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Archives ‘To seek forgiveness and to pray for healing’

April 17, 2024

By Darcy Fargo

“This Divine Mercy Sunday, we gather to seek forgiveness and to pray for healing for all those victimized by the sinful behavior of Church leaders and others in our Church,” said Bishop Terry R. LaValley in his homily at a Mass held April 7 at St. Mary’s Church in Potsdam.

The Mass was a Healing Mass for those hurt by the Church.

Bishop LaValley, referenced C.S. Lewis’ book “The Screwtape Letters,” in which a senior devil advises a junior devil how “souls can be brought down.”

“He writes that decay of hope, discouragement, slowly wears down a person’s faith,” Bishop LaValley said. “Best of all, says Screwtape, is a dose of shocking reality, such as violence, persecution for one’s faith or sudden death. That can make the Christian feel that all his religion has been a fantasy. In other words, such occurrences can cause people to doubt God and religion.”

The bishop noted Lewis wrote about that doubt after his wife died of cancer.

“Doubt is not a rare experience,” he said. “There’s a lot of it about, even among faith-filled Christians. There are few of us who haven’t at some point questioned whether God and our faith are real or whether what we read in scriptures is true. With all the terror and persecutions of Christians today, with the egregious sins committed by Church leaders against innocent members of the Church, it’s not hard to understand that a person can doubt God’s goodness, even doubt God’s very existence.”

That doubt was discussed on the day the Gospel focused on the apostle, Thomas, who didn’t believe Christ was raised from the dead until he saw and touched his wounds. 

“Notice that the nail marks and the pierced side of Jesus were mentioned three times,” Bishop LaValley said of the Gospel. “Isn’t it curious that Jesus, in his glorified, risen body, is still bearing those wound marks? Jesus’s wounds are important because they serve to identify him, to give us our Christian identity and to remind us of the vulnerability required to live as followers of Jesus. Jesus shows his wounds to verify for the disciples his identity. Jesus reveals himself through his open wounds. The wounded Christ shows us that the afflictions that come to us in this life need not be somehow cast off or removed. They can be part of our resurrected selves. Scars remain and become part of the story of who we are.”

Bishop LaValley noted that the Church, the body of Christ, is like Christ in being wounded.

“The wounds of Jesus are a scandal,” he said. “The wounds inflicted on others by members of his body, the Church, are a grave scandal endured by too many. We must open wide to the power flowing from the wounded heart of Christ, who tenderly loves and accompanies everyone who hurts in his Church.”

Referencing the start of the Gospel reading, Bishop LaValley also noted that “inner peace is the first gift resurrected Jesus offers to his disciples, who are hiding in terror, who thought all had been lost.”

“We, full of anxieties, pain, anger and disappointment are offered the same gift,” he said.

Lectors for the Mass were Hattie Taylor, pastoral associate at St. Mary’s in Potsdam and St. Patrick’s in Colton and campus minister at the Potsdam and Canton colleges, and John Morrison, diocesan Safe Environment director.

Bishop LaValley celebrated the Mass with Father Joseph W. Giroux, pastor of St. Mary’s in Potsdam and St. Patrick’s in Colton, and Msgr. John R. Murphy, a retired priest of the diocese.

Deacon Richard Burns assisted.

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