“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
Some days, the wound of loss re-opens. Today was one of those days for me.
I felt, and still feel, great loss today. I feel it on two different fronts. The first is in the loss of my friend. The second is in the Church in which I belong and in which I lead.
Even though almost five years has passed since my friend passed away, the pain today feels as great as it did that horrible day so many years ago.
I spent valuable time with her family earlier, none of which was not worth the pain that I presently feel. In fact, I cannot imagine what they feel, and have felt, all these days since she took her last breath. Several experiences of the heart brought the memories back, some of which were clearer and more painful than ever.
You see, this friend was also my mentor, my boss, my leader. And I miss her.
In these recent days when the Catholic Church is exposed for some of its sins, and when the call for the laity to regain its voice in the spirit of renewal, one of its leaders is no longer here.
I miss her bold leadership. I miss her spirit that drew the attention of a room. I miss her wisdom and her experience that I still need as I grow in my leadership.
As I discern my place as a Catholic, I ask questions. One of those questions is why? Why remain in a Church that is so imperfect, a Church that as an institution has hurt so many innocent people.
I am inspired by the wisdom figures who remind me of the difference between those in charge and those in the pews and on the ground. I am reminded of the hope and the good that the Church does, often not front and center, but in the moments of crisis and on the margins.
I am motivated to be as dedicated as Dorothy Day. I am inspired to love the poor as Blessed Frederic Ozanam. And I am hopeful that I can make an impact on the lives of others as my dearly departed friend did with her one, precious life.
You see, I not only mourn her loss, but I mourn with and for the thousand victims in just a few dioceses which is likely just the tip of the iceberg (hundreds of calls have already been made to a hotline in the days following this report).
I also mourn the outcry this day in response to a Jesuit priest, Fr Jim Martin, pleading at an international meeting this morning in Dublin to build bridges with the LGBTQI family, instead of damning them.
I see and I feel the hurt of the wounds that I possess, united with the wounds of my brothers and sisters. I do not know the depth of their wounds, or what it even feels like, but I accompany them on the journey as they accompany me.
There are good priests who live their vocation to minister as Jesus did. I am blessed to know many of them. There are good religious brothers, and sisters, and laity, like my dear friend, who lived and continue to live as the hands and feet of Jesus. I am grateful for their example.
As I mourn the wounds of this day, including the loss of respect for those entrusted with great power and responsibility within the Church that I truly do love, it is here where my dear friend meets me and leads me once more.
In the depth of my heart, I feel her gentle nudge to do what she did which was to love tenderly, to act justly, and to walk humbly with her God.
You see, the wounds of this day I now realize are simply cracks to let God’s light shine a little brighter. They remind me of the call to bring unconditional love to the bearers of wounds, offering a healing and gentle presence that is of and from our merciful and loving creator.
In this divided, hurting, and at times disappointing world, may we together be instruments of God’s peace and love. If we can do this, then my friends, we not only become the healer, but we become healed.
Join me in this mission of love, this commitment to bring peace, and this opportunity to be the leaders that this world so desperately needs.