When my parents were in town last weekend, I decided to try out a different Catholic church in the area. We live about 2 minutes from our current church, but I’ve never felt all that connected there. The people are nice enough, but it just doesn’t necessarily scream “you know you want to come spend an hour here every weekend” to me.
I take Brennan to a Mom’s Morning Out program at a Catholic church that is about 15 minutes from our house. I absolutely love their childrens’ program, so I thought I’d see what Mass was like there. At first, I was pretty impressed. The people seemed friendly, there were a TON of young families there, and the church itself was beautiful and modern. They even have TV screens to follow along with the new responses/Creed. (side note for all you Catholics: I’m never going to be able to memorize that new Creed. “And with your Spirit”, OK. But freaking “consubstantial with Father” kills me every.single.time.)
The priest officiating the Mass seemed very pleasant, as did the deacon who was concelebrating. When it came time for the homily, the man who I recognized as the pastor (from scoping out their website) came forward to preach. I immediately liked his laid back preaching style and at first loved his message.
The gospel that day was about sin (Matthew 5:29-30). The priest spoke of the temptations and sins that youth today are confronted with – drugs, gangs, sex. He recalled a speaker that had recently given a speech at the church on this topic who had spoken at a school which had 120 pregnant teens in its student body. He spoke of the prevalence and easily available “adult material” in today’s society. And just when I thought that the drug problem in today’s society would be his next topic, he spun around and landed on a topic that I never in a million years would have even dreamed should be lumped into the same category as drugs and gangs … homosexuality.
Oh yes. Apparently he stumbled upon the TV series “The New Normal” on which a gay couple in a committed relationship adopts a baby. And apparently he’s more appalled that a committed, loving couple raising a child in their stable, loving home simply because they both happen to be male than he is about the drug problem we have in America today. He got all fired up and said, “Now am I alone in thinking that it’s really sad if this is becoming the ‘new normal’?” And you know what? People clapped. The old man next to me actually said “Amen!”.
You guys, I’ve never felt so much hatred in one room in my entire life. Nor have I ever wanted so badly to run from a building so badly. And grab my babies and get the hell away from that awful man and those awful people who could spew such hatred. But I was kind of frozen in disbelief. Disbelief that this could be happening while in a house of God. That such a mean reaction could come from a group of hundreds of people who were gathered together to celebrate Jesus Christ, who preached a message of love and acceptance.
Admittedly, I was already a bit fired up about the topic as my parents and I had discussed it earlier in the weekend. My Dad is a deacon. My parents, while liberal in their religion, are still conservative in their politics and quite devout Catholics. They don’t believe in same sex marriage. They believe that this belief is scripturally based – that it all comes back to the book of Genesis and Adam and Eve and a rib.
Look. I spent 13 years of my life attending Catholic school. For most of my life I went to Mass every single Sunday. My Dad is a deacon and my Mom works in a Catholic school. I get it - The Catholic church does not condone homosexual actions. It’s “scripture based”. But I have yet to get a legitimate answer from someone when I ask “then why does the Church say that it is acceptable to do so many other things that are condemned in the Bible?”
I’m really not trying to be a shit disturber. Really. I just want to be able to understand. The God that I grew up knowing is a loving, accepting God. The Jesus that I grew up learning about preached love and acceptance. He surrounded himself by outcasts . I just can’t comprehend how He would not condone whole-hearted love between two people. It just doesn’t make any sense to me. AT ALL.
I have family members and close friends that are gay. They are all wonderful people and deserve to be able to marry whomever they choose. I hate that they have to put up with so much intolerance in this world. More than anything, I hate to imagine my boys growing up in a world where they would be met with hatred and intolerance if they happen to be gay and fall in love with another man. My heart would hurt so badly for them if they couldn’t reap all the benefits of a happy, loving marriage that their Daddy and I have been able to.
Sister Pat Farrell, the president of the LCWR (Leadership Conference of Women Religious), was interviewed on NPR about the recent controversy between the LCWR and the Vatican. Long story very short, the Vatican is upset with the LCWR (which represents 80% of American nuns) for not upholding the teachings of the Church (you can find out way more about it in the interview with Sister Pat and the opposing view interview with Bishop Leonard Blair … his interview makes me crazy, but whatever). And it’s not that they aren’t upholding them, they just don’t see certain things as as much of a priority as the Vatican does. They prefer to help the poor and the sick and the underserved. To love EVERYONE. So when asked why they don’t just leave the Roman Catholic church if the Vatican is going to give them so much trouble, Sister Pat replied, “Because it’s my church too.” So true Sister Pat, so true.
With all that said, I’m not ready to leave the Catholic church. Out of all religions I’ve encountered in my 29 years on this earth, it’s the one that makes the most sense to me … frustrations and all. And also? Why not stay and try to change it from the inside? Why not try to become involved in a parish that is intolerant and try to teach tolerance and love and acceptance? I guess the most important thing is to find a parish that I feel like I can work within and go from there. First step? Email this priest.