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!!!

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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.

 

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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. 

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Posted in Authentic Freedom, detachment, grief, Inspiration, Surrender

Saying Goodbye

A week ago Tuesday, I awoke to the voice of (I’m not sure who – Spirit, The Mother, God, My Higher Self) speaking these words to me:

Say Goodbye.

How appropriate these words are as I face the end of an era. The life as I have known it has drawn to a close and all that defined that life has come to an end.  Or rather, the purpose of that era has drawn to a close.  I am tempted to point to church stuff, changing the world, Mary Magdalene, etc. as being the purpose of the past nearly 20 years, but in truth, the deeper purpose seems to have been for one thing and one thing only –

My own healing.

While the externals that gave expression to the past 20 years has been about God, Jesus, Mary Magdalene, Church stuff, wanting to heal and change the world, creating a space in which people can find support in their own spiritual exploration and journey toward self-actualization……at the core of all of it has been my own healing. Every book I have written, every course that I have created came first out of my own personal experience of being open to the Universe giving me what I needed to find healing and in receiving this healing, discovering MYSELF. I then took what I found to be supportive and formed it into a structure that could be shared with others for the sake of their own journey of healing from their past so as to discover themselves. Looking at the lives of those I’ve supported, I have to say I think I’ve done a pretty good job (PS I’m pretty sure this piece is NOT coming to an end).

As this era comes to a close and is ritualized by a literal physical move (from the home we have enjoyed for the past 6 ½ years), I’m letting it all go. I’ve grieved through this transition.  I’ve said goodbye to cherished objects, personal labels, dreams of riches and fame, attachments to outcomes and even the hope of a specific kind of love and the dream of a regular life with a regular job.  I’ve grieved the loss of the home we have loved and in which not only myself, but my children have found healing.  I’ve grieved the loss of a routine that I’ve known.  And most importantly, I’ve grieved the loss of the familiar life in which I’ve lived which has been defined mostly by isolation, illness, depression, poverty and loss (bahbye!).

I do not know what is waiting for me on the other side of this transition, but I am grateful for what has been and open to the opportunities that will present themselves in this letting go. I figure if the Universe is inviting me into this depth of emptying, something ENORMOUS must be coming to fill its place.

To whatever that is I say “Hello.”

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in End of the World Prophecies, grief, Mystics, world changes

How I Know Where We’re Headed

  • -Because I’ve Been Here Before!

On Sunday this week, I posted my blog with the challenging question: Will You Survive the Collapse? It is not uncommon, after sending words like that into the ethers that people ask me, “How can you claim to know this?  How do you know?”  The unscientific response is, “I just know.”  But there is also a response based in science – specifically the science of applied knowledge gained through experience: I’ve been here before.

Now, I’m not talking about some whoo-whoo past life memory. I’m talking about experiences I’ve had in this life.  The experience is this:  nearly every single  company/institution I worked for, or with, went through some sort of cataclysmic change. Indeed, with this, you might call me the harbinger of doom.  But really, their collapse was not my fault.  I just happened to be there to witness it’s unfolding and the resulting collapse.  I was also there to be hospice to the dying and to remain, as long as I could stand it, as some other form was trying to be born.

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It happened waaaayyyy back in the day when I worked for AT&T. It happened when I worked for St. Mary Resort in Glacier Park, Montana. It happened with a local company who went through a massive downsizing.  It happened during my employment with the Catholic Church – not once, but five times, not including the cataclysmic change that happened under the reign of Joseph Ratzinger (aka Pope Benedict XVI).  And it happened with the University where I did my graduate studies.

In every situation, the pattern was the same:

A time of great hope and expansion struck fear in the hearts of those ill-prepared for change, which then inspired a longing for the nostalgia of some idealized past, quickly followed by a dramatic pulling back that ultimately led to the death of what had been known.

Each. And. Every. Time.

This is exactly what is happening in our culture today – only on a much larger scale. Not everyone sees this, as it requires Eagle Vision to see how we have come to this…and where we are likely headed.  Fortunately, Eagle Vision is one of my gifts.

We have experienced profound and dramatic changes in our culture – just in my lifetime:

  • Manufacturing has been replaced by information and technology.
  • Our definition of family and the family web has profoundly changed.
  • Our cultural awareness of diversity has greatly expanded.
  • We have become more mobile and our communication is now global.
  • Our economy has shifted from local to national and now global.
  • We have access to more information than any generation previous to ours.

As these expansions are happening, we are also finding that we can no longer trust those institutions we used to rely on for guidance and support. This includes the many institutions, with whom we used to place our trust, who are now in the midst of their own collapse:

  • Healthcare
  • Education
  • Banking and Finance
  • Government
  • Religion
  • Corporations
  • The Military
  • The Economy

With all of this expansion, and the dramatic change that is accompanying this expansion, those ill-equipped or uncomfortable with change, have pulled back. They are retreating into the nostalgia of some idealized past where everyone was “happy, safe, housed and fed” – a past that has existed only in their imagination. With this, we are witnessing an upsurge in ‘isms – sexism, racism, orientationism, nationalism, beliefism, etc. etc. etc.  Instead of taking responsibility for the anxiety being experienced in the face of change, fingers are being pointed and entire populations scapegoated as the “enemy.”

All of this is how I know where we are headed. I have been here before.  I also know what it takes to survive and move through cataclysmic change as I have accompanied hundreds through similar change.

  1. Be honest. Acknowledge the death that is happening and the fear that accompanies death.
  2. Be hospice to the dying. Support people in acknowledging their fear and the grief that is arising in the face of the loss.  Provide them with support in moving through the fears and the accompanying faces of grief (shock, denial, bargaining, depression, anger, sorrow).  In being hospice, DO NOT INSULT those who are grieving with frivolous distractions (for example, the “joy in the workplace” initiative recently launched by the administration of an institution who shall not be named which is facing its own collapse.  “Scared that your job might be eliminated?  Join us at noon and learn how to make a potholder.” WHAT!?) Instead, be with them WHEREVER they are in their grieving process.  (PS Institution who shall not be named.  I’m still here offering my services in change and grief management because from what I can see and what I’m hearing from your employees, clearly, “you don’t got this!”)
  3. Give them something to hope in.  With every death comes the promise of new life – for those who have the courage to believe and the willingness to see the glimpses of the new life that is arising out of the ash of the old.  Point out those glimmers of new life and encourage others to support that new life.

The demise of what we have known is already happening and will soon be accelerating. I know this because I have been here before.  If I am proved wrong, I will be the first to admit I was wrong and shout hurray at the glorious revival of western culture.  In the meantime, I’m here if you want to talk about your fears, process your grief, and gather the support which will help you move through the death to the new life that will, indeed happen, and is already happening.

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Lauri Ann Lumby holds a Master’s Degree in Transpersonal Psychology and is a trained Spiritual Counselor and Educator. She is available for one-on-one sessions and has created a wide variety of online courses to help support you through the death of the old world and the birthing of the new. Call (920) 230-1313 to schedule an appointment or email lauri@authenticfreedom.love.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Authentic Freedom, codependency, Empowerment, grief, Healing, Lessons, Spiritual Formation

My Purpose is Love

Finding the new life on the other side of the loss.

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2016 marks the end of a nine year cycle that began in 2007. For me, the theme of this cycle has been about endings – specifically, the end of my marriage and the end of my relationship with the Catholic Church.  Of course, both relationships will never truly be over as there are blood ties to both, but the process of the past nine years has been typical of the grieving process we must all face with every death/ending.  I have felt shock, denial, bargaining, depression, anger, hatred, fear and deep, deep, bone-deep/soul-deep sadness.  I have wandered back and forth between all faces of grief, finding my way through the losses, hoping and trusting (sometimes only hoping and pleading) that the excruciating pain was leading me toward some new life that I did not yet know, but is always promised on the other side of loss (if we believe the Easter promise).

To say these losses were excruciating would be an understatement. Both completely shattered and put into question what I believed my purpose to be on this planet.  I was certain that when I married it would be forever (ahhhh the naiveté of youth!).  I also believed that I would be forever content working in the Catholic Church and that the Church valued my gifts and the call that came with those gifts.  (hah!).

But then, I woke up. I woke up to the illusion of my marriage and my illusion of the Catholic Church.  I woke up, and it all began to fall apart.  Not because my former husband was in the wrong, not because the Church was wrong, but because I discovered what was right for me.  I saw the truth and could not bear living with the lie.  So, my relationship with both had to go.  And I can tell you this was the hardest letting go I have ever had to do.  But, this was only the beginning.

As I let go of one illusion, and then two, many, many, many more presented themselves and implored me for their release. The last two years, in particular, has been characterized by a letting go, the likes of which I have never known.  EVERTHING I thought I knew about myself, everything I had attached myself to, everything I hoped and dreamed of for myself and my children, EVERYTHING had to go.  Or rather, I had to be willing to let it go.  So I did….but not without some resistance.  And when I found myself clinging, the Universe made damn sure I let go, even if what I was clinging to had to be pried from my cold, dead, fingers.

As the end of this nine year cycle approaches I am conscious of all that I have let go and out of the debris of loss, a new life appears to be coming forth. It is a new life that I could never have imagined when this cycle started nine lifetimes ago.  This new life is as simple as it is profound – it is a new life defined by and recognized by one thing….and that is LOVE.

Out of the fear, the worry, anxiousness, hatred, rage, the desire for karmic retribution and some sort of Divine justice, deep bone chilling sadness, emptiness, loneliness, depression and all the ways I desperately wanted to wish and bargain it all away, LOVE is coming forth. Love of myself for who I am.  Love of the journey that brought me here.  Love for those who played their role with such perfection.  Love of all the ways in which I have grown and healed, and become a better version of myself because of the loss and all the ways in which I supported myself (and allowed myself to receive support) through this loss.  LOVE.

But not simply love as an inner experience or quality – LOVE as my own purpose and superpower! Because if there is one thing I have learned through this nine year cycle, every single time I wanted to hate, every time I wanted revenge, every time I wanted to harbor anger and resentment, my SOUL would not let me.  And oh, believe me, I have tried.  Over and over and over again, I was led to learn that LOVE was the only answer to all the pain.  LOVE was the only answer to my own desire to separate.  LOVE was the only remedy to my own inner sense of separation and the only path to FREEDOM.  If I truly wanted to be free, I had no other choice but to love – even when all I wanted to do was hate.  So love it was, love it is, and love it has become.

And now as I sit with this awareness of LOVE as the new life that came forth from two life-altering losses, and as this nine year comes to an end and we enter into a “10” year – a year of new beginnings, I wonder what else love will have me do.

Authentic Freedom is the process that I developed and then used to support myself through my waking up and the resulting loss.  Learn more about the Authentic Freedom Mastery Program through this FREE preview course.  Click on the icon below to register:

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Posted in Agape Project, Authentic Freedom, Spiritual Practices, Virtual Church

Love – the true fulfillment

Agape meditation newsletter, supplement to the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church service for Sunday, September 7, 2014.  The theme:  LOVE

 

Scripture Reading:

Brothers and sisters: Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not covet, ” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.

Rom 13: 8-10

 

Additional Readings:

Ez 33: 7-9

Ps 95: 1-2, 6-9

Mt 18: 15-20

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Love – the fulfillment of the law

As St. Paul observed, there is nothing else we need to learn in the human experience if we learn how to love. Coming to know the love that is our true and original nature, and then living as that love in the world, IS the “do-all, end-all, be-all” we are all looking for. When we know this love, we are happy, content, fulfilled and we know peace. When we live this love, we act accordingly. We no longer act out of our fearful and compulsive natures, instead acting only out of love. This is how we come to experience “heaven on earth” and how we show others to do the same. When we live out of the love that we are, we act as a mirror, causing the spark of love that lives within others to be awakened. Of course, they have to decide what to do with that spark of love. But even should they reject or turn away from that love, the love that we know within ourselves causes us to have compassion for those who are unable to accept the love that they are.

What would the world look like if everyone came to know the love that they are and then chose to live that love in the world?  

How are you called to more fully embrace the love that is your true and original nature?  

 

 

Spiritual Practices – Let’s Pretend

“Fake it ‘til you make it” is a helpful sentiment when attempting to remember the love that is our true and original nature. In embracing this sentiment, we are taking a leap of faith – entertaining the possibility that LOVE really IS our original nature….and not the fears and compulsions that tend to make up the human experience. For this exercise, you will be invited to momentarily set aside any doubts about love being your original nature and PRETEND that you believe. And if you already believe love to be your original nature, than this exercise will be even easier.

 

  • Sit in silence.
  • Believe that love is your original nature.
  • Imagine this love as a source of bright green or fuschia light originating in the center of your chest, near your heart.
  • While sitting in silence, draw your attention to this light of love in the center of your chest and rest there.
  • When you find your attention straying, bring it back to the light of love in your heart.
  • Believe that as you hold your attention on this source of love within you, that your believe in this love is growing stronger.
  • Believe that as you hold your attention on this love, that you are being healed of any inner obstacles to believing more fully in this love.
  • Believe that this love is cleansing and healing you of any places of past hurt or betrayal.
  • Continue this attention and awareness exercise for 20-30 minutes.
  • Record your thoughts, feelings and experiences of this exercise in your notebook or journal.

 

Authentic Freedom

In Authentic Freedom, we acknowledge the heart chakra as the energy center that corresponds with love. It is through the heart chakra and its related physical, emotional, mental and spiritual correspondences that love resides, along with all of our life experiences which have been a denial of this love. The effects of grief, disappointment, loss and betrayal are all housed within the heart chakra, hampering our ability to love freely. In order to know more fully the love that we are and to live that love more fully in the world, we need to find healing for the past hurts that have hindered our ability to love. Healing comes through active grieving and through diligent attention to forgiveness practices. Being freed of these past wounds, we are more able to love – both ourselves and others with the unconditional love that is our original nature.

What past hurts, losses, betrayals, disappointments are you aware of that may be compromising your ability to know the love that you are and live that love more freely in the world? 

How might you support yourself, or seek outside support for healing these past wounds?

 

Posted in Being Human, Death, Forgiveness, grief

Permission NOT to be Enlightened when Grieving

Perfectionist and the quest for enlightenment

As a recovering perfectionist, the quest for “enlightenment” (ahem….perfection) has been high on my list of desired accomplishments. I’m nowhere near attaining that goal, but it is still on my wish list. Enlightened people are perfect you see….calm, cool, responsible, unflappable. Enlightened people have a high set of standards and they live by them.  Enlightened people are kind, thoughtful, forgiving, loving, generous, humble and patient.  All this is true of enlightened people…….except when they are grieving.  Here is how I learned this important truth.

Divine Irony

God is funny…..or, as my daughter says, “He just thinks he is.”  Just days before my aunt was rushed to the hospital and eventually gave in to the complications of COPD, I had embraced a forgiveness practice.  With a combination of the Ho’oponopono prayer and my own method of “praying for and loving my enemies,”  I was intentionally searching my consciousness for people toward whom I was still harboring resentment for past hurts, and surrounding other people who annoyed me or tempted my ire with love.  I was doing a pretty good job maintaining my practice and I was feeling really good about the love it seemed I was cultivating.  Then my aunt died and all hell broke loose.  Pretty soon I was ranting and raving over past hurts and casting dispersions toward anyone who ticked me off.  I found myself frequently rattling off the curse I have in the past saved for only the worst of the worst….”f….those f’ing…..f’ers.” (Yes….those on the quest for enlightenment use the F-word.) 🙂

frustration

Permission to be human

As I’ve been witnessing my own regression, there were a few moments in which I was tempted to judge my behavior as bad, corrupt, imperfect and punish myself through self-condemnation and self- loathing.  Instead, I decided that when we are grieving, we all get a “Get out of jail free” card.  When grieving, we are allowed to be as human as we need to be to process the grief.  If in the midst of grieving the loss of my aunt I need to hate a few people, then so be it.  If I need to go on a rant about everything or nothing in particular, that is ok.  If I need to crawl into a ball on the floor and suck my thumb or pull out a full-on 2-year old temper tantrum, then more power to me.  And…..more power to you when you need to do the same.  When we are grieving, we don’t need to be enlightened, or perfect, or patient, or pleasant, or accommodating, or anything we don’t want to be.  When we are grieving, we have permission to be human…..to be vulnerable, afraid, anxious, worried, sorrowful, hurting, damaged, wounded, depressed, angry, hateful, etc. etc. etc.  And….thank God/dess, because when we are busy trying to be perfect, it is awful hard for us to receive the help, and love, and support of those who are here to comfort us in our grief.  If it were not for our humanness, we would not be able to receive the loving care of another human being which is one of the primary needs in our process of healing. And those who want to help us heal would not be able to share their gift of loving compassion.  When grieving, perfection and enlightenment can wait, we have grieving to do so that we can find healing and the new life on the other side of the loss.  When we have found a little healing, then we can return to the quest for perfection…or enlightenment…or ascension…..or whatever you want to call it…..or we can just go on being human.

 

Posted in Death, grief

A Little Lesson About Grief

As some of you know, I am currently traveling to Minneapolis to be with my family as we celebrate the life and love of my beloved Aunt, Patricia Evans Borg, who recently died from complications of COPD.  As I grieve the loss of my aunt and accompany my family (parents, cousins, siblings, my own children, other aunts and uncles) in mourning her death while celebrating her life, I have had an opportunity to learn a few lessons about grief. I share these lessons with you so that we all may have better tools for managing the losses of life.

Patricia Evans Borg November 25, 1939 - August 19, 2014
Patricia Evans Borg
November 25, 1939 – August 19, 2014

Lesson ONE – Grief Unacknowledged Comes Out Sideways

The news of Patricia’s imminent death came Sunday morning in an email.  She had been admitted into the hospital after going into respiratory arrest and being resuscitated.  She was on a ventilator and the prognosis was grim.  We were in the wait and watch period.  Soon, I found myself overwhelmed with anxiety, obsessive thoughts and compulsive planning.  I also found myself irritable, impatient, intolerant and even a bit angry.  I lost my temper with my son, snapped at my daughter and suddenly found myself obsessively worrying about money (unnecessarily so).  I looked at my calendar and realized the Universe had given me a few days off in the following week and decided I needed to make arrangements to go home to see Pat and be with my family.  I then felt peace.  Then my son asked me for something I wasn’t ready to give him and I lost my temper.  After losing my temper, I realized, “I’m sad about Pat.”  Then I apologized to my kids, shed some tears and acknowledged that I was grieving. Until I acknowledged my grief, it came out sideways in impatience, intolerance, frustration, anger, anxiety and all my typical expressions of anxiety.

Lesson Two – Grief Has Its Way with You

On Tuesday morning, I received the phone call that Pat had died.  SCREECH…..everything came to a stand still as my body and my spirit went into shock.  I couldn’t think straight.  I knew it was too early in the morning to contact family and find out more.  I sat down and tried to work and found I could not.  I thought about yoga and my heart said, “meh!”  I cried for a little bit.  Then I took a nap.  I felt numb and in a haze.  A couple hours later I had energy to get some necessary work done.  Then I needed another nap.  I called my kids to tell them the news and I cried.  I tried to eat and couldn’t.  I tried to force myself to at least accomplish the pieces related to the Virtual Church service for this week and couldn’t.  I decided, as “Pastor and Spiritual Director,” I had the freedom to excuse myself from this task on account of death.  Then I watched What Dreams May Come, and cried and laughed, and mourned not only my aunt’s death, but that of Robin Williams.  In all of this – paralysis, sadness, exhaustion, shock, foggy haze, lack of motivation, and sudden spurts of productive energy, I was reminded that in grief….WE ARE NOT IN CHARGE!  Instead, it is grief that is driving the bus.  Grief has its way with us…in its own way…in its own time.

Lesson Three – the importance of storytelling

After I lost my sh.t on my kids (as the grief was still coming out sideways), and after I acknowledged my grief and shed a few tears, my children spontaneously joined me at the dining room table and started telling their stories about Auntie Pat.  “Mom, remember that hilarious and awesome outfit she wore for Halloween that one year?”  “Mom, I love the time when Pat … I love the story Pat told us about…Mom, what was Auntie Pat like when you were young?”  The stories went on and on as we shared the many loving memories we had of our Auntie Pat.  I was acutely aware as we were sharing our stories, the healing power of narrative.  In remembering Pat, we were remembering her love, and finding healing through these shared and sometimes new memories.

Lesson Four – New Grief Brings Up Old Grief

As I have been grieving Pat’s death, I found past situations of loss reappearing.  In particular, I found myself overcome with anger and resentment over past relationship in which I had experience hurt and subsequent loss.  I found myself ranting and raving about “so-and-so” who had hurt, slighted, or insulted me in some way.  In the middle of day three of ranting, I suddenly realized, “Oh yeah….I’m grieving….here is the anger stage of grief….but instead of being angry at Pat, or about Pat, it is showing up in other unhealed losses.”  When I shared this observation with my daughter, she said, “Well, that would explain when I was sad about ….., that angry thoughts of … showed up.”  Who knew???  New grief brings up old grief.  My guess would be that the purpose of this is that new layers of healing can now be accomplished related to both (or all) experiences of loss.  HMMMMM

In Conclusion

Grief is the amazing and miraculous way in which we process the inevitable losses of the human condition and through which we find healing from these losses.  Grief is not something to be suppressed or ignored, but something to embrace, especially if we want healing from the pain of loss.  In a culture that tells us to “get over it…and move on,” it is ever more important to RE-LEARN the lessons about grief that were known by our ancestors and somehow forgotten in our quest to be “intelligent and rational” beings.  Grief belongs to all of us and the more we try to resist or suppress it, the more it will hound us.  So instead of resisting or suppressing grief, my invitation to all of us is to risk being vulnerable enough to grieve….and when we grieve, to grieve big so that we can find the new life that is promised on the other side of the loss.

 

Posted in church, grief, Surrender

Emergent Church – The Call for Compassion and Surrender

Today’s blog continues the discussion about Emergent Church – inspired by Phyllis Tickle’s book The Great Emergence. In Tuesday’s blog, I spoke specifically about the role and challenge of the innovators/prophets who have been gifted with the vision and feeling of the new way of being Church that is trying to be born into our world, and who have been commissioned to carry and bring forth this vision.  Today, I want to offer a show of compassion for the traditionalists, or as Phyllis Tickle calls them, the “re-traditioners” who are frightened of and therefore resist to this change.

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Greater even than the fear of dying is the fear of change

The re-traditioners, as Phyllis Tickle calls them, are those who are happy, content and comfortable with the model of Church as it currently exists.  The re-traditioners are made up of people in the pew (because they are still going to church) and those in leadership – specifically deacons, brothers, priests, pastors, ministers, bishops, popes, and even some of the women religious. Often, re-traditioners are those who have benefitted from the current model of being Church and who might actually have something to lose should things change.  Some have simply never been called to question the current model of Church and would rather not rock the boat.  “Why fix what isn’t broke?” they might ask.  The problem is that the current model of Church is broke, and many, fearing what a change in the Church might mean for them, choose denial as a way of managing the grief that threatens to overwhelm them over the thought of change.  For you see, even greater than death, human beings fear change.

Holding out for more celibate priests

Here is a case in point.  I remember years ago, when I was asked to be our parish representative in local discussions on how to deal with the Catholic priest vocation crisis.  As a group, we were charged with the task of figuring out how to manage six Catholic parishes with only two priests, and eventually how to manage them with only one priest – as these were the priestly vocation projections for the next ten years.  As an innovator, the solution was obvious to me – close four parishes and eventually all but one and hire lay ministers to staff non-sacramental duties.  While participating in these meetings, I was flabbergasted by the power of denial as I listened to the response to our task by several of the parish representatives present, “We’re sure priestly vocations will turn around, and we won’t need to worry about closure.”  Instead of entering into a discussion about practical solutions based on the cold, hard facts of declining priestly vocations AND declining church attendance, they chose to bury their head in the sand.  My compassion understands that what was really at work here was not ignorance, but grief – these re-traditioners were afraid of the impending change that would dramatically alter the experience of Church through which they had found comfort, predictability and safety.  The world, as they had come to know it, was about to change – dramatically.

Confronting our fear of change

We are facing a similar experience today as we stand in the tension between the Church as it has been known and the new way of being Church that is trying to be born in our world.  The innovators can’t wait for the new Church to be born and the re-traditions are hanging on with all their might to what they have known.  What often happens in the face of this kind of tension is one side projecting their fear onto the other thereby creating enemies where enemies do not really exist. I know this has been done to me, and that I, in turn, have done this toward “the other.”  It doesn’t have to happen this way, however. In the face of this transition, we can turn it into a tug of war – each side battling for power as the Church and its people get torn to shreds (which I’ve seen happen WAY too many times) – or we can:

1) Acknowledge our fears

2) Do something about them

For the re-traditioners, this will be about naming and claiming their fear of change and communicating this fear to those around them, and then allowing themselves space to grieve this loss.  For the innovators, it is about naming our fear of not being heard and of things not changing quickly enough.  For both of us, it is about sitting around the table and being present to each other’s fears and holding each other in compassion and love while the Church changes before us.

We Are Not in Charge

Here then is the trickiest part of emerging Church – WE ARE NOT IN CHARGE!  It is GOD who is calling forth this change – not us.  And this is a difficult pill to swallow for re-traditioners AND innovators alike – because ultimately, as human beings, we all want to be in charge and in control.  Instead, we are ALL invited to get out of the way so that the Church God wants to be born can be brought forth into the world – not according to our personal agenda’s, but according to God’s will.  And in this, our prayer is the very same prayer that Jesus prayed in the face of his own death, “Not my will, but Thy will be done.”

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!!!

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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.

 

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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. 

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