Google Analytics cracks me up. Apparently two different people found my website this morning by typing in the very same question, “Is Lauri Lumby Still Catholic?” My daughter and I shared a laugh over this. Really? Who are the two people that felt the need to seek Google for an answer to this question? I also want to know, is there someone besides me who has an answer to this question?
The answer to this question is of course, multi-layered.
According to official Catholic teaching, of course I am still Catholic. I was baptized and confirmed in the Catholic Church, and according to the Church, once a Catholic, always a Catholic. You can’t be un-Catholicized. (I believe there are exceptions to this rule, such as being accused of the sin of apostasy. I have been accused of many things, but apostasy is not one – that I’m aware of anyway!)
My blood and my bones tell me I’m Catholic. As much as I have tried, I can’t get the imprint of Catholicism out of my soul. There is a kind of sensibility that becomes part of your soul when raised Catholic – especially when you have loved the Church in the way that I have. My life cycles follow the Church calendar. My favorite architecture is gothic cathedrals. Stained Glass Windows make my heart sing. Incense feels like a hug. And I am ritualistic by nature. Step into my house and you might even feel like you are in a church….little altars everywhere.
More important than either of the above – Jesus is my teacher. But he is more than my teacher, he is my Beloved. He is my Beloved in the way he was the Beloved of St. John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila. As a mystic who follows the Spiritual Exercises and Rules of Discernment of St. Ignatius of Loyola, I am Catholic in every sense of the word….except the two that the Institution of the Catholic Church probably counts as valid.
In my eyes I am still Catholic. In the eyes of the Institutional Church, perhaps not. Of course I cannot speak for the Church, but I do know about a HUGE file with my name on it in the office of a Catholic Bishop who shall not be named, likely reporting every perceived way in which I have broken with Catholic teaching and committed heresy, as reported by the self-appointed local inquisition. Included in these reports would be:
- My continued work with Reiki.
- My mention of the possibility of Jesus having been married.
- My insistence that Mary Magdalene had a WAY bigger role in Jesus’ life and ministry and in the continuation of his work than we have been led to believe.
- My call to the priesthood and the ways in which I have found to live out that call, in spite of the Church’s insistence otherwise.
- My insistence that the Church be held accountable for its sins, especially the long history of discrimination and violence against women, and most especially, the long history of sexual abuse of children, and that it remove the plank from its own eye before pointing out the splinter in our eyes.
- My prayer, hopes and dreams that the Church return to its original mission of being a force of love, peace, justice and harmony in the world and that it begin by becoming this to its own people. (Thank you Pope Francis for leading this charge!!!!!)
- My continued decision to fast from the Eucharist. (Read about this decision HERE).
So, while I still consider myself Catholic, perhaps the Church does not. But since inquiring minds want to know…..here is why I have never jumped ship even when there are a million other ways I could be living out my belief in Jesus and there are a million other denominations who would probably be happy to be the recipients of my gifts:
BECAUSE GOD WOULDN’T LET ME!
And not because I haven’t tried. Three separate times with three separate denominations, I have discerned ordained priesthood, because I was invited to by leaders of said denominations to do so. Every single time, saying yes to the call of the priesthood ( a call I authentically have), meant denying my Catholicism and officially breaking from the Church so I could become an official member of said denomination. Every single time, God barred the way. No matter how hard I tried to NOT be Catholic, through my discernment, I realized I could not. I could not forsake the faith of my bones. So while the Catholic Church is not a place in which I can share the fullness of the gifts and the call God has given me, there is no other church to which I can belong.
So, yes, I’m still Catholic – at least in my own eyes and apparently in the eyes of God.
This is good enough for me.