Books, family, Life, Maybehedoesnthityou, Motherhood, speaking up, Women

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger

Time and Time Again

Ben Elton’s book ‘Time and Time Again’ details travel backwards in time, to correct an event that had world-wide catastrophic events. At book club, someone asked the rest of us: ‘If you could go back in time, what would you change about your life?’ A personal twist on the novel’s societal concern.

My immediate reaction was ‘Nothing’. I made the decisions I did, the choices I enacted, based upon who I was at the time, with the information then available. How could I change that? Indeed, to change those decisions would mean to change me, to change my family of seven sons.

Does this mean that all my choices and decisions have been good?

Far from it.

They are, however, mine. They make me whom I am today, both the good and bad. They form the substance of my relationships – with family, with God, with others – and the essence of my theological, philosophical, and personal understanding.

I have written before of domestic abuse. Surely, I am not ‘owning’ that?

Well, I am. I am not a victim or even a survivor. I am not an over-comer. I am a woman who has experienced abuse and, in decrying the abuse of myself and my sons and the abuse of other women, I am strong. I am not broken and no, my sons do not come from a broken home. We are well, thank you very much. Our home has peace. We grow in virtue and compassion. We have a radar or sixth sense for abuse and control in and of others. We can see through the bullshit (excuse the language, but we can).

I made a choice to marry young, to continue to be a rescuer, because that is who I was at age nineteen. I didn’t deserve the abuse. But, be sure, my seven sons from that abusive relationship are beings I would never wish away.

I have made many mistakes in my life. But having seven children and homeschooling are not any of the mistakes. To erase or to manipulate my history in one swift time machine trip would be to erase the good with the bad.

I am who I am. I fight for others. I own my choices and stand firm against abuse. I am not a victim. I am whole.

In a life well lived. In a life that I plan to continue to live well.

In fact, there may just be truth in the old adage ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’.

Catholicism, Life, Liturgy, Motherhood, religion, Women

The roar of Holy Week

As Holy Week roars in, shifting our perspective, forcefully nudging us out of the everyday and into a religious experience, we yank our mental gears and shift. What seems simple becomes difficult. And yet, too, what seems difficult becomes simple.

Even the simple act of attending the Holy Thursday Mass becomes less than simple. There is work to be done,  work to carve the time from employment, move schedules, rush family to get ready, drag everyone along, to sit, exhausted, trying to catch a breath.

The baby stirs. The toddler needs distraction, the teen shares a commiserating glance, the young adult sits, once a child and now a companion.

And the liturgy?  It requires a shift from our life of commitments to a sense of other-worldliness. Come here, the liturgy whispers, come here and contemplate what it means to be Christian. Servanthood, accompanied by the Cross.

I know, you silently cry. In my servanthood as a mother and woman I have known, in some small portion, the suffering of the Cross. Christ has suffered with me.

For He has been there, in the busyness and in the emptiness. In the hope and also in the despair.

Holy Week boldly proclaims His love and presence and ushers in the rejoicing of Easter. Even when we don’t feel His presence, Holy Week reminds us that he has been there all along. He will be there all along. There is that sense of suffering-with, and that glorious recognition, in our noisy lives, of the joy of the Resurrection.

The shift pushed on us in the Easter Triduum is a shift for recollection and reflection. It aligns itself with those far-removed, long forgotten New Year resolutions and ponderings. How is life for you, for me, the shift asks. Do we make time for Christ? To be Christ-like?

Ah. The soul stirs. It sighs. Time here to take stock while stepping ahead. For we recognize Christ in our rushing lives and in our peaceable discernment. We see Him in our family and friends. In those we have trouble knowing. Yes, even there, in that ugliness. Theirs and ours.

And so as Holy Week strides forward, our lives are turned askew again by His love and the Cross.

This is the importance of the liturgy in our lives. Helping us even when we don’t want the help.

holy-week

Catholicism, religion

Do you read parish bulletins?

I must admit that mostly I don’t. Don’t read parish bulletins that is. (I often wonder if some parish priests also do not read the bulletin. Especially the pre-written piece copied onto the front page. You know, the related-to-today’s-Gospel bit.)

My sons, however, do read parish bulletins.

And one pointed out to me some interesting sections in a parish bulletin recently. (No, not my parish’s bulletin.)

I thought I’d share.

“May it be too bold to suggest that a successor of St Peter is to preach the resurrection with Pentecostal power and effect, that he too must be propelled into the world by a Spirit-filled gathering of female and male disciples. Why can’t the conclave of electors in the Sistine Chapel include women?”

Oh my.

Simple answer? Because it can’t. The Church has spoken elsewhere on the priesthood and on the role of women. How many times does this need to be re-iterated?:

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (para. 1577) states:

“Only a baptized man (vir) validly receives sacred ordination.” The Lord Jesus chose men (viri) to form the college of the twelve apostles, and the apostles did the same when they chose collaborators to succeed them in their ministry. The college of bishops, with whom the priests are united in the priesthood, makes the college of the twelve an ever-present and ever-active reality until Christ’s return. The Church recognizes herself to be bound by this choice made by the Lord himself. For this reason the ordination of women is not possible.”

And seriously, does this preclude a Pope from preaching “the resurrection with Pentecostal power and effect?”There seems no relevance , no connection between these two thoughts. The Pope preaches with the fire of the Holy Spirit,in the light of the Gospel and Tradition; he preaches to all with love for the common good; the sex of the electors in the conclave is a moot point. Really.

This bulletin passage denies the equality and differences of the sexes. Equality because we are all called to preach the Gospel in our daily lives; different because we bring our differences to the forefront in doing so. I do  not have to emulate a male to share God’s love; indeed, the world becomes a poorer place when we value the strengths of one sex over another, when we denounce the self giving love of women. For in giving of self, we women must first have a self to give; we must nurture and educate ourselves in prayer and in our vocations rather than seek to emulate others.

The bulletin continues..

“There is no single sacred language. All languages, all vernaculars, are capable of hearing and expressing what God wants to inspire, to breathe into human hearts.”

Oh my again. Does this writer possess even a glimmer of logic? For again the obvious must be stated.

Of course all languages can hear and express the Good News. There is no discussion, not now, not ever, about the ability of one language over another to share the Gospel.

This, however, has nothing to do with the use of a sacred language in liturgy. Sacred means set apart. And a language that is set apart and used in sacred liturgy, as Latin may be, is a language that is not open to many different interpretations and confusion. It is a language of unity. Set apart. Sacred. While also allowing the Gospel to be shared and breathed into our hearts.

I thanked my son for pointing out this bulletin piece. And I know now why it is a good thing that many of us do not read the bulletin.

We are saved from logical fallacies  in the form of theological reflection.

Catholicism, Life, religion

Meeting people where they are…

I read statements about meeting people where they are.

When it comes to liturgy, to the sacred, please don’t meet me where I am. Engulfed with thoughts about making ends meet, chores, tiredness, to do lists….

Please lift my heart and mind to Our Lord, to the sacred. Please feed my soul with beauty. Please fortify my prayer and worship, with God’s love, so that I can live my life with that love, sharing it with others.

That’s evangelization. Inspire one who can go out and share this inspiration, this love.

Liturgical come-as-you-are, liturgical do-what-you-wish, liturgical it’s-all-about the people (or community) does not lift a soul to God, does not give Him true worship.

It makes it about me.

It makes Christianity and subsequently evangelization, a religion of niceness (as a friend says, Niceness might just be the new, fourth, cardinal virtue).

In which case self-professed atheist Ricky Gervais is right….. if being a Christian is just about niceness, about meeting people where they are, he may be a better Christian than most Christians, as he claims..

But if Christianity is vested in liturgy, in true worship of God, in feeding our souls so that we can help the souls of others to find God, then we may meet people where they are but we then challenge them to an authentic life.

By giving them God’s word, by beauty, by a sense of peace , of another world, a “why” to why we live the life we live, a why to suffering, a means of experiencing deep seated joy.

Attention to the sacred and to beauty in liturgy does this. It is true inclusiveness. It is true worship. It is true evangelization.

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