INTRO AND BEGINNING
THE MEMORIES OF GOD
THE MEMORIES OF THE CHURCH
THE DARK NIGHT
OUR FINAL END, MARY'S EXAMPLE
THE HOLY SPIRIT
Introduction written by Justin Bucalo
When I first met Carrie Bruvold in December of 2000, I was a 20 year old assistant youth minister working at St Thomas Aquinas Parish in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. I was introduced to her by our associate priest, Father Scott Mansfield, after a weekday mass. She was absolutely beautiful, funny, intelligent and a faithful Catholic. Everything a single Catholic man was looking for in a girl, except one thing, she was about to become a Carmelite nun! She had recently been accepted to enter the order and had only two months left until she’d leave for good and spend the rest of her life in a monastery. That being the situation, and me not wanting to be struck down by a lightning bolt of God’s jealous wrath, our relationship became only one of friendship. We had the opportunity to hang out on a couple of occasions with mutual friends and even took a mini pilgrimage to a local parish in our Archdiocese. The last time I saw her was when I attended her going away party before she left for the monastery; I had the opportunity to say my goodbyes and wish her the best of luck.
Two years later I was invited by Father Scott to help serve a mass for the Carmelite sisters in Santa Fe, followed by a breakfast and some fellowship. It would be the first time I’d seen Carrie (now sister Teresita Marie) since her going away party. Mass was beautiful, breakfast was delicious and the company of the sisters was edifying. As the nuns entered the small room I saw sister Teresita walk in with a big smile on her face and a joyful greeting, it was so good to see her and hear about life in the monastery. During the drive home I asked the padre if sister Teresita had taken a solemn profession and would be in the monastery forever, and he told me that she had one more year to take what he called “simple vows” and then five to seven more years to make “final vows.” He asked me why I wanted to know and I told him I was just curious about the whole process. What he didn’t know, nor anyone else but God, was that I was hit in the chest by Cupid’s arrow and I happened to be looking at a nun when it happened!
Talk about guilt and embarrassment; I had a crush on sister Teresita. That was when I said the most selfish, stupid and ridiculous prayer I had ever said in my entire life, I prayed:
“God, if there is any way for sister Teresita to leave the monastery before her vows and if I could marry her, I will never ask you for anything again!”
I waited for that lightning bolt to hit, but it didn’t. I figured I had a one-in-a-million chance of having my prayer answered, so I forgot about it and returned to my work at the parish.
A year and a half later, I was promoted to director of youth ministry at St. Thomas parish. I had thought about answering the call to priesthood, but I was still discerning the married life. The problem was, I couldn’t find the right girl. It was precisely at this point in time when a friend told me that sister Teresita had left the monastery and was working as a tutor in town. I immediately called her up, and I tried not to sound too excited. I asked her if she would be a catechism teacher for one of my ninth-grade CCD classes. She came in and we talked about it. A couple of weeks later she signed up as a teacher, and we were on our first date!
After a few weeks of dating, Carrie opened up and told me about her tragic past. I held her in my arms as she cried and told me she was sexually abused by her father her entire childhood. She was very upset and fearful of being hurt by another man, and I didn’t blame her. Her situation broke my heart, but it did not lessen my love for her. I promised her that day that I would always respect her, body, mind and soul, and I would protect her from harm. She had a lot of courage, because she decided to trust me, against her own fears and insecurities.
Soon we were engaged, and that’s when her cross became very heavy. She suffered from a lot of PTSD, which often took me by surprise. She got a lot of help through counseling, but she believes her greatest strength was her faith in Christ, and I would certainly agree. Whenever things became almost unbearable for the both of us, we had to rely totally on God’s help. We had many struggles and hardships during our engagement, but we turned to Christ with all our questions and difficulties. As a result, our wedding day, October 22nd, 2005, was absolutely beautiful! It was a day of incredible victory for the both of us.
I feel so honored and blessed to have Carrie as my wife. I have seen how God’s healing graces have transformed her into a confident, healed and happy wife and mother, and my life wouldn’t be the same without her. She has been a source of joy and inspiration for me and for many others. Her journey has been long and difficult, but amazingly fruitful. Christ has touched her heart and her life, and has made her whole again, and I am so honored to have been a part of it all.
Both Carrie and I feel convinced that the journey of healing Our Lord led us both on is much bigger than us. We feel like we’ve rode in on a giant wave of God’s grace and mercy, and the surf is ready for anyone else who feels the need for God’s healing and love. We have simply tried to describe the wave, the feel of the water, and the best way we stood up on our board. What we hope is that there will be something of great value hidden on the pages of this website, and even if just one person reads it and discovers that they are not alone, and gains even the slightest insight, then our work has not been in vain! With that said, Carrie and I will leave you here, on the beach of new discoveries, looking out on the ocean of God’s possibilities.
Everyone has experienced the very real and universal feeling of being hurt or wounded by people in the Church, whether we are snapped at by a grumpy usher or ignored by a busy secretary, we have all witnessed the broken and very human-side of the Church. This is how it has been from the beginning, with ‘loud-mouth’ Peter, doubting Thomas, and the rest of the gang who always fought over who was the greatest. Through the centuries there have been bad popes, false prophets, and scandalous circumstances within the Church that have threatened to tear the Church apart. What it all boils down to is that the Church is filled with “stiff-necked” sinners, where even the special seal of ordination doesn’t take away concupiscence. So what’s it all about then? If we can’t be perfectly God loving, then what is the Catholic Church for?
Well, I have heard the answer to this very difficult question in The Bible Time Line, by Jeff Cavins. I have seen it on the face of Blessed Pope John Paul II as he spoke to the American youth at the Papal youth gathering in St. Louis, Missouri, and I have held it in my arms when I gave birth to my children. Quite simply, Christ is made present, and collides into our broken, sinful, chaotic lives through the sacramental life of the Catholic Church, “God is with us,” and he loves us, even in our sinfulness.
Our faith teaches us that God can forgive any sin, and draw goodness out of the most evil situations. In order to take a look at the painful wound in the Catholic Church right now, we must face the clergy sex abuse scandal with truthfulness and with God’s redeeming love. The fact is, there are individuals who have been wounded in a very grave manner by members of the Catholic Church. Anyone with a television or an IPad has witnessed over the last decade how the Church has been under fire for some of her priests, religious, and lay ministers who have molested and sexually abused children, teenagers and other members of Christ’s flock.
This scandal has made many victims feel abandoned by Christ and the Church, and I completely understand. I myself am a victim of this scandal, and I too have been pushed beyond my limits to the fringes of my faith. Yet, there must be a way for victims to continue practicing their Catholic faith with strength and even, I might add, with joy. God is like that. What’s more, it is not a secret how God can do this. Everyone knows it, and sees it every Sunday at Mass and in every Catholic home. There are two pieces of wood, a couple nails, and a man who transformed the world. The answer is Christ crucified. And as victims of abuse we must not judge this tree only by its painful qualities, but by its fruits as well.
Through my love-hate relationship with the cross, I am finally relieved to be experiencing many of its fruits. I’ve had to face other’s and my own darkest sins. I was, and am, very weak, I cannot even begin to tell you just how weak I really am. But just like Christ promised, he is strong in my weakness. Whether I like it or not, the very human, sometimes scandalous, Catholic Church is the source of my encounter with Christ’s redeeming and healing love. And in her teachings on faith and morals, I have been saved from countless sufferings. Now looking back on it all, I’ve seen that even if by abusive actions some of her members act outside her holiness and attempt to mar her face, Christ’s bride is still beautiful.
To better explain how the heart can make such a terrifying leap from utter suffering to sheer joy, I will have to call upon the example of one of the best loved saints in the Church, St. Teresa of Avila. I had the privilege of spending three years as a cloistered Carmelite nun, and literally “at the feet” of St. Teresa. I have to admit, she knows a lot about suffering and the broken side of the Catholic Church. Her family endured a lot of turmoil during the Spanish Inquisition. Her grandfather was condemned, her father sought for ways to avoid it. Then St. Teresa’s mother died when she was only 15, leaving her and her nine other siblings without a mother. Teresa struggled much with her faith in her teenage years, but through the direction of a mentor she understood that Christ was calling her to the religious vocation. She ran away and entered Carmel, against her father’s wishes in 1535.
I would have guessed that Christ would have spared her from further suffering after she did his will and entered Carmel. But quite the opposite happened. Not long after she became a Carmelite nun she suffered tremendous physical ailments, including a coma, which her friends and family almost mistook for death, and paralysis of the legs that lasted for three years. Many practicing Catholics today would have taken all of this as a sure sign from God that his will was not being followed. But sometimes God’s goodness can be more terrifying than any of us would like to imagine.
The Carmelite monastery of the Incarnation in Avila in the mid-sixteenth century was not the ideal monastery. Many abuses of the religious way of life were occurring, causing St. Teresa much suffering, especially in her desire for drawing closer to God. She was made fun of, ridiculed, belittled and turned down when she suggested opening a monastery that embraced a more faithful observance of the Carmelite way of life. So St. Teresa was called by Christ to start her own reform with herself, trying to be as faithful to Christ as she personally could.
Then, after grueling hard work and frustrating dead ends, Teresa was finally allowed to open her own monastery, St. Joseph’s (almost thirty years after she first entered Carmel). And you’d think that by that point, after all her suffering and perseverance, Our Lord would ask no more, right? Not even close! Teresa faced the townspeople who fought against her opening a “poor” monastery in their town; they simply did not feel able to support the sisters through almsgiving. Teresa persisted, and eventually her first monastery grew. But she wasn’t finished. Our Lord then sent her on the longest, most difficult journey of her life: establishing her ‘foundations,’ or, Discalced Carmelite monasteries all across Spain.
St. Teresa was very real with her faith. On one of her trips to establish the founding of a new monastery, her horse bucked her off its back into a puddle of mud and she exclaimed, “Dear Lord! If this is how you treat your friends, no wonder you have so few!”
This website wouldn’t be long enough to describe all of Teresa’s trials, sufferings and tribulations, a large portion of them being from members of the Catholic Church. She suffered incredibly, but just as St. Paul says, “Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more.” Surely, St. Teresa suffered the cross during her life, but she was also redeemed and transfigured by it. Our Lord gave her tremendous and extraordinary graces to deal with her difficulties, including visions of him, levitations, encounters with Angels who pierced her heart with the flaming dart of God’s love, so much so, that the Church named her a doctor of the Church for her mysticism and her writings about the spiritual journey.
I do not wish to mislead anyone into thinking that if we suffer through our spiritual journey that we will somehow ‘earn’ all the spiritual wonders of St. Teresa of Avila. But what I am saying is that Our Lord is very just, and will grant us the perfect amount of graces to persevere in our faithfulness to him. If we have suffered much, he will give us much, according to his wisdom and divine will. Dealing with the wounds of sexual abuse is very difficult, and many graces are needed to confront it. But as St. Teresa has shown us, if we are faithful in little- God will be faithful in much.
Furthermore, St. Teresa of Avila didn’t stop there. She was all about being integrated and united in body and soul, searching for divine union with God. She teaches us that to embark on this noble journey is a very difficult task. It could be the lack of happiness in one’s life that leads a person to begin this path, or it could be a special grace or insight that sets the soul aflame with a longing for the things of Heaven. But of one thing I am very certain: the very first step to begin, or continue, an authentic journey of the soul towards God can be one of the most difficult factors if one’s desire for God has been harmed by sexual abuse committed by a person who misrepresented God. When this happens, the soul’s fear of further harm can greatly impair its ability to be open to God’s presence, especially if it perceives God, or his Church, to be a threat.
Because this is such a delicate matter, I believe the best and safest way for us to approach this complex dynamic will be to follow the spiritual road mapped out for us by the great teachers of the spiritual journey, like St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and St. Therese of Lisieux, who were all Carmelite masters of the spiritual life and Doctors of the Church. Each of these saints suffered so much, but God surely did wonders through their lives. They each have a lot to teach all of us regarding perseverance in the spiritual life even when faced with what may seem like impossibilities.
St. Teresa is a tremendous guide and help for us as we start along our journey. In her Interior Castle, she notes the different stages of a soul who is heading towards union with God. In her writings, there are seven mansions that a soul must journey through in order to be fully united with God. I will not be able to do any justice here to her work on the Interior Castle, but I will be drawing from the concept she relayed in this particular writing towards the spiritual journey of healing.
St. Teresa explains how difficult it is to embark on the first stages of the journey. Her description of the first couple mansions include the presence of vile beasts, which attempt to block the soul’s entry to the castle. The soul also has to deal with its own concupiscence, which tries to tear it away from continuing on. There are many enemies within and without who will try and stop a soul from seeking divine union with God. But even if one’s beginning point is threatened in the most severe ways, God’s graces will carry the soul through the beginning, as long as it trusts and rests in God’s power alone.
What might seem impossible or improbable is highly fancied by God, as seen through salvation history. He is the worker of wonders, and he often chooses the weak and the sick to radiate his glory. If we turn to him with great trust, like St. Teresa, miracles can happen. Just listen to her humble words of encouragement:
“Let nothing trouble you,
Let nothing frighten you;
For all things pass away.
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
Nothing is lacking,
for him who possesses God.
God alone suffices.”
But I hold one thing in my heart, I possess one last beat of hope, which I trust you will take advantage of and draw out from me. It is your presence, here and now, suffering for me and with me on your timeless cross.
Somehow I know that you see my eternal beauty within you right now, and it sparks a flame inside of me that grows into an unquenchable fire. And by the warmth of this grace I feel you breathe life back into me, because of the power of your resurrection. May your memories of my life be always in my heart. Amen.
“Think About It”
1) Am I willing to follow Christ, like St. Teresa of Avila, even if life presents me with thousands of difficulties?
2) How is my relationship with Christ? Are there any aspects of it that are painful because of abuse?
3) Do I try to ask him for help, or do I push him away? Have I left Christ or the Church, in my heart or entirely because of abuse?
Looking at his face, hanging there above the altar, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. I wanted to shield my face from it in pain, yet at the same time it comforted me.
“How can I love you Lord?” I prayed. “How can I even bare to look at your face? My pain is too great. My memories…what have you done, Lord?”
This is just an honest example of one of my experiences struggling with PTSD and prayer. My dad had played Jesus in the passion play, and after that I couldn’t help but relate his face with Christ’s face on the cross. My father was an active lay minister at our parish. He helped with RCIA classes and sponsored many people into the Church. He was an usher, scripture study leader, marriage enrichment leader and Eucharistic minister. Unfortunately, my father abused the Church’s teachings to sexually abuse me. It would seem that this kind of revolting situation would logically end up in my hatred for my father, and as a result a hatred for Christ and the Church. After all, every time I saw a cross, or went to mass, or read the scriptures, or prayed the rosary I was reminded of what my father did to me.
Very mysteriously, Christ’s presence during these times of prayer, as difficult as they were, eventually led me to something deeper. Through the silence and solitude of Carmel, I was able to turn to him and the Church, in spite of my great pain. As a result, I encountered Jesus’ healing power at the very source of his and my wounds. It turns out I wasn’t the only one who remembered my painful, sometimes horrific memories. By gazing at Christ, I encountered deep hope:
As Pope Benedict XVI so eloquently describes Christ's presence during the Advent and Christmas season of the Church:
"Advent's intention is to awaken the most profound and most basic emotional memory within us, namely, the memory of the God who became a child. This is a healing memory; it brings hope" (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger).
What I discovered is that Christ Incarnate remembers every memory of every person who has ever existed. For a long time I thought that I was the only one who remembered what I remembered and felt exactly what I felt. But the moment Christ entered the scene, a change took place, like a great cosmic shift. All the sudden, I was no longer alone.
The Church teaches us that, “To God, all moments of time are present in their immediacy,” (CCC 600). In order to ascertain God’s view of our memories, we must first do one thing: join ourselves to the very memories of God. And the memories of God are very different from our own memories. When God “remembers” something he is not simply recalling an event that happened in the past, like we do, in Chronos, “in time.” No. When God “remembers” something he is completely present to them, in Kairos, “in eternity.” His view of us is perfect and whole, because it not only encompass our present, but our past and our future as well.
By becoming Incarnate, Jesus Christ, the second person of the Holy Trinity, united himself with every human being who ever existed. And, when the “fullness of time had come,” he took upon himself the sins of the world and died on the cross, conquering sin and death forever. Therefore, at the moments of our abuse, God made himself present to us, through the power of his Incarnation. He took the horror of our sins and our abuse upon himself and transformed it into a life-giving power, namely grace. He was there, suffering with us and for us on his timeless cross. He cried every tear with us, endured every wound, and answered every prayer.
I believe that it is only looking with Christ, at the whole of his memories of us, that we can find our truest identity and the fullest healing. Glancing at ourselves, in and through Christ, in and through his memories, will give us a complete picture of what happened to us, of who we are now, and of who we are called to be. As Blessed Pope John Paul II so beautifully wrote:
“Consequently, the man who wishes to understand himself thoroughly—and not just in accordance with immediate, partial, often superficial and even illusory standards and measures of his being—must with his unrest, uncertainty and even his weakness and sinfulness, with his life and death, draw near to Christ”(Pope John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor 8).
As children of our heavenly Father we are called to “draw near to Christ,” to “enter him with all of ourselves,” to “appropriate and assimilate the whole reality of the Incarnation and Redemption in order to find ourselves” (Veritatis Splendor, 8, by Pope John Paul II). Uniting ourselves to the very person of Christ, and to his memories of our life, we will begin to understand His Paschal mystery. In a new light, we will see the wounds he suffered, the scourges that were rent, the crown of thorns, and the cross he carried, because, these are our memories, our pains, our wounds, our sufferings, and our cross.
Within God’s memories, he is suffering with us and for us, doing absolutely everything he can to show us the true beauty of his face. He did not abandon any of us during our abuse…He was right there, actively participating in our suffering, doing something with our pain, at the exact moment of our abuse. He was at our side, and always holding us, just as he held his cross…it was one and the same event:
“With creation, God does not abandon his creatures to themselves. He not only gives them being and existence, but also, and at every moment, upholds and sustains them in being, enables them to act and brings them to their final end” (CCC 301).
Ultimately, the most important reason for drawing close to Christ and his memories of our suffering is that our suffering and pain are only a part of Christ’s memories. There is much more, which we most likely are inhibited from experiencing, and on our own we would most likely fail to see. For the very next thing that Christ did after his death and burial was rise from the dead!
"The Resurrection of Jesus is the crowning truth of our faith in Christ, a faith believed and lived as the central truth by the first Christian community; handed on as fundamental by Tradition; established by the documents of the New Testament; and preached as an essential part of the Paschal mystery along with the cross:
Christ is risen from the dead!
Dying, he conquered death;
To the dead, he has given life”
Through His resurrection, Christ beholds and brings about in us the healing that will take place in our bodies, minds and souls, the healing that has already taken place and will continue to take place throughout our lives, even the healing of our sexuality, and finally the rising from death, which we will all experience on the ‘Last day,’ just like Christ’s body was risen from the grave, and hopefully we will join him in Heaven to be with him forever. Christ “remembers” how we will be put back together, created anew, risen from our graves, given new life, and glorified in Heaven. He “remembers” our joy and happiness in discovering His great love for us, and all the many experiences we will share with him in eternity. His memories never negate the truth, pain, and horror of the cross. But they always open up to the glory of resurrection!
Let us pray:
O Lord, please help me encounter your memories of me, which is the light of your Truth, and fill my entire being. I have never had an opportunity to experience your love in such a real and positive way. Sometimes I am able to sense the awesomeness of your presence, and sometimes I am not. But I am not satisfied without knowing you better. I must go further, chase after you if I must, in order to know why you are still present even in a heart that has been crushed. You are so mysterious to me. Therefore, I pray that you reveal yourself, so that I can respond with my life. Amen.
“Think About It”
1) Have I ever felt alone or trapped because of a memory?
2) What will I find in the memories of God?
3) Am I ready to discover the hidden joy of Christ’s presence within my memories?
4) Do I believe that Christ can heal, restore, and transform my life if I draw close to him “with my unrest, uncertainty, and even my weakness, my sinfulness, with my life and my death?”
Now that we have encountered God's presence along our quest, we must now search for the best way to unite ourselves with his healing power. As Christians, we often mistake the spiritual journey as being a comfortable, smooth ride, where in reality it is quite the opposite. Our Lord describes the path as being difficult, "For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life," (Matthew 7:14). It is strewn with difficulties, dangers, obstacles, and wild circumstances, all converging on the cross. In God's plan for us he has room for pain, suffering, and physical death, because even these harrowing factors do not limit his love and goodness. Following a God who is dangerous is not easy, but by all means it is certainly possible. Countless saints and great lovers of God have pointed this out for hundreds and thousands of years, from Abraham, our father in faith, to C.S. Lewis, who described Aslan, Christ the Lion of Judah, in this way:
"Who said anything about safe? Course he isn't safe. But he's good" (Chronicles of Narnia, Chapter 8).
Stepping through the narrow gate is coming face to face with our greatest fears and our greatest obstacles. For anyone healing from sexual abuse, one of the greatest difficulties will be in approaching our wounded sexuality in a Christ-centered way. The Catholic Church has very hard and difficult teachings about it. These teachings can be found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. What might seem as the most extreme and non-modern approach to sexuality, has the dangerous quality of uniting a man and a woman with the Triune-God who created all of heaven and earth. And what might initially come across as being restrictive in the Church's teachings, actually upholds, defends and protects the relationship of Christ with men and women in the deepest aspects of their lives.
Christ is not calling us to a superficial means of healing, especially regarding our sexuality. He is calling us, by name, to enter through his narrow gate, and to walk the hard path of authentic love for God. His price is high, but he does not expect us to do it alone. In fact, he has given us his own strength and power to overcome all difficulties, and face the greatest dangers, if only we would reach out our hand and receive his divine help.
Christ's secret, is really no secret at all. He told us himself that he would send his Holy Spirit to “teach us all things,” and call to our remembrance all that he has said to us:
“The Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26).
On the birthday of the Church, the feast of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came and anointed the apostles of Christ and sent them forth with the “power of God.” And it is precisely through the Holy Spirit that the memories of God became the memories of the Church:
“The gift of the Spirit ushers in a new era in the ‘dispensation of the mystery’- the age of the Church, during which Christ manifests, makes present, and communicates his work of salvation through the liturgy of his Church, ‘until He comes’ (CCC 1076).
It is therefore through the liturgy of the Catholic Church that humanity is offered a real, deep, unhindered encounter with Christ in the seven sacraments:
The sacraments of the Church are “efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us through the work of the Holy Spirit” (CCC pg. 898- Glossary). The Holy Spirit works through the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Reconciliation, Communion, Marriage, Holy Orders, and the Anointing of the Sick, in order to give us the divine life of God and to recall to each one of our memories the ‘unique Revelation brought by Christ:’
“What was accomplished by the power of the Holy Spirit 'in the fullness of time' can only through the Spirit's power now emerge from the memory of the Church…The Spirit, in fact, makes present in the Church of every time and place the unique Revelation brought by Christ to humanity, making it alive and active in the soul of each individual.” (Tertio Millennio Adveniente 44).
The Holy Spirit is the one who will make God’s memories “alive and active in the soul of each individual.” He will dispense to each one of us the ‘Wisdom and Knowledge of God.’ And that is because “The Holy Spirit is the Church’s living memory” (CCC 1099). By participating fully in the Church’s sacramental life and liturgy, we access the very memories of God, which are the source of God’s healing and grace for each one of us:
“The Son of God heals the whole man, soul and body, through the sacramental life” (CCC following 1065).
But what if we were wounded by someone who is intimately connected with the sacraments of the Church, and what if we experience PTSD and pain when we try to draw close to the sacraments? This is a very valid question for anyone who has been sexually abused or molested by Catholic clergy, religious or lay ministers in the Church. I do not want to beat around the bush, so I'll get straight to the point. Christ has an answer for anyone in this unfortunate circumstance, and it is a dangerous and difficult answer. But it has the power to transform, heal and restore to victims all that has been lost.
The answer is the “Way of the Cross,” in the deepest sense possible. An abused soul who approaches Christ in the sacraments with their "unrest, uncertainty, and even weakness, sinfulness, with their life and their death," sets out on the dangerous and difficult path of following Christ. Approaching the altar with streams of tears will be a reality, just like Our Lord approached Calvary. Sometimes we might seriously feel like we are even going to die, just walking up to receive communion, standing in line for confession, or opening the door to our RCIA or Natural Family Planning classes. The difficulties of practicing our Catholic faith faithfully will be a bitter-sweet fact of life. Yet, a great mystery lies hidden here. In the last place anyone would think to be possible, God has carved out a way of deep comfort and healing. For if we look at the very nature of the sacraments, and especially of the Holy Eucharist, which is the “Sacrament of Sacraments,” here we will find an amazing discovery. In the sacraments, the Holy Spirit recalls to each recipient their very creation, redemption and sanctification. And it is in the very fact that the sacrament is celebrated, by a valid minister of the Church, that the sacraments retain all their fruitfulness, regardless of the holiness or the sinfulness of the minister:
“’The Sacrament is not wrought by the righteousness of either the celebrant or the recipient, but by the power of God.’ From the moment that a sacrament is celebrated in accordance with the intention of the Church, the power of Christ and his Spirit acts in and through it, independently of the personal holiness of the minister” (CCC 1128).
The good news here is that the Sacraments of Christ, and the very Church he instituted are not without the powers to heal and sanctify, even if the priest celebrating the sacrament is sinful or unworthy. Christ the true Priest will not hide his face or his healing from those who have been harmed by priests; In the end, it is Christ himself who acts and ministers the sacraments, for that is what he instituted himself in the sacrament of Holy Orders (CCC 1536-1600). Therefore, even through the darkest experiences and through the sinfulness of some ministers and leaders in the Catholic Church, the Holy Spirit is still at work, and he still “makes present in the Church of every time and place the unique Revelation brought by Christ to humanity, making it alive and active in the soul of each individual.”
Now we must discuss how a soul proceeds along this journey in their wounded state. And it is here that we must again turn to our great teachers, the Carmelite saints, who through their pioneering in the spiritual domain, obtained the knowledge of reaching God by a road of darkness:
Dear Hidden God,
I have been wounded in the sacred place of my soul, where you alone are meant to appear. And those that have wounded me seemed to bear your face. But I cannot settle for this. There must be more to you.
Therefore, I am reaching out my arms so that I can feel your true presence when you draw near. I am looking for your face, even when I have to hide mine. I am searching for your embrace when I am frightened. And I am longing to hear your voice when I am wrapped in silence.
Although I do not know you as I should, I believe that you will somehow reveal to me your true self. The unexplainable hope that I possess testifies to this, so I await your coming, with joy. Amen.
"Think About It"
1) Have I been wounded in a manner that makes it difficult or painful for me to receive the sacraments of the Church?
2) Have I turned away from Christ or the Church because of my pain and difficulties?
3) How will I respond to Christ when he draws dangerously near in the sacraments?
4) Am I adventurous enough to put everything on the line and leap into Christ's path for my personal and unique healing?
THE DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL
Growing up in poverty, fatherless at a young age, St. John of the Cross knew his share of hardships. Despite life's difficulties, he decided to walk through Christ's narrow gate, and when he did, his life was never the same. He met a friend, St. Teresa of Avila, who encouraged him to help her reform the Carmelite order in Spain. With permission from the Nuncio, he began a small foundation for Carmelite friars. Their reformation was resisted by a great number of friars who did not approve of St. Teresa's and St. John's efforts to reform the Carmelite order, calling it "too strict."
On the night of December 2, 1577, John was imprisoned by the superiors of the Carmelite friars, who stuck him in isolation in a cell barely big enough for his body, and lashed him publicly at least weekly. They derided him and despised him for his efforts to reform their lax monasteries, and wanted him to renounce his activities in the reform. These were Catholic priests and brothers, mind you, who were abusing St. John.
In the grace and strength of Christ, John managed to escape nine months after his imprisonment, although never fully regaining his health. During his imprisonment he wrote one of the most beautiful pieces of spanish literature, The Spiritual Canticle. The poem is too long to quote here, but I believe this work is a profound cry of the soul who is searching for the love of God after being abused and wounded.
Years later, St. John of the Cross went on to write The Dark Night of the Soul, which narrates the journey of a soul through all her difficulties and limitations to union with God. As he describes, first, we must start out on the road of darkness by leaving behind all that is not of God; we must enter the ‘night.’ Then, within the hidden chambers of the soul, God works and heals, although most of his movements are ‘disguised’ and are impalpable to the soul. It is then that a soul will understand that the greatest gift God can give it is to purify it and heal it of all that is not of Him, who is its gladness and goodness.
When the soul enters the darkness there is nothing to fall back on. And because there aren’t any distractions, God’s light alone illumines the soul, although his light is imperceptible to the soul at that time. Through this process, the soul learns that it is better to be lost to oneself and one’s abilities to arrive at healing and holiness, because it is best to draw from God, from his memories, his thoughts, and his love. Then the soul can totally ‘assimilate and appropriate the reality of Christ’s Incarnation and Redemption,’ which leads to a participation of the things of Heaven and an anticipation of the resurrection of one’s own body and soul into eternal glory. At that point, the only response to God’s love is a total forgetfulness of self, of one’s sufferings, because the only movement the heart can make is a cry of thankful praise:
“One dark night,
fired with love's urgent longings
- ah, the sheer grace! -
I went out unseen,
my house being now all stilled.
In darkness, and secure,
by the secret ladder, disguised,
- ah, the sheer grace! -
in darkness and concealment,
my house being now all stilled.
On that glad night,
in secret, for no one saw me,
nor did I look at anything,
with no other light or guide
than the one that burned in my heart.
This guided me
more surely than the light of noon
to where he was awaiting me
- him I knew so well -
there in a place where no one appeared.
O guiding night!
O night more lovely than the dawn!
O night that has united
the Lover with his beloved,
transforming the beloved in her Lover.
Upon my flowering breast
which I kept wholly for him alone,
there he lay sleeping,
and I caressing him
there in a breeze from the fanning cedars.
When the breeze blew from the turret,
as I parted his hair,
it wounded my neck
with its gentle hand,
suspending all my senses.
I abandoned and forgot myself,
laying my face on my Beloved;
all things ceased; I went out from myself,
leaving my cares
forgotten among the lilies” (St. John of the Cross).
The light of God's healing is a real and human experience. Therefore, it includes the human dimension of purging and purifying. When the light of God’s truth shines inside a soul that has been darkened by abuse, it can be extremely painful. It must be noted though that the pain is not caused by God or his presence in the soul, but instead by the false imagery of God that their abuser forced upon them to accept as truth.
Prayer might become very difficult for us, and we may not get any consolation out of it whatsoever. It may be painful to participate in Mass and the other sacraments. God might seem to wound us, to harm us, to inflict the same pain our abusers did. And sometimes He may seem to be silent. We can try and distract ourselves with life, with sin, and with a million other things that have nothing to do with God. But soon we will grow tired of these things, and besides that we wil be utterly exhausted from running.
It is in this great tribulation of soul that all of God’s grace and gifts begin to do the ‘dirty work’ of the healing process. We need God’s memories of our life more than anything, and Christ's strength from the sacraments. And here, in secret and in silence, unperceptively to the soul, God heals and restores. His Holy Spirit cuts between “the bone and the marrow” of our spirit and soul, and separates truth from falsehood.
By shining his light of truth and love in our hearts through the prayer life and sacramental life we embrace, God will begin to replace all the false images of him with the real thing. But I can tell you this much, it certainly won't feel like this when it is happening. In all truth, it is more of a feeling of abandonment than anything else. But trust, and persevere! What God needs from us is our cooperation in letting go of the false things that were rooted in our souls, which boils down to letting go of our very selves. It is no easy thing, and it won't happen all at once, (and I assume it will be a process that will continue until the day we die). But if God's light is already pushing us to the edges of ourselves, and if we have nothing to fall back on, nothing to hold on to, and nothing to distract ourselves with, and if we have no other option but that of letting go, then we must dive into the unknown. It will be very chaotic. There will be absolutely NOTHING we can do. Even the letting go of ourselves entirely, and the abandonment of Who God Is Not are totally beyond our capabilities.
I’ll be honest, when I let go of my very self in Carmel, I felt like I was letting go of everything, even the good parts of myself and of God. But, God was always there to hold tightly onto these things, for they really weren’t mine to let go of anyways, they belonged to him.
From our experiences of the Dark Night, we can all learn one simple thing: we learn what exists outside the edges of our being. When God moves us far beyond our limits, beyond our power, beyond our knowledge, beyond our strength, beyond our existence, we will collide with something wonderful, something eternal, all-powerful, all-knowing, mighty and strong, namely God Himself. He is what lies waiting for us in the silence of the heart and soul. He is the one who lies outside of everything we know and yet at the same time within everything we know. And what a comfort this is!
It is along this dark road of the spiritual journey that we eventually learn to rely totally on the graces of prayer and the sacraments. It is moving forward into a greater spiritual maturity, with only darkness to guide us:
“This guided me more surely than the light of noon to where he was awaiting me- him I knew so well - there in a place where no one appeared. I abandoned and forgot myself, laying my face on my Beloved; all things ceased; I went out from myself, leaving my cares forgotten among the lilies.”
"Dear Lord, I don’t have all the answers regarding my personhood, especially my sexuality. I don’t even have the comfort of having integrated emotions, feelings, and thoughts. Sometimes everything about myself seems to tell me something different about you and about me, and they are often contradictory. But I am willing to fight against myself for your sake. I am willing to draw close to you and your thoughts about your and my identity because I have seen for myself that you alone know best. I want to listen to your voice and your Word. After all, you are here now to guide me along the sure and right path towards healing. Therefore, I am leaving my identity and all my capabilities in your all-creative hands. And I have a feeling that what I am about to discover is more beautiful than I ever imagined. Amen.
"Think About It"
1) Am I going through the Dark Night of the Soul?
2) Is it difficult for me when I feel out of control? What should I do when I try my hardest but I still can't make things better on my own? What did St. John of the Cross do?
3) When God's healing rays fill my entire being, will I be willing to 'leave all my cares, forgotten among the lilies?'
A big misconception I had when I first realized that I needed healing was I thought that God's healing would be "perfect," in the sense that I would no longer suffer from any of my wounds. I would have never guessed that God's idea of "perfect" could still include my weaknesses, failures, limitations and sins. It wasn't until I realized and accepted the fact that I was 'spiritually poor' that I finally had peace of soul. Once again, this lesson was learned through the example of a great Carmelite saint, St. Therese of Lisieux.
St. Therese came from a very devout Catholic family (her father and mother, Louis and Zelie Martin, are now on their way to sainthood). She had four living sisters, all of whom became consecrated religious, like Therese. Therese entered the Carmel of Lisieux when she was only fifteen years old, and recounted her life in her autobiography, for one of her sisters who was the prioress of the Carmelite monastery. She was drawn to live a hidden life in Carmel and devote herself to prayer and to small, ordinary tasks which she did "with extraordinary love."
St. Therese is a very relatable saint. She didn't travel the world, erecting convents and battling religious dissenters, like St. Teresa of Avila did. Therese had her own mission in the Church though, one that is much more common and universal. She saw her life as a little hidden way of loving God. In all of her duties, from cleaning and taking care of elderly sisters, she saw an opportunity to be faithful to God. In short, St. Therese of Lisieux learned to travel the spiritual path in a very simple and sure way. Instead of becoming discouraged by her imperfections and her own inabilities to make great spiritual things happen in her soul, she chose to simply be whatever it was that God wanted her to be, even if that meant having spiritual poverties:
“Instead of being discouraged, I concluded that God would not inspire desires which could not be realized, and that I may aspire to sanctity in spite of my littleness. For me to become great is impossible. I must bear with myself and my many imperfections; but I will seek out a means of getting to Heaven by a little way—very short and very straight, a little way that is wholly new” (St. Therese, Story of a Soul, Chapter 9).
St. Therese adopted the spirituality of a child, who is content with being little and with having nothing. But this was the maturity of a child of God the Father, and not that of an earthly child who must have their way. For St. Therese’s motives had been purified. She only wanted to do God’s will, not her own. And if all God willed for her to be was someone forgotten and hidden in a Carmelite Monastery, then that was exactly what she would do.
And so it must be with us. Along the spiritual roads of healing from abuse, God may choose to leave us with our spiritual poverties, and not because he refuses to heal us, but because he wants to heal us. Remember, God acts in our souls with his entire memory of us in mind. He sees our past, present and future and acts along those lines of our being, so what may seem to us as a poverty in our soul may actually be a strengthening:
“I ought not to rejoice in my dryness of soul, but rather attribute it to my want of fervor and fidelity. That I fall asleep so often during meditation, and thanksgiving after Communion, should distress me. Well, I am not distressed. I reflect that little children are equally dear to their parents whether they are asleep or awake; that, in order to perform operations, doctors put their patients to sleep; and finally that ‘The Lord knoweth our frame, He remembereth that we are but dust’ (St. Therese, Story of a Soul, Chapter 8).”
Another thing is that we must not be the sole judge of our progress in our spiritual life, but leave lots of room open for God to work. For the spiritual life is not one clear-cut avenue, but God is constantly working things out in different areas of our souls. We cannot bring about the movements of God within our own souls, yet we must learn to persevere in our journey towards him, even when it seems as if we are getting nowhere. Even when we are doing everything right, and it still seems as though God is silent, are we really the ones who should be judging that in the first place? Our best move is to allow God to work in the ways he will, and to continue doing our best in aiding him.
And just as unique as every human being is, so too is their spiritual journey. We may all have things in common, and landmarks in the spiritual life, like the Carmelite mystics have shown us. But every person will need to travel their own road of sanctification. What we can do is not give up, and not be discouraged when all hope seems lost. Even when we are feeling at our lowest, one thing we must do is trust. God might bring about the dark night one moment and a sweetness in prayer the next, or we may even experience many different aspects of the spiritual life all in one day. It is truly up to God to move us where he will:
“I have often observed that Our Lord will not give me any store of provisions, but nourishes me each moment with food that is ever new; I find it within me without knowing how it has come there. I simply believe that it is Jesus Himself hidden in my poor heart, who is secretly at work, inspiring me with what He wishes me to do as each occasion arises” (St. Therese, Story of a Soul, Chapter 8).
I must be honest with you, sometimes I feel discouraged by my sins and my faults, but through St. Therese's help I feel I can march right into spiritual poverty with courage and confidence. She has taught me that perseverance is our greatest weapon against falling back into our old victimized and wounded self. We must have confidence, like St. Therese, and trust God in the depths of our souls. We must remain like a little child who is content to sleep wherever our Father lays our heads.
A great mystery along the spiritual journey and the path towards healing is the dynamic of suffering. For suffering will come, regardless of the depths and heights our souls will reach. Our Lord told us about this throughout the Gospels, about taking up our Crosses daily. The best response we can make to our spiritual poverty is to embrace it, like St. Therese, and let Our Heavenly Father know that we are content with whatever he sends us.
"O Lord, I cannot go any further on my own. I have tried my best to cooperate with your will because of my love for you. But I see now that it is still too far beyond me. I do not possess the strength to reach you by my own means. I see that I cannot. You will have to do the rest. And if you are obliged to leave me here in this state until the day I die, then I understand that to live the rest of my life in this place would not be a fault of mine, but a poverty that you will not despise. I am little and powerless, but for some mysterious reason, you have such pleasure to dwell in a heart that is poor. Therefore, I am content to remain with you here. Amen.
"Think About It"
1) Do I feel spiritually poor? In the Sermon on the Mount Our Lord called the "poor in spirit" blessed, and he says "The kingdom of heaven is theirs" (Matthew 5:3). Am I willing to accept God's kingdom in my heart, even if it comes to me in small, hidden ways?
2) Oftentimes, healing from sexual abuse can be a very "loud" process. The need for our personal pain to be recognized can easily get out of control. Do I desire the acknowledgement of others, or the quiet presence of God?
3) Do I take the time to pray in solitude and silence on a regular basis, even if it is only for a few minutes every day?
Our Lord’s goal for our spiritual journey towards healing and holiness is to one day be fully united with him in Heaven. God desires for us to experience his love in every aspect of our humanity: in our hearts, minds, bodies and souls. This is what we were created for and what we are moving towards. Therefore, spiritual fruitfulness begins to blossom and grow the more we become united with God in our personhood. Once we come to know Christ, and his Truth, the splendor of his light will begin to shine through our own humanity, like little transfigurations.
A powerful witness to the fruitfulness of the spiritual life are the many and powerful lives of the saints, as we have discussed here. From Carmelite mystics, to martyred missionaries, from Popes to lay faithful, the Church's treasure has always been the beauty of Christ radiating from the faces and lives of these men and women who have dared to trust Christ with their lives and deaths. Many suffered tremendously, and some of them even suffered the wounds of sexual crimes like St. Maria Goretti. But they have all attested to God's goodness through miracles and healing. In fact, miracles have occured throughout salvation history and they certainly continue to occur daily throughout the world. The sick are healed, the lame walk, the deaf speak, and the blind see. God is present, and he loves us.
And since God is never outdone in his generosity, I cannot even begin to tell you how deeply God the Father is moved when one of his children is determined to find his true identity after suffering abuse and scandal at the hands of someone who misrepresented him. He has a very special place in his heart for those who come to him with this suffering. And he will offer to them great love and great spiritual graces to heal them.
And what is more, Our gracious Father not only wants to heal our wounds, he desires to raise us far beyond our best attempts to raise ourselves from our broken past. There is much we can and should do to move on and grow from past hurts. But even our best attempts will fall short of God's greatest plan for us. What he wants for us is the ability to believe in and trust his Fatherhood, despite our battle scars. He wants to raise us up from our shattered childhoods to become the kind of fathers and mothers who love, nurture, and protect their children in God's true name. He wants to give us his view of our sexuality, and plant within it the healing and integrity that we were robbed of. All that we thought to be lost, he can and will restore, in ways that we could never imagine.
God, Our Father, is the creator of the universe and of all living things. What is truly amazing is that he has never stopped creating. He has not abandoned creation, but is ever sustaining it and active within it, whether we have the eyes to see it or not. He is the God of miracles, the God of wonders, the God of new possibilities, if only we have the faith to believe. Sometimes I think we all fail by asking for too little.
I have had my fair share of bad days, which I thought were ruined, either by tragedy, misfortune, or great suffering. But somehow, even during the last few minutes, if ever I turned to the Lord for help, trusting that he had the power to recreate within me all the goodness and beauty that I lost or missed in that day, he has filled me with all peace and fullness, which I thought I would never possess. Strengthened with this confidence, Christ can make every day a new start, a new possibility, no matter what the conditions may be.
Lastly, a very strange yet proven mark of a healed and fruitful heart is an act of spiritual forgetfulness. Let me explain. As counselors, therapists and mentors will all agree, it is very healthy for wounded souls to seek healing by helping others. This is a very charitable act, which goes far beyond writing books, giving talks, or leading discussion groups for others who need healing. Ultimately, standing before the face of God it means "leaving my cares, forgotten among the lilies," as St. John of the Cross wrote.
After God works and heals in profound measures, a soul will eventually need to abandon all its attachments to what it suffered. The scars will always be there, just like the nail marks on the body of Our Risen Saviour, but the illusion of entitlement will no longer hold us captive. God will always know the depths of our suffering, and it is best for us to abandon it in his eternal care. Then we will be free to plunge into the depths of Christ's love, mercy and forgiveness. Our Heavenly Father will always hold each one of our memories, but he also wants to give us his.
"Dear Lord, you have made the impossible possible. You have mended my broken heart; you have healed my wounds; you have shown your face. And it is my greatest joy to respond to you through all of this with love and with gratitude.
Beyond the edge of myself I have found you and the beauty of all of your creation. I have found the meaning of my sexuality and its purpose in the plan of your love.
The only movement my heart can make after such an encounter is to welcome your presence and your ever-creating existence, whether in a sacred place or within the privacy of my bedroom, you are always welcome. I do not wish to miss one aspect of your glory, or one glimpse of your face. Yes, Lord. Your truth, your light, your life, and your love are always welcome, now and forevermore. Amen.
"Think About It"
1) Am I willing to lay aside my ideas of perfection, in order to discover God's vision for my healing and my life?
2) Do I believe that miracles can happen in my own life? Am I praying for healing everyday?
3) Do I believe that God loves me in every way, and that he can embrace me, and sustain me, in every sorrow, in every joy, in sickness and in health, in death and in life? Or does my image of God leave him and me powerless in the face of death and suffering?
MARY’S EXAMPLE FOR OUR HEALING
Thinking of our final end and purpose for our existence, we must turn to the anticipation of our own resurrection in order to find our motivation and our purity of intention for the healing that Christ offers each one of us:
“The Christian Creed---the profession of our faith in God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and in God’s creative, saving and sanctifying action---culminates in the proclamation of the resurrection of the dead on the last day and in life everlasting” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 648).
If our bodies and our souls were made to just disappear into nothingness when we died then there would be no reason to work so long and so hard at being put back together and ‘healed.’ But because we as Catholics believe that our bodies will be rejoined with our souls in the resurrection on the last day, we also believe that we have a whole eternity to look forward to and hope for. If this is so, then it is imperative that everything we should do should be done with our end in mind, and Heaven as our goal.
To make our hope a reality, God gives us the Church to heal and restore our broken minds, bodies, and souls, (including our sexuality). The seven sacraments lead us to encounter Christ in the deepest way possible, at least on earth. And one of the most profound and comforting aspects of the Church is the Communion of Saints. All the saints that have gone before us belong to us, as brothers and sisters. And all those who are still being purified and healed from the wounds they left earth with are joined to us from Purgatory. Together we all make up one family, one body, which is Christ's body.
What is more, we have a mother, Mary. As the mother of Christ's body, the Church, Mary takes great care over us, as an earthly mother would---and then some. She loves each one of us, and works diligently from Heaven to help us love Jesus. What really sells me on Mary's motherhood is that she is the one person in human history that I know of who deeply encountered God, in his Trinity of persons, on every level of her humanity. Mary encountered God's love in her heart and soul before she ever conceived Christ. And then through the power of the Holy Spirit she conceived, bore and raised the Incarnate Word, the Son of the Father. Her sexuality was definately involved, but not in the way that every other human being was brought into existance. Our faith teaches us that Mary was a virgin before, during and after her conception, pregnancy and birth of Christ.
“Mary ‘remained a virgin in conceiving her Son, a virgin in giving birth to him, a virgin in carrying him, a virgin in nursing him at her breast, always a virgin’” (St. Augustine, Sermon 186, CCC 510).
In Heaven, Mary is also a virgin. And she lives forever in Heaven, body and soul, because she was assumed there entirely, by the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit:
“Finally, the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory…The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a singular participation in her Son’s Resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians” (CCC 966).
Mary is the perfect example of how we should respect God and our sexuality. God called Mary to set herself aside in a singular way, and to remain a virgin so that Christ could dwell among us. The Church teaches it is the same with living either a single, celibate, or married life. We all need to set ourselves aside and allow God to dwell among us. In a single, or celibate life this calling draws the heart ever deeper into the mystery of God, and welcomes his presence in the hearts and souls of our brothers and sisters. And in the married life, an incredible union of the body and soul of a man and wife joins the creative hand of God to bathe the two in Heaven's light, and to bring into existance a new life, through the ordered and blessed expression of the couple's sexuality. Whatever our calling may be, it would do us well to always welcome God's presence among us.
By doing this, we will act congruently with the entire Body of Christ; we will be acting on the same "wave-length" as Heaven, and we will be able to accept the purification of purgatory's blessings while on earth. Our lives will then take on the deepest meaning possible, as all of time and eternity converges in our souls, in Christ who lives and breathes within us, just like Mary, who proclaimed:
“My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my savior…” (Luke 1: 46-47).
Dear Lord, I believe that you will raise my earthly body on the last day, and that you will reunite it with my soul for all eternity. But since I cannot yet experience the fulness of this joy, I humbly ask that you unite me right now with your body, through the Communion of Saints, that I may belong to you always. May Heaven's breeze blow through my soul. May the prayers pouring from the hearts of those you are healing in purgatory be ever on my lips. And may I act and move in rhythm with your ever-creating hand through time and eternity. Amen.
"Think About It"
1) Do I realize that through my baptism I am made apart of the entire "Body of Christ?"
2) Do I think about Heaven, and the resurrection on the last day?
3) Am I willing to say "Yes" to God, like Mary did, even if what he is asking seems to be impossible?
THE HOLY SPIRIT
Through Mary’s witness, and in anticipation of our future in Heaven, I will end here by turning to the Holy Spirit, asking for his guidance and council for each one of us along our spiritual journey towards healing. For it is the Holy Spirit Who works continually in the souls of those who are willing to trust him:
“Through his grace, the Holy Spirit is the first to awaken faith in us and to communicate to us the new life, which is to ‘know the Father and the one whom he has sent, Jesus Christ’” (CCC 684).
In coming to know the Father through the Son, our relationship with the Holy Spirit is one of son-ship and communion. He is the one who elevates our hearts, minds, bodies and souls to love the scriptures, to live the Traditions of the Church, to stand behind the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, to embrace the sacramental life, to pray “in season and out of season,” to live our charisms and devote ourselves to ministry within the Church, to be apostles and missionaries for Christ, and to eventually become saints---manifesting the very holiness of God (CCC 688).
Being recreated by the Father, and redeemed by the Son, the ‘Breath’ of the Holy Spirit is in every part of this and continues our sanctification on into eternity:
“It belongs to the Holy Spirit to rule, sanctify, and animate creation, for he is God, consubstantial with the Father and the Son…Power over life pertains to the Spirit, for being God he preserves creation in the Father through the Son” (CCC 703).
It is by trusting the movement of the Holy Spirit, in sustaining and preserving our lives, that we will begin to experience the effects of our healing. It is through his help that we will no longer think of ourselves with shame and embarrassment; for we will begin to "remember" as God does. We will not practice the habits of a victim, because we will have followed the path of virtue. We will not harm or abuse any one else, including ourselves, because Christ will have revealed us to ourselves and we will have found our true identity. Plus we will live integrated, fulfilling and happy lives, together with persecutions and the cross, but the Holy Spirit will lead us into all joy:
Come, Holy Ghost, Creator blest,
and in our hearts take up Thy rest;
come with Thy grace and heav'nly aid,
To fill the hearts which Thou hast made.
O Comforter, to Thee we cry,
Thou heav'nly gift of God most high,
Thou Fount of life, and Fire of love,
and sweet anointing from above.
O Finger of the hand divine,
the sevenfold gifts of grace are thine;
true promise of the Father thou,
who dost the tongue with power endow.
Thy light to every sense impart,
and shed thy love in every heart;
thine own unfailing might supply
to strengthen our infirmity.
Drive far away our ghostly foe,
and thine abiding peace bestow;
if thou be our preventing Guide,
no evil can our steps betide.
Praise we the Father and the Son
and Holy Spirit with them One;
and may the Son on us bestow
the gifts that from the Spirit flow.
V. Send forth Thy Spirit, and they shall be created.
R. And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.
Let us Pray
O God, Who didst instruct the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Ghost: give to us, in the same Spirit, to know what is right, and ever rejoice in His consolation. Through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, Who with Thee livest and reignest in the unity of the same Holy Spirit, God. World without end. Amen.