As the darkness of evil and corruption continues to cast its shadow on the Catholic Church today, one group of priests belonging to an ancient religious order is determined to help counter it with healing light.
The Canons Regular of St. Augustine, who have the care of the parishes of St. Patrick and the Church of St. Rocco in the Diocese of Rockville Centre, recently distributed an inspiring letter to their parishes announcing a 25-day “communal penance.”
“As a response to the horrific revelations not only of the abuse of children, but also of seminarians and priests by priests, bishops and cardinals which have surfaced,” the letter begins, “we Canons have decided to undertake a communal penance of fasting and abstinence in reparation for these sins of others. From 4 September until the Anticipatory Mass of 29 September (the Feast of the Holy Archangels), we will take only water and a modest vegetarian diet.”
Sex abuse scandal in the Church: How parishes are responding
The letter, titled “An Act of Reparation,” invites parishioners to join “in this or any other act of reparation” in response to the evils perpetrated by priests and “the horror of the sinfulness of the bishops,” which “reveals unambiguously the reality of evil in our world and in our Church.”
The four Canons, who took over the care of the Long Island parishes in 2011, also included a three-page explanation of the reasons for and the meaning of reparation.
After a rallying cry to “speak truthfully” about the Church’s sexual teachings and a biblical excursus into the fall of King David in the 11th and 12th chapters of 2 Samuel, the letter explores the importance of penance in combating evil:
By voluntarily offering acts of penance—our spiritual worship in union with Christ—we are empowered to fight our powerlessness by our decision to do something, no matter how small it may seem by comparison to the evil we are fighting. How small was Frodo compared to mighty Sauron! How small is the mustard seed that grows into the tree where birds nest and give life (Mt. 13:31-32)! Shall we not have faith of a mustard seed that can move mountains (Mt. 17:20)? Yes, little acts of self-denial do not make up for the evil wrought and pain endured, but they restore and heal through trust that the good God “will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, [for] the old order has passed away (Rv. 21:4).” The old order must pass away, and we can help!…With the help of the Archangels, we will carry out this reparation. Freely renouncing the pleasure of good food and drink, we live on God’s strength (St. Gabriel, “power of God”), to more and more reveal our image and likeness to God (St. Michael, “who is like God?”) so that this reparation will bring God’s healing (St. Raphael, “the remedy of God”) to the suffering Mystical Body of Christ—to all the victims of the abuse of the clergy in specific cases as well as the general harm inflicted upon the whole Church.
What is reparation? And why is it my best response to evil?
Shortly after the conclusion of the penance, the parishes are launching a previously planned commemoration of their Adoration Chapel’s 20th anniversary, which includes a 40 Hours devotion of thanksgiving, a rededication of the Chapel, and the communal effort to return to 24-7 Perpetual Adoration.
40 Hours Devotion: Spending personal time with the Lord