celebrating the joy of religious life

It’s far too easy to become overwhelmed with negativity in both our church and in the world. Each day, headlines scream at us with yet another issue or event that not only disturbs our often tenuous peace, but threatens to send us into yet another tail-spin of anger or despair.

Thank God we are gifted moments of joy along the way. Moments to remind us that light will always dispel darkness, if we but let it in. And thank God for  wonderful people who gather us into celebrations of joyful prayer, song, and gut-jiggling laughter. These moments are truly a touch of heaven, a promise of glories to come.

David and I had such a moment this past weekend in Dayton, OH. We attended the First Vows ceremony of four Marianist brothers. Here is a short article that I wrote for the NCR Today blog.

I’ll take a joy-filled community filled with laughter over a dour, solemn and gloomy bunch any day! 🙂

Click here for more on the importance of joy and humor in our religious lives.

31 years of marriage…and counting!

Thirty-one years ago today, I said YES to the love of my life surrounded by a praying community of family and friends. Thirty-one years later, we have

  • Five children who continue to amaze us with their diverse gifts and passions
  • One grand-baby (the cutest in the world) with another on the way (sure to share the C.I.T.W. award!)
  • One daughter-in-law (wonderful mother of said C.I.T.W. babies)
  • One son-in-law on the way (okay, when babies come…the competition is going to keep getting tougher…)
  • The blessings of four parents who continue to love and support us all
  • And an amazing network of family and friends who energize us with laughter, good times, and bitch and kvetch sessions when needed.

Two become one surrounded by many. And from the one, come many more!

With love to my David, and all who have been and continue to be on this amazing journey with us. 🙂

would you, could you sign an oath of personal integrity?

Bishop Salvatore Cordileone of Oakland, CA has demanded that board members of the Catholic Association for Lesbian and Gay Ministry, or CALGM, sign an “oath of personal integrity” to Catholic teaching.

“In good faith, we have done most everything required of us to maintain a legitimate space within the boundaries of the institutional Church,” president Sheila Nelson wrote to members April 5. “Yet, this has not seemed to be adequate or satisfactory to the office of the bishop. We have repeatedly, abundantly and humbly submitted that our work is pastoral in nature and not political or primarily doctrinal.”

In a March 29 letter, Nelson wrote to the bishop, “That you would require such an unprecedented and extensive manifestation of our consciences suggests to us that, irrespective of our pastoral effectiveness, you wish to force an end to these, admittedly difficult, conversations.” The full NCR article and ensuing discussion board can be found here.

Perhaps it’s my baby-boomer sensibilities. After all, my generation is infamous for challenging authority. But, my blood pressure rises at the thought of having to sign such an oath because a bishop demands it. Perhaps it would depend on the oath, and the bishop? Maybe. But the actual demand bothers me.

I agree with Nelson’s interpretation of the action by the bishop. Demanding me to sign an oath of “personal integrity” not only shouts your distrust of my faith and my beliefs, but it closes the door to dialogue on those issues that I cannot fully accept in good conscience. It attempts to put Catholics into a small, tightly controlled box of orthodoxy. You are in, or you are out, sometimes based on a one issue doctrine. There is no regard to all your other good actions or beliefs. There is no room for honest questioning.

This action is reminiscent of past inquisitions. While confessions are no longer extracted under threat of torture or death, there is still a threat of negative consequences. There is a threat of being separated from the community – even if only by name.

I profess my faith in front of the praying community each time I meaningfully recite the Creed at mass.  I profess it even more solemnly when we are asked to renew our baptismal vows, at Easter or a baptism. As our church becomes more obsessed with doctrine, the Creed becomes more meaningful to me. The simple and beautiful profession of faith in God as Father/Creator, Son and Holy Spirit reminds us of our foundation. This is the belief that the Christian church is built on. This is our first and primary oath as Christians.

For the board members of CALGM, the issue is centered on church teachings around homosexuality. What if all Catholics had to sign an oath of personal integrity with regards to contraception? How many could?

Would you, or could you, sign an oath of personal integrity or obedience if it was presented to you by your bishop? Have you had to sign such an oath? I’d love to hear both your thoughts and your experiences.