Friday, March 08, 2013

Catholic friends

I have four trusted Roman Catholic friends, two I know personally, two I met online years ago through a KOS spin off site, Street Prophets:

A superb poet,  resides in my county,  a member of the Franciscan lay order.  Known her for 30 years, but became friends through Facebook.

A Notre Dame alumnus - with all the nuttiness that gives him, active in community, local politics, parish life. Married, one son. Listened to my WFMU show, found out we resided in the same town.

Office manager of an upstate New York parish, moved there when she married, leaving a  career in corporate Manhattan. Stepmother to her husband's daughter.

An employee of a silicon valley corporation on the West Coast. Active in a parish with  a large, poor Hispanic congregation. An out lesbian with a teenage son.

The latter two are in grad school studying theology.

All are in favor of marriage equality. I am not aware of their specific views on Catholic doctrine. All are taking a wait-&-see attitude toward the Papal election.

I also know ex-Catholics & lapsed Catholics. Some had their hearts broken, leaving the Church because they  were so unwelcome.

I listen to these four Catholics much more than I say anything to them about religion. Whenever I write about Catholicism, on my blog or at KOS, it is usually about Catholic practice, not doctrine, rarely the institutional Church of the Bishops. I would never  suggest a Catholic walk away from their Church, as some at KOS do. It is arrogance to presume an intelligent Catholic is not aware of the institutional failings, of their options, or to accuse them of somehow collaborating with child abuse cover-ups & Patriarchal oppression. We are all collaborating with evil. These Catholics do the best they can to steer their time, money & effort into missions of charity & compassion. Can't do that with tax payments. What keeps them in the Church, I believe, is the practice, the observance of Catholicism, its dailiness, the routines, their communities.  Their spiritual  calendar is not the one hanging on on the wall. Rather, it is a calendar of seasons & saints, of birth, death & resurrection,  of remembrance,  the celebration of things large & small. A day for blessing pets! Even protestants show up for that.  It is not onerous, as it was in many pre-Vatican II  Irish & Italian families I knew as a kid, attending churches with autocratic priests who knew all the secret sins of their  parishioners.  It can be a very sane way to order one's life. & it is difficult to duplicate outside of the Church. To my friends, it is their Church as much as it is the Church of Cardinals.


I am so moved to come upon this post. Wow Bob, this is beautiful. To find myself counted here - well, I have no word, but my heart says everything.

The teachings do matter, even if I struggle mightily with them, some of them very mightily. As you say, what also matters is the daily life and observance, the essence of community. At the heart of it all is how I have come to know and live the Eucharist. I can't be a part of that in any other church; for me, right now, this remains non-negotiable.

Even if I were to ever leave, unimaginable as that may seem to me, I would always be very, very Catholic. It is in my bones, very deeply so.

But as one of my patron (read: very unoffical!) saints, Mary Daly of blessed memory would say, everyone has an exodus moment. I can't imagine leaving, but then again, I could have never imagined coming back, as I did in 1990...

Thanks for this beautiful post and for the gift of our friendship. Peace to you, my brother.
You can also thank my Catholic grandmother. Because of the widespread belief in Limbo in that era, my parents had all four of their babies baptized Catholic, with Catholic Godparents (my Godmother was a teenage cousin, my Godfather a college student cousin), to keep the peace.
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