Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Beacons of Minas Tirith

I'm Catholic and I have ten children. So no one should be terribly confused about where I stand on things even if I didn't have a blog.   Still, sometimes the world demands that we not simply quietly witness, but publically state our faith.  It is a hard thing because despite writing more and more and in recent years almost daily since 2005 on some level or another, despite having articles in Catholic papers and proclaiming my Cathoicism, there are moments when it is hard. 

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. #stopblamingJesusforyouropinions" slide? 

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.


LarryD said...


Neen said...

I also am so tired. I saw hope during the March for Life. So recent and yet my heart is so heavy with all the arguments and bating that I see. Do I post or do I not. Then to realize my comments were misunderstood anyway. Thank you for putting to words the internal battle.

munchesmom said...

I just read this to my husband! So well stated! Thank you!

ceciliamschwartz said...

That was convicting and inspiring!

Liz said...

Thank you. You put it so well. I just linked this on my Facebook page. I've been feeling so down all day about the friends who've linked to PP sites and the nasty comments that have been made. I'd posted the quotation about "first they came for the Jews" and linked to the story the good bishop told today about the kosher deli, but this post really hits the nail on the head. Thank you. Maybe even some people who are on the other side of the issue will understand in the context of LOTR. Maybe not, but just maybe.

Owner of Homeschool Faith and Family Life Website said...

I am Catholic and I have 10 children, too...and 4 grand-children...and I understand how you are feeling.
This post is wonderful. Thanks for sharing it.
Incidentally, though, Jesus DID, "technically" mention homosexuality in that he spoke VERY strongly against fornication/fornicators...and the last time I checked...well...the only way for homosexuals to have sex is "outside of marriage" which is the definition of think he mentioned it.
Two thumbs up to you on this post!
As always!

MaryJenniferSanders said...

Sherry- I'm so scared. Thank you for saying you are scared, too. I love you- and I am praying for courage now...(I'm doomed! tee-hee). Love, Your sister down in Texas

NancyP said...

Your post has changed my life. Scary, but true. Thank you for your honesty and insight.

blessed2bcath said...

You are very courageous. Thanks for encouraging me to speak up and fight the good fight. I am not brave either but, I also know that I have a duty as Catholic to proclaim the truth with charity.

Adrienne said...

Sherry - we're all getting tired but we're not giving up.

Sand Mama said...

Thanks for this post. I am so tired too. I cant get over how unbelivably nasty my 'friends' are about this issue. It freaks me out that contraception and abortion have become the only thing which the administration seems willing to fight for.
Appreciate the dose of courage.

Devra said...

What a great post! I'm a Catholic mother of 8 who has hardly ever before been political on facebook and who gave up writing letters to the editor a few kids ago--until now. Plus I just read through Lord of the Rings a few months ago, for the umpteenth time, with more pleasure than ever.
Very, very well said!

Don Quixote said...

This was exactly what I needed to read. I've felt oppressed from all sides. Defending my beliefs on campus seeing it attacked online and by protestors everywhere. I managed to end up defending things like this on forums where one would never expect this kind of argument. Thanks for this

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your beautiful post. If I may make a couple of observations:

1) you aren't obliged to, nor could you ever, answer every piece of nonsense you read on ebay and facebook. St. Peter didn't have facebook (and he was a great Saint). When such things happen in your presence, let prudence temper anger and give your witness as you see fit for a prudent but fearless warrior of Christ. For the rest, I think a blog is truly more than enough.

2) Never despair, but never expect victory in your lifetime. It is not what we achieve, but how we fight. The war is already won, because the gates of hell will not prevail. Christianity has gone though worse times than these, and has survived, this puts even so-called "gay-marriage" in perspective.
I want to be a winner the day I die, and a winner forever. The more fights there are to fight, the more chances I will have.

Always be brave, never despair. Never give up the fight, but never think the fight needs your every moment. There's a time and a place for everything, and we can't become monomaniacs.


Used to post said...

WOW! This post was....AWESOME! Thank you, Sherry! I have to say, that this is just one of the best things I've read - by anyone - on the Internet in the last several years.

Personally I've been thinking about the very same thing. It gets overwhelming and it makes me wonder whether or not I should make it MY MISSION to be out there responding everywhere I can.

But, alas, I've other things to do. Yet - it still nags.

Be brave, (as you are) do what you can. There may be a small band of us, but we will do what we can and God will do the rest.

Thanks for this. Keep fighting the good fight! God bless you!

Herminator said...

I´m protestant, I have only three children, I´m not even an American but we´re in this together!
YXou´ll never walk alone, the body of christ is always with you!


Neen said...

I am writing this to let you know that I really enjoy your blog. I nominated it for the Versatile Blogger Award on my blog ALL THIS AND HEAVEN. Visit the post and it will tell you what to do. ( Thanks for all your posts, I do enjoy reading them.
In Him, Shannon:

Maria McClure said...

excellent post, Sherry! I totally understand that feeling of "denial" when we click off wirhout commenting on a "friend's" post. But it seems antagonistic to counter their comments. However, I have been known to simply add a :( to certain posts. Any more than that just brings out more hate. Now give me a good face-to-face interaction. I'll wish I had you in my pocket so I'd know just what to say!

A Dog in the Library said...

Thank you so much. Your words are so very encouraging. It is a daily struggle deciding whether or not to write. Is it worth losing more friends? Were they ever friends in the first place?

This was my first trip to your site - I look forward to reading more!

Anduril said...

Thank you for the encouragement to speak. Your husband is a very fortunate man.

Willj1365 said...

Thank you for your post! It has given me more hope at a time when I have become very tired and weary of the fight. One of your readers made an excellent comment: Never despair, but never expect victory in your lifetime. It puts things in perspective - I will pray for you and continue to visit your site -

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