There’s a lot of skepticism about the need for any Missionaries of Mercy, about the need for a Year of Mercy. It’s easier to forget about it than to think hard and do something. But, actually, it’s only the provision of mercy which makes everything better. The Missionaries of Mercy themselves have to come up with ways to facilitate the manifestation of Jesus’ mercy among us.
Those who have been abused are in desperate need of forgiving their abusers. The provision of mercy in this Year of Mercy is to come especially from them. Forgiveness is frightening, and the first reaction by the main-stream media is mocking rejection, filled with bitterness, enough to make many in Church fear to have anything to do with mercy and forgiveness.
But this is the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, and we must simply rid ourselves of the grip that political correctness has on us. Otherwise, we fail ourselves, fail our neighbors, fail the world, fail God.
The ten videos below the page break of this post comprise an e-book personally read by the author, Donald Nohs, an abuse victim bringing a message of mercy and forgiveness to all who will listen. Donald knows that it’s all about Jesus.
In fact, his main preoccupation in life is to give a presentation about the Passion and Death of our Lord (the Shroud of Turin) so as to accentuate the depth of the mercy Jesus brings to us all with such goodness and kindness. Suffering knows suffering.
It is in seeing the suffering of Jesus that Donald is empowered to see his own suffering in the light of Christ. His testimony is about how he was brought to forgiveness of his abuser by Jesus Himself. This is a testimony which will help bring victims to forgiveness of their abusers.
As Donald points out, it’s not possible that there be a reconciliation with a personal encounter between victims and their own abusers on this earth. The reason for that, of course, among so many other reasons on so many levels, is that there could be a grooming-ulterior-motive on the part of the abusers, right? But that doesn’t mean that the victim cannot at all forgive his abuser. Here are some quick thoughts that I jotted down while listening to Donald’s testimony:
- Forgiveness doesn’t necessitate saying this to the abuser’s face or sending any kind of message whatsoever. In fact, as I say, that’s a bad idea.
- Forgiveness doesn’t mean that the abuser can now or ever in the future receive this forgiveness into his soul. That’s up to him.
- Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you are giving anyone permission to treat you with disrespect.
- Forgiveness does mean that you avoid the total hell of bitterness and darkness, of being controlled by your abuser. In his lust for power, he wanted you to be in and remain in that total hell, which, for whatever reason, he was going through. His cowardice of projection is death dealing. One must leave such death of the abuser behind, doing this by the grace of God.
- Forgiveness does not mean that you are automatically necessarily relieved of feelings and emotions which would have you lash out against your abuser, nor does it mean that you are necessarily immediately relieved of any possible temptation to replay the abuse, as it were, by hurting oneself in whatever way. It does mean that you are spiritually free of the abuser’s suffocating control of your person.
- Forgiveness means that you are inviting the very love of God into your heart and soul, bringing you healing even as you desire this for others.
Donald dropped a comment into the comments box of the post I put up entitled: To (Arch)Bishops: Pope Francis’ Missionary of Mercy’s invitation to Victims of Abuse and to Treatment Centers for Priests. Could it be that we might be able to have some Year of Mercy events in Cathedrals right around the country? We shall see! We talked for about an hour and a half.
Donald sits on a diocesan accusations review board and has helped to write the policy dealing with accusations of abuse for his diocese. His bishop is right with him. The bishops will be able to see some aspects of my own ministry in the biographies of all the Missionaries of Mercy that the Holy See is sending to all the bishops, but I’ve included the required autobiographical paragraphs below the page break of this post, right at the end.
I’m very enthused about this. All (Arch)Bishops in the USA and territories have or will soon have the contact info of all the Missionaries of Mercy. The ball is in your court, your Eminences and Excellencies. Whoever it is who provides this presentation on our Lord’s mercy regarding the healing of abuse also by way of forgiveness, this is THE presentation of mercy that our people need so very desperately during this Jubilee Year of Mercy. The liberation of forgiveness and mercy is the way to go, the only way to go. This has been neglected the whole time, as if non-forgiveness were sacred, the new sacrament of our political correctness. We’ve forgotten Jesus in all this. We want Jesus! We want mercy! Let’s do this. Just make it happen. Make your cathedrals available for Jesus, for forgiveness, for mercy. Indeed, use your cathedrals for this, your cathedra, for this teaching on mercy for your people is one of the most important you will provide as shepherd of your flock.
Donald and I will have to think this out, but what immediately comes to mind is a Sunday afternoon and evening of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament with prayers of reparation and mercy, with the powerful testimony of Donald’s forgiveness of his abuser (all about Jesus!), along with some other testimony from a prisoner (all about Jesus!), as well as some words about how mercy works out in such situations from yours truly (all about Jesus!), along with, as circumstances permit, other guest speakers, even while the sacrament of reconciliation is provided throughout that time by however many priests are able to come, even while, if circumstances permit, counselors approved by whatever diocese also make themselves available for personal encounters which can deeply touch people’s lives. Mind you, not everyone who has been abused is Catholic. Then, a procession of the Blessed Sacrament around the church, Benediction and then Holy Mass.
Your Eminences and Excellencies. We will try to make this easy for you.
And to help ensure that this article gets into your hands, I’m asking my readers to print it out and give it personally to their Cardinals, Archbishops and bishops.
O.K. Now, if you dare, here are those ten videos of Donald’s testimony. Be prepared to meet Jesus. I started the first and let it roll through the rest, pacing about my little rectory, listening intently. Set aside some time to do the same, thinking about clearing the schedule of your Cathedral one Sunday afternoon and evening during this Year of Mercy, the sooner, the better. Don’t let it slip away…
O.K. That’s from Donald. For myself, here are the autobiographical paragraphs required by the Holy See for all Missionaries of Mercy:
Ministerial Work: AT PRESENT: Administrator of a small parish with a mission church. Since this is perhaps one of the smallest parishes in America, there would be time to fulfill the duties of the Missionary of Mercy, including giving missions throughout the diocese and offering confessions.
IN THE PAST: Administrator, Pastor and otherwise assisting at many parishes in United States, Australia and Italy. Formator and Spiritual Director in the Pontifical Seminary Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, also teaching Philosophy, languages, Scripture, Theology, including teaching the Confession Practicum to successive transitional Diaconate classes. Teaching and formation in other seminaries in Oceania and Australia. Giving of parish missions (with hearing confessions being the priority) and retreats and conferences for laity, religious and priests in North and Central America, Oceania, Asia, throughout Europe. Chaplain for two years in Lourdes (hearing untold thousands of confessions in French, Italian and English). Chaplain in hospitals/hospices/nursing homes. Being available for special institutes for those in extreme suffering, as well as rehabilitation centers and for religious with special difficulties. Lots of work through the decades with those living on the street and in shelters, with those at soup kitchens. Helping priests who are beaten down by their circumstances in life. Preaching about mercy is at the center of my life.
Brief personal introduction: I have crucified Mary’s Son with my sin, thus failing the Church, the world, my neighbor, casting myself into the darkest of existential peripheries, good for nothing except damnation. In thanksgiving for Jesus’ mercy, I wish to bring His goodness and kindness to all, that many may know the joy and enthusiasm Jesus has in welcoming us into our Heavenly Father’s embrace. I laugh with Saint Matthew who wrote of Jesus speaking of what the punishment is to be like for those who have been reprimanded by one’s neighbor, by two or three, and by the Church (see Mt 18), that they are to be treated as tax collectors, for Matthew the tax collector was punished by being made both apostle and evangelist. I have spent much of my priesthood with those who have been thrown away on the streets, with those whose suffering is immense. I have brought victims of abuse to Jesus. I work with those locked away in Maximum Security Prison. I have exorcized the demon-possessed, and have ministered for priests who have been accused of prostituting themselves with filthy sins of abuse. The stench of the “dirty” sheep for whom Jesus died sticks with me in a way which is offensive to some. In fulfillment of the “lío” desired by the Bishop of Rome, I watch Jesus minister through me, bringing the most impossible, hopeless sinners to the joy of forgiveness. My academic studies through the years were about the three mercy parables of Luke 15, which made the subject matter for a specialized course, seminar and also the licentiate thesis at the Pontifical Biblical Institute with Klemens Stock, S.J., while the sin and forgiveness found in Genesis 2–3 became the subject of my doctoral thesis at the Angelicum. Preaching about mercy is what I enjoy most in life.
You can contact me also by way of an old but still used email address: holy souls hermitage [one word] at gmail dot com.
Share this post if you would like to see such an event happen anywhere in the Church for the good of the Church. May Jesus’ mercy reward you.
— Father George David Byers