means being honest and transparent about the sins of clergy or being slandered by those will mock and detest all clergy, even all Catholics.
Who art in heaven — Father, I surrender my frustration with earthly leaders, even with those inside the Church. You are our heavenly leader. You have the power to do as you will. I put my trust in you. I even trust that you will show your power through our Church leaders.
Our Father — Amid the shame and anger of these scandals, you still love us as a father cherishes his infant. Please keep me ever mindful of your love, and may this love keep your Church united, that we may truly call you: “Our Father.”
Photo by Stefan Kunze