Category: Catholicism

Sackcloth and Ashes: A Movement of Laypeople Praying for Our Church

In their streets they have girded themselves with sackcloth; On their housetops and in their squares.  Everyone is wailing, dissolved in tears. ~ Isaiah 15:13
If you are a Catholic who follows any Catholic pages on Facebook, I’m guessing you have seen this graphic, because it is everywhere right now.
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Spearheaded by Kendra and Bonnie, it started as a way for Catholics with a platform to DO SOMETHING about the current scandal in our Church.  Here’s the pledge:
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Now, when I first saw friends talking about the campaign on Facebook,  I had a knee jerk reaction that went like this:  Why should I pray and sacrifice?  I haven’t done anything wrong! This is just like the laity being forced to take all those safe environment classes when we weren’t the ones who molested anyone.  
I’m far from being the only person who felt that way.  Eventually I decided to join in for a few reasons.

  • I know many of you are tired of hearing folks offering thoughts and prayers whenever there is anything bad happening in the world.  I agree that when people who have the ability to act ONLY offer prayers, that’s an insult to God, who gave us brains and hands and blessings in order that we would cooperate with Him in bringing about good in the world.  But that doesn’t mean prayers are useless!
  • I AM acting–to the best of my limited ability–in using my platform to write about the scandal, but as a Catholic layperson in an institution run by a hierarchy, my powers are limited.  THIS I can do!
  • I felt called to do something, and I feel like this is a moment when the efforts of the laity are definitely called for.

And it also helped when I got a better understanding of what it means to pray in reparation, which you can read about right here:
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And then Pope Francis even suggested we should be doing this!  That’s quite the endorsement!
So for the next 40 days, starting today, I’ll be praying more and making small sacrifices each day.  If you’d like to join in, here’s a good prayer you could say first thing every morning:
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Or you could say this beautiful Litany for the Church in Crisis–there’s a printable available and I am keeping mine on my desk.
You can also use your rosary to say a Chaplet of Reparation:
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If you want to make a sacrifice you should know that it doesn’t have to mean giving up food.  Anni has some great suggestions here.
And you could share this post, or the images from it, to let more people know, because the more of us who are praying the better.
In their streets they have girded themselves with sackcloth; On their housetops and in their squares. Everyone is wailing, dissolved in tears. _ Isaiah 15_13
 

Code of Silence

You swore to yourself a long time ago
There were some things that people never needed to know . . .

And you can’t talk about it
Because you’re following a code of silence . . .
That’s not the kind of code you’re inclined to break
Some things unknown are best left alone forever . . .
You’re never gonna to lose the anger
You just deal with it a different way
But you can’t talk about it
And isn’t that a kind of madness
To be living by a code of silence
When you’ve really got a lot to say?

Excerpt from Code of Silence by Billy Joel
***************************************************************
Father Frank Richards was the principal of Knoxville Catholic High School when I was a student there.  He was a big bear of a man, soft-spoken with a kindly smile.  My Senior year, he presided over the special outdoor Mass at our retreat, the one where we all held hands.  He presented me with a plaque and congratulated me after I made the valedictory address at Graduation.  He also raped three boys.

Of course, none of us knew that then.  Nor did we know it the next year, or the year after that.  I learned the sordid truth from an article in the local paper over fifteen years later, about the time that I and everyone else in our Diocese learned that our beloved former Bishop was also guilty of decades-old sexual abuse, after one of his victims decided to go public despite having been paid over $100,000 by the Church for his silence.

Catholics seem to operate with the understanding that silence is golden when it comes to anything at all that could bring bad publicity upon the Church.  This attitude extends to more than cases of priestly sexual abuse.  I’ve continued to encounter this attitude throughout the Catholic education of my older children.  On several occasions, teachers left abruptly under mysterious circumstances and neither parents nor children were given any information or explanation, but were rather left to sort through the rumors or, in one particularly egregious case, read all about it in the local paper.  The thought process seemed to be that if we didn’t talk about it at all, maybe it would go away.

As for Father Richards, they simply expunged him–the video put out to celebrate the school’s 75th anniversary just leaves him out of the list of KCHS principals, skipping right over the 1981- 1985 school years without comment.   Bishop O’Connell, having founded our diocese, couldn’t be forgotten so easily, but they took his name off a building.  And everyone tried to forget.

And why not, right? After all, we’d suffered so much embarrassment over the abuse scandal.  Some had even left the Church over it! Protestants were saying bad things about Catholics and looking suspiciously at every priest, even though we all knew that priests are no more likely to abuse children than anyone else.  We instituted Diocesan policies and took our Virtus classes so that we could continue our volunteer work and put up signs forbidding children to use the church bathrooms alone.  Why couldn’t everyone just move on?

Many of us really did think we could put this all behind us.  We didn’t know that more revolting revelations were forthcoming.

But many people did know.  The priests who had committed abuse and continued in ministry.  The people who had reported being abused by priests and bishops.  And Bishops who ignored victims, or didn’t believe them, or paid for their silence, and moved abusers from place to place–in some cases watching them advance in stature and responsibility–instead of removing them from the priesthood or reporting their crimes to authorities.  They knew, and they chose to remain quiet, one presumes from a misguided belief that their silence would avoid scandal.

In our Catechism we learn that scandal is “an attitude of behavior which leads another to do evil . . . [it] takes on a particular gravity by reason of the authority of those who cause it or the weakness of those who are scandalized . . . [it] is grave when given by those who by nature of office are obliged to teach and educate others” [CCC 2284-2285].

Our Bishops have failed dismally in their obligation to teach, educate, lead, protect, and shepherd the faithful.  My faith in the Church is unshaken, but my faith in its hierarchy is at an all-time low, and I am not alone.  The faithful laity will no longer be satisfied with apologies and committees.  We must demand change–accountability, penance, resignations, and complete transparency.

Bishops, the silence IS the scandal! It’s time to shed some light.

Silence IS

I Don't Want Your Freedom

Read the title.  Can you hear George Michael (RIP) singing?  Is the song stuck in your head now?  Because it’s been stuck in mine for the past couple of days as I contemplated this month’s theme!
I’m not sure what George Michael intended to convey in the song, but it got me thinking.  When my husband and I were married, someone thought it was hilarious to bring a ball and chain to the reception and attach it to his ankle.  I was not amused.  Which, however, leads me to another song, this one by Paul Overstreet and aptly entitled Ball and Chain.  The relevant lyrics are: Love don’t feel like a ball and chain to me; when I’m close to you my heart feels wild and free.
Read the rest at Everyday Ediths!

Catholic Minimalism Redux: Week Three

Oh, I was so excited for this week.  I am ALWAYS wanting to minimize my kitchen more and more.  Back in January, I got a lot done.  BUT, I had intended to go back and do more during the catch-up week, and as I have explained, Week Three ended up being my last week.
I didn’t follow the day-by-day instructions this time, for one because I only recently organized all the refrigerators and the pantries are pretty empty at the moment, and also because I wanted to hit areas that I didn’t get to last time.
This first drawer is my favorite.  No before picture, but I bet you don’t need to see this because I just know you have this drawer at your house too.  You know, the one that is always getting stuck shut because there are too many utensils in it.  I got rid of so much stuff from this drawer and even organized it a bit, and now every time I open it I feel happy.
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I still have too many knives in here, but maybe I will be able to bring myself to get rid of some more next time.
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This was another drawer that was overstuffed until I got rid of some aprons and also some chef hats. (Why did I have chef hats? And I rarely use aprons.)
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Here’s the silverware drawer before:
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And here it is after.  This is really going to make me happy too.  I had to fight with Lorelei over that egg slicer even though we have literally NEVER used it in seven years.  (She’s a bit of a hoarder.)
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I bet you have a cabinet like this one too–one that stuff just falls out of and you slam the door and hope for the best?  Anyway, I did this one last time and I’ve done it at least once since and I probably will have to keep at it every few months or so . . .
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But for now, doesn’t it look wonderful?
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This is another thing we’ve maintained very well since last time, so no before picture, but we tidied it up a bit.  How’s that for a junk drawer?
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I am far from finished with the kitchen, but I am planning to do more during catch up week, both because I need more time and because Emily will be home then and I need her help.  So stay tuned for that, and for next week when Kids’ Rooms are scheduled!

When God’s Generosity Meets the Demands of Conscience and Science

I’m a cradle Catholic, born in 1967. And I recall hearing a lot about the birth control pill growing up. I doubt I had any idea how it worked, but I had the general impression from the books I read, the media I consumed, and the people I knew that taking it was just what people did.
I knew that Catholics weren’t supposed to use contraception, and I personally knew many families who appeared to take that teaching to heart. In my Catholic school at that time there were still many big Catholic families with seven kids or more. However, in twelve years of Catholic education I don’t recall EVER hearing this teaching explained. The Church, as I experienced it, taught it was wrong but not WHY. I definitely had the impression that this was some old-fashioned idea that was safe to ignore.
Read the rest at A Drop in the Ocean, where I am guest posting today.

Catholic Minimalism Redux: Week One

Remember back at the beginning of the year when I was participating in the Catholic Minimalism Challenge, and making all kinds of progress, and posting impressive updates?
Well, along about week three, we got the flu.  For the second time.  As you might expect, that derailed basically everything except survival.
But a new challenge started last week, and I jumped at the chance to pick up where I left off.
Week One is supposed to be the Master Bedroom, which I did thoroughly in January.  In addition, I have kept up with it in the months since, and have even gotten rid of more things.  So I only needed to devote one day.  I went through the closet and drawers, and got rid of two small bags of clothes and a stack of books.  I did not go through all the jewelry and the sentimental things–I think once a year is enough for that.
I don’t have any pictures from the first day as there just isn’t that much change to show.  For the rest of the week, I worked on the hallway outside my office  I was SO EXCITED to tackle this area!  Here’s before:


 
What a mess, right?  Things were constantly getting knocked off  the top and on to the floor, and every time I walked by all that mess it made me sad.
This was the perfect time to tackle this area, because most of this is homeschooling material, and my homeschooling days have ended.  Lorelei will enter 8th grade at the local public school in August.
So I went through all of the homeschooling books, and got rid of some of them.  I probably should get rid of a lot more, and I admit that putting them in boxes and moving them into the garage, which will be the VERY LAST THING that ever gets minimalized, is just punting the problem down the road.  But let’s not let the perfect be the enemy of the good, right?
Lorelei is spending some time dog-sitting for my sister with Emily, so I did not have her much-needed assistance with this project.  Therefore there is another box filled with things that she will need to go through.  Not my box, not my problem!
I’ll show you what it looks like now, and then I will explain what I’ve put there.
 

This shelf and this area now mostly belong to me.  I am feeling happy that as my children grow and sort of leave, I am able to claim more space in this house for myself.
I love that the top is currently bare.  I hope it can stay that way.  I might consider putting some pictures or decorative items there, but the space is crowded and things might get knocked off.
The top shelf is primarily books I have received in exchange for my honest review thereof, or have won via social media giveaways.  I probably don’t need to keep them all; that’s something I will revisit next time I go through the challenge.  At least I want to keep a list of them.  I am also keeping whatever books I am currently reading on that shelf, and my extra journals.  Most of these books were previously stacked in a dusty heap on the bottom shelf, and some were sitting in a cardboard box in my office, a space that has now been freed up!
Second shelf are Catholic project items.  For example, I have a binder for the Catholic Minimalism Challenge, and it lives there.  My prayer journal is there.  My binder with various Advent and Lent and other liturgical year tools is there.
The bottom shelf is a work in progress.  It currently contains homeschool materials that I borrowed from others and need to return, and extra folders, notebooks, and such that may be needed when school begins.  I’m thinking that we will need space for extra paper and school supplies for use in doing homework and I am willing to use the bottom shelf for that if need be.  I will have a better idea how I will use that space by the next Challenge.
Finally, in the corner you will see a couple of totes.  Yes, I found a use for some of the many totes that were taking up space in my bedroom!  One of them is holding a lot of prayer journaling supplies–scissors, glue stick, colored pens and pencils and markers, Catholic coloring book, prayers, prayer cards.  The tote keeps them contained, and if I want to go elsewhere to journal everything is ready!  The other tote is holding a special Christmas gift from my husband–a monthly subscription to a mystery to solve.  It’s really fun but also takes time we don’t seem to have, so I am keeping it all organized here so that when we devote an evening to working on it, everything is ready to go.
So there you have it! Next week is bathrooms.  Again I expect to spend one day on them, and then I am planning on working on the laundry room and the upstairs hallway for the rest of the week.

Womanhood: Made in God's Image

In my first religion class as a freshman at Knoxville Catholic High School, I was introduced to the concepts of literalism and contextualism in interpreting the Bible.  I was excited to learn about all the symbolism in the Genesis creation stories, some of which directly relates to the passage above.
Our textbook said when the Biblical writer said that Eve was created from Adam’s rib, he wanted to express that she was equal in dignity with Adam–not from his head to rule over him, not from his feet to be trampled on.
Read the rest at Everyday Ediths!

Fighting Fear with Faith

Before the last couple of years, worry and anxiety were never challenges for me.  I have the kind of mind that just doesn’t hold on the those kinds of things.  Unlike my husband, who is consumed with worry pretty much all the time, making him miserable, I have always been able to put problems aside to deal with whatever is right in front of me.
But more recently, I’ve suffered from anxiety of the free-floating variety.
Read the reset at Everyday Ediths.

Sacrificing Lent

Maybe the problem is that I have always enjoyed Lent just a little too much.  I’ve actually looked forward to it with excitement, thought of it as a challenge, taken on some serious disciplines and stuck to them.
But it was last year at this time that I realized that Lent wasn’t meant to be an endurance test, that unless I offered up my sacrifices in prayer, they weren’t helping me grow in holiness.
It was a lesson learned the hard way, as the Lent I wanted fell prey to the Lent God sent me.
Read the rest at Everyday Ediths.

The Knox Saint Patrick's Parade: A New Knoxville Tradition

As someone who is very proud of her Irish heritage, I was excited to attend the first annual St. Patrick’s Parade in downtown Knoxville last year.  Because my sister and her husband had a float in the parade, our whole family got front row VIP seats for the event, and I was able to snap lots of great pictures.
Parade 1Parade 2Parade 3Parade 4Parade 5Parade 6Parade 7Parade 8Parade 9Parade 10Parade 11Parade 12Parade 13Parade 14Parade 15Parade 16Parade 17
One of the parade’s organizers, Christy Connor Watkins, is a friend–and she liked these pictures when they appeared on Facebook.  As a result, I’ve got my own VIP pass for tomorrow’s event–which this year includes even more festivities following the parade–so I can take pictures again!
For more information on the parade and the “Cel-O’bragh-tion” to follow, visit the KSPP website.

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