I am writing this in response to a Facebook reader who called me on the carpet for speaking from judgment rather than love in posting this morning’s blog. First I want to apologize to this reader and to anyone else who may have been offended by my words and to own that my ego most certainly may have been involved in that post. Secondly, I want to clarify my intentions of this blog and any other aspects of my ministry thereof.
First of all, I want to make it VERY CLEAR that it is NEVER, nor has it ever been my intention to judge, condemn or criticize those who still find comfort in the Institution of the Roman Catholic Church as it currently lives and breathes in our world. Millions of “faithful believers” find comfort, nurturing and support through the Institution and find peace in the absolutes of Catholic doctrine. In fact, a part of me envies these fortunate many who are able to find peace and are not confronted by an inner voice that questions, challenges, or is driven to know more. In many ways, I believe that their journey is easier and simpler than the path upon which God seems to keep calling me. I honor and respect the path they have been called to and am happy that in this path they find peace.
I also have to recognize that in truth, these are not the people to whom I have been called to minister. When Jesus led me through the doorway and showed me the mass of people, and then commanded me, “Feed my Sheep,” it was not the men and women who are content within the embrace of the Institution that stared back at me. Instead, the people Jesus commanded me to feed are those who have been hurt, wounded or disenfranchised by the Roman Church or those who are finding some nourishment within the Institution but who still hunger for more. I have come to call these folks, “The Lost Sheep of Rome.” These “lost sheep” include:
- The young, single woman trying to survive on minimum wage who found herself, after an incident of date rape, with an unplanned pregnancy and thought she had no other recourse but to terminate her pregnancy and now feels condemned by her Church.
- The young man who begins to understand that he is gay and that his desire to be in partnership is forbidden by his Church.
- The middle aged woman who in the midst of a painful divorce is told she is not welcome at the Eucharist.
- The middle aged man who still carries the scars of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of his parish priest.
- The young couple who grew up Catholic, loved their Church but still hunger for more.
- The teenage girl who finds her most effective form of prayer in the physical postures of yoga.
- The young couple who had questions about their faith and were told they were heretics for even asking the questions.
- The middle age couple who struggled with some of the teachings of the Catholic faith and who through careful prayer and discernment found themselves led to make some decisions that were not in 100% agreement with a literal translation of Catholic law and where then told that “there is no room for Cafeteria Catholicism.”
- The loyal members of a parish community who were told certain members of their family could not receive the Eucharist at their father’s funeral because they were not “Catholics in good standing.”
- The mother of a child who was deprived of the Eucharist due to a wheat allergy, even after the mother offered to provide the non-wheat bread alternative herself.
- The couple who are told (inaccurately) that their son is going to hell because he chose suicide as his response to excruciating and debilitating depression.
95% of the people who cross the threshold of Authentic Freedom Ministries were raised Catholic and many of them are coming because they were in one way or another told they were not welcome in the Roman Church. Those who have not been explicitly rejected or condemned quite simply wanted more than what the Institution was willing or able to give them and have found comfort, nourishment and solace in the contemplative practices, spiritual formation, spiritual direction and healing practices offered by Authentic Freedom Ministries. These are the people to whom God has called me to minister. The “faithful believers” who are content within the embrace of the Institution are already being well cared for and certainly don’t need me messing things up!
And finally, I do want to name my own personal wound and admit that it may from time to time creep in and color the way my thoughts are being expressed. I have been hurt by the Church and I still grieve this loss. My greatest dream was to be able to share all the amazing tools God has given me within the context of my Catholic faith…..specifically, inside the Institution as a Lay Minister. I was deeply hurt when I found that my gifts were no longer welcome….and while I have grieved this loss and see God’s intention for my highest good (and the highest good of others)within this loss, I still long for the day when the Institutional and Mystical church can coexist in harmony and peace. I know that this will not happen in my lifetime and that sometimes makes me feel frustrated, impatient and angry…and perhaps a little judgmental. (judgement is a great defense mechanism afterall!)
So again, I apologize if my words of this morning’s blog offended or hurt anyone and I’m sorry if you took it personally. That was certainly not my intention.
Lauri A. Lumby
Authentic Freedom Ministries