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I remember being younger, maybe around age 11 or 12… July 4, 2006

Posted by introspectreangel in Catholic, Episcopal, politics.
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…and discussing Church stuff with my mom (she’s a religious educator by profession). She was taking a moment to teach me about, in her words, the difference between “big T” Traditions and “little t” traditions. She was explaining to me that what is mentioned in the Nicene Creed – the Trinity, the Virgin Mary, the Incarnation, the Resurrection, etc. – are the “big T’s” that all Roman Catholics must believe, and that things like the Church’s teachings on birth control and the death penalty (to name just two) are the “little t’s” where one must pray, do an examination of conscience and reach their own conclusions. I was already an avid reader of her “U.S. Catholic”, a moderate magazine, by this point, and I asked her if this was what was meant by the new term I had recently encountered – “cafeteria Catholic”, i.e. a Catholic who picks and chooses what teachings they will accept and which they won’t.

This led to a discussion of what it means to be both American and Catholic. I knew, of course, from lessons both at home and at school all about how our nation had achieved independence, and had been taught that as a result of our nation’s grand experiment and the freedoms we are guaranteed by the Constitution, Americans are a unique breed among the cultures of the world. We believe we can affect our own destiny, and we have a tendency to mutiny against official pronouncements about what we must and must not do, think, or say. Mom told me that the cultures of Europe and Africa and Asia were different – they were older, more patriarchal, more likely to respect the all-male Roman Catholic Church hierarchy, and that as a result, Rome didn’t understand Americans and had always had a contentious relationship with us. She explained this mistaken notion of “split loyalties” between the nation and the Church was why it was such a big deal when John F. Kennedy, a Roman Catholic, was elected President. She also theorized that it is the reason that we will never see an American pope

As I take time to reflect on this today, America’s 230th birthday, I find it extremely interesting that as an adult, God then led me to the Episcopal Church, whose legislative process inspired the American model of a bicameral legislature and a system of checks and balances between the branches of government. And I am so grateful that I live and breathe and love in this country that guarantees me the freedom to agree or disagree with my democratically elected government. I pray for those who are not so fortunate, for all who are abused and oppressed both in this country and around the world, and for all who will wake up this morning and go to sleep this night in fear. May we take the blessings that our freedom brings us and use them to work for the betterment of life for all people around the world. Amen.

And now, for your pleasure, a quote from the 1996 summer movie blockbuster “Independence Day”, starring Will Smith as Captain Steven Hiller:

“Y’know, this was supposed to be my weekend off, but noooo. You got me out here draggin’ your heavy ass through the burnin’ desert with your dreadlocks stickin’ out the back of my parachute. You gotta come down here with an attitude, actin’ all big and bad… and what the hell is that smell? I could’ve been at a barbecue! But I ain’t mad.”

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RevGalBlogPals Friday Five: Practice Makes Perfect March 3, 2006

Posted by introspectreangel in Catholic, Friday Fives, lyrics.
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This week’s Friday Five over at RevGals asks us to write about four things we have made a practice at some time or other in our lives, along with one thing we would like to try that requires practice, attention, or committment. This is a tough one!

I grew up in the Roman Catholic tradition and went to Catholic schools for most of my grade school years, so giving up something for Lent and meatless Fridays have always been a part of my life. I’m a little young for the era of “pagan babies” and all that, but I clearly remember Operation Rice Bowl. We had these little cardboard bowls that we took home and put all of our change in, and then we brought them back to school and we were told the money went directly to feed the hungry children. However, my mom was a professional religious educator and therefore knowledgeable in the inner workings of parish bureaucracy, and somewhere along the line I absorbed the idea from her (indirectly! she NEVER SAID ANYTHING, OK?!) that maybe that money didn’t go directly to the hungry children – maybe it went to pay the salaries of the staff who worked for the organization that fed the children, or maybe, just maybe, it went into the staff’s end-of-the-year party fund. Talk about becoming jaded at a young age!

So, on to the assignment!

1) My practices as a child involved giving up candy, giving up fighting with my siblings, giving up lying…and I don’t honestly remember ever being particularly successful at any of those for the whole 40 days. Children are undisciplined creatures by nature, and I was no exception!

2) After a bratty late adolescence and several years of refusing to give anything up because, you know, I “just didn’t really see the point” (imagine that being said in a huffy tone while tossing my hair), I recognized that God hadn’t left me, I had left HIM, and I had never even really stopped going to Mass. I’d just turned off and tuned out. So for Lent that year, I resolved to listen – really listen to the words that I was saying at church. This practice changed my life. I realized that if I was intimately experiencing God in these pre-formatted prayers that I had known by heart all of my life and that were mumbled without thought by millions of people around the world, where ELSE might I find Him? I experienced Holy Week through new eyes that year, and every year since then I think back to that first Easter Vigil when I first became conscious that I was a real part of the Body of Christ, not just an observer.

3) A few years after that, in my mid-twenties, my Lenten practice was to give up smoking, and to take on the additional task of picking up cigarette butts off the ground and placing them in ashtrays whenever I could. This practice deeply humbled me, since I sincerely believed that I was not addicted to cigarettes and would have no problem giving them up. How shallow is this: I used to wear acrylic nails, and in truth, I set out to quit so the woman who did my nails at the time would stop scolding me about my nail beds being yellow and making her job harder! It turned out I was addicted, but putting down the smokes was not nearly as difficult as having to pick up the cigarette butts, and in the process, overcome the bias I had against environmentalists. Oh, I succumbed to all the cliches: “They care more about the planet than about the people living on it”, “tree huggers”, “granola eating flakes”, etc. By the time Lent was over that year, I understood (at least in theory) what it might truly mean to be a good steward of the planet.

4) This year, as I’ve mentioned in a previous post, my Lenten practice is to give up meat. Not just on Fridays, but for the whole 40 days. I have a lot to learn about fasting as a spiritual discipline, but I thought this might be a good place to start. I’m trying to fit this practice into my continuing discernment and the somewhat recent recognition that I can’t continue trying to keep my spiritual life separate from my material life. My body, mind, emotions, and spirit all need to be fed – just maybe not in the way I’ve been feeding them. So, to go along with the absence of meat from my diet, I’ve taken on walking at least 2 miles a day. Sure, there might be other, more tangible benefits that result from this change, but I’m trying very hard to keep the sacrificial in the forefront of my mind.

5) One thing I would like to try in the future as a periodic practice might be silence. I know I’m not called to monasticism, so attempting this for any lengthy period would most certainly be impractical in my daily life. But I know that silence makes me uncomfortable – I’m the kind of person who keeps the TV on for company when I’m home alone, and since I need to confront more of the things that make me uncomfortable (especially if I want to be ordained someday!), this seems like it might be a meaningful exercise. I’m going to get a chance to take a stab at it next weekend when I go on a private retreat at a Benedictine monastery. I expect I will be stark raving mad from the silence by the end of the weekend, but I may surprise myself, who knows?

“I will have faith in man
That is hard to understand
Show some humility
You have the ability
Get right with me

Friends, if you’ve lost your way
You will find it again some day
Come down from your pedestals
And open your mouths that’s all
Get right with me…”

-Depeche Mode

keep that Catholic "probe" away from me September 17, 2005

Posted by introspectreangel in Catholic.
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Catholic probe to look at gays in seminaries

is the Roman Catholic Church never going to get it?

first, a couple of definitions:

    pe·do·phil·ia Pronunciation: “pE-d&-‘fi-lE-&Function: nounEtymology: New Latin: sexual perversion in which children are the preferred sexual objectho·mo·sex·u·al Pronunciation: “hO-m&-‘sek-sh(&-)w&l, -‘sek-sh&lFunction: adjective1 : of, relating to, or characterized by a tendency to direct sexual desire toward another of the same sex

while homosexuality may, in fact, be very prevalent in Catholic seminaries (and to my way of thinking, the insistence on a celibate, male priesthood is very, very responsible for this – that, however, is another post), it does not change the fact that the participants in a homosexual relationship are consenting adults. regardless of the Church’s teachings about the rightness or wrongness or just plain is-ness of homosexuality, the participants are not victims. the children who have been attacked by pedophile priests ARE. WHY, oh WHY, is the Vatican not re-evaluating the seminary entrance requirements and psychological tests used for applicants to weed out PEDOPHILES? WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS CHURCH?! WHAT is it going to take to rid the Catholic priesthood of pathological victimizers? it is just heartbreaking. i was raised in this Church. i was confirmed in this Church. and now i have left this Church because i cannot bear the knowledge that the Vatican hierarchy, headed by the glorious Pope Rat for years while his predecessor John Paul II was weakening, was not only aware of, but responsible for the reassignment of pedophile priests and continued victimization of the youngest and most helpless of God’s children.

apostolic succession, my ASS. would Christ and His apostles condone what they have done – what they continue to do? Christ said the kingdom of heaven belongs to the children. doesn’t that mean Pope Rat has a responsibility as His earthly representative to protect them? how DO you think he sleeps at night?

probably just fine. that’s the scary part.

Bishop Joseph Patrick Delaney, the leader of the … July 13, 2005

Posted by introspectreangel in Catholic, prayer.
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Bishop Delaney, the leader of the Catholic Diocese of — for the last 24 years, has died.

please pray for him. my family has several ties to the this diocese. my siblings and i were all raised Catholic there. though two of the three of us have since departed the Roman Catholic Church to worship elsewhere, the three of us were all confirmed by Bishop Delaney. my mother worked as the director of religious education for a parish in the diocese for 10 years, and knew Bishop Delaney well. he suffered greatly with pancreatic cancer and general declining health in the last several years of his life.

those of you who know of my personal faith journey know that there were two primary factors in my decision to leave the RCC. the first was my marriage to my husband. at the local level, he was not welcomed into the faith of my childhood when he was informed that as a methodist, he could not receive Eucharist. we managed to find some sympathetic clergy and jump through some hoops to make sure he was able to share in the sacrament at our wedding, but…well, it was just more work than it should have been. he was treated as a second class citizen all the way through the process of planning the wedding. the second reason for my decision to leave the RCC had to do with events on the global level in the fall and spring of 2002 and 2003. the clergy sexual abuse crisis was on the front page of every newspaper and website in Christendom, and the institutional Church continued to ignore and even outright deny the problem. most catholics have known for decades to keep their little boys and girls away from father so-and-so, but to hear out loud from the Vatican that efforts to protect the most innocent among us – our children – should take a backseat to the individual rights of accused clerics was appalling, to say the least. it shattered the last of our illusions that sex abuse of children by priests might be a small, isolated problem.

Bishop Delaney was ahead of the curve in instituting the diocesan “Keeping Children Safe” program and in creating regulations for the training and continuing education of all diocesan personnel regarding the prevention of sex abuse. he also implemented the victim assistance ministry. and yet, he still allowed into active ministry in a local parish a priest who had been accused of sexual abuse in another diocese, who subsequently abused more children. why? now we’ll never know.

*sigh*

Father of all, we pray to you for your servant, and for all those whom we love but see no longer. Grant to them eternal rest. Let light perpetual shine upon them. May his soul and the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

last week i ordered a t-shirt… June 25, 2004

Posted by introspectreangel in Catholic, faith, life, theology.
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…from northern sun, and it came in yesterday – am i a dork for being excited? it’s a great shirt – it’s black (what other color IS there for t-shirts?) and says “heretic” across the front in larger letters and “in good company” in smaller letter underneath. it has a little picture of a bunch of different types of people being burned at the stake. and then it has the following names – the “in good company” part:

st. joan of arc. galileo. johannes kepler. meister eckhardt. copernicus. tertullian. martin luther. menno simons. matthew fox. origen. st. zephyrinus. the beguines. john mcneil. hans kung. the franciscans. ivone gbara. hippolytus. peter waldo. arnold of breschia. jesus of nazareth. tissa balasuriya of sri lanka. henry of lausanne. jan hus. jovinian. clementius & everard. gerard segarelli. pierre teilhard de chardin. patrick hamilton. ihm sisters of los angeles. charles curran. joachim of fiore. leonardo boff. john courtney murray. theodoret. ebion. theodore of mopsuestia. lukas of prague. fratres unitores. john scotus erigena. giraude de lavaur. marguerite porete. girodano bruno. bill callahan. the vatican 24. call to action of nebraska.

now my journal is where i’m supposed to be truthful, so i’m not going to play phony pseudo-intellectual and pretend that i know who every single one of these people are (i know the big ones like galileo, meister eckhardt, hans kung, martin luther, kepler, copernicus, etc. and the newsworthy ones like call to action, the vatican 24, and the ihm sisters). but having been raised catholic and having done a fair amount of reading, i can see the common thread: individuals whose ideas or teachings resulted in persecution by the institutional Church. the interesting part is that not only are there names of people who were or are being persecuted, but also names who WOULD have fallen victim to the Church’s policies at a later time, jesus himself and the franciscans being the primary examples of that one.

well, i’ve got some fun stuff to research now. it’ll keep me busy on this interminably slow friday…and then i have a three day weekend – yay!