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Are you in youth ministry and you've had it with crazed parents? Rollin' your eyes at the pastoral council? Tired of administration work? Love youth? Love the Church? Appalled at parish politics? Looking for some good games? For a creative ways to teach a lesson for Religious Ed? Just need a place to veg out and say "phew! Someone outside of the parish to talk to!"? Grab y'r Starbucks, turn the computer away from the staff's eyes, grab a seat on a donated dusty couch and let it all go.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Differences in Faith

I went to lunch today with the woman who does our music here at the parish. She made the comment to me that she's not sure if she's even Catholic any more, though she does have a deep faith. I was saddened by this, but as she told her story, I found myself wondering a few things.

Her ex-husband (civil divorce) was a by-the-book Catholic it sounds like. She admitted that she realizes now that she married him because she was anxious to get married and start having children. She knows that they were not well matched and that he never really accepted her and who she was. It sounds like the end of the marriage was particularly nasty, his family calling her names, he was doing the same, he was anticipating keeping her children from her, all the money, etc. Not good for anyone under any circumstances.

So, she has very little good to say about the Church hierarchy. It sounds like he so discolored her opinion of Church because he was so narrow that he could not accept who she was in all her creativeness and flair. She now lives with one of her daughters and her fiancee. For her emotional life she feels she is being best to her self by doing this. Because of her painful experience I don't think anyone could tell her that what she is doing is wrong. She is picking up the pieces of her life and trying to find acceptance, balance and sanity.

I was sad for her, esp as she told me that when she does marry her fiancee, she won't seek an annulment, but that she'll have a civil ceremony and bring in some liturgical qualities.

What I began to wonder about was can I be quiet and still be a presence of God-in all his truth and beauty-to her?

I am fairly confident that any conversation about sin, divorce, the Church's teaching on sex, what have you would go not only unheard, but resented at this point. She has talked to several (sometimes dubious) sources, so I know that she is searching. However, could this be a lesson to me about holding firm to all the Church has-that I know that I cling to and do believe-and still be a sister to this woman who is not quite sure she wants to accept it all? How best could I bring Christ to her?

I think of all the other Catholic blogs out here. We tend to be fairly orthodox if not a bit on the conservative side. What would some of the others think? Would they all jump on me and say that I had to tell her how it was and expect that she could live up to these expectations?

It dawned on me that each of us have our own experience of Church and we take it in, mull over it and put it back out as if it were what the Church teaches. Sometimes we get it wrong and so we put the wrong thing out there, and we do not want to hear this. Sometimes we get it right and the challenge is in how to share it with others.

Most importantly I think we need to "be transformed by the renewal of our minds" and conform ourselves to the Church. Maybe with her I will need to "Speak the Truth and if necessary use words".


Blogger MJ said...

I just want to comment that I relate to your experience. I'm a college student and I struggle a lot with explaining my love for the church, its teachings and liturgy with my friends who don't get it. I just attended a Christopher west conference on the Theology of the Body. I want so much to share my new knowledge with them, but I fear that anything I tell them will push them further away.

After agonizing over all the things my generation does that I don't like I've decided that the best thing to do is pray, be there to listen, share if I can, then listen and pray some more.

I'm sure the same thing applies in your situation. Being there as a committed Catholic and listening to this woman is what she needs. God willing, by your example, she can, over time, grow in knowledge of the truth.

6:18 PM  
Blogger TCYM Lounge said...

Well, as we were doing our Mardi-Gras-into-Ash-Wednesday prayer service led by this same woman, I thought: If she's not sure she is a Catholic anymore and she is leading worship for the most sacred of Catholic worship: AHHH! And GRRR!!!

Scary and frustrating. But, she is here and for whatever reason, serving the Church. May God soften her heart, pour out his healing grace on her and love her deeper into all Truth and Goodness.

8:58 PM  
Blogger Jaime said...

My general rule is I will wait for the question "What do you think?" If I don't hear it, I don't comment.

I got a lot of flack about that when I was doing ministry. I would talk with other youth ministers and share experiences where a particular student would be shockingly open about their sexual history. They (the other youth ministers) would ask "What did you do?" and they would get pretty ticked off when I said " I changed the subject". They felt that I should have called the student out on their inappropriate behavior. Two years later, the same student shared with me their secret. The student had been sexually abused at the age of six.

Now if I had gotten to preaching the day I heard the exploits, I am certain this student wouldn't have trusted me with that secret two years down the road. I believe in my heart it was a test to see if I would be judgemental or if I was worthy of trust.

That taught me the value of patience within ministry. Sometimes the pieces come together quickly. Sometimes it takes years or a lifetime. Not every situation is cause for a verbal witnessing. Many times the non verbal makes a much greater impact.

11:36 AM  

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