Monday, November 19, 2007

Prayers for our Church

November 19, 2007

Friends, Fam, Faith peeps,

I'm struggling in my response and prayer to the Catholic Church and it's Human Leaders, regarding this topic of Christ's Love and GLBT FAMILIES.
What follows is my feeble attempt at prayer and succinctness, in what feels an ocean of uncertainty, anger, hope, fear, love, mystery, and a grand call for discernment....

When did Christ say, "Nope, my body is not for you?" That's my essential question to the ordained and professed leaders of the Catholic Church who want to deny communion to anyone. To anyone! Please tell me, Where did Jesus draw the line? When did He practice exclusion? Please!

The following excerpt from our newly installed Archbishop, John Nienstedt, breaks my heart, as he quotes Church Teaching:
"Those who actively encourage or promote homosexual acts or such activity within a homosexual lifestyle formally cooperate in a grave evil and, if they do so knowingly and willingly, are guilty of mortal sin. They have broken communion with the church and are prohibited from receiving holy Communion until they have had a conversion of heart, expressed sorrow for their action and received sacramental absolution from a priest." - Archbishop Nienstedt of Minneapolis, St. Paul, in Catholic Spirit Article, "Four points on the church's teaching about homosexuality In God's Good Time"
As Michael, another Catholic restated and summarized:
"He's saying that parents, family members, and members of faith communities who affirm and support their LGBT children, friends, and fellow parishioners in forming loving and committed relationships, and in living healthy and authentic lives, are "cooperating in a grave evil" and are "guilty of a mortal sin." Furthermore, they've separated themselves from the church and are not to receive Communion!"
Again, who ever gets to decide who is worthy of God's love? Where did Jesus give us these rules about who can receive Him, and who doesn't get to?
What is our call or response to words that are hate-filled, yet seemingly uttered from a place of love?
Do leaders and community members see how these are hateful words?
Does the Archbishop recognize these words as participating in death, rather than generative and life-filled?
How is the denial of Christ's body ever NOT a participation in crucifixion?
How am I called to think, pray, act, as a Catholic who LOVEs her faith, and yet is heart broken by Human Leadership?
How do I love it all?
How do I hold Christ at the center of all discussion?
How do I see both crucifixion and resurrection in such testimony? Do I want to also be one to say, "NO" to God's love?
Do we recognize, as faithful beings, the nails being driven into His body when we simply stand by? Am I okay standing by and not doing anything? What does it mean to witness and be complicit in such denial of Jesus?

Do you see or recognize yourself, and your own body and spirit, your own faith, in this conversation? In these questions?

Prayerfully, Humbly, Discerning,


Anonymous said...

Amazing that I've been thinking about a similiar topic. Not sure if I shared my "church" struggles with you all...I seem to just openly share everything these days :)

But, my "conflict" is my desire to raise my daughter in the Catholic church, like I was raised. But, I am not comfortable with the Catholic church here in Lincoln. We've attended a Lutheran church on and off over the last few years (Allie's dad is Lutheran) and I love the feel of it. I leave happy and refreshed. I just joined a Catholic church in my neighborhood a few weeks ago. The 2 times I've gone there has left me more with the feeling of being at a funeral than at a celebration of God. What to do?? I know I'll continue to have Allie go through with the Catholic Sacraments, if for no reason, but so that she too can attend and participate in the Mass celebration with my family. But, how do you explain to a 5 year old why her Daddy, who believes in God, just like we do, can't go up for Communion?? Or better yet, why now that we are not married anymore, Mommy shouldn't go up for communion either?? Am I a sinner because I fell in love with a man that wasn't Catholic? Or am I a sinner because the man I was committed to chose to have an affair and and end our marriage?? Hmmm...something doesn't sit well with me.

I would love to hear others opinions on this. So, for now, we randomly attend both churches. "Enjoying" one of them and feeling "obligated" to the other.

I love 90% of what the Catholic church stands for...but what happened to the kind and loving God that we were taught about in school?? The God who forgives and doesn't judge? How, as "men" have we taken on the role of choosing who will not be forgiven??

Let me know your thoughts....

Brendan and Marie Teehan said...


We could not agree more, but "they" run our church, not us. I believe God knows and sees all and will grant those who are denied his body and blood the benefits they might have gained even though they did not actually receive. It's kind of like baptism of desire/fire--it is the will of man that counts and how he/she expresses it. The "princes of the church" are too full of themselves and the power they have given themselves. We just got back from our 5th trip to the Vatican and each time I just shake my head at all the conspicious wealth in a world full of need. This is not the church Christ founded. Perhaps they will bankrupt themselves over the sex scandals and then we can begin anew. Change will come, the question is can the faithful wait that long. Keep the faith and work for change.

Marie and Brendan

Emily Lilja said...

That's been an issue for me since I dated a Catholic guy in college who - though totally lapsed - wouldn't take communion in my church b/c he felt he wasn't supposed to. I just thought that was sad.

- Emily

Emily said...

This is sad Melissa.

As a person who OPENLY and UNCONDITIONALLY supports my Aunt and my cousin as two lesbian women who are just living their lives in this world, it’s really sad to see a faith leader say these words. If love and support is grave evil and a mortal sin, then I guess I’m guilty. Hopefully he’ll open his heart a little bit, just like Jesus did to those who were different from himself. I think people forget that’s really what Jesus stood for – acceptance, unconditional love, forgiveness and love of all. Or at least that’s what I think about him.

Thanks for sharing this, I will pray – like I do every week – that my aunt is someday able to be “accepted” like any straight person is.

How silly that line is now that I reread it. Like I have to pray for her to be accepted. Whatever to those people who don’t…it just sucks those people can determine portions of her life.

Love you.

Jody Tigges said...

This is something I have been thinking about since he was installed in our diocese. I know many people in his former diocese and they said he caused a lot of division there.

The questions you have raised are my questions also. They are good questions and they provoke a lot of thought.

All I know for certain is that Jesus called us to love one another as he loved us. He loved us all and therefore we are called to love all.

Wouldn't this make a great JOF topic, or even a topic for the YAG to discuss?

As I continue to struggle, pray, and wrestle with this all I can do is be grateful for others like you who ask the questions and share the struggle. Prayer and contemplation lead us to the heart of what Jesus calls us to do. That call, may not be the same call as the one of a fully human bishop.

Please share with us whatever feedback you may get on this subject. It's good to read others views as it helps to clarify our own.

Jeff Pearson said...

This is sooooooooooo bad. I just don’t get it.


Maryann Pearson said...

Good morning Melissa,

I struggle always with the Catholic Church! Especially with its position on women and GLBTs. So far I am "dissenting in place". However, I often doubt I can maintain that place forever.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings and struggles. I am convinced Jesus NEVER imagined a church such as ours-

Sheila Liewer said...

My question for you is: would you ever change denominations?

Beth Borgmann said...

In my humble opinion, this is all about our humanness and the laws that humans set forth. Go with Christ and what he taught and you will find the answers. I couldn’t read all that was sent. I just know that Christ wants ALL to share in His body and blood…”end of story” as my Dad so often says.

Tricia Sock Baptiste said...

I too struggle with some of the concepts that we are to internalize simply because we were born and raised Catholic. I struggle even more now that we have a child. When we were just living life for ourselves, the outward signs of our religious beliefs seemed less important (such as attending church every weekend, registering with the church, etc). I was comfortable with the idea that I knew of my own spirituality, that I was a good person, and that the God I believe in didn't put quotas on such things. Those "gray" areas that we lived in and were ok with became the very things that we saw as a risk for our son. I sometimes wonder if the fact that my parents were so devout, secure, and awaivering in their faith was what actually gave me the freedom to question mine. Funny though, that the very same thing has the ability to make me feel less worthy. I wonder why it is such a struggle to commit to the faith with my whole heart. I also wonder what is out there for me if I don't.

I can completely comprehend the inner struggle you feel. May you find (and be able to accept) the path that is right for you. You deserve that peace.

Blessings to all.


Trish White said...

Sorry for your pain, Melissa...Sorry for your archbishop.

Irene Conrady, my spiritual adviser and ex-nun of 35 years feels the pain. She still goes to service, however, her relationship with the church has changed.

For her, writing her memoir is a healing technique, and hopefully will be well received, so other's can understand her hard choices.

It seems to me many religions have lost their way. Mostly, through unenlightened leaders, very disturbing. The religious far- right scares me, so filled with pomposity and anger against their fellow man. And the Catholics sadden me deeply. Well, you know how I feel, gay, straight, trans-gender, whatever, we are all God's children. I know I am too simplistic, but when did it become difficult to love those who are different?....always perhaps.

I can't believe those words were uttered from a place of love. A place of fear and misunderstanding perhaps, but not a place of love. I can't accept that, never have, never will. I feel for you, and so sorry that the Archbishop, is spewing such poison.

I guess the question is, can you follow leadership, that you know is flawed at best. I'm sure your Uncle Dave will have some insights. I know you Mother thinks everyone should have communion, remember she said it was fine for me to participate. I can't imagine, not loving my son, your cousins and all our friends. How truly disturbing.
Keep me informed please.

As a mother watches over her child,
Willing to risk her own life to protect her only child.
So with a boundless heart
Should one cherish all living beings
Suffusing the whole world
With unobstructed loving--kindness.

Love Peace Justice and may the cosmic flow massage your soul. Aunt Trish