“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.”
The Perfect StormR-74, HHS, and LCWR (Leadership Conference of Women Religious) all colliding within a few short weeks of one another, is a perfect storm by any standard. It’s the kind of storm we probably have not ever faced as Catholics here in America. It’s been played out in the media with lots of hateful things said of our ‘beloved’ Archbishop. Yes, I say ‘beloved’. One, because he is our Archbishop. Simply because of his office we should love him in a special way. St. Ignatius of Antioch said 1900 years ago, “Take care to do all things in harmony with God, with the bishop presiding in the place of God, and with the presbyters in the place of the council of the apostles, and with the deacons, who are most dear to me, entrusted with the business of Jesus Christ, who was with the Father from the beginning and is at last made manifest.” (Letter to the Magnesians 2, 6:1)
Secondly, he is one of the most virtuous Catholics I have ever met, priest, laity or otherwise, and I have met Bl. Teresa of Calcutta and Bl. John Paul II and many other non-beatified saints. I think we need to search our hearts and minds on this one and seek the truth of these matters. Remember what St. Teresa Benedicta (Edith Stein) said, “Do not accept anything as the truth if it lacks love. And do not accept anything as love which lacks truth! One without the other becomes a destructive lie”. This storm will test who is willing to live with both of these pillars of Catholic life. Remaining on the vine of Jesus Christ necessarily includes a communion with His Mystical Body on earth. Let us cling to it.
Someone recently remarked that they felt that Pope Benedict was closing the windows thrown open by Vatican II. I immediately imagined the scene in the movie “Perfect Storm” with George Clooney, the fated skipper, rushing around the boat with his crew trying to nail down boards to protect the windows from the storm approaching. Everyone who has lived through a tornado or hurricane knows that there is a time to close the windows. Interestingly, in a tornado we were taught to open the windows opposite the storm winds in order to release the pressure. Even while this perfect storm challenges our Church and our parish, the windows of prayer, dialogue, and a genuine search for truth and love remain open.
R-74 UpdateAs I write this we are discerning and strategizing as to the best way to educate on this issue. I’m trying to gather as much input as possible as I know this is very disturbing to some of you. At the same time I do believe and agree with our Archbishop that it is an urgent and important issue for our Church and society. The fact that marriage and family life continue to erode in the face of cultural decay should alarm us. To add to this, the confusion of ‘redefining’ marriage, as if the state has the authority to do so, will only cause untold harm, both to individuals, (especially the young) and to institutions.
One of the concerns that I’ve heard is that same-sex attracted persons will feel excluded if we preserve the definition of heterosexual marriage. To add to that dialogue, I include as an insert to this bulletin a letter from a ‘gay’ Catholic man. He does not pretend to speak for all, this is simply his opinion, but it is worth hearing. Perhaps people don’t realize that there are same-sex attracted persons living in our midst, striving to live chastity according to the Church’s teaching, and thriving in grace. They might be far ahead of heterosexual Catholics who don’t realize the need for God’s assistance, nor the beauty of her teaching.
I also include here a link to ‘Courage’, the ministry for same-sex attracted Catholics who are striving to live the Church’s teaching. You can read some testimonies on their website at: http://couragerc.net/. A second major concern of some parishioners is around the political nature of the petition drive. I’m sure many of you, like me, would gladly forget about politics for at least one hour a week. I certainly don’t mean to intrude on your prayer and worship time. The reality is that we don’t stop being citizens when we step inside a house of worship. In fact, I would say that our faith gives us a special responsibility to shape society according to Godly values. I do not say that we can simply impose these values and beliefs, especially in a democratic republic. But that is part of the issue, we are in a democracy, where people may gather signatures for matters of significance and have an influence on our government. Without these signatures, we abdicate our right to vote on an issue that will affect our culture and our future. In the past century we’ve seen the effect of the Church’s participation in social issues (i.e. Poland’s Solidarity movement) or the lack thereof (i.e. parts of Germany 1930s). To this question we are including as an insert to the bulletin an Update on Faithful Citizenship as soon as it arrives to us.
The petition to place R-74 on the November ballot will be outside the office doors this week and in the office during the week. You obviously don’t need to sign it. That is your choice. All of us need to obey our consciences as best we can with what we know and believe to be true. I respect each one of you and pray for all of us to grow in the knowledge, wisdom and love of Christ. May we all arrive in the same good place some day after politics have long since faded.