Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Foot Washing: A timeless Parable (4.1.10)

On this Holy Thursday, when Christians everywhere recall the teachings of Jesus related to servant leadership, on a day when the RCC remains mired in scandal and crisis, I repost this modern version:

Bishops ~ Take a Lesson from Brother Pierre:

Brother Pierre is a true shepherd, someone I have known for 35 years, though we've rarely spoken.  I've always respected his contemplative silence, yet I feel I know him well enough to commend him to you as an example of how to be a good shepherd:

Brother Pierre is not ordained.  He's never given a sermon.  Unless you count the way he's lived his life.  So far as I know he has no shepherd's staff, no visible authority.  But you can learn all you need to know from the photo above and one more below. 

Look long and carefully at this photo.  Look at it like Sister Wendy looks at art:  Set aside your ego and allow the photo to speak with its own integrity to your innermost heart. 

Notice how he interacts with the sheep.  You can see he loves them.  He doesn't lord it over them.  He reaches out to gently hold the lamb.  He looks the sheep right in the eye - because he's kneeling down.  Among them.  You can see the adult sheep trusts him with her lamb.  You can see he's prepared to "feed her lamb".  The sheep listens attentively - for she trusts him.  And he speaks her language.  Like St. Francis.  His tone of voice and his Presence carry the message.

Like David, another shepherd before him, he also plays the harp and sings psalms.

I wish you could hear him play:  "Like the deer that yearns for running streams / So my heart yearns for you, my God."

Mount Savior Monastery saved my soul.  But right now you Bishops are breaking my heart:
You, who seem ever ready to excuse and hide the crimes of "your own" and all too eager to caste stones at the flock.   Instead of showing love and a place at the table, you have forfeited your moral authority.

You're trying to regain that.  But you're going about it in exactly the wrong way.  You're trying to impose your will on people - people who have every right to question that will - tarnished as it is by your flagrant hypocrisy over decades, even centuries, of covering up for predatory shepherds. 

Let me give you a piece of advice as a former teacher of young children and therapist who has worked with many victims of abuse:  You can only exercise authority if you first establish relationships of love.  Unless your flock sees the true face of love (what Paul called, "the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ") you have lost them.  And once even children experience "discipline" lacking in love, they become traumatized, gun-shy, mistrustful - and you have lost them. 

You have lost your trustful flock just as surely as you have lost your moral authority.  And don't be fooled by the sycophants!

There is really only one way to regain trust and moral authority - IF that is still possible.  And that is the way of changing your own hearts and minds.  Changing your tune.  Changing your behavior, your tone of voice, your habit of looking down on people.  Learning instead, from Brother Pierre,  to kneel and look them in the eye.  One by one.  With compassion.  Seeking forgiveness.  Learning to serve and not be served.

Go out among the poor.  Go out barefoot and in rags.  Or make it sandals and one set of plain clothes.  Make it your task to listen.  To love each person you meet.  Recognize your common humanity with each, especially with each suffering soul.  Hear the suffering hidden in each heart.  See the yearning.  Don't preach.  Let your veneration for their suffering be your healing balm.  Your listening heart.  Look with eyes of compassion - devoid of judgment.  Forgive everyone you come across.  Without asking any questions.

And when you can do this - then and only then - might there be a hope of regaining the lost trust, the lost respect of those whom you have betrayed.  Failing that, all you have to offer will sound as empty platitudes, no more than a musical instrument completely out of tune.  Harsh.  Discordant.  Annoying.


Lovely. Could almost make me believe in god again.
Consider this: God believes in you!
Oh this is delightful. Kind of in the sense of spring and renewal.
You said hi and left out a link. I figured it out though.
You cannot figure out people like Pierre though. Not in my logic system. No he does....
I love stories like this.
I told you before I am just caught up music that is 17 years old. hahhaaha
There was the sweetest scene on the History Channel which they have repeated many times. But A lion actually lies down with a baby eland who is sick and protects the poor dying mammal. For no reason. Another scene shows a lioness just attempting to get a fresh kill from the chief lion for her young, and he kind of shakes his head after her antics and leaves her to her duties.
Pierre's look at the mama is precious. Inexplicable.
Trust must be earned is the cliche. No you cannot impose your will on any of it.
I think sometimes that I should take arms against the sea of troublemakers.
I of course, will never do such things.
Sometimes it is better for everyone that people like me are cowards after all. ahahhaahah
It just seemed so timely on a number of levels!
Divine timing, maybe.
Bless you, bwak!
I was just was the foot washing by the Prince that always grabbed me since I was a kid.
Wendy Davis did a marvelous blog recently on her dirty tom boy feet and grandmama.
But I remembered I did not write about the quest for the Holy Grail, but rather about the Quest for the Holy Pail; the pail that our Savior used to wash the feet of his flock. ha Obviously the rhyme worked better than an Holy Basin. hahahaha
I mean it is Easter after all...Sweet sweet sentiments.
All is not lost!!
Divine Inspiration there! :-)
I appreciate your message here.
Maybe this public judgement upon the Catholic heirarchy will enable a great cleansing for the dear, faithful believers of the Roman church. They are so like sheep. May this be a great time of tearing down the walls of institutional sin and manipulation; may the days ahead become a new era of simple faith and true holiness in the Lord Jesus Christ--the one who,in authentic humility, washed his disciples' feet before suffering the ultimate humiliation as their (and our)long-awaited Passover lamb.
I left Catholicism forty years ago, made a big mess of my life for ten years or so, then turned to Jesus himself for deliverance, and have never turned back.
May God be with you, TheraP, in all your efforts to do give glory to Him.
Blessings upon you, Carey.
I see this crisis is like a black hole, which the hierarchy keeps digging deeper and wider, as the black hole attracts everything to itself. More abuse reports. Press attention. And denials and obfuscation which only result in more abuse reports and press/blog attention.
But the theory of black holes is that they emerge into another Reality, so to speak. Into a kind of creative birth of energy. It is this we are waiting for, hoping for.
Thank you for your comments and for your blessing upon me.
Peace be with you - in all that you do.

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