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Thursday, June 23, 2016

How to Reach Me

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

1938 There exist also sinful inequalities that affect millions of men and women. These are in open contradiction of the Gospel:
Their equal dignity as persons demands that we strive for fairer and more humane conditions. Excessive economic and social disparity between individuals and peoples of the one human race is a source of scandal and militates against social justice, equity, human dignity, as well as social and international peace.

I have been pondering and praying about the need for evangelization, in particular the need to reach those women who, like me, are of a 'certain age' and alone in the world.  While my status is not particular to females - there are plenty of men my age who are all alone - we often find ourselves in a different position than our brothers in Christ in that we are less financially secure.  Our pay for our work has been less than that offered to men simply by virtue of being women.  We have had a tougher time purchasing our own homes, paying for our own medical care, even paying into our own Social Security and so we have to take into consideration how we are going to put food on the table and whether or not that table is going to be inside a building or under the freeway overpass.

Of course men also have to plan for their financial future and of course men can find themselves all alone in a trailer park someday unable to purchase much more than cat food for their own dinner.  Poverty is not gender specific.  However, it is true that women are 35% more likely to find themselves living in poverty than men because of the gender wage gap. 

I myself have made specific decisions based on how I will be able to pay my bills.  I have sacrificed some things - not much, but some - added to my educational skills, looked at where I will live and put in place different safety nets designed to help me when I am 85 years old and need someone to help me put up the Christmas decorations.  Without meaning to sound flippant, I do not do certain things today because I am planning for a life as a single, elderly woman in America.  I do not have children.  I cannot take for granted that someone will be available to drive me to the grocery store, to the bank or to Mass in the same way my mother can because she has me and my brother.

One of the reasons I can face this future is because I have deepened my relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church.  I trust in Him.  I firmly believe that whatever comes down the pike, I will be able to handle it because of His Grace I receive through the Sacramental Life of The Catholic Church.  Also, I have great hopes that Amazon will expand their food service to my area of California and I won't HAVE to be driven to the grocery store.

Ha. Ha. Ha.

I have been blessed.  My alcoholism forced me to confront the spiritual void in my life and my own intelligence and reading of history made it impossible for me to accept anything less than the Church Jesus founded.  However I also accept that I am one of those dirty little secrets in the pews - a woman of a certain age who will never hold her own grandchild and has no one but herself to blame for her state in life.  I made a choice in the name of freedom that cost me a large chunk of my own peace of mind.  I have been forgiven for that choice.  I have received absolution but the repercussions are still being felt and will be felt until I lie beneath the ground.  I have done the work necessary to be recognized at the end of time by Jesus and I will continue to do that work, driven by my love for Him and His for me, but what I am is a result of the sinful life I lived and that cannot be changed.

I am not alone.

How we Catholics reach out to women like me, in my position (or worse), is important.  What strategy we come up with to evangelize this group must reflect the realities of our life in America today.  Women matter, our lives and our experiences matter, but we cannot simply aim the beauty of the Catholic Church at married women.  It is imperative that we, as a Church, find a way to support and encourage and welcome those prodigal daughters who are home but still alone. 

I am interested in this topic, not only because it is one that affects me but also because I see the growing demographic of single women in The Church.  The secular world thinks the way to address it is to extend the impossible - let's ordain women! - but I know that we have to be willing to go deeper.  We have to plunge into the ocean of Mercy that is the Love of Jesus and His Church.  We must  surround these women with the message that their participation in the life of The Church cannot be equaled or forgotten or overlooked.

I am needed.  I matter.

So how do we do this?

Any ideas?

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