When the painful news about the Catholic clergy abuse crisis broke this summer, I experienced a lot of emotions, especially anger, sadness, frustration, and pain. Our Church has been deeply wounded, and it is so excruciating to see her hurting so deeply. Most of us have felt called to do more to ensure that the abuse and cover ups stop. You can read more about several practical, concrete ideas here.
But in this post, we are going to take a moment to step back from “doing” to focus on “being” with Jesus in prayer. Let’s go sit at the feet of Jesus with Mary, while Martha keeps working.
Letting the Lord Illuminate Our Darkness
Have you taken time to be with Jesus in this mess? His Heart is hurting with you. His anger is burning with you. His tears are flowing with you.
Jesus feels the depths of the human pain that we are feeling. He instituted the priesthood knowing that the Apostles were weak. He knew Judas would betray Him. He knew Peter would deny Him. He knew that most of them would run away, hiding in fear.
But we also know that in times of darkness, Jesus and Mary are able to more clearly. We must ask Jesus (the Light of the world) and Mary (the Star of the Sea) to help us to see as they see. Can we receive their simple words of truth and hope?
Scripture Verses to Lean on During Times of Scandal
During your prayer time, imagine Jesus or Mary speaking these Scripture verses to you.
“We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” -Romans 8:28
“My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” – Psalm 62:1-2
“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.” -Psalm 127: 1
“I will hope in Him.” –Lamentations 3:24
“Come, let us rebuild.” –Nehemiah 2:17
“The Lord will fight for you, you only have to keep still.” –Exodus 14:14
“I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Now I am healing you.” -2 Kings 20:5
“In the tender compassion of our Lord, The dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness, And the shadow of death, And to guide our feet into the way of peace.” -Luke 1:78-79
“Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness; rather expose them, for it is shameful even to mention the things done by them in secret; but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light.” -Eph 5:12-14
The Seven Penitential Psalms
Another way to pray with Scripture during this time of scandal is the ancient tradition of praying the Seven Penitential Psalms: Psalms 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, and 143. You can print a booklet of these Psalms here. Here are a few of the Penitential Psalms.
Lord, do not reprove me in your anger;
punish me not, in your rage.
Have mercy on me, Lord, I have no strength;
Lord, heal me, my body is racked;
my soul is racked with pain.
But you, O Lord … how long?
Return, Lord, rescue my soul.
Save me in your merciful love;
for in death no one remembers you;
from the grave, who can give you praise?
I am exhausted with my groaning;
every night I drench my pillow with tears;
I bedew my bed with weeping.
My eye wastes away with grief;
I have grown old surrounded by my foes.
Leave me, all you who do evil;
for the Lord has heard my weeping.
The Lord has heard my plea;
The Lord will accept my prayer.
All my foes will retire in confusion,
foiled and suddenly confounded.
O, Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger;
do not punish me, Lord, in your rage.
Your arrows have sunk deep in me;
your hand has come down upon me.
Through your anger all my body is sick;
through my sin, there is no health in my limbs.
My guilt towers higher than my head;
it is a weight too heavy to bear.
My wounds are foul and festering,
the result of my own folly.
I am bowed and brought to my knees.
I go mourning all the day long.
All my frame burns with fever;
all my body is sick.
Spent and utterly crushed,
I cry aloud in anguish of heart.
O Lord, you know all my longing:
my groans are not hidden from you.
My heart throbs, my strength is spent;
the very light has gone from my eyes.
My friends avoid me like a leper;
those closest to me stand afar off.
Those who plot against my life lay snares;
those who seek my ruin speak of harm,
planning treachery all the day long.
But I am like the deaf who cannot hear,
like the dumb unable to speak.
I am like a man who hears nothing
in whose mouth is no defense.
I count on you, O Lord:
it is you, Lord God, who will answer.
I pray: Do not let them mock me,
those who triumph if my foot should slip.
For I am on the point of falling
and my pain is always before me.
I confess that I am guilty
and my sin fills me with dismay.
My wanton enemies are numberless
and my lying foes are many.
They repay me evil for good
and attack me for seeking what is right.
O Lord, do not forsake me!
My God, do not stay afar off!
Make haste and come to my help,
O Lord, my God, my savior!
O Lord, listen to my prayer
and let my cry for help reach you.
Do not hide your face from me
in the day of my distress.
Turn your ear towards me
and answer me quickly when I call.
For my days are vanishing like smoke,
my bones burn away like a fire.
My heart is withered like the grass,
I forget to eat my bread.
I cry with all my strength
and my skin clings to my bones.
I have become like a pelican in the wilderness,
like an owl in desolate places.
I lie awake and I moan
like some lonely bird on a roof.
All day long my foes revile me;
those who hate me use my name as a curse.
The bread I eat is ashes;
my drink is mingled with tears.
In your anger, Lord, and your fury
you have lifted me up and thrown me down.
My days are like a passing shadow
and I wither away like the grass.
But you, O Lord, will endure forever
and your name from age to age.
You will arise and have mercy on Zion:
for this is the time to have mercy.
(yes, the time appointed has come)
for your servants love her very stones,
are moved with pity even for her dust.
The nations shall fear the name of the Lord
and all the earth’s kings your glory,
when the Lord shall build up Zion again
and appear in all his glory.
Then he will turn to the prayers of the helpless;
he will not despise their prayers.
Let this be written for ages to come
that a people yet unborn may praise the Lord;
for the Lord leaned down from his sanctuary on high.
He looked down from heaven to the earth
that he might hear the groans of the prisoners
and free those condemned to die.
The sons of your servants shall dwell untroubled
and their race shall endure before you
that the name of the Lord may be proclaimed in Zion
and his praise in the heart of Jerusalem,
when peoples and kingdoms are gathered together
to pay their homage to the Lord.
He has broken my strength in mid-course;
he has shortened the days of my life.
I say to God: Do not take me away
before my days are complete,
you, whose days last from age to age.
Long ago you founded the earth
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
They will perish but you will remain.
They will all wear out like a garment.
You will change them like clothes that are changed.
But you neither change, nor have an end.
Lord, listen to my prayer:
turn your ear to my appeal.
You are faithful, you are just; give answer.
Do not call your servant to judgment
for no one is just in your sight.
The enemy pursues my soul;
he has crushed my life to the ground;
he has made me dwell in darkness
like the dead, long forgotten.
Therefore my spirit fails;
my heart is numb within me.
I remember the days that are past:
I ponder all your works.
I muse on what your hand has wrought
and to you I stretch out my hands.
Like a parched land my soul thirsts for you.
Lord, make haste and answer;
for my spirit fails within me.
Do not hide your face
lest I become like those in the grave.
In the morning let me know your love
for I put my trust in you.
Make me know the way I should walk:
to you I lift up my soul.
Rescue me, Lord, from my enemies;
I have fled to you for refuge.
Teach me to do your will
for you, O Lord, are my God.
Let your good spirit guide me
in ways that are level and smooth.
For your name’s sake, Lord, save my life;
in your justice save my soul from distress.
In your love make an end of my foes;
destroy all those who oppress me
for I am your servant, O Lord.
Finally, one last Scriptural prayer I would recommend is the Rosary. The Scriptures of each Mystery of the Rosary are a wellspring of grace for our wounded Church. With Mary as your guide, pray the Joyful Mysteries with gratitude, the Luminous Mysteries with hope, the Sorrowful Mysteries with patience, and the Glorious Mysteries with faith.
Together, let us pray for our Holy Mother Church with the Scriptures!10 Scripture Verses to Lean on During Times of Scandal #BISblog // Click To Tweet
Rose Coleman is a regular contributor to the BIS blog and a devotion writer. She is a contemplative in action who delights in all things beautiful. Her adventurous heart has traveled many places—from circumnavigating the globe on a ship during college to some years in the convent as a religious sister. Exuberant from her childhood, she is an elementary school teacher who learns so much from her students. You can find out more about her here.