Posted in church, Healing, Raised Catholic

Recovering Catholics – 42.7 Million Strong

The Second Largest Religious Denomination

A few years back, I learned that the second largest religious denomination in the United States (reported by PEW Research, second only to the Roman Catholic Church), is made up of non-practicing Catholics.  I sat down and did the math and the number of people who still call themselves Catholic, but who no longer attend mass on a regular basis is 42.7 million!  That is a HUGE number of people.  If you are reading this blog, you are likely one of those 42.7 million, or perhaps you were raised Catholic and no longer call yourself Catholic, so we can simply add you to this number and we might find that there are in fact 85.4 million Recovering Catholics in the United States. If that were the case, we would outnumber the active Roman Catholic population!!!

StMaryOshkoshaltar

Who Cares?

You might ask yourself, “Who cares?”  Why is this significant information?  What does this prove to anybody, if anything?  Well, it means something to me.  And here’s why:

1) There are a significant number of men and women in the United States that had a particular religious experience growing up which formed them (for better or worse) and which contributed to who they are today.

2) This unique religious experience of being raised Catholic probably continues to inform them (again, for better or worse).

3) This unique religious experience of being raised Catholic becomes part of the marrow, blood and bones of one raised in this tradition and cannot be exorcised no matter how your current religious experience has changed (if, indeed it has).

4) For those who are no longer practicing Catholics, there is a unique form of grief that comes with the separation from Catholicism (whatever the reason for that separation), and there is a unique form of longing that cannot be quenched.

5) There is a unique set of needs residing within the hearts of Recovering Catholics, that for the most part, are not being met.  We cannot get these needs met in another religious institution.  We cannot go to the Catholic Church to get these needs met.  We cannot meet these needs on our own.

6) I am here to help the 42.7 million (or more) Recovering Catholics get those needs met.

 

Click on this image to register.

What are those needs?

I see the needs of Recovering Catholics as the following (and if you see more, please let me know what they are…..and I will see how I can help!):

1) Grief Support:  Catholics leave for a multitude of reasons, most boiling down to the fact that the truth God revealed to them is in conflict with the doctrine of the Church – teachings on contraception, homosexuality, vocations, divorce, remarriage, etc. etc.  Some leave because they have been directly harmed by a representative of the Church – sexually abused by a priest, physically or verbally abused by a teacher, counselor or lay minister, given incorrect information about Church teachings that made them feel unwelcome (like a certain family member who was told they were no longer welcome to come to communion simply because of a divorce).  No matter the reason, when we leave a community in which we were one time a member, even if the parting is our own decision (kind of), there is grief.  Recovering Catholics need support for the grief they experience in leaving the Institution behind, or in being asked to leave.

2) Resolution: Many Catholics (especially in the past), who left or were asked to leave, were asked to leave based on faulty information.  A representative of the Church misinterpreted the doctrine, or interpreted it to fit their own personal agenda.  For these people, the healing is helped when they learn the faulty nature of the information.  Yes, this will certainly stir anger, but for some, it opens the door to their return….something many are ultimately longing for.  Recovering Catholics might not seek this resolution from a priest, so I can be that bridge….if this is what they need.

3) Longing:  In my generation and the generations that follow, the number one reason I have heard for people leaving is because in the Catholic Church, their needs were not being met.  Specifically, the desire to:

Know themselves.

Know God.

Find Inner Peace.

Know their Gifts and how they are called to use them.

Find meaning and purpose in their lives.

The Catholic Church, most often, attempts to meet these needs through religious formation – the dissemination of doctrine, or doesn’t even go so far as that and simply stands in the belief that providing you with an opportunity to attend mass and receive the sacraments is enough.   Unfortunately, this is an intelligent and wise population of men and women who are looking for something more than to have their heads filled with rules and regulations, history and traditions.  And for many, the mass is not relevant (or the homily given at mass isn’t relevant).  They want DEPTH!  They want something that has meaning and relevance in their own lives and which allows them to know God personally, not just through someone else’s interpretation.  In short, what they are looking for, but don’t have the words for, is Spiritual Formation – something the Church has not done a good job of making available to the men and women in the pews. Spiritual Formation just happens to be one of my areas of expertise!

4) Validation: Recovering Catholics also desire validation….and they deserve it!  They have been formed to use the brain God gave them to reason, discern and exercise truth.  And, many, if not most, grew up in a culture that lost its trust in authority.  They/we have come to question authority and to not blindly follow simply because we were told.  Instead, authority has to be earned and our own reasoning minds need to be validated.  We need to be given credit for having a brain and an intelligent thought and the freedom to challenge and question what we are being told.  In the Institutional Church, questioning is often discouraged or outwardly condemned.  What the Institution has forgotten is that the most important stage in faith development is the questioning and searching stage.  If the Church really wants mature disciples, this stage needs to be honored.  If the Institution will not welcome these questions, I am happy to do so!  I’m excited to see how your questions will help you grow….and me as well!  🙂

If you are a recovering Catholic and looking for support, I am here for you.  Call (920) 230-1313 or email lauri@authenticfreedom.love to find out more. 

Click on this image to register.

 

Posted in church, Healing, Raised Catholic

Recovering Catholics – 42.7 Million Strong

The Second Largest Religious Denomination

A few years back, I learned that the second largest religious denomination in the United States (reported by PEW Research, second only to the Roman Catholic Church), is made up of non-practicing Catholics.  I sat down and did the math and the number of people who still call themselves Catholic, but who no longer attend mass on a regular basis is 42.7 million!  That is a HUGE number of people.  If you are reading this blog, you are likely one of those 42.7 million, or perhaps you were raised Catholic and no longer call yourself Catholic, so we can simply add you to this number and we might find that there are in fact 85.4 million Recovering Catholics in the United States. If that were the case, we would outnumber the active Roman Catholic population!!!

StMaryOshkoshaltar

Who Cares?

You might ask yourself, “Who cares?”  Why is this significant information?  What does this prove to anybody, if anything?  Well, it means something to me.  And here’s why:

1) There are a significant number of men and women in the United States that had a particular religious experience growing up which formed them (for better or worse) and which contributed to who they are today.

2) This unique religious experience of being raised Catholic probably continues to inform them (again, for better or worse).

3) This unique religious experience of being raised Catholic becomes part of the marrow, blood and bones of one raised in this tradition and cannot be exorcised no matter how your current religious experience has changed (if, indeed it has).

4) For those who are no longer practicing Catholics, there is a unique form of grief that comes with the separation from Catholicism (whatever the reason for that separation), and there is a unique form of longing that cannot be quenched.

5) There is a unique set of needs residing within the hearts of Recovering Catholics, that for the most part, are not being met.  We cannot get these needs met in another religious institution.  We cannot go to the Catholic Church to get these needs met.  We cannot meet these needs on our own.

6) I am here to help the 42.7 million (or more) Recovering Catholics get those needs met.

 

Click on this image to register.

What are those needs?

I see the needs of Recovering Catholics as the following (and if you see more, please let me know what they are…..and I will see how I can help!):

1) Grief Support:  Catholics leave for a multitude of reasons, most boiling down to the fact that the truth God revealed to them is in conflict with the doctrine of the Church – teachings on contraception, homosexuality, vocations, divorce, remarriage, etc. etc.  Some leave because they have been directly harmed by a representative of the Church – sexually abused by a priest, physically or verbally abused by a teacher, counselor or lay minister, given incorrect information about Church teachings that made them feel unwelcome (like a certain family member who was told they were no longer welcome to come to communion simply because of a divorce).  No matter the reason, when we leave a community in which we were one time a member, even if the parting is our own decision (kind of), there is grief.  Recovering Catholics need support for the grief they experience in leaving the Institution behind, or in being asked to leave.

2) Resolution: Many Catholics (especially in the past), who left or were asked to leave, were asked to leave based on faulty information.  A representative of the Church misinterpreted the doctrine, or interpreted it to fit their own personal agenda.  For these people, the healing is helped when they learn the faulty nature of the information.  Yes, this will certainly stir anger, but for some, it opens the door to their return….something many are ultimately longing for.  Recovering Catholics might not seek this resolution from a priest, so I can be that bridge….if this is what they need.

3) Longing:  In my generation and the generations that follow, the number one reason I have heard for people leaving is because in the Catholic Church, their needs were not being met.  Specifically, the desire to:

Know themselves.

Know God.

Find Inner Peace.

Know their Gifts and how they are called to use them.

Find meaning and purpose in their lives.

The Catholic Church, most often, attempts to meet these needs through religious formation – the dissemination of doctrine, or doesn’t even go so far as that and simply stands in the belief that providing you with an opportunity to attend mass and receive the sacraments is enough.   Unfortunately, this is an intelligent and wise population of men and women who are looking for something more than to have their heads filled with rules and regulations, history and traditions.  And for many, the mass is not relevant (or the homily given at mass isn’t relevant).  They want DEPTH!  They want something that has meaning and relevance in their own lives and which allows them to know God personally, not just through someone else’s interpretation.  In short, what they are looking for, but don’t have the words for, is Spiritual Formation – something the Church has not done a good job of making available to the men and women in the pews. Spiritual Formation just happens to be one of my areas of expertise!

4) Validation: Recovering Catholics also desire validation….and they deserve it!  They have been formed to use the brain God gave them to reason, discern and exercise truth.  And, many, if not most, grew up in a culture that lost its trust in authority.  They/we have come to question authority and to not blindly follow simply because we were told.  Instead, authority has to be earned and our own reasoning minds need to be validated.  We need to be given credit for having a brain and an intelligent thought and the freedom to challenge and question what we are being told.  In the Institutional Church, questioning is often discouraged or outwardly condemned.  What the Institution has forgotten is that the most important stage in faith development is the questioning and searching stage.  If the Church really wants mature disciples, this stage needs to be honored.  If the Institution will not welcome these questions, I am happy to do so!  I’m excited to see how your questions will help you grow….and me as well!  🙂

If you are a recovering Catholic and looking for support, I am here for you.  Call (920) 230-1313 or email lauri@authenticfreedom.love to find out more. 

Click on this image to register.

 

Posted in church, Discernment, Freedom, Gifts of Contemplation, Jesus, Raised Catholic, Virtual Church

Recovering Catholics – Making Our Own Path

I find that in week four of the Virtual Church experiment, I have to say a few words about being Catholic (yes, I still call myself Catholic).  I share this for the sake of others like me who would like nothing more than to be a fully active member of the Catholic Church, serving, working and ministering under her roof.  Sadly, for obvious reasons, this is no longer possible for me, neither is it for many men and women I have come to love dearly.  And for those I don’t know, my heart goes out to you in compassion as you find yourself unable to set foot inside a Catholic Church (whatever the reason might be).

Lauripresiding

Broken Hearts and Broken Dreams

Today, my heart is breaking after a week of deep shadow work which presented itself in many ways, including several conversations about Catholicism, being raised Catholic and the path that led me to claim my own ordination and launch a virtual church. I discovered that I am not alone in having a deep love for the Catholic Church, in being formed as a minister within that Church, and being unable to minister there.  In those with whom these conversations arose, the same mistake was made.  We found God through contemplative prayer and this contemplation led us to our truth.  Then…..we tried to live that truth.  This proved to be the final nail in the coffin.  The Church can’t have people running around living their truth.  Where is the order?  There might be chaos. This could mean anarchy! Cats and Dogs raining.  People having sex in the street.  Shocking!  Sigh!  When we learn to use the brain God gave us to reason, discern and exercise truth, often the truths God reveals to us step outside the rules of the institution (see this week’s meditation supplement for how Jesus got in trouble for using his brain!).  Then, we get in trouble (again, see this week’s readings, or attend this week’s virtual church service!)  This leads me to the question of vocations….because those with whom these conversations arose also have an authentic call to the priesthood…and like me, are unable to live it out within the embrace of the Catholic Church.

Vocations Crisis!!!????

The Church whines, moans and complains about a lack of vocations.  Lack of vocations my butt!!!!  The only thing that is lacking is an institution willing to open their hearts to God’s voice instead of the voice of the power they are deathly afraid to lose.  Oh my God…what would happen if priests were allowed to married? If women could be priests?  If gay men and women could openly live their orientation within the ordained priesthood instead of hiding it in the closet and watching it come out sideways!!!????  What you might have is a vibrant, thriving, dynamic, servant-leadership oriented Church with men and women serving beside each other as equals, working together to fulfill the mission of Christ.  Unfortunately, the Institution is too busy polishing their Italian leather shoes to see the droves of men and women standing at their gates waiting to serve God.  So….what are those authentically called to continue the mission of Christ in the world to do who don’t fit into the narrow single, “heterosexual” male, “celibate” definition of priesthood?    What are we to do?

Making our own path

We make our own path, (rather, we allow God to make one for us) that’s what we do.  For through our careful discernment we have learned that it is much easier to be disobedient to the Church than it is to disobey God.  Disobedience to the Church simply means being ostracized and deprived of the Eucharist.  Disobeying God leads to an inner agony, longing, anxiety and pain that one simply cannot describe.  But here’s the funny thing…..even in disobeying the Church so that we can be obedient to God there is an insatiable longing to be able to live God’s truth within the embrace of the Church.  How do we explain that?  It is simply grief, that we haven’t gotten over our Catholicism, as was once suggested to me?  I don’t think so!  What this says to me, is that this is indeed what God desires – that God desires for the Church to open their eyes, their minds and their hearts so that there can be room for all the ways in which we are ALL called to serve God through our own unique giftedness, our own unique passions and our own unique call – married, single, hetero, gay, bi-sexual, transgendered, lesbian, male and female and everything in between.  God doesn’t discriminate in God’s choice of servants, why should the Church?

In the Meantime

So, in the meantime, we live within the tension.  Live within the tension of being obedient to God’s call and knowing and trusting that God’s call is working in the hearts and minds of the Institution and that someday, others like us, female, married, openly gay, may someday be welcome as ordained ministers within the Catholic Church….but probably not in our lifetimes. (this new pope, however, might surprise us all!!!)

Posted in Authentic Freedom, Being Human, Purpose of Blog, Raised Catholic

Love means saying, “I’m Sorry.”

Dear Readers,

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.

Sincerely,

Lauri A. Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

Posted in church, Inspiration, Lessons, teachers

Uniquely Gifted

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?

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

Posted in church, Empowerment

Ordination for Everyone?

Warning:  today’s blog might be considered blasphemous to some.  😉  Exploring ordination and asking the question “what is it for, who is it for and why?” 

Ordination as Most Know it

In the Christian tradition, ordination is the ceremony or sacrament (if you are Catholic) that designates a certain individual (usually male) to act “in persona Christi” (in the person of Christ) and empowers them to serve as minister, pastor, priest within their designated denomination and Church (notice I used “Big C” Church).  In the Catholic tradition in which I was raised, this designation is even more restricted and clearly defined- heterosexual male only (don’t ask don’t tell), the ONLY one who can act in the person of Christ, the ONLY one who can preach, perform the sacraments, preside over mass, lead a congregation, run the business of the congregation, heal, teach, evangelize, etc. etc. etc.

Pew Potatoes

Being raised in the Catholic Church, I had an opportunity to see the negative effects of this restrictive approach to ordination – most specifically prior to the Vatican II Council….but its effects still linger and I wonder what will happen under the rule of Benedict XVI and his “reform of the reform.”  When you have only ONE MAN who is empowered to perform the ministry of Christ in the world….you get ONE THING…..PEW POTATOES.  Pew Potatoes are dis-empowered Catholics (or any other denomination for that matter), who are never challenged, invited, formed or empowered to do anything other than show up to mass on Sunday.  They have fulfilled their “Sunday obligation” and are therefore done with their job of being Christian.  Now they can go back into the world and live as they normally live, perhaps somewhat inspired to be more loving and caring in the world, but in my humble (ok, maybe not so humble) opinion, Jesus wanted more from us.  Like our pastors, priests, ministers, etc. WE TOO are called to BE CHRIST in the world and to be vessels through which God’s healing love, compassion, mercy, peace, justice, joy can be known in the world.  We are called to do more than just show up and let the priest do all the work!  And in truth, I feel sorry for our poor priests who are expected to BE EVERYTHING and DO EVERYTHING. No wonder no one wants to join.  No wonder so many are burned out or acting out!  What would happen if the Institutions did something different with ordination and gave these guys a break!?

Crazy Ideas from a Mystical Madwoman!

So, I have a crazy idea….what would happen if ordination was available to EVERYONE?  Before you have a heart attack over this blasphemous idea…..Paul had a similar thought.  In his letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor 12: 1-27). Paul reflects on how each and every one of us is uniquely gifted to serve God and to be a source of Divine revelation in the world and went so far as to say that in doing so, “WE ARE THE BODY OF CHRIST.” (ahem….”in persona Christi”).  Why don’t we take this reading seriously?  Why aren’t each and every one of us given the tools through which we can discern what our unique giftedness might be and to discern how God might be calling us to share these gifts in the world in service to love and recognize that in doing so, we are the Body of Christ?  Why not?

Ordination for all

So here’s my crazy thought in form…..which will mostly likely NOT show up in any institutional church anytime soon.  But, what if people were given the tools to come to know themselves more fully, to come to KNOW God in a very deeply and intimate way within their own hearts?  What if people were given the tools to discover, cultivate, nurture and claim their own unique gifteness and how they are called to reveal God in the world through the sharing of their gifts.  And WHAT IF…….when those individuals are ready to claim these gifts and step into the world to boldly share these gifts in service to God and God’s love….WHAT IF….THEY WERE ORDAINED?  GASP!  Then instead of having one man who is expected to fulfill all the gifts as healer, teacher, preacher, listener, confessor, counselor, administrator, accountant, evangelizer, etc. etc. we had individual people empowered and ordained as:

  • ministers of healing
  • ministers of teaching
  • ministers of administration
  • ministers of preaching
  • ministers of leading
  • ministers of discernment
  • ministers of service to the poor
  • ministers of hospitality
  • etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.

Just a thought!

Where have you been invited to know God and in knowing God, knowing yourself in a very intimate and personal way?

Where have you been invited to name, claim, cultivate your gifts?

Where have you been empowered to share those gifts in the world in service to love/God? 

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

Posted in church

What Does it Mean to Be Church?

Today’s blog explores the question of “church.”  What is “church” and how do we understand, live that out or reject it all together in the post-modern age?

Big C little c What begins with “C”?

If you are anything like me, the word, “church” elicits a deeply visceral and emotional response.  This is about as loaded a word as any word can be.  For some church has been and continues to be a refuge, a sanctuary, a place to find nourishment, support, inspiration and empowerment in the spiritual journey.  For others, church is something that has been a profound source of pain, alienation, fear and abuse.  My sense is that for most, church is a mixed bag.  I know for myself, church was once a source of comfort, nourishment, respite and empowerment, then it was a source of pain, and now I find myself again in a space where I have found a community with whom I can worship and again find nourishment and support (ironically, all of this happened within the boundaries of one denomination – Roman Catholicism).

Big C Church

Because the word church is such a mixed bag, I think it is important to distinguish between the Big C church and the little c church.  The Big C church is the institutional church…..anything that has been put in place around a particular set of beliefs and involves a hierarchical, and mostly patriarchal structure.  Big C church is the Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, UCC, Anglican, Evangelical, Pentecostal, etc. church.  Big C involved a building, doctrine, laws and is centered primarily around worship and indoctrination of the participants in the teachings of that particular BIG C church.  Big C church has its place in our society, and it has certainly had its role in the history of Western civilization (both for the good and for the bad).  The problem with Big C church, however, is that it IS an institution…and with that comes all the problems of an institution – infighting, competition with other Big C churches, attachment to power and control, a need to manipulate its members, a need for group think and obedience to the appointed authority, etc.  Big C church will always struggle to find the balance between the message of Jesus (at least within the context of Christian churches) and the need for power and control.  The good news is that while the BIG C church wants to think it is in charge and is the only gig in town, there is another church that is living, breathing, existing, right under its nose.

Small c church

In my personal opinion (and I might get burned at the stake….again…for saying this), is that the real, true, authentic church of God is YOU!  It is not in some building, ruled over by a hierarchical, patriarchal structure, confined by doctrine and laws….but is the living breathing people who have sincerely sought to know the love of God in their heart and live that out in their daily lives.  The church of God is not determined by our obedience to an outside perceived authority and its laws, but is determined by our obedience to the God within and to the guided empowerment of that God and in the ways we live out God’s love in the world….regardless of our chosen denomination or lack thereof.  As Paul explained in his letter to the Corinthians, when we seek to know God, come to discover, cultivate and share our gifts in the world, the WE ARE THE BODY OF CHRIST.  THIS is the small c church.  So here’s the really cool thing….there are people in EVERY denomination, EVERY religion, EVERY philosophy and belief system, EVERY culture, of all walks of life who are the small c church.  The small c church is not constrained by belief.  The small c church is not contained in a building.  The small c church is not defined by differences or separated by membership.  WE ARE ALL the small c church when we seek to know peace and desire to be a sincere vessel of compassion and love in the world.

What is church to you?

Where have you found gift in the BIG C church?

How are you being called to recognize your call to BE the little c church?

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth

Posted in church, Freedom, Raised Catholic

Being the Mystical Church

Today’s blog explores a specifically Catholic question:  Is there room in the Church today for the mystic, the healer, the intuitive, the contemplative?  This is a question that I unwittingly found myself in the middle of….and a question that I believe is relevant for many today.  Can the Institution Church handle those called to embrace the Mystical Church?  More importantly, where do those called to Be the Mystical Church find acceptance and support.

 

 

Dangerous Liasons

When I was a child growing up in the Catholic Church, I was safe.  I could go to mass and have my private, intimate time with God and nobody was the wiser.  I was content to keep these experiences to myself and in my naivite, assumed that this was everybody’s experience of the mass and of prayer.  It wasn’t until I was a grown up and had to start sharing these experiences and the gifts I learned from the practices of Christian Contemplative Prayer that I discovered that many, if not most were not having these same experiences….neither did they want to.  And somewhere around eleven years ago, I learned why these experiences might not be desirous for many.  Being a mystic, a contemplative, a healer, and intuitive in the Institution of the Catholic Church is DANGEROUS business.

Do What We Tell you and Keep Your Mouth Shut!

The Institution of the Church is there to keep us in line, to develop rules, regulations, rituals, dogma and doctrine with the single purpose of creating consistency and predictability.  For many, this creates a net of perceived safety and security that gives them a perceived sense of peace.  For the mystic, these rules, regulations, etc. feel like a straight jacket, tightly bolted and keeping one imprisoned and contained.  The mystic, by their very nature is obedient to NO ONE but GOD and this drives the Institution crazy!   While the Institution seeks a people who will march into the church because they were told to, heads bowed in reverence and penitence, following the rituals and the rules to the letter of the law,  the Mystic runs screaming down the street, “God is so awesome….God is love….God is expansive….freeing, joyful, magnificent…….come play in the garden of God with me!”   The Institution shakes its head at the “disobedience” of the mystic and the mystic wonders why the Institution cannnot accept them for who they are.

 

Lost and Found

For me, it was this tension between the Institution and the Mystic that cast me out of the Institutional Church and into the world of seeking, exploring, wondering.  After years of “fighting” for a place within the Institution, I found I could no longer fight.  I was a mystic, a healer, an intuitive, a contemplative and it seemed that within the Institution, there was no longer a place for me.  The final straw came when I was told that the work I was doing (Contemplative prayer and Hands-on Healing) was dangerous and potentially “the work of the devil.”  Fortunately, I knew better, but it was no less heartbreaking to discover that your gifts were no longer welcome in the place you had called home for over forty years!  The good news is that the Church is more than the Institution and that a Mystical Church exists that is available to anyone regardless of their ability to “follow the rules.”

 

The Mystical Church

It was Albert Nolan, in his book, Jesus Today that alerted me to the very real presence of the Mystical Church:

“I have always felt that there were two histories of the Christian Church:  the history of the institution with its popes and power struggles, its schmisms, conflicts and divisions, its heresy hunting and burearcracy; and the parallel history of the martyrs, saints and mystics with their devotion to prayer, humility and self-sacrifice, their freedom and joy, their boldness and their deep love for everyone and everything….Mystics, like prophets, are not appointed by any religious authority.  The authority of saints, mystics and prophets has always been based upon their closeness to God.  And institutional authority has always found it difficult to deal with such freedom of spirit.”  

(Jesus Today, pg 73)

So, there it was.  My journey in a nutshell.  I was not part of the Institutional Church….never have been, never will be.  I am part of what Albert Nolan would call the Mystical Church.   As part of the Mystical Church, I can pray, heal, worship and serve in freedom and can do so alongside others called to this path.  So today, I boldly accept my call to the Mystical Church and humbly offer welcome and support to others called to this path.

Where have you experienced the tension between the Institutional church and your own experiences of God?

What do you find life-giving within the traditions of the Institution?

What do you find life-giving within the tradition of the Mystical Church?

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

Posted in About Lauri, church, Raised Catholic

“I receive everything as love, even perceived rejection by my Church”

In today’s blog, I place my experiences of “being rejected” by the local Catholic Church into the Wheel of Initiation where I am invited to look upon this perceived rejection from the perspective of my chosen intention:  I receive everything as love.



The Wheel and my Pain Story

Again, I find myself standing in the middle of the Wheel of Initiation.  Reflecting on last week’s blogs on my relationships with the Catholic Church and recent events that have invited me to fast from the Eucharist, I acknowledge the invitation to bring this into the wheel.  (See Julie Tallard Johnson’s book, The Wheel of Initiation for more on this.)  Through the wheel, I am invited to look at these experiences of feeling persecuted, judged, condemned, ridiculed and rejected and how it relates to the pain story that has presented itself for healing.  When I first entered into the wheel, the pain story that presented itself for healing is the perception that I am rejected. I was invited to acknowledge and examine all the places in my life where I have perceived myself as being rejected and how that has negatively colored my life experiences.  This pain story could not be more obvious than in my recent experiences with the local Catholic Church.  The more I grew spiritually, the more I began to discover, cultivate, embrace and express the truths, the gifts and the call that God had revealed to me, the louder the voices of “rejection” became.  (See last Friday’s blog for the details)  I took these voices of challenge and condemnation as a personal rejection.  As I mentioned last week, my heart was broken.

My Pain Story and the related Agreements

In the Wheel of Initiation, we are not only invited to name our pain story (I am rejected), we are also invited to name and give release to the agreements we have made around this pain story.  For me, these agreements include:

  • It is my job to make other people happy
  • In order for me to be right, others have to be wrong
  • It is my job the not only carry the shadow of another, it is also my job to heal it
  • If I am perfect, they will love me
  • Others have to like me

As it relates to the Catholic Church and my perception of being rejected, I am invited to examine these agreements and how they are related to my pain story.  I have to say that this is pretty obvious.  I am right, and the local self-appointed inquisition is wrong.  It is my job to carry and cure the shadow of the Catholic Church (good luck with that one!).  I need everyone to like me.  If they don’t like me, then I am rejected.  If I have to be right and they are wrong, then I get to reject them before they can reject me.  And…it goes on and on and on.  The good news is that thanks to Julie and her interpretation of the wheel….I now have another choice.  Instead of perceiving all these experiences as rejection, I am invited to re-examine these experiences through my chosen intention:  I receive everything as love.

I receive everything as love.

I know that this is definitely a work in progress and that the fullness of my healing around rejection will be a lifetime process…at the same time, I have to start somewhere.  Today, I am invited to explore my experiences with the Catholic Church through a new lens – the lens of love.  So…here goes.

1) There is no right and wrong.  I am standing in my truth, while those I perceive as being the self-appointed inquisition are standing in their truth. My truth does not make them “wrong”, their truth does not make me “wrong.”

2)  It is not my job to carry the shadow (wounds) of the Catholic Church, neither is it my job to fix it (this is something I have spent a great deal of time thinking I was supposed to do).

3)  Just because someone else’s truth differs from mine does not mean I am rejected

Ok…that is a good start….but, how do I receive all these experiences as love?  Well, here is my first attempt to conceptualize this:

  • I am now more free to cultivate, nurture and share my gifts.
  • Stepping outside the institution of the Catholic Church has allowed me to more fully stand in the truths that God has revealed to me.
  • My prayer life has deepened exponentially since stepping outside the institution.
  • I am now able to share my gifts and my call with a wider (perhaps more receptive) audience.
  • It feels much more life-giving to have the freedom to explore my own truth, stand in that truth and freely share it with others.
  • I am free to explore new forms of worship that may speak even more deeply to my heart (ie:  Kirtan/chant, body prayer, etc.)
  • Because of these experiences, I was invited (forced actually) to cultivate an private spiritual practice and to tend this even more diligently than before.  Through this, I have learned that I am called much more deeply to contemplation than to public worship.
  • I have found new forms of community that deeply resonate with the truths that I have discovered within myself and been called to embrace.
  • One of the greatest gifts that have come out of these experiences was the opportunity to learn of and embrace my own call to the Mystical Church.   (Albert Nolan speaks of the Mystical Churchin his book, Jesus Today.  The Mystical Church carries the spiritual traditions of the Christian traditions and has been honored by those in monastic communities and is rooted in knowing God through personal experience.  According to Nolan, this is a “Church” that grew up alongside the Institutional Church whose path to God is in knowing God through doctrine and Church law.)

I know this is just the beginning, but as I come to reflect on those experiences that I had previously received as rejection through the lens of love, I feel a deep and profound healing taking place.  And for this, I am grateful.

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com