Sunday, August 19, 2018

Wait. Why am I Catholic again?

“Oh! You have a blog? What’s it called?”

I think I had trouble answering this question even before last week. You know... you start a blog and come up with what you think is a really clever name, and then the longer it’s around the more you wonder, “Why in the world did I think *that* was a good name??”

Then the news breaks from Pennsylvania of the truly horrific crimes perpetrated by members, nay LEADERS, of your very church and it gets me thinking again: Wait. Why am I “Catholic Again”?

Is it because of a priest? Is it because of the Church? The Pope?

Well, yes… and No.

My experience and encounters with God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - can’t easily be separated from the people who were “there when it happened.” I was baptized by a priest, received first Holy Communion from a priest, was sealed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit by a bishop. A priest hears my confession. These are all big things!


No one else was there when I heard God ask me: “Will you give this up for love of Me?”

No one else felt the joy in my soul when I realized, and accepted for myself, the Jesus died to save me - a sinner - and that He loves me!

No one (or maybe very few people) look at a hot air balloon and see an answer to prayer. But I will always be reminded of how God answered a special (but by no means, unique) prayer of mine.

The Catholic Church may have been a mediator in the big events of my faith life - but it has not ever been the determinator of my faith life. Which is to say, I am not Catholic because of the church. I am a Catholic because I love Jesus and I do my best to follow Him.

But some would say, “How can you stomach even being a part of an organization that harbored such predators?” And to be honest, I can’t. I’ve been feeling nauseous, losing sleep… and trying to live a normal life taking care of my family and myself. (This is *nothing* compared to what the victims have endured). But something a fellow blogger wrote really resonated with me: she said (and I’m paraphrasing), “When someone breaks into your home, you don’t just abandon your home forever. You get the police and you clean out the burglars. You fix the damage. You make it a safe place again.” That’s the only response that makes sense to me. Yes, I’m angry and want nothing better than to flip some tables or call down some Holy-Spirit-purifying-fire -- but if I do it only out of anger, I’m in danger of falling into sin myself. (A brilliant little Twitter thread about this is here: Secondary battles)

It’s funny. When the scandal broke last week, quite a few bloggers talked about how relieved/comforted they were to hear their priest address the issue publicly. So thinking I might be similarly relieved/comforted, I anxiously awaited going to mass today to hear what Father would say. But, not only was Fire baby completely out of sorts, the little dude and the wee girl were having a hard time keeping it together as well. For the first time in a long time, I actually spent near all of Mass outside with the baby. I missed the homily completely and most all the announcements as well. Figures, right? I *did* just say that I’m not a Catholic because of a priest, but because of Jesus. So, who do I really want comfort and encouragement from anyway?


A while ago, Sarah Bessey wrote about how she became disillusioned - gratefully disillusioned - with the leadership of her church. In it there were some lines that have stuck with me over the years:
I no longer look to you as my shepherd. What a relief to you, I imagine!
No, I look to Jesus as my Shepherd. You can be my pastor, you can be my teacher, you can be my friend.
And this is freedom.
For both of us, do you see?
We need that kind of freedom in our Church - the kind where consecrated Religious aren’t held up on a pedestal or held to impossible standards, the kind where lay people are free in their relationship with God, not feeling like they should have an intermediary or some sort. This is a bit of a digression, I admit. But when you recognize that these scandals were born out of the sin of clericalism, predatory lust, power, and addiction to money… then I have to ask, “If this kind of freedom lived in the Church, would this scandal have ever been possible?”

I don't have an answer to that question... nor much of an ending to this post. I'm still trying to figure out my actual response to the events that have happened (beyond these words, cause as we all know, words without action mean little). All I can offer right now is my prayer:

O Lord, Send out your Spirit and renew the face of the Earth!

Lord, hear! Lord, pardon! Lord, be attentive and act without delay, for your own sake, my God, because your name is invoked upon your city and your people! (Daniel 9:19)

Jesus, please bring justice and healing to those hurt; and protect the innocent.

Mary, Mother of the Church, pray for us.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this! I appreciate the borrowed image of the burglary-- we are here to help clean up. And it's a mess. Oof.