Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Who Wants a World of Hurt?

No one no one no one no one no one ever wants to be rejected.  No one wants to be thought clueless, uniformed, lazy, stupid or unthinking.  We're human. We want to be in the in crowd.  We want to belong.  We certainly don't want to be written off or dismissed or ignored.

So right now, being Catholic means you probably don't want to talk about the current push for same sex marriage.  We'd honestly rather fold socks, clean out the fridge, paint the stoop, schedule a root canal, wait on hold with insurance, clean the bathrooms and deal with the I.R.S. rather than talk about this subject because we know the only way we don't get clobbered by the politically correct police is to parrot the I'm cool with that line, or be invisible, silent.  

Not a way to witness. But who wants the pain?   Then there's that nagging, "Take up your cross and follow me."  and that "denying one's self bit." and the recognition that not saying what is Truth is the equivalent of being part of the "in" crowd that went along all the way to the cross, not out of love.  The in crowd chose Barabbas.  The in crowd shouted "Crucify Him."  Being outside of the in crowd feels very very unsafe and it is, by the world's standards, but it is the only safe place, if one looks at this through Catholic sensibilities. 

How to explain being against gay marriage, when opposition has been painted as homophobic, bigoted, self righteous, angry, hateful, limited, old fashioned, unrealistic and unfair?  Why do I have to explain this at all?  Because it keeps popping up. 

Because my children will have to live in this world. 

And if I want them to understand and believe what is taught about marriage in our Catholic faith, I'd better be able to do better than stammer if I want it to be part of their hearts.  I have to compete with the 1000 little moral vipers that whisper every day, through songs, through movies, through television, through commericals and all the DJ commentary in between, all sex is permissible, all behavior is licit, there are no limits and that what they do with their bodies affects no one.     Here, have a Yaz pill.  Hit the radio, the Katy Perry song about a threesome is on.  Sounds like a party. 

It is easier to explain with other sexual sins.  Pornography for instance, hurts the person in the shot, the viewer, the producer, the purchaser, and anyone who comes into contact with the image.  It is a permanent exposure that thanks to the Internet, will live forever.  It is the transformation of the beautiful and the intimate, into the base and impersonal.  Most people can get that pornography exploits and destroys natural relationships, natural intimacy, and injures all involved.  What if all sexual sin is about the removing of the sacred, either by eliminating the relationship/intimacy or the sacrificial nature of the act itself (giving to other, open to life, part of a permanent commitment to the soul of the other)?  It is a frame of reference that demands sacrifice no matter who you are.  Single? Chaste in heart and body.  Married? Open to life and faithful forever.   Neither path is easy.  "This is hard, who can accept it?"  I believe the followers of Christ asked.  (And I would agree, it is indeed, difficult).  Are you going to leave me too?  is the next question.   No... 

But I was still afraid.  So I tabled the blog post and went to bed. 

Today, I was running behind in everything. It was a mass day at school and one child couldn't find his shoes, another his tie, a third didn't like her mass shirt. The fourth needed me to button hers, (she had it inside out and backward).  Lunches were thrown together.  Somebody's sleeve was missing a button. Two people didn't bring their band instruments.  One forgot their lunch.  Someone left a coat. I noted in the window, three needed hair cuts.  The laundry still loomed on the couch and the crazed rabid mother search for a tie and shoes and the like had revealed that at least three sets of drawers needed to be reorganized. 

I felt overwhelmed as I stopped for gas and noted the car needed to be cleaned out.  Rummaging for 4 quarters, I began the task of cleaning out the van.  Time was not my friend. I'd been late to the elementary school Thanksgiving Breakfast and discovered I only had one shot on my camera.  I had 20 minutes to make it to my youngest son's Thanksgiving party.  The problems of explaining to two children who were asking questions about same sex marriage, about Catholicism, and about what it meant, also crowded my head.  My cowardice of not writing also sat there saying, "You should have." and my own brain screamed back, "Are you nuts?" Cleaning and mentally fatigued, the phrase "Fantastically inadequate." came to mind.  It fit my mood, it fit my feelings about God's trust in me to raise these people, to manage them, to get from point A to point B on time, in faith development and in actual life.

The radio plays the mass every day at 10. I'd left it on in an attempt to quiet my own mood, but so far, it had only succeeded in sharpening those feelings, echoing what my heart was screaming about how unprepared I was as the first reading from Revelations talked about being prepared. I was the poster child for unprepared and at least today, so were my children.  I feel I feel I feel...Fantastically inadequate! 

And then the words broke through all of that junk, words whispered to my heart, "Perhaps Sherry, it's time to stop paying so much attention to what you feel."  and I flashed to Mary receiving the news she would be the mother of Christ. She didn't list all her anxieties, all the reasonable reasons why this was impossible or it was not a good idea or how hard life could/would be, she didn't give even voice to any of her feelings.  She said, "Let it be done to me."   To have a Marian heart is not to spend so much thought, feeling and energy on one's own mind, but to serve those around you, to surrender.  I'd been caught up in my own feelings, rather than trying to address the reality. The car was clean and my mood considerably lighter.

So I begin again.   We are called to love, we are called to holiness.  Everything else is immaterial.   No nation, no laws, no policies, no trends, no television, no popular people are supposed to alter that course.  

How do we witness?   How do I explain how we are to be, act, believe in a world that denies all of it as merely a flavor or opinion?  

By starting with what is beautiful, true and knowable.  

Dear Children,

The issue of same sex marriage, is the challenge to our faith in this age.  It is a hard cross to bear, and a harder truth to witness. But I suspect every age, every person has felt that hard pull and thought theirs was the hardest to face.   

God practically shouts at us from the scripture, from creation, from everyone around us, first and foremost, to be present.  To Wake Up!  Sin lulls the soul to sleep, sating the body, blinding the intellect, dulling the heart. Demand less, expect less, do less, love less, care less.    

There are tons of people out there who will tell you God isn't interested in what you do in the bedroom.  It is a goofy argument designed to turn the God who is Love into a harsh Peeping Tom.  But here's the thing.  God invented sex.   God created us male and female.  Even more shockingly, God has a plan for each and every one of us.  And whatever that plan is, there is one thing it does not involve:  Sin.   Sin divorces us from others and from God.  Sin serves itself.  Sin is intolerant of anything other than itself.  Sin always begets more sin.  Sin always corrodes.  Sin always corrupts.  Sin always isolates.  "And we wept precious, to be so alone." 

The only thing that saves us from this vicious insane awful cycle of self deception and self indulgence and self authoring, is love, God's grace evident in the world and in others, and sometimes, simply by itself, pouring into the soul when nothing else can reach so deeply.  God can break through the sin  --see Saint Paul, Saint Augustin, Saint Francis, Saint Peter, Saint Martha, Saint Mary Magdalen, etc, but when He does, the soul involved (in all these cases) radically alters their life (removing sin).  You can shortcut the process by avoiding the pitfalls all together, but only by your own free choice.  

To understand what is beautiful and intimate and of infinite value about marriage, one must first acknowledge there is something intimate, beautiful and infinite within the confines of marriage, the vow to be permanently present to one soul as a window through which God may be permanently present to that soul. For those of us not fully awake in our faith, the sacrament of marriage, and the subsequent children is one of the ways God breaks into our hearts to grow them bigger.  It is why the Catholic Church cannot sanction same sex marriage anymore than it can sanction artificial birth control. It is not open to life. It is not what God intended as we understand it from sacred scriptures.   We couldn't imagine not loving these children we receive, but we couldn't imagine loving anyone that much before.  To a person, we suffer from a fallen imagination, we cannot comprehend loving as God loves until face to face and struck by love and all its overwhelmingness.  Sacramental marriage marks the beginning of waking up to the adult plan we've not yet begun to comprehend, how we are to witness. 

Your heart is to be cherished and preserved for God, and whomever God deems should be entrusted with your heart.  Your body also, likewise is designed and created and even imagined in God's plan, for a single other soul, to grow that person's soul, and those you will touch by your relationship and your children.   Love is always based on sacrifice, on self denial, on eternity, on generosity, on kindness, on mercy, on truth.  It always reflects all of these things.  It also is always rooted in trust in the one who is Love.  

There is more, much more to tell on this, and I will keep working on it, but know we will always love you no matter what, and what we want most for you, is not popularity or all A's or accolades or scholarships, but true friends and a holy life.   Both are possible, but only through self sacrifice. 
I won't promise a world without hurt, but I will promise a world filled with grace. 

Love you, Mom


gaylene said...

I'm not catholic, but I appreciate your faith and bravery in discussing something that's so hard to talk about in public right now. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this.

Anonymous said...


Leaving a comment is a form of free tipping. But this lets me purchase diet coke and chocolate.

If you sneak my work, No Chocolate for You!