I keep thinking about the Church and my love/hate relationship with her especially in light of the 2 Popes recently canonized. It got me thinking again about what it is about being Catholic that attracts me and of course repels me. I do have a caveat however, I do get very annoyed at people who bash the Church, but know little to nothing about it. They get their information from the media and make judgements based on that – wholly uninformed. Most – ok many – of these people really have been taught very little about Jesus as they were growing up and have very little to base their prejudice upon. The same holds true with prejudice against other religions, Judaism, Islam and even Buddhism etc., they suffer from uninformed people judging them too. Then there are those who have been hurt by the Church – they have a legitimate gripe and then there are lots of people like me who struggle with the “sins of the fathers” – (sorry guys – if you want to exclude women from decision-making you take all the blame too) and wrestle daily with faith and the faith in the Church.
I used to excuse the Church as a whole by saying the Church isn’t at fault, it is the sins of the fathers that discredit her and to a point that is still true and I still believe it, but I have had more less surmountable doubts about her lately and that is a big struggle. The sit – stand – roll over – genuflect, don’t genuflect rules don’t bother me, to be Catholic you have to like the associated ritual and I do. I love the candles and the statues and what they represent (no Victoria, Catholics do NOT worship statues) and the pageantry – it’s historic, it’s beautiful and it’s binding and that’s all good. I have also always said the Church is like an onion, many layers and you get what you want. You can only go to Mass Sundays and not think more or you can be a deep thinking contemplative drawing from the likes of Thomas Merton or Teilhard de Chardin or even John of the Cross – or anything in between.
But, how do you get past now Saint John Paul II sweeping sex abuse of children under the rug, or even our own Archbishop Timothy Dolan? I know deep in my soul the Church is wrong about not ordaining women, the energy of the church is not balanced and the only way to get balance is to once again create a female deaconate (let’s not even pretend there wasn’t a fully anointed female deaconate up until the 12th century) and allow women to be ordained and in the Conclave. We need balance. The Church is vital, I am dismayed that even with our declining numbers we are far outpacing regular Sunday attendance by other mainstream religions and the mega-churches are starting to peak – so there has to be something to this Catholic thing. But where do we go from here and how do we get past the institutional karma.
I do believe in karma – yes I admit I am not 100% in line with Church teachings – I do believe in reincarnation and I do believe there is enough evidence to contend that Jesus himself taught reincarnation in our own Church history. So karma now becomes more relevant. I had started wondering why people stayed with the Church, those like Sister Elizabeth Johnson or Sister Camille or many other devout Catholics who I know struggle with her. Maybe it is because they think there is a gold thread that runs deep within her that ties her to Spirit – the comforter – like no other. That despite the sins of the fathers and the old men who have perhaps outlived their own – dare I say – usefulness in the Church – in the “big” Church – the church that is and has been throughout history – has something there. The boys club is just so unwilling to give up a good thing (sorry guys we are not going to the obedience place – that is just a clever tool to keep the masses in line – Jesus was not obedient to the pharisees) that maybe they are hindering her spiritual growth, but truth does lie there and the institutional karma that has been created needs to run its course. Maybe we finally realize that priests really don’t have a red phone connection to God, we need to do that work ourselves just like they do and they need to stop standing in our way and that step helps to prevent creation of more karma. Maybe that is the way we collectively help her, our Mother, work off her karma debt because we too, are part of it. Maybe then we can rediscover the golden nugget, the pearl that lies hidden at the heart of the Church. Maybe that is what people who are smarter than I know or is that spiritual a priori knowledge? Maybe the Church isn’t a rose frozen in time…