1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 a time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
- Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
The past decade has embraced most of the times mentioned in the famous section of Ecclesiastes. We call the time “Renewal.” But at any given moment, it has been a time to break down, build up, weep, laugh, mourn, cast away, speak, love, and – perhaps most of all – heal.
That’s where an apostolate called “Be Loved” comes into play. And we should make it clear right now. It is two words, as in “If you score a touchdown in the big game you will ‘be loved’ by the fans.” (As opposed to players who score touchdowns are “beloved”.)
Melissa Foley, women’s section director in Atlanta, and Regnum Member since 2002 founded Be Loved and is the director. But it isn’t something she consciously planned – at least at the beginning.
In a sense, Be Loved began when Melissa was just five years old. She lived in a family in survival mode, a mode thrust upon her, the only way of living she knew.
Her dad was an alcoholic. Her mom suffered from mental illness. They divorced.
“It was a very broken family,” Melissa recalls. “In my mind, my dad loved a bottle of beer more than me. As a result, I was always trying to prove my worth, trying to be perfect.
“Becoming Catholic helped, but I didn’t have space in my soul to receive all the graces that come with being Catholic. And Our Lord pursued me for a long time.”
Melissa says she suffered in wake of the scandal involving the Legion’s founder because the “perfectionism” of Regnum Christi tended to deny vulnerability. There was, to her, such a disconnect between the ideal presented by the Movement and the failings that had surfaced.
The inner doubts that sprang from the flaws of her family of origin, that drove her efforts to be accepted and praised, brought to the surface the feelings she had buried for so long.
One day in a fit of anger she made a list of all the things she didn’t have growing up from her parents. But when she prayed, God showed her that he had provided all those things from other people.
She really had never shared the trauma she experienced growing up. But she slowly started to share with people very close to her.
“So, my best friend and I decided to go on a quest for healing,” Melissa recalls. “We went to Texas, Florida, and all over the country for healing retreats and classes. We were putting ourselves in a place for God to find us. And we realized how important it was for is to have our own identity clear before we could be truly effective Regnum Christi apostles.
“Be Loved is addressed by the first core conviction of Regnum Christi – that God Loves us. But many members aren’t so sure of that; they don’t have their identity clear.”
Be Loved, in simple terms, is a weekend healing retreat. It isn’t a “treatment” program. Neither is it a 12-step recovery program. But it addresses – from the perspective of Regnum Christi spirituality – the healing that so many people seek.
To give this some perspective, the National Institute for Mental Health, reports that more than 16 million Americans suffer a major incident of depression each year. And that number doesn’t include the millions who suffer lesser anxiety or the effects of an imperfect past.
“Every person needs healing,” Melissa says. “But they have to get to the point where they will do ANYTHING to get rid of the pain they are in.
“Once grounded in their identity, the mission is clearer. That’s because a person’s mission springs from their being.”
That, says Melissa, is why healing is so important. She contends that a person cannot truly live the fullness of their mission in Regnum Christi until their hurts are addressed. It is a bit like the warning given before an airplane flight, where the attendants advise parents that if the oxygen masks fall they should put on their own masks before helping their children.
Jesus came to set us free- all of us. Including those needed to be restored: Lay members, consecrated members, and Legionaries. For all members of Regnum Christi, Be Loved is a way to address the need to address human woundedness.
A taste of a testimony from one Be Loved participant (anonymous) gives a flavor of the wounds to be healed:
On the Fourth of July, my mom dressed me up in Red, White & Blue along with my favorite Madame Alexander Doll and my Dolly Coach. I marched in the Parade and won the contest for best dressed, and my picture was in the paper!
It was a great beginning, and then one day, my world changed! I was in the farmhouse kitchen and witnessed my parents fighting. I saw my dad lift my mom off the floor by her upper arms and slam her up against the kitchen wall. That’s all I remember …However, fighting at the home front was intensifying and I remember several key fights.
One was the time that my Mother threw every ceramic dish, plate, and bowel from the kitchen at my father, who was drunk and standing in the hallway. My brother and I were just above them in the upstairs landing watching the event thru the banister railing. It was quite pitiful watching my mom throw the items at my dad while he just stood there as they shattered on him. I don’t remember what words were spoken during this fight, or even after it. My brother and I just went to bed.
Drinking and fighting were always the threat of the day. My brother and I never knew when they were going to occur; we just knew that they would.
Melissa says such experience dwell in the memories of many women and men which cause a host of problems until they are dealt with. But she contends that just as Jesus healed people and drove out demons in the Gospel stories, He continues to heal people today and will continue to do so.
She loves the image Pope Francis draws of the Church as a field hospital for sinners rather than a museum for saints. For many women in Regnum Christi, Be Loved may be the ideal emergency clinic to heal the wounds of the past.