Posted in grief, Raised Catholic

The Cyclical Nature of Grief

Yesterday, and old grief was triggered in me, along with all the symptoms that have come along with this grief – deep sorrow, rage, hatred, anxiety, panic, trembling, emotional and intellectual paralysis, nausea, upset stomach, etc.  When I found I could not even give words to what I was feeling, I turned to my blog archives and found exactly the words I needed to hear – the words that clearly articulated my grief and the loss surrounding this grief.  In this I have been reminded of how grief continues to come back around seeking another layer of healing.  Thank you those who shall remain nameless for inviting me into another layer of healing and to the gift of God’s healing presence. 

The Church That Turned Away from Me

(originally posted on Good Friday, 2015)

Copyright 2015  Lauri Ann Lumby

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For the past eight years, I have been fasting from the Eucharist.  To one on the outside looking in, I might be accused of turning away from my Church.  The opposite in fact is true.  It is the Church that turned away from me.

As a Vatican II Catholic, raised in a Vatican II Church, I have had a unique experience of Catholicism, markedly different from the generations that went before me.  I never experienced the Latin mass or was drilled on the Baltimore Catechism.  I attended Saturday evening folk mass accompanied by Kumbaya’s, Up, Up with People, and To Be Alive! Fish on Friday was reserved for Lent.  Ecumenical dialogue was encouraged and instead of Heaven being the privilege of Catholics only, the pearly gates stood open to all who lived in love. I was brought up with a rock n’ roll Jesus Christ Superstar who in his humanness pleaded to be released while weeping tears of blood at Gethsemane and to whom we desired to “see more clearly, love more dearly and follow more nearly,” as he danced around us in rainbow striped suspenders, sporting a Superman t-shirt.  Speaking out on matters of social injustice and working for peace; feeding the poor, clothing the naked and setting captives free was the understood responsibility of every person sitting in the pew.  Divine retribution and punishment had been left on the editing floor of the Holy See – along with indulgences; and even the unbaptized had a place in God’s loving kingdom. The only God I knew was the God of love. Jesus came to know this love and taught us how to love and was set up as the model and example of how every Christian was called to live.  We were called to be Jesus’ hands and heart through the unique charisms gifted to us by God’s Holy Spirit (sometimes even spoken of as a woman!).

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This is the Church I grew up in and the Church that I deeply loved.  Strengthening this bond was the mass that provided sanctuary and support for my inherently contemplative nature. Gothic arches, painted statues and stained glass windows serenaded by artistic soul.  And the stand up, kneel down, bow and sit of Catholic choreography nourished my need for a spirituality that was as much physical as it was emotional and intellectual. Devotion to Mary satisfied my need for a Divine Mother and the saints became my superheroes.

If I love my Church so much, you may be wondering why I have been fasting from the Eucharist?  What went wrong?  In short, it seems I took what I learned about God, Jesus and our Christian call too literally:

  • I believe in an unconditionally loving God, a Son that is both fully human and fully divine; the call to follow Jesus as an example of how to live my life and to be and do as he would in the world.
  • I love God above all else, my neighbor as myself and I consider ALL of humankind to be my neighbor.
  • I judge not (lest I be judged).
  • I pray for my enemies.
  • I try to forgive 70 times 7 times.
  • I pray without ceasing.
  • I feed the hungry.
  • I clothe the naked.
  • I give sight to the blind.
  • I set captives free.
  • And, I heal the sick.

Oshkosh WI 2/9/11: Photo by Jeannette Merten.

In the end, it was the last three actions that caused my Church to turn away from me.

After eight years in Catholic school and an equal number of years in academic and professional education and formation as a lay minister and spiritual director, I was guided by God to study hands-on-healing and Eastern Energy Medicine (Reiki). Out of this training and experience, God guided me further to develop a protocol through which people found healing from the spiritual wounds that separated them from God’s love, thereby healing them of their sin.  Right in line with Jesus’ teachings, right!? Apparently not, because the practices that I had learned and successfully applied were not “explicitly handed down by the Magesterium.”  I was challenged and confronted, hateful emails and letters were sent. I was accused of every nature of evil. Local bishops, fueled by the fear of the vocal minority, challenged my work and eventually handed down a prohibition calling it “witchcraft and sorcery,” in spite of my attempts to reason with and explain things to them.  Through this, I endured, but when I was attacked by a newly-appointed  pastor for a course in “Christian Zen” that I was sponsoring, who claimed it to be “outside Catholic teaching” and who identified Eastern practices as “dangerous,” I broke.  My heart was broken and my resolve with it.  The Church I had loved and out of whose embrace I had come to know God’s love – the Church who had called me to continue the work of Jesus – had betrayed me.  My gifts, my call, the unique way I had come to know God was no longer welcome. More than that, my ministry had been condemned as “dangerous,” “witchcraft and sorcery”….some even called it, “the work of the devil.”

ChristianZen.jpgOn that fateful autumn day, I listened beyond the voice of the fearful priest, the self-appointed inquisition, and even the Vatican II teachings that provided space for the ecumenical nature of the work I was doing and the unifying discussions that might arise out of this work.  I listened instead to the still, small voice of God within.  God’s voice was not small that day.  God spoke directly and loudly to my heart, “Lauri, you are my beloved daughter.  I have placed my word within your heart.  I have anointed you to be my servant.  Who will you obey?  Man or Me?”

Of course I chose God.

With God and the echoing support of Peter and the Apostles who similarly responded to the Church who turned away from them, “We must obey God rather than man, (Act 5: 29)” I handed over my keys and walked away.  Buoyed by God’s eternal promise of freedom, I knew that I could more freely do the work God had called me to absent the on-going scrutiny of the Church and the fearful minority.

Some would suggest that in leaving the Church I have also left behind my faith.  The opposite, in fact is true.  My faith has remained intact, and in truth, has been fortified.  I start every morning in prayer and meditation over the daily scripture.  Jesus is my constant companion, teacher and guide. I discern daily the ways in which I am being called to continue Jesus’ work in the world. I have seen the clear evidence of God at work through me as I witness the profound healing experienced by those who have become part of my ministry, and I am continually amazed at how God works through me to bring people more and more deeply into love and more closely connected to their own gifts and vocational call in the world.  I see the power of faith at work as I witness the empowerment experienced by those who come to me for counsel, attend my classes, read my writing and partake in my weekly services; and with each passing day my faith is strengthened and affirmed.

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Regarding the Church, I wish I could say that like Lot, I never looked back.  I find, instead, that I am more like Lot’s wife, forever gazing back in profound longing – grieving the loss of my home, my sanctuary, my community, my Church.  Beyond my own grief, however, I weep for my Church.  I long for the Church that I had come to know – one that is firmly rooted in the truth of God’s unconditional love and acting as that love in the world.  I long for a Church that works for unity and empowerment of all humankind – regardless of their gender, beliefs, or sexual orientation.  I long for a Church that is willing to set down its wealth and its power and get in the trenches with those who need its help – the hungry, the poor, the imprisoned, the fearful, the wounded and the broken. I long for the Church that takes Jesus’ example seriously by being humble, giving the seats of honor to those without honor and washing the feet of strangers.  I yearn for a Church that supports people in becoming self-actualized, mature disciples – fostering the psycho-spiritual growth of men, women and children so that they can find the God they have forgotten in their hearts, discover their own unique giftedness and vocational call and become empowered in the fulfillment and use of these gifts in service to the betterment of the world.  I long for a Church that recognizes the earth as holy and sacred and works to be a steward for the gifts God gave us so that all of humanity may not only survive but thrive.  I cry out to the Church to work for justice – justice for all – not only for those who “are Catholic in good standing.”  My heart yearns for a Church that welcomes ALL people to its table – inviting all to know the unconditional and infinite love that is their truest nature. This is the Church that I once knew and I often wonder what happened to that Church – or if all along it had really just been a figment of my imagination.

 

 

Lauri Ann Lumby, MATP is a published author, ordained interfaith minister, spiritual director and teacher.  She ministers to a world-wide audience, most of whom were raised Catholic but who were also turned away by the Church.  Lauri lives in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.  You can learn more about Lauri and her ministry at www.authenticfreedomacademy.com.

Posted in Authentic Freedom

Become an Authentic Freedom Facilitator

Becoming an Authentic Freedom Facilitator provides a terrific complement to your existing skills as a counselor, life-coach, energy worker, massage therapist, holistic practitioner, medical doctor, psychologist, Reiki master, yoga instructor, meditation teacher, addictions counselor, spiritual director or ordained minister.  Authentic Freedom Facilitator training gives you additional tools for helping your clients, students and patients find meaning, purpose and connection in their lives.  More importantly, it gives you the tools for helping your clients move through the inner obstacles to a life of fulfillment and joy.

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Posted in Empowerment, Inspiration

We Are All Priest

I want to thank one of my readers for providing the content for today’s blog.  This post is written by Sylvia Gunter at http://www.thefathersbusiness.com, and inspirational newsletter of non-denominational Christian beliefs.  While the language might be a little more “he and him” than I might use, the point is well made – we are all called and blessed to be priest to one another. Thank you Lynn for sharing this! 

You Are A Priest  –  Isaiah 61:6

The Bible says you are a priest. The basic functions of priests were to represent God to man and man to God. One of the duties was to bless the people. Our culture doesn’t understand blessing as it was practiced in the Bible. The Bible was written in and to a culture that was steeped in blessing: the blessing of shalom, blessing the child with his name, the patriarchal blessing to sons, the blessing of God for his people, the blessing of Jesus, of the disciples, of the early church, of Peter, Paul, and James.
In the New Testament the priestly functions are transferred to all believers, and we are a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9). We have authority and privileges as priests. Through Jesus our High Priest we have the right to come into the holiest place in worship. We are called to offer spiritual sacrifices of praise and prayer (1 Peter 2:5), abiding in his presence, drawing near to him and dwelling in him, and he in us.

In the Bible, blessing flows three ways: from God to people, from people to God, and from person to person. Because Jesus is in us, we can pass on to his people the blessings of his heart for acceptance, identity, meaning, affirmation, legitimization, and God’s good purposes.

Here’s a blessing for your spirit in your identity as priest.

Isaiah 61:6 promises,
“You will be called priests of the LORD and ministers of your
God.” And in Revelation 1:6. “[Jesus] has made us to be a kingdom and
priests to serve his God and Father. To him be glory and power for ever and
ever! Amen.”

When Jesus died on the cross, the veil of the holy of holies was torn from top to bottom. Now the awesome privilege of access to the inner court belongs to all believers. You may boldly come to praise, worship, adore, and glorify your Father. Be blessed with knowing your free access to him. Receive the words of 1 Peter 2:5 and 9. You are a priest and minister to God. That is your duty and your privilege as a member of the royal priesthood. Be blessed in drawing near to him, abiding in his presence, and dwelling in him, and he in you, as you offer spiritual sacrifices of praise and prayer.

Be blessed as you minister to God in the secret place where he releases his heart to you. Be blessed as you seek him intimately and experience all of who he is. Worship and adore him, being joyfully, willingly submitted to the One you love. Meet him in complete surrender of all you are. Draw near as the Spirit of the Lord abides in you, indwells you, rests on you, and anoints you.

Be blessed as you represent God to others by releasing his heart of blessing to your world. By standing in the gap in prayer, faith, intercessory living, and blessing, you open the door for restoration for yourself, your family, and others. You are an instrument of renewal and rebuilding of generations of desolation and ruin. As God moves you, you can bless and minister to others, so that God can convict, woo, love, and reconcile them. He will make all things new and glorify himself as he ministers through you, and the glory of the throneroom puts its stamp on all you are and do in his name.

You are blessed to be a blessing. Be blessed to speak deeply personal words of acceptance, identity, meaning, affirmation, and legitimacy. Be blessed to envision God’s special future for others as they come into the fullness of all he made them to be. Let God’s presence and blessing flow through you to his glory and praise. As you sow to the Spirit, and you will reap the things of the Spirit, for the one who sows to the Spirit reaps life. Be blessed in the Spirit of life (Rom. 8:2).

Be blessed in the name of Jesus, your High Priest (Heb 3:1; 9:11).

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com