October 30, 2015

Pushing Through

Have you ever heard the term "Cradle Catholic"? Well, that would be me. Born, baptized and raised Catholic. Went to Catechism on a twice weekly basis, Communion at six years old, Confirmation at 14, Mass every Sunday, Rebellion at 18.

Skipped out on the Church and, as I called it then, skipped out on "that god-thing" meaning organized religions. Though, just to be safe, I did have all three of my kids baptized! We cradle-Catholics now one can never be too safe!

Sometime between 30 and 40 the strong desire to return to Church wandered into my soul. A dear friend of mine, now departed, in the middle of one of the incredible metaphysics discussion ever that there was something bigger than us out there. He instructed me to go sit on the dam at the ranch and be in nature until I got it. Weird. I am the ultimate authority-issues woman but I walked down the trail, across the dam, and sat on a large rock that had been warmed by the sun.

I looked over the valley, listened to the trees, heard the pond lapping against the shore, watched clouds, smelled the soil and meditated, maybe even chatted a little inviting 'something bigger' to come sit beside me and talk.

After several hours, incredible soul searching and some tears, I realized that I really did believe in the 'bigger', but I didn't know how to describe it. I hesitated to call it God. Somehow, the name 'God' symbolized 'just wars', judgmental people, closed minds and (sorry fundamentalists) some incredibly uptight and bigoted philosophies.  I could, however, relate to the term 'Source' or "All There Is", Father-Mother-God, I tried them all. I finally went back to the title 'God' maybe because it was less controversial, except with my metaphysical, Wiccan and Pagan friends but they are all much more open to accepting other people's beliefs than my Christian friends (more or less).

I returned to the Catholic Church but with some reservations. I don't get why Catholics and eventually 1400 years later, Reformists used the bible as a cafe menu. Choosing which things to call 'norms of the culture of the times' so could be tossed aside and other things called 'traditions' which were kept.

For instance. Women were not allowed in the temple for 40 days after giving birth or when menstruating as they were considered unclean. Boy babies, including Jesus, could not be named or be presented to the temple until after 40 days, girls babies had to wait much longer. The babies were unclean because they had been born through their mothers vaginas...funny though, the dads didn't seem to have a problem getting up in there to make babies.

Paul wasn't real fond of women. He wrote some pretty gnarly things about how unworthy we are.

Anyway, my difficulties can go on and on, but I kept going to Mass and receiving communion. One day, standing in line in confession, I had an epiphany. I was not being true to myself or honest with God (I tried out a lot of names but this one really does just roll off the tongue). Not that I think there is some guy in a toga or robe with a long grey beard up in the sky playing chess with our lives. I can't describe God, nor do I want to. That is a mystery that is bigger than me but I do want to live in integrity.

I have six granddaughters, the oldest just turned 18, the youngest about to turn 11. They are all incredibly gifted young women; intelligent, talented; perceptive; loving and kind.  I'm a little nervous that they will all soon be launched out into this world. A world where women are not honored, respected and are still considered beneath men. A big part of me believes that in the western world a huge factor in the continuation of the repression of women is the (scrunching shoulders in anticipation for the zap of lightening), is the bible! Yup, I said it.

I have discussed this with my husband. I have asked, "why can't a woman be a priest?" "Why do women have to be passive or submissive?' Why, why, why, the list goes on. He gets very irritated with me when I open this discussions and, quite frankly, they never end well.

I confessed to a friend that I haven't been going to Mass because I feel dishonest when I am there. I feel as if just being there is passive acceptance of women's repression. He suggested I talk with a very well-respected nun who belongs to the Sisters of Mercy. What a grand idea. Who better than a nun, a woman who has dedicated 50 plus years to God and her vocation.

The best thing that ever happened! I drove a couple of hours yesterday to discuss the God-parenting idea with her....and....then....I....(OMG, help me be strong)....I....I...I told her how I feel. I shared the rape statistics with her, other political statistics, and my feelings about the bibles influence.

She leaned forward and said, "Toni, you are bang on right!"

Really, she did. She told me of several movements in the church, there have been a few women who have been ordained (though they hold Mass in their homes (Guerilla Spirituality)  and other's  fighting for open women's ordinations. She told me how many of the women and nuns are boycotting ordination ceremonies because of the total lack of participation (by design) of half the world's population.  She gave me numbers, names, and organizations to get involved, if only for the sake of my own ease of conscience. She also confirmed that Pope Francis is speaking out for more women to be involved in the workings of the Church.

As I drove home, I smiled all the way, thinking, "There is a God and changes are coming!"

Poor Frank. He was a little pale when I shared the news. But, he'll live and be the more happy for it...I hope!


  1. Excellent post. I gave up the Catholic Church 34 years ago but I believe wholeheartedly in a higher power and that we come into this life to learn lessons. There is no right or wrong. It's what YOU believe in.

    1. I can't agree with you more, Barb. Everyone has their own relationship with the divine.


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