Last weekend, my sister graduated from her master’s program at Marquette University, and I insisted on coming down to Milwaukee for the celebration. As I guess is common at large universities, the ceremony took place in two parts: part one, held at the Bradley Center in the morning, was a ceremony for everyone, while part two, held after a break for lunch, was where the University split into its various colleges and did the actual reading of the names. “Most of my classmates are only going to the afternoon part,” my sister told me, “but I want to go to the morning part because they’ve got a graduation speaker that sounds really interesting.” She didn’t have to do much convincing to get me to come along. Since both my sister and I studied abroad in separate South American countries, and both of us were aware of the works of the School of the Americas, just knowing that Sister Margaret “Peggy” O’Neill, S.C. had worked for years in El Salvador was enough to get me interested, too.
Author’s Note: A copy of this letter is being mailed to the Vatican; I plan to post any response I receive.
Last month, you called Catholics to “responsible parenthood,” reminding us that we need not breed “like rabbits” in order to be good Catholics. I am a young Catholic woman, married and raising a child. I was glad to hear the Church acknowledge that humans can – and must – enter parenthood with great intention and care! This gift of forethought is what sets humans apart from animals. A rabbit in the woods does not stop to consider when might be the best time to have a litter of kits, or whether there might be adequate food and shelter for them when they arrive; the rabbit’s body simply knows that it is breeding season, and breeds. Humans have the capacity to consider our decisions, using our reason and conscience, and we have a responsibility to do so. We are called to be fruitful and multiply, not simply to multiply!
You followed this call to responsible parenthood by affirming the Church’s teaching that Catholic couples should only use “natural” methods of family planning. At this I was dismayed, because these methods do not work for all women. I would know; I am one of them. There are a range of “natural” family planning methods, and I researched them all, in search of one that would suit my body. Unfortunately, I learned that none would work. I’d like to share what I learned with you, Pope Francis, because I know that I am not the only Catholic woman who faces this challenge. Continue reading
On Friday, Nov. 14, I attended weekday Mass. The experience was bittersweet.
It was the 12:10 liturgy at Chicago’s Holy Name Cathedral. The main celebrant was Francis Cardinal George, OMI, the retiring archbishop of Chicago.
I sat along the central aisle. I tried and failed to ignore cameramen from local media outlets who had set up for a good shot. As the organ thundered “The King of Love My Shepherd Is,” a phalanx of clergy marched within inches of me.
There were deacons and priests in white stoles, most bearing the red-eagled coat of arms of the archdiocese. There were the auxiliary bishops, some familiar to me and some not, all wearing tall white miters. And finally there was the Cardinal, in his red zucchetto and white-and-burgundy chasuble.
He was unsmiling, purse-lipped, and on crutches. George, who is suffering from his third bout with cancer, has a tumor pressing on nerves and veins. It makes it painful for him to walk, on top of the polio-related limp he has endured for more than sixty years anyway. A seminarian altar server, hands veiled in a vimpa, carried the Cardinal’s crosier for him. Continue reading
As of noon eastern time, members of several progressive Catholic organizations were holding a press conference in Baltimore. The purpose: encouraging the U.S. bishops to consult and dialogue with the laity on important issues. We have the pope at our back on this one:
In preparation for the Extraordinary Synod on the Family to be held Oct. 5-19, 2014, the Vatican has asked national bishops’ conferences around the world to seek the opinions of Catholics on a number of church teachings including contraception, same-sex marriage and divorce. Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary general of the Vatican’s Synod of Bishops, asked the bishops’ conferences to commence a survey “immediately as widely as possible to deaneries and parishes so that input from local sources can be received.”
Parishes. Local input. That means us. That means you.
And there’s an app for that. Or at least a survey. So go take the survey, and read all the details, at:
(h/t Call To Action Facebook page)
This year’s anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision has a zero at the end of it, so the pro-life universe has been operating at a fever pitch to make some noise. Novena cards have been printed. Volunteers are picketing with signs displaying gruesome scenes of mangled fetuses. Politicians are giving their speeches.
But has anybody tried to figure out why Roe v. Wade has been able to stand all this time?
Abortion is the law of the land (at varying levels, depending on which state you live in), and it appears that it will be for the duration. Since the usual methods have not really changed anything, it’s time for a reevaluation.
In those days, in their thirst for water,
the people grumbled against Moses,
saying, “Why did you ever make us leave Egypt?
Was it just to have us die here of thirst
with our children and our livestock?”
So Moses cried out to the LORD,
“What shall I do with this people?
a little more and they will stone me!”
The LORD answered Moses,
“Go over there in front of the people,
along with some of the elders of Israel,
holding in your hand, as you go,
the staff with which you struck the river.
I will be standing there in front of you on the rock in Horeb.
Strike the rock, and the water will flow from it
for the people to drink.”
This Moses did, in the presence of the elders of Israel.
The place was called Massah and Meribah,
because the Israelites quarreled there
and tested the LORD, saying,
“Is the LORD in our midst or not?” –Ex 17:3-7
They’re full of doubt, confusion and despair. Many are thirsty for the meeting of basic needs and justice: the Israelites in the desert, Christians in our modern world, and all of humanity who has been impacted by oppression, natural disasters, war, violence, greed and all sin.
I wonder who is thirsty today. Who may feel abandoned and doubt if God is in their midst? I remember the union workers in Wisconsin. Their story and struggle has been swept behind Japan and Libya in the news headlines, but still has great meaning. If you hadn’t heard, the law that prevent the Wisconsin civil workers from maintaining their bargaining rights, was due to go into effect this weekend. Instead, the law is stalled in the courts, creating confusion about whether it has been enacted or not.
Like the Israelites, the unions of history were able to escape from slavery. We’ve all been liberated by God and unions for fair pay and hours, safe working conditions and proper benefits. I am so thankful for the justice that we have inherited from our union grandparents. The heroes and saints who freed us are not individuals, but entire communities.
Now, our generation is wandering in the desert, not really sure what God is up to. The union story is not unlike our faith story. Although it sometimes takes a long time for things to be as they should, it doesn’t take long for us to take things for granted. It doesn’t take long for us to grumble against our leaders.
It’s easy to do this in political life and it’s very tempting to do this in faith life. When we’re faithful citizens, the messes mix together. The history of the union struggle reminds me I am proud to be Catholic. Sure, our Church is a community diseased by our human sinfulness. But, we are also a community of saints. I feel very grateful for the service and leadership of our bishops, especially in the labor struggle. I am delighted about the statements that have been made against oppression. And, in regards to the ongoing struggle in Wisconsin, my favorite part of the story is that our bishops made a public statement in support of the unions.
The Lenten season challenges all of us. We realize our need for redemption, for Jesus and justice. We look in the mirror and read the news then thirst for clarity, strong faith, and strength. Our social sins are just as ugly as our personal ones.
In community we approach our dark struggles with actions of prayer, fasting and alms-giving. In our politics and faith, we wake up and notice that we have much to be grateful for, and this feeds us with hope. We thirst for justice then we remember we’ve been redeemed before, so we trust. The ugly shall turn into Alleluias, and we’ll have joy all around.
Originally from Northeast Iowa, Sister Julia is a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration, based in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Her love for God and God’s good world is manifested in her attempts to be an educator, a youth empower-er, an earth lover, and a peacemaker. She ministers at an inner-city Catholic high school in Chicago.
Sister Julia blogs at http://messyjesusbusiness.wordpress.com/ and https://youngadultcatholics-blog.com/.