It is through your life of gospel witness
lived in community with others
that God desires to manifest
care and compassionate love
to those who are separated and estranged,
not only from their neighbors,
but also from their own uniqueness;
to those who suffer
from want, neglect, and injustice:
the poor, the weak, and the oppressed
of this world.
They too are called
the love of God with the world
through their own giftedness.
For the past ten years, I have had the privilege and the responsibility to respond to numerous survivors of sexual abuse. When recently asked to prepare a reflection on the above from our Fundamental Principles, I almost immediately thought of my experience of interviewing and listening to the stories of survivors of abuse, and this experience has had a profound effect on me.
Each person who was abused when a youth had a unique story. No story was exactly the same. However, the most universal effect I heard was having great difficulty trusting anyone, even special people in their lives such as spouses or significant others. This naturally posed a challenge for me. Could I listen to their story with an openness of mind and heart and win to some small degree their trust and confidence? Could I follow the example of Jesus and be truly compassionate? I can only say that I tried to do this. There were, of course, other effects, but the difficulty in trusting was quite universal. In summary, they were robbed of the ability to trust. Perhaps, in some small way, when meeting with the survivors of abuse, I was communicating God’s love. I hope that my listening to them with respect and compassion was a step forward in their process of healing and gaining new inner freedom.
Through these ten years, I have been profoundly affected by the transparency and vulnerability of the survivors as they shared their story. Listening to such honest sharing was moving and humbling for me. I hope I am moving myself to greater transparency and vulnerability in my own journey. Ronald Rolheiser in one of his books speaks eloquently about how difficult it is for us, especially men, to be transparent and vulnerable with others. I recall my first year as principal of Ryken High School back in 1969 how difficult it was for me. I was a very young principal with not much experience, and the school was in need of solid leadership. That first year I often felt very alone, alienated, confused, and even angry at God. Why was I sent here? Am I able to do what is being asked of me? However, thanks to the wonderful Xaverian Brothers on the faculty at the time, I was supported and encouraged, and we developed a team effort, “a band of Brothers who mutually work together in the service of others.” I began to experience God’s love in a new, deeper and powerful way and to accept my own uniqueness.
~Brother Cornie Hubbuch
1. How/when have you felt separated and estranged from your own uniqueness?
2. How/when have you helped others to experience their own uniqueness and experience the love of God?