In all circumstances, no matter what crisis, we continue to practice the solution: prayer. Let’s break down how God resolves basic problems caused by sin:
- Knowledge of the problem. You first need to know there is a problem. This process is discernment, which includes knowing what is right from wrong.
- Illumination. God reveals the problem to us. This presumes that knowing right from wrong already clearly in place, so when illumination happens, we know it holds a priority and our soul is at stake if we don’t take action.
- Contrition. This step builds on the last steps, which expects a heart that is clearly seeking to right themselves before God, e.g., sorrow for sin, honest guilt, and a desire to resolve. Love of God and fear of offending God drives this, as well as fear of eternal damnation in Hell.
- Petition. This consists of a clear explanation of the error, circumstances, number of times and in a way that demonstrates trueness of the previous steps, e.g.,“Jesus, I have done X. Please forgive me!”
- Absolution. God acts with Divine Mercy. Whether this is done in sacramental confession for mortal sins (one can also confess venial sins), or confessing personally to Jesus for venial sins. In all cases, this step is God solving the problem from His side. Then, the next step is our part.
- Firm purpose of amendment. This is how we willfully demonstrate that every step up till now was truly our desire from the outset; that is, to change our ways. We make start anew with decisions and plans to improve, even heroically so.
- Penance. This is the plan of action that begins the process and grants the provision to repair the effects of our error and makes us better than we were before.
This process for our own personal holiness is the same process to heal our current crisis of scandals and misdeeds in the church, and this is going to be and always has been the process to bring humanity to be perfect before God!
Step 1. God is illuminating the problem. We need to ask this step be complete and no stone be left unturned. Steps after this will build on the strength of this step, so we need to offer our sacrifices and prayers to obtain a good first step.
Step 2. We are still at the beginning of this step with step 1, for this crisis. Let’s put our prayers toward this step and all these steps of redemption.
As a point of emphasis, let’s remember that we are not destroying life to make life safer. Nor are we, in this process, denying the good already done by the perpetrators (outside of their sinful acts). Rather, we are, by the power of God, redeeming the sinful humanity, repairing injuries done, and in the process making it more Christian; that is, more Christ-like.
We are asking God to improve the situation far better than it was prior to knowing the problem, just like all of us must do when we sin and seek to be good Christians before God.