Catholics are hurting. Feelings of anger, sadness, and helplessness surround us in the wake of the McCarrick abuse scandal and the release of the report from the Pennsylvania Grand Jury. While some of us have yet to read the actual document for ourselves, there’s no hiding that what is contained in it is both disheartening and sickening.
Social media has become a place to grieve with other Catholics. It’s natural and even healthy for us to express our emotions following such a shocking sequence of events, but it’s also led some of us down a dangerous path that can lead to destruction, sin, and hatred. What can we, who want to do something but feel unable to do anything to help, do at a time like this? To answer this question, a group of Catholic bloggers, podcasters, artists, and musicians have come up with a great idea.
It’s called the “Sackcloth and Ashes” campaign, started by Kendra Tierney of Catholic All Year and Bonnie Engstrom of A Knotted Life, is a call for all Catholics to partake in Acts of Reparation for Our Lord. This campaign’s mission is simple:
“We are Catholic, faithful to the Magisterium and disgusted by the abuse and cover-ups that have plagued the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. We are heartsick over the 1000+ victims of abuse in the state of Pennsylvania and all the other boys and girls, men and women who have been sexually abused by priests and further victimized by the bishops who covered up these crimes. We pray for justice for the victims and their families and communities. We believe in the Catholic Church, founded by Christ and sustained by the Eucharist. We are one body in Christ. As such, we invite you to join us in observing a forty day period of prayer and fasting as an act of reparation to God for these sins. From the feast of the Queenship of Mary on August 22, through the month of September, we will join our sorrow with Our Lady of Sorrows, and make daily sacrifices appropriate to our own circumstances for this intention.”
Participating in the campaign is very simple. All you need to do is personally pledge to observe a period of prayer and fasting.
If you are unsure of what Acts of Reparation are, here is a quick guide to the—to what they are and what they are not—from the organizers.
You can also add a morning offering, a Chaplet of Reparation, and your chosen form of fasting. For the prayers for these and more information, please visit Kendra’s blog post or Bonnie’s blog post for more details.
This period of voluntary penance begins on August 22, the feast of the Queenship of Mary, and will continue through the end of September. If you read this after August 22nd, it doesn’t matter. You can still participate for the remainder of the campaign.
Let’s not let the scandal rock our faith. Our Lady warned us that this might happen. Even if you choose not to participate in the Sackcloth and Ashes campaign, we can still pray and do penance. As the saying goes, divided we fall but united we stand. Let us all stand together, fellow Catholics, and defend the beautiful faith and Church we love.