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Monday, February 17, 2014

What a MORNING!

There are times in my life when I begin my prayers with, "Lord, are you kidding me?".

Today is one of those mornings.

My God has such a sense of humor. He continually hands me opportunities to either put my money where my mouth is (something tough to do as a Genovese) or see myself as I was 20 or 30 years ago.

This morning, before the lights were turned on in my room, I had the opportunity to do both and, believe it or not, it made me a very grateful woman.

I have someone in my life who is convinced of their own inherent worthlessness.  Not surprising when you consider how they were raised and the theology that permeated their life, even if it was not articulated.  As a child of John Calvin, there is a kind of self-hatred that tells people they are kind of icky, kind of yucky - the entire double predestination thing that basically says, "You are saved when you say you are saved but only some of you are going to heaven anyway".

When I was out in the world, living like a pagan, I was convinced that no one would ever like me if they got to know me.  That has been bolstered over the years by my being rejected outright by people who love me if I can give them stuff, or have money or whatever, and because I have made some really stupid choices.  My choices are always made in the name of personal freedom, or because of the way I FEEL, but most of the time my choices went against God and went against morality or natural law at is most fundamental level.  I killed my own children.  I am sorry but no one can ever say that is a good thing to do - it is not.  Then, when I lost the child that was meant to save my soul, my reaction was to conclude that Jesus hated me, His mother had rejected me and The Church would NEVER welcome me back.

When I started reading the Catechism as a way to decide whether or not I should continue to be a Catholic, I found this:
364 The human body shares in the dignity of "the image of God": it is a human body precisely because it is animated by a spiritual soul, and it is the whole human person that is intended to become, in the body of Christ, a temple of the Spirit:
Man, though made of body and soul, is a unity. Through his very bodily condition he sums up in himself the elements of the material world. Through him they are thus brought to their highest perfection and can raise their voice in praise freely given to the Creator. For this reason man may not despise his bodily life. Rather he is obliged to regard his body as good and to hold it in honor since God has created it and will raise it up on the last day.
It got me thinking that what I had really done was treated myself badly, as though I was intrinsically evil rather than what I was DOING as intrinsically evil.  I had, on my own, somehow reverted to Calvinism and actually started to think that Luther was right (without putting his name to it).  I am a dung hill and the only thing I could hope would be that the grace and love of God would cover that dung hill enough for me to remain sober.  However, dig deep enough through the snow (or let that snow melt a little) and the stink that was Leslie would waft through the room. I would be rejected.  I deserved to be rejected.  Who wants to cuddle up with a dung hill?

As I read through the document, and expanded my learning by reading through the lives of many of the saints as well as the Church documents written over 2000 plus years, I came to see that what Jesus taught is that I am actually inherently wonderful, meant for perfection but scarred by concupiscence and that if I make the decision, willfully and intentionally, to walk towards God every day He will give me the strength to resist the temptations I will encounter.  The temptation to live an unchaste life, disguised as loneliness.  The temptation to rely only upon myself disguised as hard work and independence.  The temptation to be unforgiving of others and myself disguised, very cleverly , as either fear or justifiable righteous anger.

Comforting another by letting them know that they are not as bad as they think they are allows me to remember what that is like - to really be so frightened of letting anyone get close because if they do they are going to start to gag at the smell that is the dung heap of me.

However, I am more than just a Catholic in the pew - I am a Dominican. My life is lived by Veritas.  So when I saw someone post about homosexuality, claiming as they did to be Catholic, and completely misrepresent Catholic teaching, I had to correct them. They cannot post on FB that Catholics teach that homosexuals themselves are intrinsically evil.  We do not.  That is not true.

Here is what The Church teaches:

2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered."142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

Now, please - let me know where it states we teach that any person intrinsically evil?

We do NOT.

Because, however, I had to be Catholic Out Loud, I will be (of course) vilified on FB. I will probably lose a fiend and a sponsee.  I will no doubt be told how horrible I am and how horrible my Church is because we are not jumping on the bandwagon of what is politically correct.

I do believe, however, that if I had not spoke up I would have been committing a sin.  I would have been falling down on my part of the deal.  To be Catholic means I stand on the shoulders of giants - people who were willing to die to protect The Truth from being torn asunder or taught incoherently and incorrectly and I cannot do that today.

So pray for me, people.  It has started out to be an interesting day.  I think it will continue to be just that and I am so grateful that God has given me the opportunity to be more than I think I can be, one day at a time.

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