The Pentecost Testimony of a Mad, Fed-Up Catholic
We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you, for by your Cross and Resurrection, you have set us free.
Well, Lord, here we are again. This crap just never stops coming, and God, I’m getting so disgusted with it all, and if I could not find you in the Holy Eucharist, I wonder if I would find you anywhere else within this church, at least if I look among our “leaders.”
So many of my friends are fed up and leaving, or getting close to leaving, and I get it, I do! I understand how they feel, even as I pray they won’t leave, because...because well, hell, how does leaving an imperfect something to wade into even less perfect nothing end up serving anything but the creature of the voids and the lowness? I worry about my friends who are leaving, distancing themselves from the food you give us. I’m half surprised that our bishops, as they watch the pews empty out, aren’t putting out statements reminding us that to miss attendance at Mass is to risk eternal damnation.
Pheh. Is that even a real thing anymore, that teaching? Do I even believe it? You know, Lord, there’s a part of me that still goes to confession when I miss Mass, because when it happens it’s always my own failing, but I don’t really get how the church can teach that missing Mass is a mortal sin and expect anyone to take it seriously when we’re in the middle of these depressing, never-ending revelations?
So many of my friends are fed up and leaving, or getting close to leaving, and I get it, I do! I understand how they feel, even as I pray they won’t leave.
Yeah, I know it’s a minority of our clergy indulging themselves in every worldly way, and with seeming impunity, but it’s a powerful minority, isn’t it? It’s a minority that seems to be a pretty well-established and impenetrable boys club, with too many spoiled princes and too few true servants, and how do they even have the cheek to face us and give us these well-lawyered statements—as though if they put their words together in a savvy, politically minded order, we’re all just going to say, “Oh, alrighty, then, here’s my envelope, here’s my help with a fundraiser, here’s my obedience.”
I mean, really, Lord, I know I’m a sinner—God, you know I know it, and you know I’m failing every day—and I know that all sin is sin, all of it contributes to the breakdown of your Body but Jesus Christ! No, I’m not taking your name in vain, Lord, you know it’s a prayer, a cry from the heart.
How does leaving an imperfect something to wade into even less perfect nothing end up serving anything but the creature of the voids and the lowness?
Jesus Christ…my heart feels broken. Sometimes, Lord it is awful being a Christian, you know that? I want to hate these men. I want to hate them and punish them for all the damage they have done to the church, and therefore to you and your body. And to the whole world, because a world without the church—a world where the church becomes irrelevant, in-credible and unequal to the task of balancing the secular world and all of its influences for good and bad—that’s a world where the lights are getting ready to go out, and all the candles snuffed.
And I want to hate, I do. And there you are, Lord, with your cross, and you’re telling me I must be like you, suffering but willing to be a balance between justice and mercy. I hate that right now all I want is justice and yet you still prompt me to mercy. To have enough mercy to at least wait to hear it all out, so that an eventual justice—and please, God, let there be one—is sound and in fact...just.
And there you are, Lord, with your cross, and you’re telling me I must be like you, suffering but willing to be a balance between justice and mercy.
But I really am so angry, Lord—with the sexual abuse by clergy and the spending $100 a day on fresh cut flowers for the rectory and the couple hundred thousand in “gifts” to other priests and princes.
All I know, Lord, is that I’m grateful that Pentecost is here. I’ll miss the Easter alleluias at Mass, but I’m good and damn ready for a mighty wind to blow through your church. Maybe, as with the Apostles, it will terrify some too-proud bishops and humble them a bit, and maybe change a few hearts for the good. Lord, that’s what all of this feels like—a chaos and tumult, a roaring strain of noise and destruction bearing down upon us, wrecking everything in sight because the job of the Holy Spirit isn’t to make us comfortable but to shake us up, to send us out of our safe, comfortable places.
Is that what’s happening here? Is all of this revealed horror a kind of Pentecost for us? If so, God, please help us live through it. I mean, it’s better that these stories are out, that these crimes and sins are revealed than for things to continue hidden and entrenched as they have been...but Jesus, that just means we’re in for more of this, for a while yet, until all the revelations are through.
Is all of this revealed horror a kind of Pentecost for us? If so, God, please help us live through it.
What was that phrase, “all that is secret will be brought to light,” but damn, Lord, it’s a painful thing to watch this roiling wreckage within our church play out month by dreary month.
But the Holy Spirit comes on the wind, and brings fire, and action. And we’re told that all things work, ultimately, toward your purposes, even though we can’t see it in real time. And I do believe that, Lord, I have to or what sense does anything make? I’ve seen the truth of it in my own life, and I’ve seen the truth of it through your Cross—the most unjust and torturous murder in history, permitted to happen because it was necessary to God’s great purpose of saving us, and loving us. How do I say it? How do I pray it? I thank you, God, in good times and in bad, for by your cross and resurrection, we...well, we’re not free yet, are we? Your church on earth has a ways to go and we’ll be picking through the debris of this storm for a very long time, and it’s feeling to me like we may yet be left with little more than your grace upon which to rebuild, going forward.
And maybe I won’t live to see what new paths will be revealed after the winds have settled. But you’ve told us that your grace is enough. All we have to do is figure out how to cooperate with it to your purposes, right? I wonder. I hope. I pray, Lord, that we’ll be able to do that.
Christ Jesus, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, the sinner. Amen.