Teach + Lament

bis rests teach + lament

How long, O Lord, must your people suffer?
How far can a Church bend before it breaks?
How much more can we take?

I am angry at the men who have made my job as a Theology teacher and my life as a Catholic so much more incredibly difficult.
Who can really blame those who choose to walk away? It often feels like that would be easier.
I would spend less time defending Your Bride and more time just with You.

And then I come before you in the Blessed Sacrament.
And I see You like this, radiant and arms outstretched,
As if to embrace me as I cry out to You.
And then I receive You on my tongue, and You dwell in me,
And I am sustained.

And then I think of the good priests I’ve known and encountered.
The ones who were vessels of mercy in the moments when I felt the most unforgivable,
The ones who reaffirmed Your love for me in the moments when I felt utterly unlovable,
The ones who told me to pray for my enemies when I wanted to choose hate
And to pray for my loved ones when I didn’t want to love them,
The ones who spoke truth to me when I was so convinced of society’s lies,
The ones who have given up their lives and possessions, their vanity and pride,
Just to be the shepherd of wandering sheep like me.

I believe in the priesthood still,
Even at times like this when I really don’t feel like it,
When I don’t want to,
When it would be easier not to.
In the midst of confusion and trial,
Of abuse and utter heinous sin,
You are still good.
You are still God.
You are so much greater than humanity’s twisted minds and susceptible hearts.

Those in the Church have failed us,
But the Church can never fail us.
Those in the Church are not immune to Satan’s influence. To evil.
Satan works from the inside out,
From inside the walls we assume keep evil out.
So much needs to be done still.
So much needs to happen.
And I grow tired of waiting.

But I will still come here and sit with You
And gaze at You as You gaze at me.
I will still show up on Sunday even when I am unconvinced, or tired, or angry.
Where else could I go?
You have the words of everlasting life.

In the stillness, I hear Him say to me:
My heart is bleeding with yours.
My eyes are wet with tears.
I have cried and cried for my people,
For the misuse and abuse of the gift of free will,
For the sickness and contortion of the mind and soul,
For my beloved wounded sons and daughters.
I will wrap the world in my embrace and heal it,
If only she wants to be healed.
A mother cannot clean the wound of a child that will not be still and allow the healing to begin.
A father cannot comfort the heartbreak of his daughter if she will not open the door when he knocks.
Just be still now, and I will do the rest.

A Catholic School Teacher’s Response to the Catholic Clergy Abuse, by Jenna Violi

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Trials and tribulations offer us a chance to make reparation for our past faults and sins. On such occasions the Lord comes to us like a physician to heal the wounds left by our sins. Tribulation is the divine medicine.

St. Augustine

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Original poem by Jenna Violi. She is a Theology teacher and retreat coordinator at a Catholic school in suburban Philadelphia. She spends her free time singing at Mass, writing music, teaching herself guitar, drinking coffee, and looking at pictures of corgis. You can find out more about her here

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