Right now, all of us who hold our Church and our faith dear, are having something of a Peter moment. On facebook where opinions fly fast and furious and snark on the right and left is just a click away, it is particularly irksome.
Do I let "Today's lil' reminder: Jesus never mentioned homosexuality or abortion. Not once. #stopblamingJesusforyouropinio
Do I ignore "I support Planned Parenthood." and equally smug unctous comments that are designed to allow echo chambers of opinion to snigger at those they deem too stupid to not agree about the perceived hang ups of my Church.
"Hang ups" because my faith teaches that sex is sacred, sex is a gift, that it has a context within the confines of a committed sacramental relationship instead of thinking sex is meaningless and therefore should have no limits as long as pleasure is the objective? Should I armor up and counter attack?
Then there are these other abuses of one sort or another, like birth control and abortion and pornography and the like, sexual sins that injure men and women and in some cases, children. And I know, I don't want this fight.
I'm tired. I don't want to deal with this stuff. It's facebook for crying out loud! So I click off and wonder, was that an opportunity to speak up that I dropped? Was someone else reading, hoping someone would speak up?
Then the question formed: was it like that for Peter? I'm here. I've followed you all over. I've been with you. I'm watching. I just want to warm myself by the fire for a moment. I'm still here. If they just leave me alone for a moment. "You were with him." someone says. And all the other disciples, hiding, perhaps hoping someone would make the first move, uncertain what the first move is, afraid they will be the one called to speak up, hoping to stay quiet, lie low.
Then the rationalizations begin. I'll just click away. I just want to not fight this battle today. I've already posted so much it just makes me angry. So I go to the news. National Poll says the Public backs the Assault on Religious Liberty....I can't get away. Peter thought he'd found a hiding spot too. But the crowd pressed upon him, "Weren't you one of his discipiles?" and again he said, "No." The smug responses over and over again saying, "No one really practices it." and "Why shouldn't they have to pay for this?" and it feels like being surrounded and trapped in Hornburg at Helm's Deep.
"So much death. What can men do against such reckless hate?" the King ponders.
It is not a rhetorical question. It is a real question. It is a cry of despair, like Peter's at the knowledge both that his Lord was being led off to death and his own betrayal. It is similar to the slips of despair one can feel perusing the next wave of assaults on Catholic values. There are only two outcomes. Stay and eventually be overwhelmed and destroyed...or "Ride out. Ride out and meet them."
And even if we somehow get the Forest and the Rohirrin run through the ranks and rout the orcs at this gate, there are those armies and they are marching and they are far more than all we could call up and I see the next battle, the battle for middle earth yet to come.
We will have to fight gay marraige next. We are fighting it now. It is in the Maryland State senate today. It has already been overturned in California. Speaking up will bring about a world of grief. We will be labeled homophobes, bigots, fools, idiots, zealots, racists and hypocrits. We will be called out. We will be called out and demanded that we deny our Church, show that we would slice off this portion of our faith, or that, so that we fit the world better. Just a little denial.
"Even your accent gives you away, surely you were with the Nazorean." and we will mumble or swear, "I tell you I do not know the man." to get the crowds to back off, to let us stay safe, stay unseen, stay unmarked by the crowd. I don't want to do this. I really don't. I'll just go off of Facebook until things clear over. Because speaking up, stating that you are proud to fight beside men once more can get you killed.
Pippin: "Maybe Treebeard's right. We don't belong here, Merry. It's too big for us. What can we do in the end? We've got the Shire. Maybe we should go home."
Merry: "The fires of Isengard will spread. And the woods of Tuckburough and Buckland will burn. And all that was once green and good in this world will be gone. There won't be a Shire, Pippin."
We have to be willing to speak. So I'm saying yes it's true. I really really really believe that sex is sacred, that artificial contraception creates great pain between a man and a woman in their relationship and reduces the gift of sex to a purely recreation act. I really believe that the Catholic Church understands how hard this is, and is equally hard on everyone; asking self sacrifice of all of us. Of singles, chastity, of married, openness to life, perfect fidelity and restraint and governance of appetite, of vocationally called, permanent purity. None of us are given a pass. I also know our sexual selves reflect our faith lives, and our souls are injured by both what we do and don't do, what we allow, what we indulge, what we ignore. Yes, and I believe God knows I believe it and expects me to live it.
So I'm here, taking that one more step and going farther from home than I've ever been even though I haven't yet left the shire itself. Peter eventually gets it and says, "Lord you know I love you." and takes on the task to "Feed my sheep." Pippin also eventually recognizes, we can't just hide, we have to act and battles at the White City of Gondor. He climbs the tower and sets the beacon. It is a little thing that lets the world know, "We need help." because the armies press from every angle, because it is a little but greatly couragous thing to do.
It was so much easier when my biggest worries were second breakfast.