¿y tu?…what about you?

Speaking to bishops, clergy and religious at the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia on September 26, Pope Francis told the story of St. Katharine Drexel. When Katharine spoke to Leo XIII about the needs of the missions, Leo replied,

What about you? What are you going to do?

Pope Francis reminded us,

every Christian man and woman, by virtue of baptism, has received a mission. Each one of us has to respond, as best we can, to the Lord’s call to build up his Body, the Church.

In a recent blog post, I was complaining about lacklustre masses and boring homilies. Marceta Reilley wrote a challenging comment and response to my grumbling.

When I finally let go of yearning for what I could not have and instead spent my energy in focusing on what nourished me, it made a huge difference. I stopped feeling angry and victimized. I shared with others that working to BE the kind of parish (an people) we wanted to be should be our focus. Stop doing things you don’t want to do, and going to things you feel coerced into going. Instead figure out what you do want to do and how you want to show up when you are there. Then do it.

In essence, Marceta was saying “what about you?” What was I going to DO about it, besides writing a cathartic rant?

The pope is challenging us to actively respond to the needs that we see in the church and in the world. There is an irony when we complain about the centralization of power in the church, then proceed to pass the buck of responsibility to priests, bishops and pope, expecting them to solve all the problems.

If we want an empowered laity, we need to embrace the empowerment that is already ours.

The second part of the Synod on the Family begins this weekend. Despite efforts at surveys and questionnaires, laity in the church will still have a minimal voice in deliberations and no vote in final decisions. But, we have the power to affect change at the grass roots.

Instead of griping that a clerical male hierarchy is out of touch with everyday family life, I can try harder to be present, patient and supportive of my own family and friends in their struggles and challenges. How would that look for me?

While bishops continue their polarizing fight over welcoming divorced and remarried Catholics to the communion table…

  • we will continue journeying with our son and young grandchildren through the reality of a broken marriage.

While a male, celibate leadership continues to couch women’s role as mothers in effusive, flowery language…

  • we will support our daughters as they juggle the reality of babies and careers.

While the issue of welcoming gay women and men into our church continues to be debated…

  • we will not give power to words such as “disordered”. Instead, we will continue loving and supporting our gay friends and allies who are committed in their work for a more inclusive church and world.

¿y tu?…what about you?

5 thoughts on “¿y tu?…what about you?

  1. I strongly believe in personal action. Yet, I think that institutional change is incredibly important and necessary. It’s fine for me not to be racist, but it’s not nearly enough, if the society itself continues being racist and barring others from opportunities which I cannot provide them. Therefore, I think that it is critical to continue speaking out. I think that there is much difference between “bellyaching” or moaning and groaning” and speaking out to promote and hasten change. I find that, all too often, it is in interest of those in power to discourage this speaking out, by labeling it as moaning and groaning.
    I am doing what I can. Now, I expect those who do have power in the institution to step up and take responsibility for their actions and statements. And I will continue calling on them to do so, joining my voice with countless others, until there is so much sound that it can no longer be discounted.

  2. Hi Alexandra,
    YES and YES….it is critical to continue speaking out!!! This is the only way for those in leadership to remain accountable for both their words and their actions. Today, there is no excuse for institutional leaders to be blind and deaf to the voice of the people. All they have to do is open up their computers and take some time to browse social media sites and discussion boards. My guess is that many do.

    Here’s to all the countless voices promoting and hastening change…including ours! 🙂

  3. Legitimate challenge it is. I am however deeply conflicted. A stranger began a conversation today about the weather and suddenly jumped to “the election”. Without provocation he said: “I’m a business man; once you lie to me, you’re gone”. My point? If you adhere to an obvious lie or wrong you have lost my trust – period. To me, the exclusion of women from full institutional and sacramental inclusion and rationale(s) thereof are so egregious, long-standing, the consequences so pervasive and of such a fundamental importance that nothing but a recanting of past, acknowledging of the now and plan for the future will restore my faith in the integrity of and participation in the institution.
    What Pope Francis is doing, for me, is reinforcing my freedom from institution and confidence in my relationship with God through Christ. As an “instrument” of and “son of” the church, he is by his admission culpable for an injustice and lie of such proportion that I am, as I opened this comment, deeply convicted.
    At every opportunity, I will further what I see as his message; I will continue to love and admire him and share my sense of his message and, indeed of his “scotosis”. I will endeavor to exhibit mercy and become merciful and I will continue to decry at every opportunity the abuse of reason, scripture, authority and good will that is the Pope Benedict XVI “update” of the exclusion, diminution of women and his call for a willing subservience to the male “….in the church and in the world”. (ref. “Letter to the bishops of the catholic church on the collaboration of men and women in the church and in the world”, J.Card. Ratzinger, Prefect of the CDF, 2004).
    The exclusion and diminution of women may not be the most pressing problem, but the most pressing problems cannot be appropriately addressed without the opportunity for women to full institutional and sacramental inclusion.
    Sorry for the rant.

    1. Thank you, for this, Dennis. I, too believe that “the most pressing problems cannot be appropriately addressed without the opportunity for women to full institutional and sacramental inclusion.”

  4. I agree with you both, Alexandra and Dennis. Speaking up as advocates and prophets is an important role especially in the area of social justice. And equally important is to work within and around the system to Become the change we want to see. In other words, to do our advocacy and prophecy in ways that models the new behavior we want. It is not “either-or.” Instead, it is “both-and” by working outside and inside the system.

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