Kendra Tierney is another lay Catholic who felt called to do something as the news of scandals in the Church kept coming this summer.
A mom who blogs at Catholic All Year, Tierney said the response to the scandals was something that frequently came up in a Facebook group of female Catholic bloggers to which she belongs.
Together with Bonnie Engstrom, who blogs at A Knotted Life, Tierney launched a social campaign encouraging prayer and fasting, which is how #SackClothandAshes began.
The women designed shareable graphics which describe the mission of the campaign, explain the purpose of prayer and fasting, and provide prayers of reparation. The campaign is set to last 40 days - it began Aug. 22, the feast of the Queenship of Mary, and will last through the month of September.
"We are Catholic, faithful to the Magisterium and disgusted by the abuse and cover-ups that have plagued the Roman Catholic Church. We are heartsick over the 1,000+ victims of abuse in the state of Pennsylvania and all the other boys and girls, men and women who have been sexually abused by priests and further victimized by the bishops who covered up these crimes," one graphic for the #SackClothandAshes campaign states.
Tierney said she didn't expect as big a response to the campaign as it has received.
"The response has been really heartwarming, because it felt like here was something real and concrete and based in Catholic doctrine and tradition that we could do," she said.
Fasting in particular is a practice that has "sort of fallen by the wayside in Catholicism recently," Tierney said, "yet this is a tool that makes us better and makes our Church better."
Tierney said one of the most encouraging responses to the campaign she has received is from a woman who was sexually abused by a priest as a child. While the abuse happened many years ago, and the woman has since married and left the Church, she told Tierney that "it was the first time that she felt like the Catholic Church was supporting her and all that she had gone through."
"There's so many intentions for this (campaign), but that has to be one of the main ones, is showing the people who have survived this kind of abuse that we are aware of them and that we want to do what we can to support them," Tierney said.
She noted that September is an especially appropriate time for a campaign that calls for fasting and reparation, as it contains the feasts of Our Lady of Sorrows and the Exaltation of the Cross, as well as the autumn ember days – the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after the third Sunday in September, which were, historically, days of fast and abstinence.
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The sacrifices and prayers are "a daily reminder that I haven't given up on this, I haven't forgotten about it, it's...40 days that I keep it in the forefront of my mind," she added.
Author Leah Libresco is also inviting laity to use the Sept. 14 feast of Our Lady of Sorrows as an opportunity to call their bishops about their concerns.
In her Facebook event, Libresco said she will be asking her bishop "what (he) knew about McCarrick, what he did, and what he plans to do now. I'll also ask for him to work for the release of documents that would confirm or refute Archbishop Viganò's testimony."
She encourages attendees of the event to use the letter templates from The Siena Project as a guide for what to say on the call, and also to pray the sorrowful mysteries of the rosary or the Chaplet of Seven Sorrows for the bishops and their staff ahead of time.
"Let them know when you call that you're praying for them!" she noted.
Kevin Heider is a Catholic singer-songwriter who has responded to the scandal through song.