Today’s MaD Monday is personal.
A few months ago I wrote a post about my struggles with The Catholic Church and Marriage Equality. At the time, I felt my choice was to leave and find somewhere more in line with my beliefs to practice my faith. The problem is, there wasn’t such a place. Things have changed. Here is the story of what happened.
We are out there. We who disagree. We are baptizing our kids. We are confirming our kids. We are even teaching Catholic kids. We are out there and we disagree. We are the church. Why aren’t we louder? Why aren’t we speaking up about all that we think is wrong?
I am Catholic, but the messages that are coming from my church do no align with what I think Jesus teaches about human dignity. So why must I leave?
“I’m not sure Martin Luther would have left if he had a cell phone.”
That’s the line. The line that lightened the mood but changed the tone forever.
I attended the last meeting of my home-school CCD group. I haven’t gone to meetings for a few months because it seemed silly to go discuss what I was teaching when I wasn’t teaching anything. We were on a bit of a Catholic hiatus around here so there seemed no reason to go to CCD meetings.
But when the notice came about the last meeting for the year I felt compelled to attend. I say compelled because what was forcing me to that meeting was nothing conscious. It was a gut feeling that I have learned not to ignore.
On a basic level, I convinced myself that I was going because I didn’t want to just disappear. I liked the people I worked with in this group. I thought I owed them a goodbye. I figured I’d sit quietly as they discussed and then say goodbye for summer never to return again. That all changed when I arrived that night and found we were sitting down with our pastor-who NEVER comes to these meetings- but being our last night, he wanted to check in on our year. Fairly early in the conversation he asked if we had any struggles this year, anything personal that came up as a result of teaching our kids about the church.
Are you kidding?
One woman said she has trouble when her daughter said she, “learned somewhere else that only Catholics go to heaven”. He answered this dilemma beautifully, but I still thought, well that’s an easy one.
We were about to move forward when words came out of my mouth almost involuntarily.
“I think in examining further, in order to teach, I have struggled with communicating Catholic beliefs that I don’t agree with.”
That’s vague enough right?
Then our Director of Religious Ed. spoke up. She said, “Like what? Let’s get into this.”
So I purged, right there at the dark rectory table. I told them how I’ve struggled to attend anything-mass, class-whatever because I was questioning when “ignoring” became a larger sin then the hypocrisy I felt attending. I talked about the anger I felt and how it seemed incongruous to come in to teach Catechism when I was in such direct opposition to the church on something that felt huge. I didn’t want to share my beliefs for fear of getting myself, or worse, my church in trouble but I couldn’t stay silent anymore. I taught teenagers and preteens, they had questions and I wanted to answer.
I said it all and then I breathed. And waited for them to tell me I was wrong or explain away why I should just focus on what was right with the church and not let what was wrong bother me so.
You know what happened instead? They agreed. Our minister said we’re of like mind, she and I. So was most of the group for that matter. Our Pastor said he prays for the church to continue growing so they’re eventually in the right place. Then he told me to stand up.
Stand up? Me?
Perhaps, he said, you are feeling so strongly about this right now not because you are being called to leave, but instead to stay and change things. After all, he questioned, what would our church be without reformers?
I asked how. They answered. Continue doing what you’re doing, they said-teaching your kids to be Catholic AND believe in equality. Admit to them there are things that the Church believes that you do not and then be ok with that. Speak out. Speak up. This is your church and perhaps you are being called to make waves so that it gets on a better track.
I can honestly say that staying and fighting never occurred to me, until they pointed out that yes, this is my Church and I shouldn’t have to leave. Perhaps, if more of us stayed, and spoke up, things would be different.
So, for now, I’ll attend mass. I may even go back to teaching and I will still call myself Catholic-a Catholic who will continue to fight for marriage equality.
I’ll stay and I just may even shake things up a bit.
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