Following Jesus ~ The Gate

I have tried to think of a time in my life when I have felt as overcome by sadness as I feel today, if there was a day it alludes me.  The recent news of clergy sex abuse in the Roman Catholic Church has hit the news again – and again in recent days.  I will be honest and admit the scandal of 2002 went unseen by my eyes, unheard by my ears.  I really first learned the depth of it just a few months ago after reading about the movie “Spotlight” in American Magazine and watching the movie.  It has torn away at my heart for the innocent and even the very, very broken guilty.

Over time I gradually came to realize the stories I had heard of a now deceased Priest were most likely true.  It has touched my own home and family in ways I never would have imagined.  Because I refuse to speak ill of this deceased Priest and to protect any innocent I will say nothing more than I do know he was moved from one parish to another.  I see other moves that have been made over time and even, sadly made the comment to one Priest that they always move him to the trouble spots to clean up.  I said that long before I had a tiny clue.  I am so, so very sorry.

I have spoken out against mandatory celibacy for clergy and religious after this topic came up, years ago now at a summer retreat. Today I extend that to include female and male.  There are multiple reasons that clergy should be allowed to be married; the first being this is how Jesus founded His church (which was not even really a word at the time, I do find myself wondering what the word was and how He has intended its use).  I have written extensively on this topic and most of that writing can be found in a link on the menu of my home page.

I have not had the time to read the full report that was issued from Pennsylvania, but I have read several   excerpts that make it very clear inside the walls of the church, lies and secrecy – anything to protect the appearance of a holy church.  This has gone on for decades and honestly, I would wager this has gone on for centuries.  There have always been rumors, and proofs of abuse.

Recently we hear the news from Pennsylvania – over 1,000 children, 300 Priests and the claim this happened long ago.  These are confirmed cases, they expect the numbers would be much higher but for lost records, and those who never came forward. – Then we learn it’s not all so long ago.  Then more news on Buffalo, then one seminary, now two or three even in my state – and it is just exploding.  Behind the lines, off the national and world-wide news for the most part.  It seems some must be assisting in keeping things as quiet  as they can.

Those seated within the church have known all along how deeply rooted the sin against sexuality has been.  Raping of children, novices, nuns, seminarians, priests being “hit on” (raped?), by even Cardinals, tunnels in Europe between the nuns and the Priests, A Bishop funding the abortion of a Priests child and then offering condolences on the child’s death.  The sin of forced complicity.  The sin of telling Gods children they are not to have their (as created by God) emotional, spiritual and physical needs met by a spouse, but :wink: :wink: it’s okay to take in an elder, widow housekeeper etc.  The church has made it “dirty” to act like Jesus.

Innocent clergy have been looked at skeptically for decades – now it is worse.  It is not Godly and it is not what our Father wants.  Today I read a piece from a Priest who stated “Anyone who wishes to be saved must risk the hostility, punishment and humiliation that our rescuer first experienced. Whether that risk leads to the death of the body or only the death of the ego makes no difference. Any who follow Christ must accept that to rescue others, one must first accept a cross. The temporary humiliation of some can ensure the eternal salvation of many.  In regards to this Sundays readings.

The issue I have with this is I know that God does not want those who love Him to feel humiliated for the sin of others – and no – the sins of others are not their cross to carry.  Jesus Christ has already done that – there is and will ever be only one Jesus Christ. We must all be responsible for our own sins, this includes those responsible for what has happened within the church.  Loving children of God who entered a church and took or made vows or promises were also deceived – this mess is not theirs to carry.  Their task is to follow God forward on whatever path He leads them on, and trust that the act of His discipleship at the end of the day is all Jesus really asked for.  Go forth and spread the good news, Love the lord our God with all your heart, mind and soul, Do unto others and you do would do for yourself.  The beatitudes.  Jesus – was simple and loyal to God.  That is all He asks.

I don’t intend to rant about the details, the sin, the ruined lives.  Only a dolt would be unable to grasp the seriousness of this though  in all seriousness, saying that it is also clear there are many ranking clergy who do not “get it”.

I know my very “simple” Christian background is fully responsible for my strong faith in God.  My grandparents took me to the “Gospel Hall” for a reason – for me to love Jesus and all that He represents.  I’m not sure today what they would think of my spirituality and our Trintarian God. I have practiced to the best of my ability and conscience the Roman Catholic faith for decades now.

When we read the bible it is really quite clear, from the beginning of the bible through out that our Trinitarian God – The Father, Son and Spirit intended a married clergy for the church.

The original disciples/apostles were all married.  Even in those days where that meant traveling to spread the word these men had wives.  God valued/s joined unions.  He saw the need and value of a life partner for Adam and going forward two by two – pairs in Noah’s story.

Our Father created us.  Refer to Psalm 139, He created us to complement each other, lifelong companions, family, growing through life in Him.  His gifts to us.  His gifts no institution, no church has the right to even consider to suggest a celibate life is the only way one can serve the church as clergy or religious.

I read a blog earlier today on marriage.  It was a short story – a love story.  Telling of meeting each other, staying up more than half the night talking, sharing, breaking up and getting back together in Him.  Marriage – a call to wholeness, a call to holiness.  When two become one in Him.

Intimacy in marriage is not “sex”, it is those late-night hours one spends staying up late talking, getting to know each other.  It’s dinner – and it’s dishes!  Who’s taking the trash out and where will we go on vacation and explore together, physically caring for a sick family member, serving at the soup kitchen, sorting through clothes to donate, helping a single parent care for their children.  It is planning  (and praying) a future together with each other and with your family and friends.  It is something to carry forward with you in all of your day thru to our physical death in His Kingdom on earth with the joy and hope of carrying that love forward in your heart.  Marriage in Him changes a person.

A married clergy offers our clergy life experiences and it offers others the witness of life and love, marriage in him.  Men who have close intimate relationships with women, who have children in their family would not fare well with the secrecy and lies of the church.  A Priest who is a father would not tolerate a clergy or religious who abused someone, because living Gods life of family you learn and see things differently.  You grow in ways you cannot as celibate.  In marriage there is the trusted wife/husband.  The pillow talks at bedtime, the quiet time of night conversation that may not offer any real details but a confession of problems or issues of  sorts, sharing and support as that is what spouses do in an emotionally intimate relationship.

This church as greatly failed its people.  It has failed laypersons, but it has also failed its religious and clergy of both sexes.  It has stolen away a life given by God by telling His children this is the only way you can serve God as religious or clergy is to be celibate (unless you are a “chosen” convert).  It is a lie.  We know that.

I know I am sounding like a broken record but Jesus founded His church on a married clergy.  If He wanted a celibate clergy, the story would have been written that way and it was not.  Perhaps marriage is not for everyone, but it is for a large majority of His children.  It sickens me to hear the Pope will allow bishops to ordain married men – and know the church has literally thrown away over 120,000 Priest who married.  They have gone off to live and teach Gods love in new ways.

I have a habit of reading some of the daily readings ahead of their days.  I almost always read the following Sundays by mid-week.  This week two of the readings really stand out in my heart and my mind – my soul.

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The second reading for Sunday August 26th

Reading 2EPH 5:21-32 (adding 33)

Brothers and sisters:
Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord.
For the husband is head of his wife
just as Christ is head of the church,
he himself the savior of the body.
As the church is subordinate to Christ,
so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives,
even as Christ loved the church
and handed himself over for her to sanctify her,
cleansing her by the bath of water with the word,
that he might present to himself the church in splendor,
without spot or wrinkle or any such thing,
that she might be holy and without blemish.
So also husbands should love their wives as their own bodies.
He who loves his wife loves himself.
For no one hates his own flesh
but rather nourishes and cherishes it,
even as Christ does the church,
because we are members of his body.
For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother
and be joined to his wife,
and the two shall become one flesh.

This is a great mystery,
but I speak in reference to Christ and the church.

33In any case, each one of you should love his wife as himself, and the wife should respect her husband.

Sadly, though Christ is to be the head of the church He is not treated as such as there are so many man made rules and laws that have been made.  He weeps.  There is nothing clear or pristine about the Roman Catholic church – to me, this evening.  It has caused a worldwide hurt (which the church  appears to be hiding again, I will state it does seem that this huge news is being squashed by someone.  Those “across the pond” were not aware).   Also, St. Paul reminds us of Genesis and how God stated a man will leave his parents and take a wife – and cherish her as Jesus will cherish the church. “two shall become one”.

The Gospel reading for this week:

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Many of Jesus’ disciples who were listening said,
“This saying is hard; who can accept it?”
Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this,
he said to them, “Does this shock you?
What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending
to where he was before?
It is the spirit that gives life,
while the flesh is of no avail.
The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life.
But there are some of you who do not believe.”
Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe
and the one who would betray him.
And he said,
“For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me
unless it is granted him by my Father.”

As a result of this,
many of his disciples returned to their former way of life
and no longer accompanied him.
Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go?
You have the words of eternal life.
We have come to believe
and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

Who cannot grasp this writing?  Jesus told us living  as God asks is not easy. The beatitudes would not be easy and there were those that left His teachings.  I submit there are those that run the church – that left a long time ago.  Centuries.  They have forgotten how to be every day citizens of the world, men.  Walls and secrecy – walls between the church and the world, between the walls and God.

Do you want to leave?  Should I leave, or should I stay?

I wrote a portion of this on a post online yesterday and I believe it is fitting.  We have been called by church leaders to pray and fast.  I believe that does nothing more than pat everyone on the head and force innocents (clergy included) to pray for the guilt of others, a practice that is made for Priests in that they must serve penance for each confession they hear.  (Jesus has already forgiven, and the sinner must grasp their own sin, correct their ways, make things right).

Jesus, believing in and loving Jesus is very simple, pure.  It has become muddled and mucked up and sullied through this church.  His teachings are simple, kind and loving – the church is not.  There have been so many hurt.  I see many wanting to try to fix this mess.

This scandal will bring portions of the Roman Catholic church to its knees.  It may drop it to the floor.  Perhaps this is a time to consider the “what we want” and “what we need”.  We may “want” to fix something incredibly intrinsically broken.  We may “believe” we can do that, we can make it happen – but the very truth is that the Roman Catholic church has carried this luggage around for close to two-thousand years.  Is our Father leading us somewhere new?

Seeing the depth and knowing more of the sins against child and man – against God and the continuation thereof. Men in high places who will not admit where the issues began and laugh at the thought of a married clergy which would have given us many Priests. The inability to see outside of a box with the love and joy given by our Trinitarian God.

With each day passing we see more and more deceit and sickness within the church revealed. – I do not believe the church will make the true corrective necessary changes at this time.  For some strange reason they seem to think a shrinking faith is what God wants.  The tares and the wheat, those that believe in less followers, squelching the growth of His Kingdom – or those that follow the path that leads to God in His growing Kingdom.  There are so many who need to learn of and experience God’s love out there.

The church is not fully our God, that is the blessing we have. Our Father loves each one of us as created in Psalm 139.

We have hope in our Father when we accept His gifts and walk with the Son. I do not have an answer today.  I am overwhelmed with information and rather than make a rash decision to flee, I am following my heart and know to be what God asks of me. I also know He offers us many paths that lead to Him, all with wide and narrow gates.  14717049_10209299619395248_4202024409840928460_n~ Laurie

But…we don’t know!

“She’s out sick, we’ll see…” What do you mean?  She was sick on Friday, I know she doesn’t feel well.  “Yeah, but she went to the doctor after work.  They must have given her medicine and after being off two days she should be all better.”

But. . .  We don’t know why she is not here.  I hope she feels better and we see her soon.

Gossip, judging and sometimes – downright nastiness.    It can take a lot to not be sucked into the nonsense some days when we’re not as focused as we should be on being kind, helpful – and not judging.

I enjoy my job, it is challenging, super busy but I have learned having the door at the end of the far hallway can be at times a depressing spot.  Both a welcome reprieve with a visitor chair to sit and visit,  a quiet space away from the craziness of the front line office and the secretary desks – or it can be a place where some overworked folks hit their limit in frustration from demanding jobs with a non-stop pace and need to stop for a breather.

Of course – my job is a nonstop pace too.  It requires a lot of patience some days to sit and listen.  Assuming or guessing Jane/Joe Doe is out for an unscheduled day of r&r but even if they – what does it really matter?  How does it affect you?  S/he is either going unpaid (or) using up precious vacation days.  There is no financial reward with calling out of work.  Sometimes I want to say “would you feel better if they had a terminal illness?”.  :shrugs:

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Work ethics vary with each person.  I have a tendency to be focused on work and the clock can easily tick past my 4:30 quitting time and if I haven’t left to pick up my grandson to watch for the evening – it is common to find me close to 5:30 one of the last to leave.  I have learned though when I am sick – I am sick and I stay home and I try really hard not to feel guilty.  I feel the same way about severe weather and was sure to discuss this during my interview for my current job.  If anyone wants to gossip about me being out, I don’t really give it a thought.  I keep in contact with my employer and am honest.

 

There are other types of gossip or mean talk that happens, we’re all familiar in one way or another with this.  A lot of times it can be found within the “safe” walls of a family home.  I remember hearing my mother on the phone one night talking to one of her sisters, gossiping about a women they knew (who was 40) who found herself pregnant and my mother and her sister apparently thought an abortion was the only thing to “do”.  In fact, that is the conversation in which I heard my mother say she “would have aborted me” (her youngest) “if I could have”.  I was between eleven and twelve when I heard this.  You can imagine the varying thoughts hearing this gossip and how it may have affected my thoughts, feelings and choices in my life.

How about the gossip that sounds too false to be true and attacks the character of someone directly?  I have a friend met her eldest brother for the first time when we were in our late teens.  At a family gathering she walked into a room to hear one of the siblings she grew up with quietly telling her “new” brother that he heard she just had an abortion.  Pro-life, she never would have considered an abortion for herself and was not nor had never been pregnant.  The gossip was started by a cousin that none of them really knew – and her sibling chose to spread gossip without thought or care of the damage such untruths could cause.

Perhaps the worst type of gossip is when words are shared about someone who has long passed away and cannot defend themself . . .  What a horrible act – and what do they think they are accomplishing by doing this?  It is a vile act that’s damage is questionable.

What about when this gossip is spoken in front of little pitchers – with big ears?  Do they not talk too?  What lesson are they being taught?

My own thoughts on this are one is trying to draw attention to themselves for some perverse reason that I will never understand – but my faith in God tells me also that I do not have to understand.

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I have to love.  We are called to love.

Our words have power.  They can damage and kill or uplift and offer life.  Speak with love – in your words.  Grow closer to our Father and bring other closer too with positive conversations that offer growth, not the poison of gossip.

 

Too young to know . . .

“Mayberry’s basket ball team”. 

“Mayberry’s basketball team”. 

He kept repeating this as if it were a code. 

“Mayberry’s basketball team”. 

I made note of this, of the fact my student seemed to be trying to communicate something with others – but I had no idea what.  I thought – I’ll wait this out.  I knew by the way he was speaking it was just a matter of time . . .

As the clocked ticked to 6:00pm one night last week,  my class settled into their seats and we d handed out books.  Some light hearted banter on where we were in our book.  A difference of opinion  – because two of the five had not made it to the last class.   We hadn’t been together since the holidays so we caught up on what everyone did with their free time.  How boring a week off is to middle school kids in the middle of winter.  Stuck home of course with parents at work. 

This week we read about Lust and I discussed Love and the difference between the two.

“hahaha”  “Mayberry’s basket ball team”.   ~ Guess who pipped up again!?!

So I went there.  What about Mayberry’s basketball team?

Lust. 

It is hard to sort between the truth and the rumor – which I pointed out.  It seems a young girl “sexted”… took a (possibly) naked torso, photo selfie of herself and sent it to (one?) boy.  Not clear.  Regardless – the entire basketball team ended up with her sexted selfie on their phones.

Oh sweet Jesus, help me here. 

Damage control.

Turning their shock, giggles and confusion – to God was what I did.  It’s what we should all be doing.

Too young to know.  Babies.  Young, inexperience.  Hurting.  Dying.

As I sat there for a moment before speaking. An article I read last week online came to mind.  A twelve year old girl, on Facebook “live” spoke of sexual abuse, beatings, and an almost rape nintchdbpict000293890784(I am going to assume assault that ended before penetration because that is the what “almost” rape brings to mind).  She said good-bye and kicked the bucket she was standing on out from under her.  Her body dangled on live camera for twenty minutes.  I have not seen, nor do I wish to see the video.  Her name is? was?   Katelyn.  It should burn into the soul of anyone knowing her story.  Tragic death at her own hands at – twelve years old.  Not much more than a baby!  Make up worn as a twenty year old might, certainly not a twelve year old child.

Last year in the news was a story of young girl who also committed suicide.  There was a video posted online of her father standing behind her after cutting off all of her beautiful long hair.  Not released at the time as it was so soon, was the full images-washingtonpost-comstory the police have.  This young girl also sent a photo or photo’s to a boy and her father had warned her. Cutting her hair was his punishment for her focus on her beauty (?).  While stopped at traffic light in her grandmothers car she jumped from the bridge shortly after her hair cut, hit a car driving below and died the next day.  By  the grace of God the person in the car her body hit… survived.  Izabel.  Age?  13.

The local girl?  Middle school age. 11385561_490093151156376_1319894834_n Between the ages of 11 – 14.

This particular class was my eighth grade group.  I knew I needed to make them understand this wasn’t funny, a “dirty” joke.  A serious matter that had to be handled delicately even by them as that may prevent the loss of a life.  We are responsible for each other in this life, we are responsible as disciples of Jesus, children of God.

I explained that they were correct.  Sexy photo’s were indeed used to draw attention but that being done in this way did not bring love, it did bring lust “but” our job here is to love this girl. That surprised them a bit.  I explained we are responsible as disciples of Jesus, children of God.

Silence.

I further explained;

We do not know the true story.  You have shared rumors (which I figuratively stepped on as they were brought up).  We cannot judge, first of all it is not our place.  Secondly, if this is true – how do you think the young girl feels?  Someone who feels good about themselves doesn’t do this to draw attention.  I explained that I felt if they were old enough to experience this situation and be talking about it, then they needed to walk with Jesus and follow what He would have done.  I asked them to think about (but did not have to share) something they may have done that they are not proud of and think how it would feel if the entire school (or) town knew about it.  They did think about it and were able in their own ways to understand.

I asked them what the second greatest commandment that Jesus gave us is. . .

“What’s that?”

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We don’t know what has happened in this young girls life, that would bring her to the point that she would, if she did, send “sexy” images of herself to anyone.  We must pray for her.  If you are in school tomorrow and people start gossiping or laughing what should you do?  Tell them you feel sorry for the girl  (at this point they did feel sorry for her), and feel sorry for the basketball team or whoever… too.  You are not going to gossip about it, it is not funny.  It’s sad.  Walk with Jesus.  Be kind.

We talked about this for a few more minutes, until I felt they all heard what was being communicated.  We talked about judging people and how that is God’s job and if we know someone has done something wrong or sinned we should pray for them, never belittle them.  We cannot spread God’s love when we participate in further hurting His children. 

“What about the story of Jesus and the woman?  The crowd of men who wanted to stone her?”  What did Jesus do?  He stood by her side.  He said “Let you who is without sin cast the first stone”, none did.  The men turned and walked away.  This I explained is how each and everyone of us (looking at each face) are to walk with Jesus.  Protect this girl by not gossiping, not saying hurtful things.  If you do see her in school again, don’t laugh or be mean.  Be kind.  God is within us, it is our job as Christians, as good human beings to be kind.

Note:  This matter was brought to the principals office, students were in suspension in school.  I did share this information with my director.

There are so many humans in our world who need to be treated with love and kindness.  There are many young people and families who need help, kindness, patience, love.  Safe places and safe people to turn to.  Unfortunately, as I have written in other articles there is a gross shortage of therapists and counselors to work with families and young people before they get to this point in their life, where they act out sexually (often from unknown abuse), or in other ways.  Drinking, drugs, school.  Therapists and counselors are a tool but every day any one of us can step up and speak up.  Set a good example, don’t bully, be kind. 

What would Jesus do?  We must be sure we are setting an example, raising a bar in a helpful – never hurtful way.

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Sanctuary

I remember watching movies as a youngster and hearing the word “sanctuary” used when people were seeking refuge – safety.  I wonder as I write this if that was not part of my love of entering a church.  My safe place.  Gods house.

I have to admit I was disturbed to learn recently that our church now provides live viewing of mass via a personal log in on your home computer.  Why does this bother me?  For one thing, our archdioceses offered televised mass that is recorded at a studio.  People know the camera is on them and they are being filmed.  Not so where I attend Mass, unless people visit the website.

For myself, my relationship with God is very intimate.  When I enter my church it is one of my free / safe zones with my Lord.  Suddenly my Sanctuary, my place of peace, quiet – sitting there alone with God – is no longer alone.  You see,  I realize if they are filming us at Mass, they most likely are also using the camera as a part of a security system so those times I have stopped in for some private moments with my Lord – have most likely been watched.

I realize, this is not only my church – perhaps all of them now.  We are no longer alone with God.  A church is no longer a true Sanctuary where you can feel alone in Him.  Praying quietly, tears flowing or laughter with a friend before Mass . . . Big brother is now watching.

I suppose we should not be surprised, shocked or bothered – but I am.  My relationship with God the most precious relationship I can have.  For myself, I know without that relationship there is no me and there can be no other relationships.  

Somehow . . . this seems to taint the beauty, simplicity and openness of our faith journeys. 

Who wants to be viewed or taped while having private moments with our Father?  How often over the years have I heard – no photo’s please?

I think of how many times over the years I have knelt in prayer before the cross feeling free to pray and talk to my Father, on some occasions tears have flowed freely.

No more.  A sacred place that I grew up believing offered sanctuary, has been taken away.  Stolen by technology. 

I am thankful I have grown past the time in my life where I felt I had to kneel before the cross to pray to find God, in the way that I now know Him.  I will still attend Mass. Church is part of my life.

~  Thankfully, we learn with Jesus that our Father is – outside of a church ♥  as he wandered freely to worship and commune with Him, so shall I.

Note to clarify my last paragraph.  Jesus wandered in nature, wilderness, mountaintops and the sea to commune with God.  I have always known God was with me, but in more recent times I find Him differently.  There was a day when  I felt I had to be in a church to have that close contemplative relationship with Him.  I have now found Him – everywhere.