"Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it" - Mark Twain
We all carry stories of people being cruel to our children, of treating them with prejudice, marginalizing them as outcasts. But none sting our mothers' hearts more than when these experiences come at the hands of our churches, our priests, our ministers, or other religious leaders.
Jesus' words on extending the supportive community of acceptance are crystal clear: "But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they can not repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."
Parish priests, ministers, rabbis, and religious people are human. They are going to make mistakes and say things and do things they shouldn't. When this happens, we have two choices: we can speak up, or we can go away. Speaking up will not necessarily bring victory, and "going away" might feel more like defeat. Therefore, we must discern what the Lord wants us to do when we encounter these battles. When anointed by God, we can do all things through Him who strengthens us (Phil 4:13).
As children of God, we are going to be called to forgive our offenders. Forgiveness of those who have hurt our children does not justify what they did, and it does not undo it. But it is a commandment. God's Word says, "And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins" (Mark 11:25).
So let us not permit hurtful circumstances to take our precious energy, or sway us from a right relationship with God. We must put on the armor of the Lord as we go forward. With Him, we will be able to stand when the arrows are sent our way. He will protect us and our children in battle.
PRAYER: Father, I need your help today with forgiving those who have trespassed against my child. I want to forgive fully from my heart, and I ask You to forgive me for hurting others. Please heal the pain I carry from the arrows' onslaught. Heal all wounds, especially those of my offenders. Help us all to do Your Will. I pray all of this in Jesus' precious name. Amen.
Below is an article about a priest, a church, a community and a special needs family who are in desperate need of our prayers. I do not know the details or the different sides to this story, but it looks like all parties are in need of healing.
PRIEST BANS AUTISTIC BOY FROM CHURCH; MOM TOLD SHE'D BE SENT TO JAIL IF SHE BROUGHT AUTISTIC SON TO CHURCH
A Catholic priest has filed a restraining order against the parents of a severely autistic 13-year-old boy in an effort to keep him from attending the church in Bertha on Sundays.
Church officials claim he is too disruptive.
The Rev. Daniel Walz alleges that Adam Race's unruly behavior endangers others who attend the Church of St. Joseph.
Race's parents have ignored the restraining order, calling it discriminatory, and Carol Race, Adam's mother, was cited by police and is due to appear in court on Monday for violating the order.
"He said that we did not discipline our son. He said that our son was physically out of control and a danger to everyone at church," Carol Race said. "I can't discipline him out of his autism, and I think that's what our priest is expecting."
Carol Race said it all started last June, when Walz and a church trustee visited the Races at their home address the behavior of Adam, who stands taller than six feet and weighs more than 225 pounds.
In an affidavit, Walz said the church "explored and offered many options for accommodations that would assist the family while protecting the safety of parishioners. The family refused those offers of accommodation."
Carol Race said the family of seven, which has attended St. Joseph since 1996, typically sat in the cry room or in the back pew to keep avoid disrupting the services and did not hear a complaint from the parishioners until Walz showed up at their home in June.
Even after the restraining order was served, the family continued going to the church and would leave during the closing hymn to avoid contact with others, Carol Race said.
The Diocese of St. Cloud issued a statement saying the petition was filed "as a last resort out of a growing concern for the safety of parishioners and other community members due to disruptive and violent behavior on the part of that child."
Walz said the boy's behavior worsened over time, telling authorities that Adam has been "extremely disruptive and dangerous" since last summer.
According to Walz, Adam struck a child during mass, nearly knocks elderly parishioners over when he hastily exits the church, spits and sometimes urinates in church and fights when he is being restrained.
He also one time assaulted a girl by pulling her onto his lap and, during Easter mass, ran to the parking lot and got into two vehicles, starting them and revving the engine, Walz alleged.
"There were people directly in front of the car who could have been injured or killed if he had put the car in gear," Walz wrote.
Adam's parents have to sit on him and sometimes tie his hands and feet to get control of him, Walz wrote.
Carol Race has an answer to each complaint.
She said her son makes spitting faces but doesn't spit and acknowledged he has occasional problems with incontinence. She says that she and her husband sit on Adam because their weight calms him down, which is why he pulled the girl onto him.
She also said they do use soft straps to bind Adam's hands and feet on occasion because it calms him, as does the revving sound of engines, which is why he started the cars.
Some disability advocates are getting behind the Races.
"It's unfathomable and concerns me that we've taken a situation with special needs and we're making it into the criminal matter," said Brad Trahan, the founder of the RT Autism Awareness Foundation in Rochester, who has asked the bishop of St. Cloud to rescind the restraining order.
Carol Race just hopes the ugly back-and-forth doesn't tarnish the image of the church.
"The church isn't bad," she said. "But it's what some individuals do within the church."
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)