Back from a weeklong furlough to find a rarity in my mailbox: An actual handwritten letter from a reader.

After hearing so much about the U.S. Postal Service's woes, I sometimes forget people still send letters. In ink. In cursive. On lovely stationary inscribed with inspirational messages like for thee the earth puts forth sweet flowers. (No, it's not scented.)

This simple note, like most that arrive the old-fashioned way, was unsigned. The writer says she's 77 years old and was raised in a "Strict Irish Catholic family," walking "a long distance through blizzards" to parochial school. She followed her parents' lead with her own children even though paying the tuition was "many times a struggle."

In spare, hurting prose, my anonymous reader felt compelled to share her dismay at the latest clergy sex scandal to envelop the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

"I do not go to church today," the sad stranger wrote. "I am floundering. ... I pray every day -- churches closing, schools closing, all the money going to the predators. The children are still suffering."

"I am shattered. My life will never be the same."

Then, she signed off with "T.Y," as if to apologize for unloading such personal thoughts in such an impersonal forum. Having no way to properly thank her for reading and shining a light on the pain in and out of the pews, I do so here.

(For more blog posts, see philly.com/blinq)