I don't often refer to current events here in my posts, but this is one of those times wherein one simply has to. In my lifetime of being a Catholic, I've never felt the way that I do right now. I'm not going to leave the Church, but in all honesty, it hurts right now. It rather hurts my heart to be Catholic. I feel deeply upset at the way some of our spiritual leaders have abused their power and physically and emotionally abused others, both children and adults. It is quite easy for a person to think: "How can this be Christ's Church? How can I stay here?"
I know. I do.
I don't have any answers. I'm just trusting that given that it *is* Christ's Church (I firmly believe this), He will make all things new, and bring some good out of all this evil. We humans tend to screw things up royally, and need God to guide us. We need that more than ever right now.
When I went to Mass this weekend, I have to admit that I was feeling pretty low, based upon all of the above. And I did not have the best experience. Remember that whole bringing-up-the-gifts-too-early-debacle I detailed about a month ago? Well, I was once again back at the 8 am Mass because Henry was serving. This time, Anne was with me. That same sweet usher was looking for volunteers again, and this time, Anne eagerly volunteered us.
I mean, I like helping out, I'm just not my most awake and with it at 8 am on Sunday morning. So I was extra vigilant, keeping an eye on the ushers as they collected the envelopes, and then waited for them to definitely process up the aisle, bound for the small table with the gifts, before Anne and I got up to join them. Everything went great, and Anne bowed to the altar just like I taught her. I reflected on the Gospel reading after communion (which was right on point, btw. In fact, let's pop it in here):
"Many of Jesus' disciples who were listening said, 'This saying is hard; who can accept it?' Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, 'Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.'...As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. Jesus then said to the Twelve: 'Do you also want to leave?' Simon Peter answered him: 'Master, to whom small we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God."
For realsies, YES?! There could not have been a more perfect Gospel reading this week, but let's come back to that. Let's return to my traumatic experience at Mass. 😭 So, everything was going soothingly well. Then Mass ended, and Anne and I waited for Henry to come back from the sacristy.
A man comes up to us. I recognize him from Mass, but I do not know him, or even his name. He comes up smiling at us, so I assume he's going to say something nice. Because that's just what I do, I assume the best of people. While still all smiley, he tells me that when *he* brings up the gifts, he gets up as soon as Father gets out of his chair, rather than waiting for the ushers the way that Anne and I did. Then he says:
"I heard the lady in front of me tsk, then say: 'amateurs!'"
And he bursts out laughing like this is the funniest thing he's ever heard.
Friends, I was not laughing. In fact, I said nothing while he laughed, until he got the hint and slunk away. I would not normally react like that; I would play along and pretend I got the "joke" so as to put the other person at ease. But I was really stung. I felt hurt by his words, and that he went out of his way to relay them to me. He couldn't have known that I was generally feeling low that day, upset about everything that we were all just finding out about, and that this would make me feel infinitely lonelier in my faith. But for the rest of the day, I felt terrible. I thought to myself: "what am I even doing here?"
And I'm glad that my thoughts took that turn, because that brings us full circle back to the Gospel reading: I'm here because of the Eucharist.
That's it, really. Although there are many close friends in my community (both locally and online) that I share my faith with, I'm not Catholic because of the people. I'm Catholic because of the Eucharist.
Each morning when I've woken up this week, I think about that. I think about that Gospel reading from John. I downloaded a Kindle copy of the Liturgy of the Hours, and when I can, I pray Morning/Evening Prayer. Randomly, the one I've been able to pray every day is Night Prayer. I remind myself that my faith is about Christ and His True Presence in the Eucharist, and I don't need to feel particularly touchy feely about my bishop or about my fellow parishoners in order for my faith to be firm. Hopefully, that will all resolve eventually, but I don't need to force my feelings into anything. It's the way I feel right now, and that's OK.
It's all a little raw this week, do you agree, my friends? Do you have certain things that you do when you find that it's a challenge for your faith to thrive? Specific devotions or ways of focusing your thoughts and emotions? Perhaps we can all have a virtual group hug this week!