Here is a review of The Stations of the Cross in Atonement for Abuse and the Healing of All by our staff member, Grace Donnelly.
Lent starts this week on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 17th. Every year, Sacred Heart Parish offers the Stations of the Cross on the Fridays of Lent. This year, in addition to the traditional stations that we have always offered, we are offering a new Liturgical Press version, “The Stations of the Cross in Atonement for Abuse and for the Healing of All” with text by Fr. Paul Turner and illustrated by Fr. Ron Raab, CSC.
This unique version of the Stations of the Cross offers a voice to victims of abuse who previously have been voiceless within the Church. Although we have previously discussed Fr. Ron’s artwork for this project in the bulletin, seeing the work alongside the text, as a whole, is quite moving. This project is one of the most genuine attempts to offer atonement and healing that I have ever seen from the Church.
“The Stations of the Cross in Atonement for Abuse and for the Healing of All invites a wounded church to contemplate the passion and death of Jesus through the experience of clerical abuse survivors. This one-of-a-kind resource is written and illustrated by priests to foster healing amidst the destruction committed by their brothers. Award-winning author and acclaimed liturgist Paul Turner pairs each of the fourteen Scripture-based stations with powerful quotes from survivors of clerical sexual abuse and responds to each with profound confessional prayer. Thought-provoking paintings by author and liturgist Ronald Patrick Raab, CSC accompany each station.
This resource will be cherished by parishes, faith-based organizations, retreat centers, prayer groups, youth groups, school and campus ministry programs, families, and individuals who yearn to honor survivors suffering with Christ and who yearn to bring this too often ignored reality to lived prayer experiences.”
However, if you find yourself saying, “I’m tired of talking about sexual abuse in the Church. Can’t we just move on?” The answer is no. The revelation of such horrific abuse in the Church is not something that we should sweep under the rug. Doing so only hurts the victims and survivors more. By “moving on” or pretending that it did not happen only perpetuates the problem of abuse of power and clericalism in the Church. Although it may be uncomfortable and painful to talk about sexual abuse, talking about it brings it out of the shadows and into the light. Environments that operate in the darkness are the same environments where abuse thrives. When you bring something into the light, you are trying to make it whole by sharing it with others. In this case, talking about sexual abuse during the Stations of the Cross is a way to try to atone for the horrific things that have happened to our children by the hands of priests and Church officials and possibly provide a way for healing.
As the parish’s Safe Environment Coordinator, it saddens me when parishioners get angry when we talk about the abuse in the Church or when volunteers roll their eyes when I ask them to complete another Safe Environment training. By continuously talking and educating on the warning signs of abuse, we keep the dialogue open to prevent sexual abuse at our parish. We also make it clear that our parish will not tolerate or perpetuate this type of behavior towards anyone, especially our children. Although talking about abuse is hard, it ensures that our parish doesn’t operate in darkness where abusive environments thrive.
Although talking about abuse and participating in The Stations of the Cross in Atonement for Abuse and for the Healing of All does not undo the horrible things that have happened, it hopefully creates a pathway to healing. The Stations of the Cross remind us that Jesus is the ultimate redeemer and healer.
Join us at 3 pm on the Fridays during Lent for the Stations of the Cross at Sacred Heart Church. No reservations are required.
Friday February 19: Traditional version
Friday February 26: The Stations of the Cross in Atonement for Abuse and the Healing of All
Friday March 5: Traditional version
Friday March 12: The Stations of the Cross in Atonement for Abuse and the Healing of All
Friday March 19: Traditional version
Friday March 26: The Stations of the Cross in Atonement for Abuse and the Healing of All
I will post a daily reflection/homily for Lent beginning on Ash Wednesday