Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Forget about Anne Rice

That's the advice of Bryan Cones at U.S. Catholic, who brings up an article, Excommunicate me, please by cradle Catholic and Illinois Appellate Court Judge Sheila O'Brien. As Bryan writes ....

I don't get worried about the church when Anne Rice leaves, though I enjoy being in a church so baroque that the queen of the undead belongs. But I do worry when Sheila O'Brien and people like her are ready to throw in the towel. I hope someone, whether in the chancery or in Rome, is listening.

Here's part of what Sheila wrote ...


[...] My grandparents left Ireland with nothing but their vibrant faith. They and my parents brought my siblings and me to a baptismal font and promised to guide us to Christ. And, they did that by word and deed. They taught us to love the Gospel and challenged us to live that Gospel at all costs. I love the Mass, Catholic social teaching, the scores of nuns who built the church around the world, the dedicated priests and people who love God with all their hearts and bring that love to the world. It is my life, the center of every experience, the filter for reality.

But, the headlines continue — more pedophilia, more stonewalling by the bishops, more "norms" from Rome protecting perpetrators. Now, it is a "crime" of the church to attempt to ordain people like Mother Teresa or St. Teresa of Avila — women. And, the hierarchy, who have arguably hidden crimes and criminals, who will not open the books so we can see where our money has gone and who always claim the moral high ground, have grouped ordaining women with pedophilia .....

We watch the bishops ignore recommendations from fellow Catholics who served on an abuse panel. We have waited for the civil authorities to empanel grand juries and bring indictments, but that has not happened. And, our long wait for a bishop or priest of courage, of conscience, to speak up and say "enough" has proven fruitless. The priests are scared of retribution from the bishops; they tell us so.

So, each person must decide: Stay and fight (cutting off the money but with little hope for change) or leave. Both options are spiritually and emotionally exhausting.

That's why, silly as it sounds, formal excommunication by the hierarchy would be a welcome relief. If they would just make the decision for me, give me a piece of paper that says, "you're out," it would free my conscience of all of this. Then someday, when I see the faces of my grandparents, I can assure them that I fought the good fight, finished the race and kept the faith that they gave me at that baptismal font long ago.

I just wish they were here to tell me what that means right now.

Come Holy Spirit.



Anonymous Cammie Novara said...

"But I do worry when Sheila O'Brien and people like her are ready to throw in the towel." I am completely in agreement with that.

11:26 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Cammie Novara - thanks for the comment.

11:29 PM  
Anonymous Victor said...

It's not easy for the Catholic church nowadays to do what they believe Jesus wants them to do will all their sins. How can people love one another when we can't even love ourselves as Christians the way Jesus wants us to love one another as He has loved us.

I try to stick to a basic spiritual foundation and that is for me that I've always believed that the corner stone was Jesus and that Adam and Eve were our first parents. I accepted that Eve was made from one of Adam's rib and that he loved her very much and they both ran into bad luck and were cast down on earth with invisible angels whom also did not make it because they were conned into believing that they truly were "IT" by their sins and no longer needed God telling them what to do.

The way I see "IT" today is that humanity has ventured so far from The LOVE of God that His LOVE is finding "IT" almost impossible to help U>S (Usual Sinners) cause we honestly think that we did nothing wrong. It's kind of like calling God a scab and when He blesses "IT" things eventually start to look better but how can He accept other gods who would eventually corrupt His Children who were made in His Image?

I could say, don't worry be happy but must humans would tell me that "IT" is not that easy. So so true cause not all people truly believe that Jesus is completely for real because He won't give us what we want and many are hurting a great deal because of "IT".

Because of my beliefs in Adam and Eve and that Jesus was God in all aspect of "The Blessed Trinity" means to me that He knew what He was doing and His Silent Thoughts could write countless spiritual books through His chosen people and just because some human mind might say otherwise does not make my thinking wrong.

I know that there are honest people who for reasons could never bring themselves to accept Jesus' silence on many issues but to me His silence says a lot cause He is God.

I believe that He was not just a dreamer and that so many people made up stories on His Behalf which were mostly fairy tales. All we need is one of His Statement to chose sides cause we can't serve two or more God's forever and the fact that He said in so many words that I am the way, the truth and the light and no one goes to the father without going through me first is enough. Maybe He said those WORDS because He knew that He was going to be crucified by our sins who teamed UP with forgiven sins of old thinking that they really were "IT" and could own "IT" all in the long run.

I know that no one in reality could ever know what I'm thinking all the time and I don't want to scare anyone but I personally think at this time that so called spiritual gods and demons want us not to put all our spiritual eggs in the same basket especially with The Blessed Trinity but for what "IT" is worth, He can have all mine if He'll take me that is. :)

I'll close by saying that I just hope that if sinner vic gets me first that I find enough strength while burning like a pig to say something like, turn me over cause I think that I'm done on this side but knowing myself, I'll probably just break into tears instead.

Thank God for free will but I'm starting to think that after having been slaves for so long some souls and spirit don't know how to fend for themselves.

What do you think crystal?


12:08 AM  
Anonymous Henry said...


Thank you for linking to this article. I admired the writers honesty - as I do yours Crystal! - and was very sad about the pain behind the words. But what really made me sad (and angry) is some of the comments. It is one thing to criticize an erroneous or mistaken idea, but it’s another to disparage a person by writing statements like these: “A true Catholic would not write an "idiotic" article as this.” and most especially “The mis-informed buffoon who wrote this commentary is clearly misguided.” Wrong, absolutely wrong!!!

Pax Christi mi amiga,


P.S., I know that I am not the model of diplomacy and tact myself Crystal and I pray to Christ daily that he file down my rough edges. ; )

P.S.S. I am going to send you an e-mail later.

7:46 AM  
Blogger Deacon Denny said...

I worry about folks like Sheila too. I work in a very well-educated parish, with lots of professional people. It's not just the sex abuse and cover-ups. Another recurring complaint I hear is that they feel treated like children who don't know any better, regularly excluded from a voice about things that matter.

Sheila O'Brien is a well-educated, long-faithful person. And many ARE like her.

Fortunately...the most frequent experience of Church that most of us have is in our local community. And while parishes certainly have their flaws, as do pastors, the parish IS a place where we can worship, experience fellowship, and work together to make a difference in the lives of others. That's good.

Thanks for a thought-provoking post, Crystal.

10:27 AM  
Blogger Mike L said...

Guess I have about gotten to the point that I don't believe most of what the bishops say, and don't care too much what they say.

But I do believe that the Church has the sacraments, no matter how much the they are warped and changed, and so am held to Her by my need for them.

I am sorry to see our Mother so broken.

2:24 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Thanks for all the comments.

One thing I'm curious about is what Mike said about the sacraments. I've seen in other places people comment that the main reason they stay with the church is that it's the only place where the sacraments are available. I never really learned much about the sacraments - I know, hard to believe I ever got through RCIA - so I ask this, with tepidation, but why are the sacraments necessary, and why is it believed that only the Catholic church and not the Protestant churches have them?

3:41 PM  
Blogger Cura Animarum said...

It's not so much believed that only the Catholic Church has them and not protestant. Most protestant churches only recognize one or two actual 'official' sacraments. Generally baptism and maybe ordination or perhaps Eucharist depending on the particular flavor of protestantism they've adopted.

The pat answer for Sacraments is "an outward sign, instituted by Christ, to give grace."

Which does almost nothing for most people. Nor does it really do sacraments justice. A better path is simply "a concrete, transformative encounter with Christ."

That's really broad and covers a LOT of things. That could be a hug from a loved one, a sunset, a conversation with a freind. It might be time spent in a church, maybe an experience of Christ through an object like a crucifix or holy water...the list could go on and on and on and at some points in the Church's history it did. Thousands and thousands of 'sacrametals' or concrete, transformative encounters with Christ through actions, situations, the world, objects. Experiences that make Christ real and present and are the catalyst for change.

Kind of like if you were to describe all the ways you could communicate love to someone. It could be quite a list. But, even in our own lives there are certain situations that we hold up as examples of all the others. There are parts of our stories of love that hit deeply or become windows to the other stories love might tell. Birthdays, anniversaries of marriage or even deaths. The stories these events tell us speak on a deeply transformative level and we come back to them year after year to tap into their gifts and be renewed.

The seven sacraments in the Catholic Church are like these big story events or encounters with Christ. They are the models of all the other 'sacramental' encounters we might have with Christ day to day. They don't replace any of these sacramental encounters so it's true that every other Christian denomination whether they name them as such or not continues to have their own transformative encounters with Christ's love.

what we do as Catholics though is name them and celebrate them as family. We share their deep, transformative stories again and again (at least the ones that can be celebrated more than once and for the others we still go back to their stories to remind us or to encounter again that particular love of Christ that they invite us into.

And I have to admit, it's one of the things I love most about being Catholic.

6:44 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Cura,

Thanks for your answer. I wrote something back last night but then worried that what I'd written was too weird, so didn't post it. I'll try again.

First ... a concrete, transformative encounter with Christ. ..... I think that's an excellent definition of a sacrament.

Now I'm going to ask and say stuff that may be offensive but I don't mean it to be ......

About the eucharist - sometimes it seems like a way for the church to put Jesus in a box and use him to control the faithful's behavior (like pro-choice politicians). I don't understand why the church seems to foster adoration of Jesus in a non-self-aware state (the host) instead of in interactive prayer. How can the host make Jesus present in a way that we can experience? And how can eating a host once a week transform a person - doesn't that take some kind of conscious effort at a change of heart? I can't recognise the Jesus I know in a wafer.

1:49 PM  
Blogger Mike L said...


Sacraments are primarily spiritual things, but they have a physical indicator that they are taking place, kind of like a light that says the computer is working. I think that it is easy to confuse the two parts.

Of the sacraments I think that the Eucharist is the most difficult to deal with. There is a sign there, the bread and wine, and at the same time we believe that somehow Christ is physically present as well.

Thomas Aquinas developed a complete logical model to show that in at least that model this Real Presence is not illogical. I see this as simply proving that we cannot disprove the presence of the Jesus in the Eucharist. I think what really happens is still a mystery.

And I agree that it is sometimes used politically to control the congregation, which I think is very sad. As for interactive communication, I find it difficult to tell when Christ is being silent and my own mind is chunking along and when Christ is speaking to me. I do believe that reception of the Eucharist does give me grace that helps me understand God better.

Hope this helps a bit.


Mike L

7:48 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Mike,

Yes, that helps, thanks :)

12:51 PM  

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