This week I was interviewed on the very cool On a Mission podcast with Molleen Dupree-Dominguez. One of her questions was, "How did you come to know you were called to be a priest?" You’ll have to wait until September when the episode drops to hear the full story, but here’s a few tidbits. When I finally learned to pray at St. Ignatius Parish—and then to discern—I started to hear the words from the Spirit bubble up from the depths of my heart: “You are my priest.” I crooked my neck and furrowed my brow every time I heard it. How can God be asking me to do something that isn’t possible?
I started engaging with the call. I couldn’t become an actual priest, so I figured the call must have meant something else. Maybe I was supposed to minister to priests. I began to offer as much support as possible to the Jesuits living near and working in the parish. This was not much of a sacrifice since I loved being around them. I especially doted on one elderly Jesuit, Fr. Tom Royce, SJ. He was in his 80s, hard of hearing, and losing his vision. Nonetheless, he was sharp as a tack and still *extremely* active, and so he needed help with all kinds of things. For example, after 50 years of saying the same rendition of the Mass, he had to learn the new translation and required someone to assist. He also needed exercise lest he become entirely hunched over, so I started taking him to the therapy pool. I’d never seen him so happy as when he was in the water. I also noticed that he loved suspenders, so I bought him a checkered pair to match his clerics. He wore them everywhere. Special times. (Thankfully, after he passed, a friend hung on to the candles from his ordination. They will be on the altar at my own ordination.)
And so it went: me hearing the call, me continuing to grapple with what it meant. I signed up for every liturgical ministry you can name: Eucharistic minister, sacristan, lector, funeral sacristan. I became a liturgical coordinator, taking on huge events that spanned days at a time. I brought communion to the sick and dying, and I started a young adult program. I was trained as a spiritual director and learned to lead retreats. I organized parish life events. Eventually, I went on to get my Master of Divinity degree, and I even ran a parish. Along the way, I prayed through joining other traditions and becoming a nun and remaining a pastoral minister. But, finally, I had to accept the fact that none of these paths were it. Twelve years later, I felt I was no longer able to grow in the way God desired. I finally let go of all my expectations about my life, about my call, about who I thought I would be. It was only then that the path unfolded before me: I was to become a female Catholic priest committed to reforming the tradition.
When I think back to my honest reaction to God's asking me to do something impossible, I just have to laugh. I was so naïve--so green! For as today’s gospel reminds us, this is what God does. God asks us to take on the impossible challenge only to reveal that it was never impossible at all. And so I lift up to to God my offering of five barley loaves and two fish.
I can’t wait to see what God does with it.
Everyone has an opinion about what I am doing. They love it! They hate it! I should do “x!” I should NOT do “y!” People have thoughts on how I present myself, what I say, what I wear, who I am. I'm a heretic. I'm a hero. I'm sick. I'm strong. I'm being led astray (as if I don't have my own thinking mind and praying heart). I'm on the path of the Holy Spirit. Most recently, a friend and kindred spirit told me that a friend of his read the New Yorker article and in the most kind and sincere way said, “I respect what she is doing, but I cannot help but feel her efforts will be a waste.” Ouch.
In one way, all this energy is thrilling. The sheer fact that people respond so strongly in this or that way means that I am up to something very important. And, as excruciating as this path is, I feel alive. Not to mention, people often times share things that are extremely helpful, and I feel God’s touch through them. But, on the other hand, there is so, so much noise. It’s easy to feel hurt or confused or hesitant or dejected. After all, I am not even ordained yet: I am just a fledgling trying to find my way step by step—slowly discovering who I am as a priest. This formation is not something that can be rushed, but it can be delayed if I get knocked off course.
When I catch myself marveling at all the commentary, I recall a conversation that I had some months ago with an Episcopal priest. She was about my age, give or take, and shared that she had been a priest for 23 years. Twenty-three years! I was taken aback, literally knocked backwards. I was amazed. Her gender was a non-issue: she was able to follow her vocation as a young woman, and she has had a long and fruitful career doing what she loves—what God has called her to do. She was able to say “yes” without one word about it.
With all that swirls around me, I am keenly aware that more than ever I must stay rooted in the Spirit. Like the disciples in this Sunday's gospel, I return from my work of the day to eagerly share in my prayer all that has transpired with Jesus. He listens, sympathizes, teases. Then, he takes me by the hand and leads me to a deserted place. There, the quiet blankets all the noise within me and God’s voice swells up through the silence to teach me about the path, about who I am.
It is my goal that someday, when I am old and gray, I will have the distinct pleasure of watching young women enter the Roman Catholic priesthood without one word about it. As long as that prayer glows in my heart, my efforts will never be wasted.
My Facebook page transformed overnight from a place of support and encouragement to one of harassment and cruelty. It is clear that some people do not appreciate my challenge to long-held traditions—traditions they rely on to make sense of the world around them. My ministry threatens their worldview, and so they lash out in an effort to keep things stable and familiar.
I have been diligently praying through the comments and reactions, trying to discern whether and how to respond. I have to take the time to sort through the emotions that rush to the surface. I ask the Spirit to look with me, to teach me about myself, about the situation, about the path forward. Only when I reach a place of inner freedom do I respond with loving kindness to those who degrade me. I do this in a true effort to make a respectful connection across the great chasm of difference between us.
I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, perhaps it is a waste of time. Have I really changed anyone’s mind? Also, it is draining, and it is particularly demoralizing to see this behavior from women--especially young women--who have internalized the Church's sexism so completely that they actually believe women are deficient. On the other hand, it’s important to show what female priests experience. The anger. The derision. The hatred. The disrespect. There it is, in black and white: the tangible effects of a Church doctrine that teaches inequality. There is no denying the darkness. And practically? Well, its good practice: I need to sharpen my chops. I want to be like Rev. Shanon Sterringer, who swooped in on my page and blasted these folks with both barrels. She is so educated, so competent and so articulate, no one can touch her. My goal is to be like that. After all, the more support I gain, the more public condemnation I will receive. (I will really know I’ve made it when I start receiving death threats.)
An interesting effect of this ongoing harassment is that I feel much closer to Jesus--and in a new way. For the first time, I have a *tiny* taste of his particular experience of rejection and humiliation. In my prayer we were sitting together on the trunk of a fallen tree at the edge of a meadow. He looked at me and with a wry smile said, “It’s not that fun, is it?” Shaking my head, I chuckled, “No, it isn’t.” He skooched closer, threw his arm over my shoulder, and we laughed. “Don’t worry,” he said, “I got you.”
What I realized this week on a visceral level is that I have to come to grips with the reality that an important part of my ministry is enduring this abuse. I cannot let it eat away my spirit and my stomach lining. Instead, I must welcome it, purify it, and offer love back as a response--and to do all this as prayer... for the Church, for God, and for justice. This is the way of Jesus, and it is the only way the cycle of darkness can be broken.
It is perhaps true that most people would much rather have things remain the same--even if that means sacrificing the salvation God is so generously offering. But convincing people to change is not the point. As the reading this week from Ezekiel reminds us, God does not ask us to bring about results necessarily, but rather to be faithful to what God calls us to do--who God calls us to be. For the point is that, whether the people heed or resist, it is through us and our love that they shall know that God’s Spirit has been among them.
Women are the backbone of the Catholic Church. We hold 80% of lay ecclesial ministry positions (including women religious) and I venture to say we do the lion’s share of the volunteering. Without women, parishes simply would not be able to operate. Period. Yet, we are excluded from Church governance and sacramental ministry. Why--why—do we accept this treatment?
Sociologists have studied ad nauseam the myriad ways cultural messaging tries to shape and control women. We are expected to sacrifice, to accommodate, to be silent. To be the caretakers, the harmonizers, the peacemakers. We are warned about being too loud, too ambitious, too demanding. And above all, we—unlike the boys—are expected to follow the rules, especially when those rules don’t serve us.
What if we stopped behaving?
Want to see the gears of the Catholic Church come to a grinding halt? Imagine all female staff going on strike. And all female volunteers following suit. And all the men who are down for the cause doing the same. Now imagine all the women parishioners who give to their local parish or school or Archbishop’s appeal diverting all of their families' donations into a fund to pay the wages of the workers who are on strike. And now imagine all those staff and volunteers using their newfound free time to pester the shit out of the bishops—the same bishops who would begin to feel the squeeze from stressed priests who can no longer keep their parishes running without the support of women. What would happen then? Would we be taken seriously?
The truth is women already have the collective power to create change in the Church. It is up to us to stand together as one body in the Spirit and use it.
I personally know many priests who privately believe the Church should ordain women to the priesthood. And though I don't rub elbows with Bishops, I imagine there are a fair number of them who think the same. So, the question is, why--for the most part (thank you, Germany and now Ireland)--aren't they speaking out?
Practicing dissent in the Catholic Church is *tricky* business. It's easy enough to internally dissent on this or that issue in the quiet of our own hearts. We can also privately dissent with a friend or colleague--even with a priest or bishop--without much ado. But open and public disagreement with official Church teaching? This is much harder, especially if the end goal is to inspire movement on a teaching. This is because the magisterium generally relates to acts of dissent as threats to its teaching authority rather than as promptings to discernment. And though Pope Francis has a gentler touch on these kinds of things, obedience is deeply, deeply etched into the Catholic psyche. We all know what happened to theologian Charles Curran and Fr. Roy Bourgeois for challenging the magisterium on points of Catholic teaching. Public dissent means potentially attracting the Eye of Sauron, and with it grave punishment.
In such a climate, priests and bishops who believe in ordination justice for the most part simply stay quiet, opting to minister as best they can under the circumstances. It's understandable. Still, we have to ask: what is the cost of this silence? Women suffer psychological injury, girls are taught they are less than human, boys learn they are inherently superior, and men never have to relate to women as true equals (and you better believe this also shows up at home and in the workplace). Further, the Church not only loses out on the gifts of female leaders, it increasingly forfeits its power to participate in the public square in meaningful ways. Understandable or not, the cost of this complicit silence is enormous, and as long as these priests and bishops stay quiet, a great moral maiming continues at the hands of the Catholic Church and, very sadly, in the name of Jesus.
Yet, things could change--and change rapidly (at least in Church time). What if our brothers who have collars and wear mitres transitioned from private allies to public dissenters? What if they called for open dialogue on ordination? What if in one collective and prophetic voice they made a stand on behalf of women, on behalf of God? Imagine, just imagine, the difference they would make.
So, gentlemen, how about it? We need you to use those balls God gave you and make a stand for justice.
I've grown tired of people singing Pope Francis' praises. Yes, he is an awesome human being with one of the hardest jobs in the world. He is deeply compassionate. He is a man of prayer and discernment. He centers the experience of the poor. He cares for creation. He provides us with stirring documents. He has to deal with backstabbing garbage from people like Archbishop Viganò, and he does so with grace. And yes, he has appointed women to positions of power, even giving one of them an actual vote (yes, but one out of how many--let us not get too excited about the tiny crumb from the table).
Yeah, yeah, yeah. He's great. He's so great, that he has been pushing for synodality for years, working to decentralize power so that decision-making in the Church is more collaborative and consultative. Synodality is all about journeying together, accompaniment, dialogue. In fact, there is an excellent article by Cardinal Tobin in this month's Commonweal that describes this "long game" and its benefits.
I get that. Synodality is super important and absolutely must be pursued. But pin our hopes on it? I don’t know. Maybe this is easy for the people at the top to do. But down here on the bottom, things are a mess. We have a Church that people are leaving every year BY THE THOUSANDS. Bishops have zero credibility in the secular world after the sexual abuse crisis (and clamoring to deny people communion based on this or that reason ain't gonna earn it back, guys). Parish staff are being crushed to death by never-ending workloads and poverty wages. Every week there seems to be yet another atrocious scandal in the media (mother and baby homes, anyone?). And, oh yeah, we are running out of priests. The Titanic is sinking, so forgive me if I roll my eyes every time I hear about the long game of synodality. By the time the long game kicks in, how many of us will have drowned? (And, by the way, is true synodality even possible when women are not part of the magisterium?)
Here's the thing: This colossal mess—it's not just about the Church. It is about the world. The Church's mission is to be God's love in the world, and let's face it, we are in such a mess at this point that it is very difficult for us to do this effectively. Let's take Ethiopia, for example. Right now women are being systematically gang raped by Eritrean soldiers as a tactic of war. Really think about what that must be like for a woman to experience, about the impact it must have on her life, her family, her relationships, her health, her dreams. Now, I ask, how can the Catholic Church--with no credibility in the eyes of the secular world and with its very own long history of oppressing women--say one damn thing to confront this situation in any sort of meaningful way?
The truth of the matter is that there are millions and millions of people both in and out of the Church that simply cannot afford to wait for the long game to materialize. This does not mean the long game should not be played--it should. But, we also need a short game, and an aggressive one at that. To this point, I invite Pope Francis to more boldly claim his papal power even while he diligently works to decentralize it. And one thing he can do right now is #LiftTheBan and allow us as a Church to freely dialogue about ordaining women to the priesthood. For we will never--and I mean NEVER--get out of this mess as long as women are excluded from fully participating in leadership and governance. We cannot wait any longer. The only way forward is for both men and women to collaborate with the Spirit on charting the course to tomorrow.
This week I came out to my pastor. I needed to confide in him about my plans to be ordained. I didn’t want him to find out through some other source, and with a profile in the New Yorker on the way, I needed to share the news. I deeply respect this man, and I love worshipping in this particular community.
Months ago, I grappled with the reality that I would be excommunicated by the institutional Church upon ordination. The most severe penalty levied by the Church, it means I can no longer receive a sacrament of any kind. No. More. Communion. And, no matter how upstanding in the faith I may be, I will no longer be permitted to work for an official Catholic institution, so I am throwing away my career. Also, and perhaps what makes my heart most tender, I will be denied a Christian burial.
Now, some female priests may not take excommunication seriously. It does sound rather…medieval. They may laugh or just simply dismiss the punishment as ridiculous, and sneak their way into a progressive Catholic community that welcomes them at the altar. I get that. After all, excommunication is a total BS move by an institution grasping onto a power it has no right to hoard. So, I get it.
But, for me? No, I will not do that. I take this punishment hella seriously, and though it burns me--burns me—to my core, I willingly accept the consequences. I suppose my response is a sign of respect for the Church I wish to serve, and I try my best to demonstrate that I do not take this decision lightly.
You might wonder: Father Anne, why do you even want to attend Mass in an official Church environment? A reasonable question, to be sure. The truth is that, though I will be excommunicated, I still consider myself part of the Roman Catholic Church. After all, my punishment is unjust, and part of my ministry is to the institutional Church itself—to hold it to account and help awaken it to justice. Part of this work is staying spiritually and practically connected with the official Church… as best I can.
When I wrote my pastor, I explained to him my intentions for ordination and I asked if I would still be welcome to attend Mass if I plan to abstain from receiving communion. I do recognize that I am putting him in an awkward spot, and I have compassion for that. But, still, a girl has to ask. His response was very kind. I would indeed be welcomed to pray, but he sincerely appreciated my sensitivity in not approaching the altar in light of the path I have been led to take.
I read his response a couple of times. There it was, in black and white. I tried to let it sink in. A future that seemed so far off has suddenly arrived: I have received my last communion from the institutional Church. A punishment so cruel, not even a man who has raped a child receives it.
As a devout Catholic this is a knife to the heart, and I am grieving. It will take some time to process this new reality. Though part of me will always grieve this loss, somewhere deep in my heart I hope--hope in the power of the Spirit. I learned of a Syrian song, I do not know the name, where the prisoner sings to his jailer, “No matter how much you try to keep me in the darkness, there will always be light.”
I pray that someday the institutional Church will right this wrong and welcome me at the altar in more ways than one. Until then: Bring it, Rome--hit me with your best shot.
-photo from Pixabay
Ash Wednesday has arrived! Here's one way to enter into Lent.
(Note: This approach focuses on the individual. For resources that reflect on social sin, check Call to Action, FutureChurch, or Ignatian Spirituality.)
First: See Lent as an opportunity
Lent can sometimes seem like one more thing on a very long to-do list. Instead, shift your perspective; see Lent as an intoxicating opportunity to go deep with our loving God. To cultivate intimacy or renew our love affair. To investigate the roots of our hurtful behavior in the light of God's mercy. To examine those parts of ourselves that are wounded or broken and in need of healing. To take responsibility and apologize to God and others for mistakes we have made. Lent offers us the time and space to be transformed by the Spirit, if we are willing to take it.
Second: Take time to reflect
To make the most of your opportunity with God, put a little thought and prayer into planning it. Between now (Ash Wednesday) and Sunday (the First Sunday of Lent), take 30 or 40 minutes to pray and journal on the following questions:
Third: Determine your spiritual practices
Once you pray on the above questions, select spiritual practices that make sense according to your answers. Consider the traditional Lenten observances of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. For example, say you are a person of financial means but you have a shopping habit that you know in your heart is out of balance. You might decide to fast from shopping, but instead of doing it as an act of willpower that you will eagerly abandon as soon as Lent is over, you might fast from shopping as prayer for God to transform this behavior. You might write down during the day every time you have the urge to shop, and then for 15 minutes each night before bed you might review your day and pray about the root of this behavior, what pay off it gives you, and how you can meet your needs in healthier ways. You might donate the money you would have spent shopping over the 40 days to local nonprofits that serve the very poorest people in your community.
Or another example: say there is someone in your family with whom you have a strained relationship and you cannot help but behave in ways that make you feel small. This constant dynamic in your life is interfering with your relationship with God and certainly with yourself and probably with your whole family. For Lent, you might decide to invite this person to serve weekly with you at a soup kitchen, and approach this service together as prayer to God for a breakthrough in your relationship. You might spend 10 minutes a day praying the rosary for this person and their needs, asking to see things from their perspective rather than focusing on how you want them to change. You might fast from a particular negative behavior or tactic you use when interacting with them, and pray for guidance about how to interact instead.
Design your Lenten observance with creativity. The key is to choose spiritual practices that invite you to look honestly at yourself in the light of God's mercy, and at what is blocking you from fully embodying God's love in the world.
Four: Make a commitment
Once you have a sense of which spiritual practices will be lifegiving and transformative for you, determine how much time you can devote to them. Be specific: how much time and on which days will you practice? Spell it out so that you can hold yourself accountable. One note of caution: be realistic. On the one hand, Lent is meant to elicit more effort and sacrifice and devotion than a typical day. On the other hand, don't overburden yourself to the point that you are tempted to quit. Be generous but reasonable in carving out time for your spiritual practice. Once you have a sense of how you will observe Lent, return to prayer for 20 minutes to offer your intentions up to God.
Five: Live your commitment
With your intentions set, now you just need to honor them: do what you said you would do. If you find you need to adapt your spiritual practice as Lent unfolds, simply bring your desires to your prayer and adjust your practice in the light of the Holy Spirit. Remember to pray for the graces you need, and remember to thank God for the ways you see God moving in your life--especially in relation to any specific petitions you are asking God to answer. Last but not least, follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit along the way!
How do you decide to end the life of your best friend? I grapple with this question each time one of my dogs approaches death. I especially struggled with Border, the dog with whom I had the deepest relationship.
My faith is the primary source of my struggle. After all, the Catholic Church is a pro-life church, teaching that the dignity of human life is sacred from womb to tomb, as they say. Unfortunately, the term "pro-life" is generally reduced both inside and outside the Church to one issue and one issue alone: the stance against abortion. However, being truly pro-life encompasses far more than this. Being pro-life is a way of seeing the world and all that is in it. It is a view that acknowledges God's desires of salvation for all human life, whether it is in the womb (or, let's not forget, the mother with that womb), crossing the US-Mexico border, sentenced to life in a federal prison, mumbling to one's self on the street corner, or trading sex for meth at a truck stop. To be pro-life is to see value in all people and to stand up for the voiceless, the oppressed, the crucified. To hold to account the powerful, the greedy, and the cruel. To sacrifice one's self in order to help God create a just, equitable and compassionate world where all people and communities can thrive. (So, let's be clear, Donald Trump: you are NOT pro-life. Not by a long shot.)
This acknowledgment of the inherent sanctity of life is the bedrock of Catholic Social Teaching. It is an inspired and inspiring way of understanding the great gift of being alive. But, where do animals fit into this framework? Ah, a different standard applies, you might say. Hmmm...does it? Why as human beings are we so quick to jump to the conclusion that our lives are more sacred, more special, more meaningful than any other creature on earth? That we have the right to shoot animals for sport, to carry out brutal science experiments on them, to annihilate their habitat, to corral them into the unspeakable cruelty of factory farms (do you know they rip the testicles off male piglets without even a drop of anesthesia? Think about that next time you eat that bacon that you don't really need.). Why is it that we think we are so different, so much better, so entitled? Yes, we have special gifts and certainly a different level of power and responsibility, but we are not more sacred. God's Spirit runs through every single thing on this planet, and God is continually inviting us into a deeper noticing of this sanctity pulsating all around us.
Where does this leave me? When one of my dogs approaches death, I agonize about whether and when to euthanize. What does God want for this creature? Is God asking me to end their suffering or am I taking power that is not mine to take? Is euthanasia a compassionate gift (the constant refrain of the veterinarians) or am I interfering with God's process of preparing this life for its earthly conclusion? Who am I to take a life away? It's excruciating. I run through these gymnastics each time, and each time I end up at the same place: it is unethical for me to intervene and end this life that God has brought into the world. This is not my right--it is God's and God's alone.
But then, there is the reality in front of me. I look deeply into the eyes of the being who is suffering. Who is falling down in his own urine and feces, and is too weak to pull himself up. Who is so thin from illness that you can count every bone in her spine and ribcage. Who paces night after night because his dementia is so severe he cannot sleep, even with the help of a tranquilizer. Whose yellow eyes stare into mine, saying "I am ready to go." What does it mean to be pro-life now? Do I to allow the slow and painful decline to continue for weeks or even months? Do I order the killing of this creature with whom I am deeply bonded? I beg God in prayer for answers, but they do not come. I am left without clarity, only love. I opt for mercy and make the decision to intervene, to bring the suffering in their eyes to an end. Maybe it is the right thing to do. Maybe I am just too weak to allow life to fully run its course. Whatever the case, it rips me apart every time, and all I can do is ask the Lord for forgiveness.
As difficult as this process is, I hope it never gets easier. I will enter the end-of-life phase with every dog anew. Each life on this earth matters. The trees and the rivers and the bees matter. All is imbued with God's Spirit, with everything communicating to us something about who God is, what God desires, what God dreams. I consciously embrace being a human being in this sacred milieu, as well as the burden of this terrifying power. This burden is the price of living life through the eyes of the Sacred Heart of God. It is the price of love.
-- In loving memory of Border, who passed away this day of December 8th, 2020 at 9:11 am.
-- photo by Jerome Clarysse
I have a good life. I have a cozy little apartment with lots of character. I have enough food to eat--really good food like veggies and fruits and nuts and eggs. I can afford coffee in the mornings and chocolate in the afternoons (and--let's be honest--evenings). I have an old Toyota that runs well and reflects my quirky personality. I have a job at a good organization with truly incredible people. I have excellent yoga teachers, access to a gym (well, usually!), and health care. I live in a safe(ish) neighborhood and I don't have to worry about bombs being dropped on me. I have long-time friends that know me well and love me anyway, and a few new ones who make me laugh. I have my dogs and the joy they bring. And most of all, I have a deep connection with our God. What more can a girl ask for? "Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man." (Luke 5: 8).
Still, I would be lying if I did not admit that deep down--way down--I am unhappy. I want to be a Roman Catholic priest. I have the education, the experience, the skills, and I also have the call: every single day I hear God asking me to do this. And every single day, I respond, "Yes, Lord, I will do this for you." We share a moment of tenderness as God whispers, "I know." God appreciates my yes, knows its cost. Because although I would make this commitment to God and to God's people, the institution prevents me from obliging.
So, unable to endure any more time in an institutional Catholic environment, I now spend my days at a secular job. It's a good job--I really can't complain. I believe in the organization's mission, the people are fantastic, and I get a decent paycheck for my effort. It's a good set-up. We should all be so lucky. But, the truth of the matter is that it's not really where I'm supposed to be. We do not pray, we do not worship, we are not even allowed to speak God's name. It's so...unsatisfying. I try to remain positive but, truth be told, it's more and more challenging, and each day my spirit dies a little more. I am weary of banging my head against the wall.
The truth is I would be able to accept my exclusion if, say, I wasn't suited for the role--if I didn't have the skills or education or the gift for it. But none of these things are true. Instead, the reason offered is that I don't have the right body. It is pure prejudice, rooted in the age-old belief that there are just some groups of people that are innately superior to others, and that God intentionally designed it this way. This idea of superiority is persistent, and it is the most powerful tool that evil uses to create hell on earth. It is the thing that needs to be rooted out of all human hearts if God's hopes and dreams for creation are to be actualized. And it is the thing that the Catholic Church must confront within itself if the Church is to survive. Yet, the magisterium has shown no real will to do this--to do what we all know in our heart of hearts is right.
Why the hell do you bother, you ask? It's a reasonable question. I stay because there is something in me, down even deeper, that still hopes. Hopes in the steady stream of whispers from God's Spirit to mine. Hopes in the Church's call to be that which it proclaims. Hopes in the Lord's promise of justice for all people. So, while I take time each day to offer thanks to God for the steady stream of blessings I am given, I also kneel at God's feet unabashed and ask for more.