Friday, August 13, 2010

A Grave Sin?

Dear Jesus,

I'm exhausted. This, of course, coincides with two things: the ending of summer session and the renewing of my blessed fertility cycle. (Do you see how lovingly I painted that last thing? Because I really did not want to paint it so lovingly. I am currently a horrid wretch, thanks to a boatload of hormones swimming about like Dana Torres on steroids.)

Right now the kids are having a tea party, leaving me with a moment of silence. Or, relative silence, because they are singing Paramore songs at the breakfast table while drinking lemonade from ceramic cups. But it's downstairs, and not right next to my ears, so...relative silence.

This morning, since I didn't have to open a chemistry text, I opened the latest issue of the National Catholic Reporter, and it fired me up. I wonder when was the last time my church actually resembled your ministry. I know there are parishes here and there that do. I know there are women religious and priests and lay people across the world who do your good work hourly, with hearts bent on equality and justice.

And of course, it's mostly Rome that angers me. You know, putting the attempted ordination of women in the same league as child abuse. Heaven forbid we let those crazy women in, those who feel called to serve you in the same capacity as their brothers. A 'grave sin,' supposedly.

Bullshit, I say to that.

And I quote: "Women, and those who attempt to ordain them, were classified as committing crimes against the sacraments. Such crimes are metaphysically serious in that they constitute any action that desecrates the Eucharist. Not only can God not work through the body of a woman; now, it seems, women's bodies actually defile the Eucharist....

"The latest act of codified violence against women leads me to ask: Why shouldn't Catholic women allow God to act to God's fullest potential in them? Why shouldn't they seek ordination or create lay-led Eucharistic communities that will truly nurture anyone who seeks the peace, community, sacramental nourishment, and social justice that is sorely lacking both in our society and in our church?"

And Jesus, you don't even have to come down and answer that for me. You don't need to make the wind whisper it to me or send me a letter from heaven. I know the answer: because it takes the power away from men.

Mercy Sr. Teresa Cane had an editorial in the paper that illustrated just this point. She writes, "A group of sisters in the Midwest were having their community assembly. Out of courtesy, they invited the bishop....the bishop wrote back and said it must be in a parish church and not at the motherhouse, you must have altar boys come in to assist me, and no sister may carry the cross in the procession. They prayed about it and decided not to have the liturgy."

Gee, I wonder why. Talk about a party pooper.

I don't mean to be flip. I'm just not really sure what else to do with my anger.

Keeping women from the fullest displays of their worship strikes me as about as outdated and patriarchal as not allowing us to vote. Women not being allowed to carry the cross? We do it every single day all over the world.

A while ago, a friend wrote a blog post about religion, and wrote that she believed Catholicism struck her as a bit cultish, with so many people who disagreed with the church being unable to completely leave it. I responded that there were many, many people who were actively trying to change the church. But also that for many, Catholicism is like their cultural heritage. Sometimes, I feel like I can no more shed it than I can my genes from Calabria. (Not that I'd want to Grandma, don't worry!) I'm Italian, Irish and decidedly Catholic.

But I don't know what to do with myself. So many reasons to to run!

Jesus, I know you don't wear Prada. The particularly brilliant red of the Pontiff's shoes reminded me of the red doors of the Episcopal Church. It's not perfect, but it's a start.

Or a breakaway church? But how to find one of those? I'm afraid there is no listing in the yellow pages for Alternative Catholic Churches.

I've entertained attending services across the street. They fly the rainbow flag.

I'll pray about it. Now that I don't have to memorize equations, I'll have more time.

Thanks for listening.




Anonymous said...

I was alone in the car once this week and I tuned to the Catholic Channel only to hear a negative discussion of female altar servers.

Seriously, this Church does not want to be around for another century, let alone another millennium, right?

I found an alternative Catholic Church that meets at the Unitarian meeting hall, so there is a place to inquire.

Domestic Goddess said...

And this right here is why I chose to pull my son from prep courses. This is no longer religious purpose, it's misogynistic bullshit. I can't raise my children in a religion that values one sex over another and preaches that women are not to be as respectful as men.

RuthWells said...

There are times when I'm glad I was not raised with religion, and this is one of them.

Anonymous said...

I am at work, no time to comment. I am going to share this -your anger is righteous. - Fran

Lora said...

"Women not being allowed to carry the cross? We do it every single day all over the world."

Amen to that

Anonymous said...

Here via Fran.
All I can do is shake my head and wonder.

eileen said...

Amen. That's a big part of why I left the RC - TEC ain't perfect either though.

Sometimes, I despair the whole church thang...

liturgy said...

Here via Fran also. Amazing story about the bishop!
Have you read

Gwen said...

B/c I'm on the other side, I have no advice. But I want to tell you that I admire your honest struggle. It's an honor for me to be allowed to witness it.

And it gives me hope.

Lindy said...

I have two words for you: Ann Rice.
I do think it's spiritually dicey to try to go it alone, and I don't know what Ms. Rice's plans are, but there are lots of other communities besides the church and I think we all stand a better chance of finding real community outside it. Just leave them to themselves and go on with your life, that's what I say.

Also here via Fran... who probably disagrees with me.

Fran said...

Lindy my friend, we see this differently, that is all.

This post has been on my heart all day, glad that many came by to weigh in.

Shannon said...

Google is your friend. Check out Ecumenical Catholic Church for a start. There may be something close by. Something has to be better than defecting in place.

claire said...

Ah, Kelly, yes this is quite a challenge. Rome indeed is a royal pisser-offer. Benedict just turned down the resignation of two Irish bishops who had been involved in the coverup of repeated clergy sexual assault.

An Alternative Catholic Church...

I found interesting that Anne Rice announced her departure from the Catholic Church, but did not say she was moving to another denomination, whatever this could be.

Too many of my friends have done the same. I can see my own children heading out that way. And I am told I am part the problem by staying in.

I guess I see Rome and I see the rest. I see, or rather hear, my own call to follow Jesus. Of course, I would like to sock it to 'them', hard and straight.

I also don't want to spend time with 'toxic anger' (Elizabeth Keaton wrote on this). But it is (or seems at least) so much easier for non-Catholic Christians to lambast at Rome than it is for me.

Yes, I do lambast and have been an angry Catholic woman for a long time. But I am tired of it. I now want ACTION. By supporting the American Sisters, by tithing to Christian organizations but not to Peter's Pence (Mary's Pence, YES). I like the 80 year old Irish woman who has suggested to all Irish Catholic woman to stay home on Sunday Sept 26.

I want ACTION. For this, we need, all of us Catholic women fed up with Rome, to discern how to go about tackling those Rome-centered Bishops and Rome itself, not the nice priest in the parish.

This is where I am today.

Blessings on your quest, your pain, your anger. May you help us find the light at the end of the tunnel.

MemeGRL said...

I'm sorry I missed this when I was with my mother in law. But I know she and her rage will stay home on 9/26, although it will pain her to do so.
I have heard the church across from the Wal-Mart in Eddystone is a refuge for Catholics who think, and are committed to social justice. We're almost ready to jump and will let you know if we find anything. We're also half ready to try the Quakers. They seem to live closest to Jesus from what we can see.
I'm sure nothing's perfect, but I can't even imagine what it would be like to be in a church that considers me a full human. Even the aging-hippie priest with his banjo used the word "vessel" at Mass on Sunday, and that just ticks me off every single time.

painted maypole said...

I think it's important, in a lot of ways, to stay with a church and fight the good fight. I understand why people leave, but I also think that change will only come if there are people willing to stand up and make the change happen. Jesus is an excellent example of this. ;)

I'm a Lutheran, and although I don't agree with every last thing they believe, I have stayed with the church and fought for change (and seen some of it happen... such as our policy on gays and lesbians... it only took 15 years... and that's only from when I got involved!)

Thanks so much for stopping by my blog.

mayberry said...

I just have to ask, about this quote: "Not only can God not work through the body of a woman..." Is that not how we got Jesus in the first place?