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?