About Lauren Ivory

Lauren Ivory is a hospital chaplain working on Chicago's diverse north side. After receiving her Master of Divinity degree at Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis, MO she went on for further hospital ministry training at the Cleveland Clinic of Ohio. On the side, she enjoys helping couples plan wedding/commitment ceremonies and works with couples as a certified premarital guidance counselor.

The Voice of Courage: Luke 24: 1-12

The life and legend of Jesus is riddled with misconceptions, denials, and struggles to defend who he was. It is no wonder then that his resurrection should be so difficult as well. In this story from Luke, the women who go to prepare Jesus’ body with spices are told by the angels that Jesus has risen. With excitement, the women go to tell the apostles the news. But the apostles don’t believe them and tell them they are speaking nonsense. But not Peter. Peter recognizes immediately that the women are telling the truth, that they are bringing the good news Jesus had told them all to watch for. No wonder he is the rock upon which the Church would be built.

It bothers me that the women were not believed and that the apostles ‘considered their words nonsense’. But who can blame them either? When you look at many of our beliefs, especially from the outside, they do seem sort of strange! Just think about other religions you have heard about; looking from the outside we easily criticize yet do we ever take a minute to think about how strange our tradition might sound to others?

With this Easter arriving, I am reminded that our liturgical seasons are meant to help us with unbelief. They are meant, in part, to help us understand that which cannot be easily understood. Our liturgical colors, rituals, readings, and such speak to our sense of faith when the intellect of our faith cannot fully grasp certain realities.

The women of the tomb offered a great ministry to the early church, a different kind of prophecy and truth telling about things that are difficult to grasp. And this prophesy came from within, came from the people, not necessarily the authority figures. Like Peter, sometimes our Magisterium’s role is to behold the Spirit moving in the people of God. Let’s give them something to talk about. Let us speak boldly, and share the Good News entrusted to us.

It is hardly insignificant that the Good News of the Resurrection was shared with those who came to do a loving act-preparing Jesus’ body. The adventure of loving often brings us to places we never imagined. It may even bring us straight into the hands of people who will doubt us. May we take courage from the women of Luke’s story and speak anyway, believe anyway, even when modern day apostles reject our message.

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Mary Daly

Charlotte Allen wrote a thought-provoking article last week about Mary Daly entitled, ‘As the Flame of Catholic Dissent Dies Out’. You can read the article from the Wall Street Journal here:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704586504574654282563939764.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

Mary Daly, theologian and oft criticized feminist recently died and although I am certainly not a fan of all things Mary Daly, I thought it was  too early for such an article. But I certainly think she shared a great wealth of Catholic values. The author cites all the Catholic education Mary and others have (Some could say that the universities they went to weren’t Catholic ‘enough’ but come on, Sandra Schneiders has a doctorate from the Gregorian Institute for Pete’s sake) and I just don’t think it is possible that they pursued that much Catholic education purely to undermine it; people with differing views are not as diabolical as people would like to make them out to be but humans so often demonize ‘the other’. I have a Catholic education and the teachings have SHAPED me into the liberal I am proud to be today. It is because of Church teaching, not because I’m rebelling or rejecting them, that I am who I am today. There are so many facets of our faith; this is why I try to respect all perspectives in Catholicism, because I think they are all a part of the tradition as difficult as that may be to hold them all in tension.

There are some that would say so-called ‘orthodox’ Catholics are dissident because they don’t follow all Church teaching. None of us do. Take for instance that over 80% of Catholics believe in the death penalty, something very contrary to Catholic teaching, and only to be considered in VERY rare cases. I don’t say this to engage that whole debate, or judge lest I be judged. It is an example however, of conservative ‘dissent’. I think it would go a long way for everyone, whatever their perspective on things, to realize that they come from a certain frame of reference, see through a certain lens. This isn’t bad or good, just is.

One of the greatest contributions Feminists like Mary Daly passed onto us was being able to live the in the values of feminism while Mary’s life’s work was about fighting for them. I benefit now from being able to live in an almost post-feminism world where so many of the values are in place, and I can celebrate people just being people-for me, one of the values of feminism is about the freedom of all (men and women) to be who they are and be that very well. It’s a privilege to work from there and not have to fight so much.

Even the situation about her banning males from her classroom-men and women both need safe space sometimes and women are new at asking for it, so Mary made it happen. No sexism is ok, but it does ruffle my feathers when a male cries sexism for some minor or fleeting moment when women and other oppressed people, have endured so much for so long. Those on the end of oppression know too well how difficult it is to endure comments from others that are so hurtful, and believe me, people say some majorly hurtful things even when they aren’t meaning to. Ignorance can hurt too, and I wouldn’t expect someone to put themselves in the fire while they are trying to build themselves up.

Lauren Ivory earned a Master of Divinity degree from Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis and completed her chaplain residency at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. Originally from Northern Michigan, Lauren is now enjoying her new city of Chicago and working on the north side as a health care chaplain/’storylistener’. When she isn’t working she can be found spending time with friends, reading, exploring unique things about Chicago, traveling to see family and friends, listening to music, and dancing.

Always a surprise

Hey everyone,

I wanted to pose a question to you regarding a statement one of my patients made the other day.  We were talking about receiving communion and he said that he would not receive communion from a priest who was actively living a homosexual life.  I was stunned, having never heard anything like that before, and appalled, really. I wanted to clarify a few things with him to see if I understood what he was saying.  My first question to him was-did he think that the Eucharist was somehow tainted or not even consecrated because of the priest’s ‘sinfulness’? St. Anthony Messenger just did a little blurb about this last month saying that it is God’s grace and the belief of the people gathered that makes the Eucharist holy, not the priest’s sin or righteousness.  My patient said no, but I had my doubts. I asked him if it was only homosexuality or if there were other things that would make him steer clear.  Afterall, I had just given him communion earlier that day. He said it boiled down to mortal sin for him.

Well, I didnt really know what to do with this!  I wondered how he would know if someone was in a state of grace or a state of sin. He said he would know if it were out in the open, known in the community.  So, my question was, how do you know he didnt seek forgiveness that exact morning before mass?  (I wanted him to see how he was judging; I don’t think I was successful).  I wondered what he thought the person giving communion to him had to do with the communion. Or did it even have anything to do with it? What statement was he trying to make, and is reception of the Eucharist the right time to make a statement other than the statement of faith?

I don’t know if I will ever understand the depth of meaning behind this for him-is he exercising self hatred because he is secretly gay himself? Is he simply self righteous? Why does it bug me so much?  You know, all of those questions!  Anyone have thoughts?? Do you think about the person you are receiving communion from when you receive communion?

The Art of Choice

I was stopped in my tracks the other day while I walked past a nursing home.  It was not the nursing home I work at so I did not know the person being wheeled to the ambulance, but I knew the look.  The look of absent.  The look of dying, not actively, but not living. When I see someone in that position, I feel for them, and I also hope I am never in that type of situation.

But I want to do more than hope, and I want to do more than just ‘feel for them’.  The only good option at the moment is called a power of attorney for health care (sometimes known as a “Living Will”) in which a person can name someone to speak for them if they cannot speak for themselves, and allows them to indicate what level of medical intervention they favor.  I recommend that everyone fill one out, no matter what age you are since accidents can happen, and keep a copy in your wallet. If anything ever happens to you, God forbid, at least your family will know what you would like.  They won’t have to agonize about it, feel guilty wondering if they made the right choice, and it creates fewer opportunities for fighting amongst family members who disagree about what to do. So, don’t wait until illness comes upon you especially because some illnesses can progress so quickly that a person may be unable (due to cognition or being under the influence of major pain medication) to sign legal documents.  

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A New Day

I was pleasantly surprised to find myself feeling a bit more optimistic and less angst filled as I began this work week. I began a new position a couple of weeks ago, one I did not choose, one that did not have enough hours and had very few redeeming qualities for me.

My infinitely sunnier disposition came in the most unusual way. As I was feeling my worst and expressing the hell out of my anger, sadness, and hopelessness, I had to hole away for a few hours by myself and listen to dark music with a scowl on my face.

Somehow the stars aligned and I came out of my nasty funk to find I was not exactly feeing happy about the change but at least wasnt feeling totally terrible. And that was a major step!

A lot of people wanted to cheer me up and make me feel better about this job situation but I didnt feel better until someone just let me bitch and I was just all out miserable.  This is the ironic part about emotions-they have to be felt, truly, deeply felt before you can move forward.  I felt a little like a kid having a temper tantrum but it did the trick.

It felt great not to feign happiness just to avoid an awkward conversation.  Normally I would; got to be the happy girl you know?  I finally figured out what to say to people-that I didn’t feel like looking on the bright side just yet.  I’m not sure but I think it may have helped others too to know where I was at the time so they’d know how to help.  Or what to avoid! 

So the next time you’re feeling pressure, from within or without, to put on a happy face, don’t.  Let yourself (or someone else) be miserable for awhile. Just get to the bottom at some point so you can start going upward again.  That’s the good part. 

 

Lauren Ivory earned a Master of Divinity degree from Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis and completed her chaplain residency at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. Originally from Northern Michigan, Lauren is now enjoying her new city of Chicago and working on the north side as a hospital chaplain/’storylistener’. When she isn’t working she can be found spending time with friends, reading, exploring unique things about Chicago, traveling to see family and friends, listening to music, and dancing.

The Darn Economy

Every time I turn on the news I hear more bad news about the economy.  And it’s been hard to see my family and friends suffer from it. Its hard to see the appeals for much needed donations to my favorite non profit groups come rolling in so often. Times are tough for so many people. Luckily I am a chaplain at a Catholic hospital so my job seemed pretty secure.

But little did I know that I was going to be one of the latest statistics in the current recession.  A few weeks ago I found out my hours were being cut in half and I no longer had a full time job.  I was sad and worried at first, then became angry, then motivated to find a new job.  Even though I saw very few job positions advertised in my field, I knew something would surface.  And I was reminded again that I am very lucky to have safety nets in my life, people who, if the bottom fell out tomorrow, could loan me a couch to stay on or a few bucks to get by. I realize that not everyone’s safety nets can do that.  Continue reading

TGIF

I have had one hell of a week and I don’t think I have been this happy to see a week come to an end since grad school finals. And I’m ending it with working in the emergency room on Friday the 13th after having a full moon this week.  Now, I’m not saying I believe in these things, but I do believe something happens in hospitals-we call it the full moon effect.  Chicken or the egg-whether people are responding to an actual moon shift or the sheer theory of it, something happens to people on such days. 

A young child came to the ER on Monday night and had died on the way here. The little guy had been born with a terminal illness yet they weren’t expecting it so soon. One of the security guards said to me, “God knew what was right. He knew the right time for him”.  Finally having an opportunity to respond in the moment and hopefully shield someone from this talk I said, “That may be comforting for us but it might not be for the family right now”.  I’m all for this belief if it comforts someone, even if it doesn’t comfort me.  If the family says something to that effect, I will affirm it to the nth degree, happy that something could be of help to them at such a time but otherwise, mum’s the word.   

Ministers run into difficulty when our spirituality and beliefs don’t match others in our community.  And quite frankly, it can be kind of lonely at times.  Just today I spoke with my colleagues about a question we often revisit-should we just agree with someone or can we ‘break the bubble’ on this or that particular topic (and at this time)?  How do we encourage spiritual growth without undermining what is meaningful to someone? 

Even though I know I have education that makes me a little more objective about such things, we’re talking about a very subjective topic-beliefs.  I feel more confident about what I know in regards to psychology or communication; those areas are not as relative as religion. 

Truth can be relative from person to person-what one person believes to be truth another may just see as different, not better or worse, or more right or wrong, just different.  (I know many believe in inherent truth and caution against relativity, but rest assured, I’m not talking about that). 

My indecision, my “P” (Myers Briggs), my open mind sure keeps me humble but I crave a little grounding sometimes.  Yet we wonder in this day and age what would give someone that grounding?  Would it be knowing the truth from the beginning and let our understanding of that evolve rather than the story evolving? People hate feeling duped or tricked.  But we also have the wise guidelines from educators about how to present information in an age/stage appropriate way. 

The classic example for this issue is about Santa Clause vs. St. Nicholas.  How will kids trust us if we lie to them; how can they recover from that blow when they find out?  And on the other hand people ask, don’t we want to encourage their imagination? (to that last question, I can confidently say children’s ability to imagine is pretty intact regardless). Does it depend on each individual person? If so, how do you know when a child is at such a young age what path to take?  It reminds me of the immense struggle of parish work-moving a vast and diverse community in their spiritual development, all at the same time, for so many different people.  Makes me glad I work one on one.  Even after a week like I had, I’m still glad I do what I do.