Be Brave

“Jesus said to the crowd:
“No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel
or sets it under a bed;
rather, he places it on a lampstand
so that those who enter may see the light.
For there is nothing hidden that will not become visible,
and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light” (Luke 8:16-18).

A constant theme of my prayer these last few weeks has been to not be discouraged. The weight of the darkness in our Church, our world, and some things for me personally sure has been heavy, sometimes seemingly too much to bear. Today’s Gospel is comforting in that all will be revealed by God. God sees. God knows. He has not abandoned us, nor will He ever. His truth reigns. God is always working for our good. Stop and let that sink in for a moment. Do you actually believe that? Do you trust God in that with all of your heart? I know I struggle sometimes to live in that truth. Some days, out of fear, I keep God at an arm’s length rather than fully letting Him in.

To the weary of heart, He sees you. He sees the efforts you are making for His Kingdom. We can trust that Jesus is who He says He is, and we are who He says we are, as well—God’s sons and daughters who have authority in His name.

We must be unafraid to be the lights on the lampstand, as tempting as it may be to hide right now. Sometimes we may think, “This is too hard, painful, difficult…” or, “I’m not good enough…” or, “I can’t make a difference…” but those are just lies! While hard, painful, and difficult do not begin to describe the excruciating tumult that is rocking our Church, and whatever personal crosses we bear, we are still a resurrection people. And God will not let our story end with pain and betrayal. What would happen if we were brave in letting God work through us? What if we dared to be attentive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in the everyday? What would happen if we radically love like Christ in everything we do? What is He calling you to?

Today’s first reading from Proverbs says, “Say not to your neighbor, ‘Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give,’ when you can give at once.” How we are needed to rise up, without fear or shame, and without delay, to authentically love one another! I have been convicted now more than ever to be a joyful witness of Christ’s love—knowing that Christ’s love takes on many forms: suffering, healing, forgiveness, boldly proclaiming truth, walking with, mourning with, and even a simple gaze of compassion. All can be an offering of love for Him; we can strive to have all we do worship our Lord. Let us go out and be vessels of hope, continually pointing others towards Christ.


Yet I will remember the covenant I made with you when you were young;
I will set up an everlasting covenant with you,
that you may remember and be covered with confusion,
and that you may be utterly silenced for shame
when I pardon you for all you have done, says the Lord GOD.
—Ezekiel 16:60–63

Today’s reading from Ezekiel reminds me of a recent video from Fr. Robert Barron, which is definitely worth a watch: Bishop Barron on Ezekiel and the Sex Abuse Crisis. Ezekiel wrote of the corruption within the holy city of Jerusalem and its cleansing through avengers from the North. Today, the “holy city” of the Church has fallen into corruption, and it too needs to be cleansed, to endure the painful siege of repentance. God will not abandon His covenant with us. But if we are to be cleansed, we must allow Him to show us the weight of our sin; we must be willing to feel our shame and sorrow.

As Aidan and Alyssa have written this week, it has been sobering to read reports of the horrific abuse that has occurred within the Church and the deep corruption that kept it hidden for years. As American Catholics, we are mourning over these unthinkable crimes and trying to figure out how we can possibly move forward through this mess.

Yesterday’s Gospel reading, which Alyssa reflected upon, spoke of forgiveness, which may seem untimely at the moment. The Gospel asks us to forgive, but often we don’t understand the meaning of true forgiveness. Forgiveness does not mean making excuses for the person who wronged you or brushing it under the rug. That’s not forgiveness; it’s denial. True forgiveness must acknowledge the sin and yet refuse to feed it. A person who forgives renounces any claim toward revenge and resists the tendency to harbor resentment. It is a daily decision, and it is not an easy one. But it is the only way that we can stop the cycle of sin and open our hearts to mercy. A truly forgiving heart is not indifferent to injustice; it is all the more deeply hurt by it, since it refuses to dehumanize either the victim or the perpetrator. It sees the tragedy of an innocent life altered irrevocably; it sees those individuals who used their God-given will for evil. And it resolves to do better.

I am reminded of the story of St. Maria Goretti and her murderer/attempted rapist, Alessandro Serenelli. Now, this is not a typical story—we should not go around assuming that all murderers and rapists will be reformed by our prayers and can be later welcomed into our families. But it is in fact what happened in the case of Alessandro Serenelli, incredible though it may seem. Though Alessandro was bitterly unrepentant for the first few years after Maria’s death, he experienced a profound conversion of heart after experiencing a vision of Maria in which she forgave him. He was moved to weep for his sins for the first time, and he began the process of true repentance. Due to Maria’s miraculous intercession (again, possible only through the grace of God and not by human means), he was completely reformed and eventually became an adopted son of Maria’s mother.

While Alessandro clung to his pride and callously denied his guilt, the seeds of sin and evil continued to fester within him. Only when he realized the depth of his sin and entered into a living purgatory of shame and regret was his heart opened to receive God’s mercy. This step was crucial: acknowledgment of wrongdoing, grief over what has been tainted and destroyed, ownership of one’s sinfulness. Unless we confront the realities of our sins and face our deepest wounds, we will never be able to receive healing. And Alessandro’s revelation of guilt—and thus his pathway to forgiveness—was made possible because of Maria’s purity and steadfast prayer.

As faithful Catholics who are shocked, saddened, and heartbroken over the recent scandals within the heart of our Church, we are called to step up and be the solution, to challenge the Church to rise up to her sacred calling. Now is the time for prayer and fasting. We will expect from the Church a higher standard, and we will start by being saints. The purification of the Church will begin with the purification of our own souls, by a deep desire for holiness and purity throughout every aspect of our lives. Jesus and Mary weep alongside us at these crimes. I’ve been encouraged by the discussion among young, faithful Catholics of the many ways in which we can carry this out, and I’ve compiled a list of resources here.

I stay with the Church because her teachings proclaim the dignity of the human person, even as some of those who represent her have trampled upon human dignity through objectification and abuse. I pray that we allow the light of truth to overcome the darkness, so that everything hidden will be exposed to the light. The truth of our own dignity and worth—and indeed that of our children—must prevail against the shadows.