If there was anything positive about this past year, I believe my reading habits have been forever changed. During Lent, I limit my reading choices to books that are at least faith-adjacent choices. In previous years, I haven't been able to do more than a devotional and a book or two on top of that. I had five books on my list for this year, and I finished the last one mid-March. If you are looking for some reading material, here are a few suggestions:
Tuesday, March 23, 2021
Lent 2021: Book Reviews
Friday, January 22, 2021
A Return to the Mundane Complaint?
Our 46th president Joe Biden makes me think of my one and only political conversation with my grandpa. He died when I was a senior in college, or I'm sure we would have had plenty to say to each other these days. It went something like this:
Me: What's with the 'Catholics for Kerry' button, old man?
Him: What, you wouldn't have voted for Kennedy?
These two Catholic men that have served as president leave me conflicted.
As a Catholic, there is a sense of swelling pride in a shared and sacred Baptism in Christ that I didn't think I was able to feel anymore. Pride in a baptism that leaves an indelible mark on our souls that cannot be taken from us. There is also the distress in the knowledge that both men are flawed Catholics. So am I. The Catholic Church is a place for sinners but it is also a place where our leaders share our sins.
As a woman, I have the all too familiar feeling of wanting to trust a man, but knowing he may have made other women feel unsafe. Perhaps I have become hyper-aware and hyper-focused on these warning flags, but I cannot dismiss the warnings all the same.
These conflicts all feel blessedly mundane in this, the year of our Lord, 2021. My insides may resemble a storm at sea, but I am grateful that these conflicts leave me cautious and alert. It reminds me of dark churches at night and my favorite Liturgy of the Hours Tuesday night prayer verse:
Stay sober and alert. -1 Peter 5:8
Friday, May 29, 2020
Neutral isn't a Thing
A few years ago I made the decision to mostly stop posting about politics and heavy issues on my personal social media accounts. I decided that I simply did not care what my friends and family thought about these things, because their opinions were not what formed mine, and the useless arguments between friends and family that often did not know each other were increasingly difficult to host amid day to day responsibilities. If I had something pro-life or feministy to post, I used the blog or the blog social media accounts. If I am being completely honest though, I also stopped because reading old posts about things like abortion and motherhood make me cringe now. I was trying so hard to fit a mold that I no longer desire to fit.
It was important that I rethink this decision (momentarily, at least) this week because racism is sinful, murder is sinful, and I am a white person that is in the best position to challenge any belief that posits otherwise when it comes to my friends and family. A post written by Jen Hatmaker was like a slap in the face. I am not neutral when it comes to racism and murder. Why am I allowing my silence to speak for me?
I am not suddenly jumping on a cause. I am not a perfect ally. I want to be better. I can't get better if I don't try. As Hatmaker said, "(I) can handle dissent." The right thing is not always easy, but we do it anyway.
It should not take rioting and looting and fire for men and women of color to be heard. This is not a hateful reaction to hate: it is begging for justice to be served. I used to believe that I did not understand rioting and looting. Maybe it is never something I would do. I do not have to condone it to understand the human reaction to fight to be heard. You don't have to like it. You don't have to participate. You have to listen. You cannot be neutral.
This is a pro-life issue. Womb to tomb, human life has dignity.
If you do not know where to begin, Here is a list. Pass it on. Do not rely on your friends and family of color to do the heavy emotional labor here. You can handle it.
Tuesday, June 25, 2019
Tuesday, April 30, 2019
Sexual Violence is Personal
2261 Scripture specifies the prohibition contained in the fifth commandment: "Do not slay the innocent and the righteous." The deliberate murder of an innocent person is gravely contrary to the dignity of the human being, to the golden rule, and to the holiness of the Creator. The law forbidding it is universally valid: it obliges each and everyone, always and everywhere.
Friday, March 8, 2019
Sexual Violence Against Women and the Catholic Response
Unless you have been living under a rock, you know that the Catholic Church has had to seriously up her game when it comes to the subject of sexual assault, in particularly as it relates to the clergy abuse scandals. However, when it comes to sexual assault, a great deal of the training or responses issued center on rape and pregnancy.
The Catholic Church (beyond the Catechism (2356) ) does not really have a standard training for the clergy or faith counseling focused on sexual assault advocacy or healing. In my experience as an advocate, there are Catholic organizations that serve sexual assault survivors, but when it comes to one on one counseling or even educational/training materials there is most certainly something left to be desired.
The Georgia Domestic Violence Fatality Review Findings (2011) tell us that faith communities are a likely support system for victims of violence, yet our support for survivors is seriously lacking. Poor catechisis and modesty/chastity talks gone wrong are not doing a fantastic job of sexual assault prevention. We cannot leave our girls to believe their level of modesty is responsible for assault, and we cannot leave our boys to believe that they are nothing but a victim of their sinful urges.
I believe that the Catholic Church can put together more cohesive preventative measures and responses when it comes to sexual violence. The USCCB website has a section with parish resources related to combating sexual violence, but many of the links speak mostly about domestic violence. I believe the response must be more than this.
The inherent dignity of all people must be upheld in all aspects of Catholic faith education: from parish communities to counseling. The church has implemented the VIRTUS training program for all parish volunteers in the US as a response to the clergy abuse scandals. I believe that our parishes can work with local domestic and sexual violence programs to also train their staff in advocating for survivors. The pro life response here, is to have complete understanding of the dynamics of all forms of sexual assault, and to be able to support survivors as they heal. After all, will they not call upon their faith community for support?
The FaithTrust Institute approaches domestic and sexual violence from a religious perspective. They have resources for most faith communities, though nothing I have seen that is explicitly Catholic. When I go to the USCCB page and click on the link for resources, nothing comes up. This something that really must improve
Do you know how your parish and diocese approach sexual violence? Sound off in the comments! I would love to hear about successful approaches or working relationships between Catholic organizations and the local anti-violence programs.
Thursday, February 14, 2019
Here's to Dorothy, Oscar, and Rebuilding
It is my nature to want to fix problems. It is not easy for me to sit without resolution. Learning how to build faith in uncertainty and how to work through the uncomfortable feels like an overwhelming prospect for an impatient perfectionist such as myself. It makes coming to terms with the imperfection of our human church a struggle that feels insurmountable.
I've recently discovered that my faith in God is not the same thing as my faith in our earthly church. This might seem like a no-brainer to some, but for this cradle Catholic, it took some time. Humans let themselves, each other, and their God down. We fail. We fall. We get back up and swear we will never fail or fall again, but then we do.
We are Peter.
My faith in our human ability to live as Christ asks us to live is (permanently?) shaken, but I am trying. It's been suggested that I just look through all the pain and grief towards the resurrection. All I can see is a fog of anger, and not all of it is righteous. I see doubt, darkness, ruin.
I keep trying.
I see Dorothy Day, surrounded by those that people find difficult to love, those that struggle to love, or both. I imagine her words "God understands us when we try to love." I see her commitment to loving others extend to her death.
I try again.
I see Oscar Romero (once I blink away Raul Julia) as I begin to get to know more about his faith, love and life. I spend time wrapping my hardened heart and mind around his words "The church is the salt of the earth. It is to be expected that where there are wounds this salt will burn." I see that his commitment to Christ extended to his sudden death.
I try again.
I read their words, see their flaws, and I feel relief.
I am relieved that I recognize the hardships of faith in their lives and the familiarity of struggle.
I am relieved that they were not perfect.
I am relieved to disagree at times, but there is still so much room to admire their work, words, and example.
Surrounding myself with saints that also recognized the imperfection on earth is healing.
I share this with all of you because it was important for me to know that other Catholics felt similarly. If you too have been shaken and have lost your footing, I see you. I am here with you, and I am trying along side you to rebuild.