The Liturgy of Anger and Tears

Day of Reflection

by Sandi Digras, Communications Chair

On Tuesday October 16, 2018, more than 50 CWL members from Councils across the Diocese met at Trinity Catholic to listen, share, sing and pray for those who suffered sexual abuse at the hands of priests and Bishops, and for those clergy who needed our prayers and forgiveness.

As our President Christa Grillmair said in her opening “Our Church is being inundated with sexual abuse allegations. It is reported on TV, through social media, and in our parishes. We are people of hope even in the midst of darkness. Hopefully our time together will help to loosen the ties that bind us and will set us free as we reflect and try to understand.”

Pat Darling, Fr. Alfredo and I worked together to compose a beautifully touching liturgy that opened with each person taking a stone to hold in their hand. 

The opening hymn, God gives his people strength, set the tone.

The Leader started by saying, “Our Church finds itself wracked with pain: the pain of the people who the Church has forsaken, and the pain of the priests seeing the suffering inflicted by people they knew as brothers. The pain of those who haven’t yet been able to tell what has happened to them and the pain of those falsely accused.” Throughout the first part of the Liturgy this pain was prayed for and reflected upon. Leaders took turns reading and reflecting on those words of blame and anger, then on words of forgiveness and love.

Scripture readings from Job and Luke 1:52–53 helped to focus God’s message of his love and forgiveness. The Lord hears the cry of the poor was sung to renew this hope and trust.

The Litany of Repentance started with how Church leaders turned darkness into light, and love into hate. Then the litany moved to forgiveness and renewal. 

We were asked to bring the rough stone we had in our hands as a symbol of the sadness, guilt, and shame we might hold inside and put it at the foot of a cross. By this action and the witnesses of many who admitted to personal abuse, abuse done by trusted Pastors, friends, or family, the stones and the guilt and sadness represented by the stone were to be given to God to heal. 

During our singing of the beautiful hymn I need you to listen by Marty Haugen, we were asked to reflect on this sadness.

Christ be our light was sung to close this wonderful, moving Liturgy before we broke for lunch and Mass.

Everyone I spoke to felt a sense of warmth and relief. The witnesses were glad to let go of their heavy hearts, and start to heal.  

It is hoped this Liturgy is shared in all Councils and that members and parishioners are invited to share the healing message. 

Access the Liturgy