Yesterday, in a discussion with the TWYH online community in which I am a member, we were sharing the deep sorrow we had all been feeling before hearing the news of Notre Dame burning. Before the event even took place, many of us were feeling a deep sorrow and the need to weep tears that were not specifically our own. We were feeling the collective sorrow over the destruction of a centuries old icon while wondering, “what could this possibly mean?” As I have ceased from trying to give meaning to world events, I could only ponder that question and yet in the sharing, one of the women said the following words related to her own sense of grief and these words hit me between the eyes:
There was good in the old.
Not only did these words hit me between the eyes, they hit me in the “feels.” Oh yes! Oh yes! There was good in the old and there continues to be good in the Church I once called my home and from which I have been in exile for the past eleven years.
In a similar conversation the day prior with a friend who is “spiritual but not religious” and scientific in her leanings, I tried, and failed, to express what it is like to be raised Catholic and the indelible imprint Catholicism leaves on one’s soul. From a rational perspective, I left the Church because I had to. I left because the container of the Institutional Church had become too small. I was no longer free to do the work I know in my Soul I have been called to do and I had to make a choice – be obedient to God or obedient to the Church. I chose God. While this choice has given me more freedom to pursue my Soul’s calling and has allowed me to minister to those the Church has turned away, the consequence of this choice is a loss that I will likely grieve for the rest of my days.
Why? A rational person would think this grief silly and unnecessary. It is easy for those raised outside the Church to scratch their heads in disbelief over what seems to be a clinging to nostalgia or an unwillingness to let go of what has been. Not so. Not so. There is something profound that happens in those of us that were raised Catholic and no matter how distant we become from the Church, there is always something that will remain. I believe the words spoken by my online friend perfectly describes that which remains:
There was good in the old.
There is a mystery and a magic in Catholicism that is unmatched by other belief systems (at least in my experience). Where else is bread and wine turned into the “Body and Blood” of Christ? Even if we only believe the magic of the Eucharist as symbolic, this is pure magic – transformational magic at that. In the Eucharist – the central sacrament of the Catholic tradition, we are participating in the transformational act of becoming Christ. When eating the bread and drinking the cup, we are saying “YES” to being the Body of Christ. This is not meant to be lip service or an empty ritual of eating bread and drinking wine. Eucharist is meant to be taken literally – we are accepting the invitation to follow in Jesus’ footsteps, to live as he lived, to do as he did – clothe the naked, heal the sick, give food to the hungry, free those imprisoned, pray for our enemies, love our neighbor, etc. etc. etc. And in living as Jesus lived, we are meant to become him – to embody all he represented – purity, humility, generosity, mercy, compassion, love, all while living and working for justice. For those who are paying attention, living in and among this ritual alone changes you.
There is wisdom in Catholicism. I discovered this wisdom in the rich tradition of contemplative prayer – a tradition previously reserved for those in religious orders – the Benedictines, Franciscans, Dominicans, Carmelites, Jesuits, etc. etc. etc. Women and men who for thousands of years have dedicated their lives to the study of the scripture and praying with that scripture so they could know God and in the process, growing in love. When I was in my ministry studies and learned these practices, they LITERALLY changed my life. I began a daily practice and for 25 years (minus a couple when I was having babies), I did not miss a day.
In Catholicism every passage in life is treated (or has the potential for being treated) as sacred. Birth. Entering adulthood. Marriage. Vocational decisions. Death. Every passage in life is met with a sacrament. Both life and death are treated as sacred and given their proper honor, along with the appropriate communal ritual for honoring that passage. These are the rites of the ancients – a wisdom that has not been lost in the Church.
There is a Goddess in the Church. Mother Mary. Mary Magdalene. Eve. Sarah. Teresa of Avila. Bernadette Soubirous. Joan of Arc. The one thing that Catholicism has that is lacking in all other expressions of the Christian faith – a Mother we can go to for comfort. Women we can turn to for inspiration and support. The idea of the Communion of Saints gives us not only women but also men who were Superheroes – people who dedicated their lives for the purpose of Love. St. Francis of Assisi. John of the Cross. Meister Eckhart. Ignatius of Loyola. The list goes on.
There is beauty in the Church. The Cathedral of Notre Dame is the perfect example. The first things rescued from the church were works of priceless art and religious relics. Why is the whole world grieving the destruction of Notre Dame? It is certainly not because they were raised Catholic – it is because they see the loss of beauty – the art and architecture of the middle ages which inspire awe and wonder by symbolically making visible the magic and mystery of life – that which some call “God.”
This is the old that is good. This is the good that remains. Even if Notre Dame had burned to the ground (which reports assure us it has not), this good would still remain. This is the good that has held the Catholic Church together all these years in spite of the reign of terror that has co-existed with all that is good.
There is good in the old. My hope has always been and will continue to be that as that which is no longer life-giving is burned away; it is the good that will remain. Perhaps this is why Notre Dame allowed herself to be burned – to prove to the world that sometimes death is necessary to reveal the good that has always been there and to make a way for something new.
As we commemorate the trial, suffering and death of Jesus at the hands of two institutions who turned away from him, I find that my own “crucifixion” has resurfaced to be examined and grieved again. I share this because I know I am not alone in having felt turned away and condemned by my Church (recovering Catholics, those raised Catholic, non-practicing Catholics).
The Church That Turned Away from Me
Copyright 2015 Lauri Ann Lumby
For the past eight years, I have been fasting from the Eucharist. To one on the outside looking in, I might be accused of turning away from my Church. The opposite in fact is true. It is the Church that turned away from me.
As a Vatican II Catholic, raised in a Vatican II Church, I have had a unique experience of Catholicism, markedly different from the generations that went before me. I never experienced the Latin mass or was drilled on the Baltimore Catechism. I attended Saturday evening folk mass accompanied by Kumbaya’s, Up, Up with People, and To Be Alive! Fish on Friday was reserved for Lent. Ecumenical dialogue was encouraged and instead of Heaven being the privilege of Catholics only, the pearly gates stood open to all who lived in love. I was brought up with a rock n’ roll Jesus Christ Superstar who in his humanness pleaded to be released while weeping tears of blood at Gethsemane and to whom we desired to “see more clearly, love more dearly and follow more nearly,” as he danced around us in rainbow striped suspenders, sporting a Superman t-shirt. Speaking out on matters of social injustice and working for peace; feeding the poor, clothing the naked and setting captives free was the understood responsibility of every person sitting in the pew. Divine retribution and punishment had been left on the editing floor of the Holy See – along with indulgences; and even the unbaptized had a place in God’s loving kingdom. The only God I knew was the God of love. Jesus came to know this love and taught us how to love and was set up as the model and example of how every Christian was called to live. We were called to be Jesus’ hands and heart through the unique charisms gifted to us by God’s Holy Spirit (sometimes even spoken of as a woman!).
This is the Church I grew up in and the Church that I deeply loved. Strengthening this bond was the mass that provided sanctuary and support for my inherently contemplative nature. Gothic arches, painted statues and stained glass windows serenaded by artistic soul. And the stand up, kneel down, bow and sit of Catholic choreography nourished my need for a spirituality that was as much physical as it was emotional and intellectual. Devotion to Mary satisfied my need for a Divine Mother and the saints became my superheroes.
If I love my Church so much, you may be wondering why I have been fasting from the Eucharist? What went wrong? In short, it seems I took what I learned about God, Jesus and our Christian call too literally:
- I believe in an unconditionally loving God, a Son that is both fully human and fully divine; the call to follow Jesus as an example of how to live my life and to be and do as he would in the world.
- I love God above all else, my neighbor as myself and I consider ALL of humankind to be my neighbor.
- I judge not (lest I be judged).
- I pray for my enemies.
- I try to forgive 70 times 7 times.
- I pray without ceasing.
- I feed the hungry.
- I clothe the naked.
- I give sight to the blind.
- I set captives free.
- And, I heal the sick.
In the end, it was the last three actions that caused my Church to turn away from me.
After eight years in Catholic school and an equal number of years in academic and professional education and formation as a lay minister and spiritual director, I was guided by God to study hands-on-healing and Eastern Energy Medicine (Reiki). Out of this training and experience, God guided me further to develop a protocol through which people found healing from the spiritual wounds that separated them from God’s love, thereby healing them of their sin. Right in line with Jesus’ teachings, right!? Apparently not, because the practices that I had learned and successfully applied were not “explicitly handed down by the Magesterium.” I was challenged and confronted, hateful emails and letters were sent. I was accused of every nature of evil. Local bishops, fueled by the fear of the vocal minority, challenged my work and eventually handed down a prohibition calling it “witchcraft and sorcery,” in spite of my attempts to reason with and explain things to them. Through this, I endured, but when I was attacked by a newly-appointed pastor for a course in “Christian Zen” that I was sponsoring, who claimed it to be “outside Catholic teaching” and who identified Eastern practices as “dangerous,” I broke. My heart was broken and my resolve with it. The Church I had loved and out of whose embrace I had come to know God’s love – the Church who had called me to continue the work of Jesus – had betrayed me. My gifts, my call, the unique way I had come to know God was no longer welcome. More than that, my ministry had been condemned as “dangerous,” “witchcraft and sorcery”….some even called it, “the work of the devil.”
On that fateful autumn day, I listened beyond the voice of the fearful priest, the self-appointed inquisition, and even the Vatican II teachings that provided space for the ecumenical nature of the work I was doing and the unifying discussions that might arise out of this work. I listened instead to the still, small voice of God within. God’s voice was not small that day. God spoke directly and loudly to my heart, “Lauri, you are my beloved daughter. I have placed my word within your heart. I have anointed you to be my servant. Who will you obey? Man or Me?”
Of course I chose God.
With God and the echoing support of Peter and the Apostles who similarly responded to the Church who turned away from them, “We must obey God rather than man, (Act 5: 29)” I handed over my keys and walked away. Buoyed by God’s eternal promise of freedom, I knew that I could more freely do the work God had called me to absent the on-going scrutiny of the Church and the fearful minority.
Some would suggest that in leaving the Church I have also left behind my faith. The opposite, in fact is true. My faith has remained intact, and in truth, has been fortified. I start every morning in prayer and meditation over the daily scripture. Jesus is my constant companion, teacher and guide. I discern daily the ways in which I am being called to continue Jesus’ work in the world. I have seen the clear evidence of God at work through me as I witness the profound healing experienced by those who have become part of my ministry, and I am continually amazed at how God works through me to bring people more and more deeply into love and more closely connected to their own gifts and vocational call in the world. I see the power of faith at work as I witness the empowerment experienced by those who come to me for counsel, attend my classes, read my writing and partake in my weekly services; and with each passing day my faith is strengthened and affirmed.
Regarding the Church, I wish I could say that like Lot, I never looked back. I find, instead, that I am more like Lot’s wife, forever gazing back in profound longing – grieving the loss of my home, my sanctuary, my community, my Church. Beyond my own grief, however, I weep for my Church. I long for the Church that I had come to know – one that is firmly rooted in the truth of God’s unconditional love and acting as that love in the world. I long for a Church that works for unity and empowerment of all humankind – regardless of their gender, beliefs, or sexual orientation. I long for a Church that is willing to set down its wealth and its power and get in the trenches with those who need its help – the hungry, the poor, the imprisoned, the fearful, the wounded and the broken. I long for the Church that takes Jesus’ example seriously by being humble, giving the seats of honor to those without honor and washing the feet of strangers. I yearn for a Church that supports people in becoming self-actualized, mature disciples – fostering the psycho-spiritual growth of men, women and children so that they can find the God they have forgotten in their hearts, discover their own unique giftedness and vocational call and become empowered in the fulfillment and use of these gifts in service to the betterment of the world. I long for a Church that recognizes the earth as holy and sacred and works to be a steward for the gifts God gave us so that all of humanity may not only survive but thrive. I cry out to the Church to work for justice – justice for all – not only for those who “are Catholic in good standing.” My heart yearns for a Church that welcomes ALL people to its table – inviting all to know the unconditional and infinite love that is their truest nature. This is the Church that I once knew and I often wonder what happened to that Church – or if all along it had really just been a figment of my imagination.
Lauri Ann Lumby, MATP is a published author, ordained interfaith minister, spiritual director and teacher. She ministers to a world-wide audience, most of whom were raised Catholic but who were also turned away by the Church. Lauri lives in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. You can learn more about Lauri and her ministry at www.yourspiritualtruth.com.
Yesterday, I began the discussion on charisms by asking the question, “What is your magic?” In the next several posts, we will be exploring spiritual gifts (as they are defined by the Catholic faith in which I was raised), ultimately with the hope of giving you some tools to assist you in your own discernment. What is your magic? Today, I am going to press pause on that exploration to share a bit about my own discernment around this question and the answer that keeps showing up – and one I most often believe I can do nothing about. With the assistance of today’s blog, I hope to change that!
So…here it is. I am called to be a priest and have been given every charism to fulfill this vocation. I am a fantastic presider (I just officiated my brother’s wedding and was confirmed in this gift). It has been reflected to me that when proclaiming the Word, people are moved and that I’m an adequate preacher. I have been given the gift of healing through the ministry of hands-on-healing and spiritual direction. I have been given the gifts of faith, leadership, pastoring, teaching, knowledge, and wisdom. I have even learned to accept voluntary poverty and celibacy(ahem…not by my choice!). I know that I have been a source of encouragement and many have reflected on my most obvious charism which is discernment of spirits. Oh yeah, and I seem to know how to write and am rarely without inspiration in this regard. So……God gave me all the gifts to be not just an adequate priest, but an amazing one! Unfortunately, God put me in a place where I have been unable to respond to this call. In the Catholic Church in which I was raised and where my heart still remains, there is no place for women called to the priesthood. So, the question is, how is one supposed to respond to that call to be priest when the Church they love cannot accept their gifts (even if I am no longer worshipping there….and that is a whole other story)?
Sure, I could change teams and seek ordination through another faith, but that does not resonate with my truth because even bigger than my issues with Catholicism are my issues with patriarchal, hierarchical institutions. No, I’m not some rabid, militant feminist who hates men. In fact, I adore men. However, I am deeply troubled by the separation, power, control and manipulation through fear that has been promulgated by many (if not most) patriarchal, hierarchical institutions. And, I don’t believe there is one church, corporation, educational institution, medical, government institution that is not guilty of using their hierarchical, patriarchal power to uplift themselves while keeping others small. It is primarily for this reason that I do not bargain away my Roman Catholic upbringing for another hierarchical, patriarchal institution, none of which have anything to do with what, I believe, Jesus had in mind.
So, how does one respond to their call to be priest when the faith they grew up in won’t take them and when they can’t support any other institution founded on the same hierarchical, patriarchal sin as the one they came from? Ultimately, this strikes me as a post-modern question. The old guard is dying and the new is yet to be revealed. This is a time ripe with opportunity, but fraught with danger and anxiety. How will we tend to the grieving in the face of the death of the old? What will the new world look like? How will we tend to the spiritual, pastoral, religious and communal needs of a culture beyond hierarchy and patriarchy? What will this look like? In the meantime, what do we do? For me, the answer can only be this:
- Continue to preach (through this blog and other opportunities).
- Continue to heal (through spiritual direction and hands-on-healing).
- Continue to preside (through weddings, naming ceremonies, funerals, etc).
- Continue to teach, counsel and lead.
- Continue to use my gifts of discernment to help guide myself and others.
- Continue to be open to sharing the gifts of prophecy when they emerge.
- Continue being priest in all the ways that I know how and in all the ways in which I am free to do so.
Now, let us go in peace to love and serve the Lord. Thanks be to God!
Today’s blog explores Jesus, Church stuff and timing – specifically ushering in the Age of the Holy Spirit.
Out of the Mouth of Babes
Yesterday, I received an enormous tidbit of wisdom for a twenty-something whippersnapper. And I use these terms tongue-in-cheek because in truth, I have found the twenty-somethings to have WAY MORE wisdom than most of the rest of us. I asked this young man to give me some feedback on the Sunday evening meditation circle that I host and that he attended once with some of his friends. They had not come back and I wanted to find out why. In short, there were three words that scared them away: Scripture. Jesus. Catholic. Please note that all three of them had been raised Catholic. We discussed this further, in particular, how I approach these three apparent hot-buttons in the work that I do. Then came the “out of the mouth of babes” wisdom. “Lauri,” said the twenty-something young man, “I think you are just ahead of your time.” Sigh.
When I look at the three words that scared those twenty-somethings away, I feel like shaking my head in frustration. Three words that in my not-so humble opinion have been given a really bad rap and which have been used to forward the agenda of the fearful few. I could just walk away from these words – stop talking about Jesus, stop using scripture, stop being all Catholicky…..but I find that I cannot. Why? Because there is some strange force within me that compels me to redeem these words and our relationship to them. Why? Because in twenty years of praying, meditating, contemplating scripture, Jesus and Catholicism, I have found some really cool things…things that unfortunately most churches are reluctant to share. Let’s start with the man:
In my own prayer, meditation and contemplation of scripture as it relates to Jesus and with Jesus himself as he shows up in my prayer, I have found Jesus to be a really cool dude. Compassionate. Kind. Loving. Filled with Wisdom. Gentle. HUMAN. To me, Jesus is my guru, teacher, rabbi, friend and beloved companion. So, I feel frustrated, angry, sad when Jesus is portrayed as anything but all of the above. The Jesus I know is unconditionally loving and accepting of ALL and asks us to do the same. This is the Jesus I want people to know and seek to help them recognize by moving past the doctrine that might teach otherwise.
Scripture, when approached through contemplative prayer and meditation, is one of the ways that we get to know this Jesus. Even more than Jesus, scripture also helps us to find the God that is unconditionally loving, gentle and kind. When we approach scripture from a place of prayer, allowing it to be a vehicle through which God can speak to us intimately, personally and directly, we find a God that is beyond doctrine, tribal customs and societal conditioning. Instead, we find peace, love, joy, wisdom, insight, guidance, healing and comfort. Mix in the historical/critical analysis of scripture and doctrine simply falls away and all we have is God – unencumbered by our human agenda of control. HMMM Now scripture suddenly isn’t so bad.
Then there’s the whole Catholic thing. Yeah, the Institution keeps digging itself a bigger whole with the sex scandals, pay-offs, and now the attack on the women religious (and the rest of women for that matter.). And yes, I have been accused of being dysfunctionally attached to my Catholicism and to my related wounds. All that being said….I still love many, if not most, of the things that have been part of my Catholic upbringing. So, no apologies about the fact that the work I do probably reeks of ritual, incense, candles, mystery, mysticism, music, art and even magic. Perhaps in my next life I’ll choose Wicca or Hinduism, but in this life, I was born into the Catholic tribe, and here I will remain. And I don’t think that is a bad thing. In fact, I would love if we could just scoop up all the things that rock about being Catholic and repackage it in something less judgmental and arrogant. (Ahem, we aren’t the only ones going to heaven!!!!)
In the Company of Prophets
As I roll all these things around in my mind, I am reminded of the work of the twelfth century prophet Joachim Di Fiore. He identified what he referred to as three spiritual ages: The Age of the Father, The Age of the Son and the Age of the Holy Spirit. The Age of the Father was the time from Abraham to Jesus marked by the development of Judaism. The time of the Son was the time after Jesus’ birth to the present age – marked by the transmission of the Jesus message and the building up of the Institutional Church. The Age of the Spirit, in Joachim’s words is:
When mankind was to come in direct contact with God, reaching the total freedom preached by the Christian message. The Kingdom of the Holy Spirit, a new dispensation of universal love, would proceed from the Gospel of Christ, but transcend the letter of it. In this new Age the ecclesiastical organization would be replaced and the Order of the Just would rule the Church. Only in this third Age will it be possible to really understand the words of God in its deepest meanings, and not merely literally. In this year, a new Epoch of peace and concord would begin, thus making the hierarchy of the Church unnecessary.
So, maybe I’m not really ahead of my time, but just in time. HMMMMM
Authentic Freedom Ministries
Each and every one of us is uniquely gifted to reveal God in the world. Today’s blog explores spiritual charisms (gifts) and how they not only assist us in God’s purpose for our lives, but also serve as a source of inspiration for others.
Friends and Mentors
Wednesday morning I had brunch with a dear friend and mentor. She is a person with whom I worked when I was still under the employ of the Institution of the Roman Catholic Church. She served as my teacher, guide and mentor as I stumbled unwittingly into the role of Liturgist for our grieving community in exile. She took me under her wing as I faced a position for which I was completely untrained and ill-prepared and during a time that I was grieving myself. For her teaching, patience, compassion and friendship, I will always be grateful. We worked together until it became clear to me that God was calling me in another direction. My departure from official Church ministry could have and probably should have driven a wedge in our relationship, but it did not. As a result, I have been given the profound gift of being able to witness true hospitality, generosity and to sit in humble awe over the unique way that God has gifted my friend.
The Unnamed Charism
A charism, as defined by the Catholic Church is a unique spiritual gift and the way that God works through us in bringing healing, love, compassion and justice into the world. The Catholic Church has named roughly 28 charisms which include: healing, discernment of spirits, service, preaching, teaching, administration, evangelization. Because of my relationship with my friend/mentor, and seeing this same gift in my father, I have identified another charism that is yet to be named. I don’t know what to call it, but I am truly in awe over this gift because there is no way on God’s green earth that this gift will EVER be accessible to me. In a nutshell, this as yet unnamed charism, provides one with the ability to stay present to a work or life situation that is less than ideal and might even come in conflict with what you know to be 100% right and true. This charism has something to do with tolerance, acceptance of imperfection, patience and forgiveness and it is the kind of gift that might allow someone to remain an employee of an Institution or work with or for an individual that is everything BUT perfect. My father has this gift, as does my friend. And to both of them I bow in humble awe because no matter how hard I try or have tried, this ability eludes me!
The Curse of the Reformer
No matter how much I try to deny it or bargain away this gift, I am called to be a reformer. As such, I see the world through the lens of “How can this be better?” In particular, I see religion, church, especially Catholicism through this lens. To the chagrin of many, I have no choice but to be a voice and a force for change in what we have come to know religion, church, etc. to be. I see myself as creating and holding space for those that are looking to step into a future vision of church that is less about God as defined by some outside perceived authority and more about the God that wants to reveal itself to them in an intimate and personal way within their own hearts. I also see this as a move from the “do it because we told you” faith of a child and the searching and discovering phase of adolescence and the adult phase of personal empowerment and determined mission. Not everyone in the Church is ready to take these steps, and it is because of and for these folks that my friend has been duly gifted. I see her as holding space for an Institution and its people who are struggling with the pain of transition…..knowing that change is afoot, but not wanting to let go of what they have known for something that has not yet been revealed. While I’m the one disturbing the sh..t, she is the one that says, “It’s ok. You are still safe.”
On a Personal Note
So, on a personal note, I bow in humble awe to my friend, my father and to anyone else who has been gifted with this charism. I have great respect and wonder for your ability to hold space in the tension, to breathe through conflict, to have patience, acceptance and understanding for what is. I can only hope to learn from you as I’m sitting here disturbing the sh… 🙂
How are you uniquely gifted to reveal God in the world?
How are you aware of the unique giftedness of others?
Where do you see the way in which our mutual gifts complement each other?
Authentic Freedom Ministries
Danger: If you are clinging to the current form of Roman Catholicism….you might not want to read today’s post. Change is a comin…..and the invitation is to step aside, let the carnage fall where it may, then watch as the phoenix of new life arises from the ashes. In order to do this, we need to let go of our attachment to what we know and have known the Catholic Church to be and to be open to something new and unexpected.
The Sex Abuse Scandal is NOT Over
Last night I was at a friend’s house reading the latest issue of Rolling Stone Magazine which features an exhaustive investigation into the Catholic Church and the sex abuse scandal, specifically, the secret sex crimes files. (here’s a link to the article: http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/the-catholic-churchs-secret-sex-crime-files-20110906 ) In the article, New York Archbishop, Timothy Dolan (formerly of our own Archdiocese of Milwaukee), was quoted as waving off the priest sex abuse scandal and saying, “That’s over with.” Are you flippin’ kidding me? OVER With ????? I realize that the Catholic hierarchy burying their heads in the sand is not new information….but really? The priest sex abuse scandal is over? NOT HARDLY!!!!! In fact, is has only just begun. What Dolan’s response illuminates to me, however, is the very reason that the Catholic Church (as we currently know it) will and MUST fall. As long as the hierarchy clings to denial, self-protection and defense, the issues that created a culture in which priests have been allowed to sexually abuse children will never be dealt with. Change and reform will NOT be coming anytime soon from the old-boys club and for those of us in the pew, we’d better just get used to this idea. Instead of authentic reform, we will be pummeled with distractions – liturgical reform, investigations of women religious, new translations of the Roman missal, new guidelines on music, the restoration of vestments, vessels, etc. that set the priest apart as “more special” than the rest of us, hard-line insistence on upholding “the one true faith,” coming down on issues of morality, setting the Catholic Church apart as “better than the rest.” Vatican II has been set aside in favor of a Church that wants us to pray, pay and obey (which is ironic considering the current state of the hierarchy) and keep our mouths shut!
You Don’t Have to Be a Prophet
You don’t have to be a prophet to figure out where this is all leading. The Institution cannot keep up the facade of giving a damn about the sex abuse scandal forever. We are not that stupid. As secret files emerge and more charges against priests are made, it becomes painfully obvious that nothing is being done and nothing will be done to heal the wounds or work toward authentic reform. The Institution has nothing to gain and everything to lose by owning their own sins, holding themselves accountable and working toward change. In the meantime, all the work of creating distractions does nothing but create disillusionment and frustration in the hearts of those who want to see a happy and healthy Catholic Church (I count myself among those people). In the end, what the Church will be left with is a flock of blindly obedient members content to look the other way as priests continue to abuse while those who want a healthy church will simply walk away….either retreating to private devotion or finding refuge in another denomination, while secretly pining for what they had to leave behind in the sacraments and rituals with which they had previously found comfort.
There is Good News
I know that I can tend to be uber-cynical and perhaps a little jaded when it comes to issues on Roman Catholicism, and I own that. I found that working in the Institution does one of three things: creates bureaucratic puppets, frustrated reformers or jaded cynics. I guess I fall somewhere between the latter two. That being said, I boldy and passionately LOVE many things about my Catholic faith. And….I am a 100% Vatican II baby and believe in the authenticity and vision of that council. I want to see the reforms of Vatican II fully manifested in the Church and I look forward to seeing what the Holy Spirit has in mind for Vatican III. I believe in the redemptive action of the Holy Spirit and I believe that even in the midst of what seems like the imminent death of the Institution (as we have known it) that something new and magnificent will rise from the ashes. And while there is grief in witnessing the death of what I have known, it is in the on-going redemptive and life-generating action of the Divine that I place my trust, knowing that something new and wonderful is coming to pass.
Authentic Freedom Ministries
It is time for a little shameless self-promotion. As I explore my own giftedness, I invite you to explore your own!
There comes a time in every self-employed, professional’s journey when we must wave the flag of our own greatness, or our businesses would never get off the ground, and those that could benefit from the sharing of our gifts would never have the opportunity to enjoy those gifts. Today is one of those days. The invitation for me today to wave the flag of my own magnificence brings to mind the words of one of my teachers, Julie Tallard Johnson, “You each have your own unique medicine and there are people out there just waiting to receive it.” It is to those folks that I pen today’s blog.
As you probably already know, I am a trained, professional Spiritual Director and Reiki Master Practitioner and see clients in person, via Skype and over the phone for these services. What you might not know are the things about my education, training and background that make me unique in the field of holistic healing, personal growth and transformation:
- I was raised Catholic, attended Catholic schools, studied Catholic/Christian theology and spirituality for seven years and worked professionally in the Catholic Church for 10 years. As such, I bring a sensitivity to issues related to being raised Catholic. Many of my clients are men and women who have been raised Catholic and are trying to find their own truth in the midst of what they were taught. Some clients are trying to recover from the guilt and fearful images of the Divine that sometimes come with being raised in this tradition.
- As part of my studies in Catholic/Christian spirituality, I learned ancient spiritual tools and practices not readily accessible to most Catholics or Christians. These traditions have been carefully guarded by monastic communities and have been part of the Christian tradition for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, but not shared with the average Joe or Jill in the pew. When practiced diligently, these tools help to facilitate profound spiritual growth, healing and transformation. The focus of my work has been to make these tools available to EVERYONE!
- Along with my studies in Catholicism, I have studied and enjoyed the practices of many other traditions: Buddhism, Paganism, Wicca, Hinduism, Yoga, Zen, etc. Exploring and learning from these traditions has taught me to look for the places of connection between all the world religions and spiritual traditions, something I have brought into my own practice and have incorporated into my writings, my curriculum development, my program facilitation and retreat work.
- In addition to studying and practicing Reiki, I have studied Chi Qong and Chinese Medicine. Knowledge and experience in these fields of energy medicine have enhanced the work I do as a Spiritual Director and teacher. All of the classes I teach incorporate this knowledge and experience.
- Oh yea, and I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and Marketing from the University of Iowa and 10+ years of corporate experience in sales, management and marketing.
So, there’s my professional resume in a nutshell. This is for your knowledge and if you know any of those people just waiting for the “medicine” that I have to offer, I invite you to share this blog and website with them. I also invite you to take some time today to reflect on the education and experiences that have contributed to your own unique medicine. How has this made you special and unique? When was the last time you took the time to wave the flag of your own unique magnificence?
Authentic Freedom Ministries/yourspiritualtruth