Wednesday, July 17, 2002

From the depths; Psalm 130

From the depths I call to you, LORD,
Lord, listen to my cry for help!
Listen compassionately to my pleading!

If you never overlooked our sins, LORD,
Lord, could anyone survive?
But you do forgive us;
and for that we revere you.

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits for him,
I rely on his promise,
my soul relies on the Lord
more than a watchman on the coming of dawn.

Let Israel rely on the LORD
as much as the watchman on the dawn!
For it is with the LORD that mercy is to be found,
and a generous redemption;
it is he who redeems Israel
from all their sins.

This morning, I spent some time with the icons. Actually, with a set of icon prints that traveled with me in the case with the Liturgy of Hours book. There's a couple dozen of my favorite friends there, some canonized, some not yet, and one (at least) never-will. Who was calling to me this morning. For some reason, the holy Anonymous, priest of Sachsenhausen, called to me. I don't think of him very often.

Holy Anonymous, unlike other priests who fell afoul of the Nazis, wasn't there because he was a priest: in fact, he was very reticent about even being known as a priest, lest he become a cause of scandal. He was there because he had done some shameful act that notified the Nazi government of his illegal sexual orientation.

Yet, in a concentration camp, among the lowly and loathed "pink triangles," he prayed and wept and lived a nameless penitential life, serving his fellow inmates both sacramentally and in the most humble practical service, until he was killed in the camp. No one who survived knew his name or history before the camp ---- only that the love of God shone through him, a humiliated and sorrowing, penitent and holy, priest of the Church.

Is here our saint for our brother priests, who for the good of the Church in our land must disappear forever into anonymous limbo? All our local Churches have them. Priests who confessed and repented, served civil and canonical penalties, did both penance and therapy for many years, and have been successfully restored --- sometimes for decades ---- and now in spite of double and triple jeopardy are to be driven out, even sometimes against the wishes of their victims, to survive wherever they can. Holy Anonymous is, in many ways, theirs. He reminded me this day that our "past perps" need our prayers too. I had neglected them, but no more.

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