Resolved… still?

© Bsilvia  Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos 820096To the question and thought of resolutions, it is a little difficult to speak right now.

I did mention that I am not especially a maker of New Year’s Resolutions.  However, I most certainly have made promises and commitments, both to myself and to others, throughout my brief journey here.

And have I kept them?  This is not always a one word answer either.

I believe strongly in upholding promises and commitments.

I was taught that it is a good rule of thumb to not make promises that you cannot keep.  This is why, as a parent, I rely heavily on the term “maybe” when asked about something by my son. (Imagine my consternation when he figured out before I did that my “maybe” almost always means “yes.” – Almost.  But not always, I must often defend.)

I was also taught that it is a matter of integrity to keep the promises that you have made.  And yet, there have been times when I have poorly judged where the bounds of the commitment really were.  And others when my unshakable dedication has kept me in situations much longer than was good for me, and perhaps, for those around me.Twirling in the wind

It is this balancing act, trying to always be true to my word and knowing that I must also recognize when promises are best broken, that can leave my twirling in the wind.

I am at such a place with my faith.  I have, up until this point, been true to the promises made first by my Godparents on my behalf at my Baptism, and then by myself through Confirmation.

Yet, I am re-evaluating the semantics of some of those promises now.  Does my affirmation of commitment to a universal, all-embracing community of God (a catholic church) necessitate the blind acquiescence to the dictates of an earthly organization (the Catholic Church)? **

Unfortunately, I am seeing less and less universality and embrace in those dictates… A sometimes heartbreaking thing to recognize.

However, there is one thing that I have resolved and that I can continue to espouse — a commitment to love the Divine Creator, and love all of Creation in the way that (s)he has loved.

** For those others asking this question, please read Reinkat‘s very sincere, thoughtful and generous response below and the very kindly offered insights of dwinger.

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24 thoughts on “Resolved… still?

  1. Thanks so much for visiting my blog and for the follow. I enjoyed this post and maybe I’ll use ‘maybe’ (:-) a bit more often this year, as last year was not one in which I kept as many promises as I would’ve liked, even if they were made from a good place. I love the last sentence of this post – and that’s where I try to come from. Blessings on 2013!

  2. Instead of “maybe” I tried to say that, “I would talk about it with mom” before I gave an answer.

    A wise preist told me once that if there was a precept of the Church that I was having trouble with to give the Church the benefit of the doubt. The Church is not “out to get” or “belittle” anyone. It is the Church’s desire to follow the Law of God, who is neither a he or a she. Over the past two thousand years the Church has been filled with saints whose soul aim was to study and follow the law. That was their only agenda.

    Of course the Church has been full of many “stinkers” too.

    • 🙂 As a single parent I have no-one else to consult! What he has figured out is that when I say “maybe” it is because I want to say “yes”. We will discuss the reasons I am not sure it can happen, but he knows that I will do what I can to make it so. (Sometimes I’m glad he knows this, sometimes I wish he didn’t!)

      And as to the Church. You have come right up to my major issue right now. That is what I was taught about the Church. But in actuality, there is discriminatory dogma that was born out of many of the saints’ own prejudices (i.e. even the Church admits to St. Augustine’s misogyny http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=418 and YET they continue to use his writings to deny women a place in pastoral priesthood).

      As do all of us, we all have a personal agenda (free will), even when we are trying to follow that of God. That is what defines us as human.

      • Dear friend, again, I appreciate your kind willingness to engage in discussion with me! I have read the Pope’s ‘Ordinatio Sacerdotalis’. In it he relies heavily on Paul VI, the Catechism, and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, all of whom relied, in part, on St. Augustine’s writings.

        He fails to refer to the Vatican’s Pontifical Biblical Commission who stated that, “It does not seem that the New Testament by itself alone will permit us to settle in a clear way and once and for all the problem of the possible accession of women to the presbyterate.”

        “However, some think that in the scriptures there are sufficient indications to exclude this possibility, considering that the sacraments of Eucharist and reconciliation have a special link with the person of Christ and therefore with the male hierarchy, as borne out by the New Testament.”

        “Others, on the contrary, wonder if the church hierarchy, entrusted with the sacramental economy, would be able to entrust the ministries of Eucharist and reconciliation to women in light of circumstances, without going against Christ’s original intentions.” http://www.religioustolerance.org/femclrg10.htm

        Essentially the church’s arguments still come down to the statement that men are more like Christ and can better represent him because that is the gender he chose.

        This is the Church stating that women cannot be as Christ-like as men! Besides minimizing the very innate and blessed nature of all persons, this seems to be the equivalent of saying that Christ was somehow defined by his gender.

        There is nothing that any earthly being can ever say that will make me believe in either of those statements.

        Peace to you! I hope that it was a blessed Epiphany!

      • And a Blessed Epiphany to you!

        I personally can’t see that the Church’s arguments “come down to the statement that men are more like Christ and can better represent him because that is the gender he chose.”

        But perhaps that’s because I’m a man. 🙂

        I see that men and women have different roles in the church as well as in society and the family. My wife is gifted in areas that I’m not.

        Woman have been used by God in many ways throughout salvation history. The greatest and most significant example would be the Blessed Virgin Mary, the God-Bearer.

        May we all strive to be instruments of His peace.

    • Jill, Thank you so much! With such a new blog, I don’t know if I will be able to meet the requirements of the award right away, but it will remain in my mind! So much gratitude for your kind appreciation!

    • Yes, it is sometimes hard to explain why I am unwilling to make such a commitment, but I find it much harder when I am compelled to break a promise. – Hope, your new year is all you are hoping it to be!

  3. Hello Peaceful Partings, thanks so much for your comments and likes on my blog . . . I looked up your blog and have been thinking for a few days about this question you ask here: Does my affirmation of commitment to a universal, all-embracing community of God (a catholic church) necessitate the blind acquiescence to the dictates of an earthly organization (the Catholic Church)?

    Unfortunately, I am seeing less and less universality and embrace in those dictates… A sometimes heartbreaking thing to recognize.

    I’ve grappled with that one myself. It is difficult, but what keeps coming back to me is that the Church and the hierarchy are just not the same thing. I’ve disagreed with various teachings (the vast majority of which are not infallible) but never the creed, the core of doctrine and belief. I have been turned off by the actions and behavior of many a priest, bishop, and cardinal. But I am never quite driven away, because of the richness of the tradition, the shining example and spirituality of saints, the undeniable truth of the tenets of the faith. The life of St. Francis, the example of St. Vincent dePaul, the writings of St. Catherine of Sienna, and so on, shine like beacons past episodes of corruption, and even their own human frailties. To me, the Catholic Church is the fullest expression of Truth as we can grasp it. The hierarchy is a necessary human construct, perhaps you can even call it a necessary evil, to keep the doctrines steady and consistent not for our lifetimes, but for all generations. That part of it IS an earthly organization–what else could it be being operated by human beings–even after being established by the Son of God Himself? Incorrect dictates will be corrected in time, they always have been. Hierarchies move slowly, and perhaps that is best, to be so careful and considered over generations. Always in process, perfection the goal not yet attained, just like our own journey towards God. The real church is all of us, the flawed believers and flawed saints who none the less achieved holiness–and the flawed hierarchy that strives to secure, be faithful to and hand down what has been given to them for the church members not yet born.
    I hope that makes some sense, I don’t feel like I explained myself that well but I did want to respond and share some thoughts from my own experience.

    • Dear Reinkat, Flowing gratitude to you for your very sincere, thoughtful and generous response to what is a significant question to me at present. (I hope you don’t mind that I plan to edit the original post to point interested readers to your comment!)

      What you have articulated quite well is very much how I feel about the gift of the Church and its Saints, both to history and to me personally. However, I also feel strongly about anti-oppression, anti-discrimination, and the necessary transparency of those in leadership. I believe that these are tenets that would be upheld by Christ as well, and I think that He would also be saddened to not only see the absence of these tenets within the Church hierarchy, but to recognize that there is no process for discussion about many of them.

      There are some things that, I believe, should not ‘take time’. That should be acted on quickly to correct as best we can, and if that means continuing to adjust as we learn, then that is what we must do. – There can be sin in inaction also.

      I love the rite and the creed of the Church. I am thankful for the stories told to model holy behavior. I am thankful for the Truths that are offered through Catholicism. However, I would like there to be a consistency in the Church’s action in the world, as well. So, there I am! Somewhere in the middle, seeking a peaceful resolution in my heart!

      Thank you for your part in that resolution. ~Peace and joy to you!

  4. Hello Peaceful: Sure, go ahead and use my comment to help you write your post. I am fine with that. I am glad that my thoughts were of use to you.
    We seem to have lots of areas of agreement, and others that we could discuss further. I certainly do think that there needs to be consistency between church teachings and actions in the world. One example that comes to mind is the social justice teaching for a just living wage–and the fact that diocesan employees frequently do not get anything near that in many regions in this country. Really quite hypocritical.

    I don’t think that the church needs to be like a democracy–discussion process with all 64 million of us is not part of it. I think that is a good thing: majority rule is easily influenced and not necessarily founded in sound thought. Also, we are a universal church and what seems like a good idea in American culture might be pretty shocking in, say, Ugandan or Japanese or Tahitian cultures, and vice versa. There is and element of discussion process via the slow, unwieldy process of cardinals and the occasional council. What is taught, officially, profoundly affects everyone in the world.
    Change is slow in the Church. And I think that is good also. God is so subtle in the ways He reveals His Will, and I think conservative, carefully considered decisions and gradual changes are the best way to avoid error. If God would sometimes cooperate and thrust a lightning bolt into the ground and roar “Do it this way!”, it could all be rapid and clear and inarguable. But this is not the situation, and in my humble opinion cautious gradual change is best overall. I trust in God that we will eventually get it all together the way He intends . . . even though Christ might have indeed held up many of the tenets that you mention, He never did mention them specifically, and thus again I think that the semantics and potential for unintended results must be carefully considered, across cultures and borders of all types.

    An example of unintended consequences: I work for a government organization, and we are committed to equity in treatment of all citizens, no discrimination. Very commendable. Very fair policy. To make sure that the most disadvantaged could participate the same as, say, the governor. A level playing field for all. Yet, without going into specifics, one of the results of requiring the absolute same thing of everyone, has been to set the policy requirements to accommodate the least functional of the population. People who are organized and competent are inconvenienced, and treated at the level of the lowest common denominator. In that sense, the ordinary citizen is being oppressed because of the need to be especially particular and demanding of a few. Nobody foresaw this, nor wanted this. I am not suggesting that Jesus would be in favor of continuing discrimination for any reason, but I am just pointing out that something that seems good and logical can end up doing some very unexpected things that were never intended. Hence, our human need to be careful and cautious in matters of great importance, especially across cultural values.

    Yes, there can be sin in inaction, definitely. I think here of the hierarchy response to the pedophile scandal, which is unconscionable, But that particular situation is not part of teaching nor doctrine, it is simply response to a crime, and shouldn’t require any discussion or consideration of options. It is purely evil, and should have been dealt with promptly.

    Anyway, those are just a few additional thoughts, which I hope you will receive in the spirit in which they are offered. Neither of us was especially specific as to exactly which issues we are particularly thinking of, and misunderstanding is possible.

    • Reinkat, I am so grateful for your thoughts and willingness to share. You are right in the importance of cautious action as well, something that I do occasionally need reminded of! However, I think millenia and centuries may be a little too long…

      And I agree that democracy would also be the wrong choice for the church. Giving everyone decision-making ability would, sooner rather than later, I believe, result in a breakdown in the unity of the Church structure. On the other hand, the leadership should ensure a means for safe, intimidation-free discussion, something that is often oppressed even among religious (i.e. religious can be excommunicated for expressing support for female ordination, and the recent investigation and reprimand of American nuns for choosing to serve the disadvantaged rather than proselytize them). It is this kind of silencing, dictatorial behavior that I believe to be wrong.

      I look forward to continued discussion with you, my friend, with great appreciation for your willingness!

      ~Blessed epiphany to you! ~marissa

      • I have also enjoyed our communications.
        I agree with you that no leader should intimidate, that authority should not be tyrannical but, well, fatherly, which might mean confident, assertive, and sure without oppressing and tearing down. I think some of the interpretation of the reprimand of Americans nuns might be colored by media and folks with agendas. I personally witnessed that there were more things going on than serving without proselytizing. I see groups of nuns, priests, and laity serving faithfully without a single word of evangelization. St.Vincent dePaul is a powerhouse of social justice in my area, my secular unchurched bitterly anti-Christian town. All without proselytizing, and with the grateful support of clergy from the bottom on up, as well as the people. So I would not be so sure to accept statements like that, while still acknowledging that it might have happened and I just don’t know about it. But I think it might have been an exception rather than a blanket rule.
        Female ordination? It will come. Not in my lifetime, but it will come. So much social, cultural, patriarchal, and fear-of-loss-of-power to be overcome yet, but if God wills it, it will be carried out. So, keep up with respectful dissent and much prayer!

    • Yes. I agree that “those on the ground”, so to speak, are doing amazing and wonderful service! That is why the Vatican’s investigation and reprimand was so shocking. The Vatican document cites the Leadership Conference of Women Religions and and other female religious groups in the US for “focusing its work too much on poverty and economic injustice, while keeping “silent” on abortion and same-sex marriage.” http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/19/us/vatican-reprimands-us-nuns-group.html?_r=0

      The LCWR will continue to be on “probation” for the next 5 years, having an oversight group that must approve all of their statutes, public programs, and literature. — All for BEING SILENT!! Not even for advocating for…

      It is actions like this from the hierarchy that silence discussion – and handicap those blessed actors ministering to the disadvantaged on a daily basis.

  5. Hello, me again.
    I read the link you provided and thank you for that. However, I have learned that modern journalism is not objective or fair (no matter what anybody claims). They all have agendas, and reporting the truth in an unbiased is just not a priority. Thus, it is extremely difficult to find out the truth, what really happened, without a lot of digging and comparing and time spent reading accounts from different sources. I appreciate the article, and it gives a good place to begin researching from, and good reasons to do it. But I don’t accept the New York Times as a credible source of information, nor the L.A.Times nor the Washington Post, nor Fox News. Each needs to be counterbalanced, and I am sorry to say that on this issue I have not done the research.
    That being said, I totally agree that there should be women clergy, that religious should not be monitored and censored as a general rule. I also accept that I might not know the whole story.

    I was glad to see in other comments that you have indeed studied this, and have read source documents. That is probably the only way to go, to read the actual words as spoken or written, in context and entirety. That, and your own observations (necessarily limited in time and space) and anecdotal info from those you trust. I feel that you have tried hard to do this and I agree with your conclusions in general.
    As for women clergy, absolutely that will happen. First perhaps women deacons, which were an established practice in the Church for a very long time. I pray for this, at least, to happen within my lifetime. And praying about it seems to be the only course of action these days, with the hierarchy being what it is.

    An interesting aside: in reading original documents, I have sought out some, but not all, of the books of Pope John Paul II and of Pope Benedict. One was charismatic and beloved by people and the press (and I wonder which of those is more influential) and the other scorned by the press and called names and insinuated about. To my considerable surprise, I found myself not all that impressed with the positions and philosophies of Pope John Paul II, and rather liking Pope Benedict and feeling favorable about his efforts to reform and strengthen the Church. I wonder if simple personal charm with the press led towards the former’s universal stamp of approval. Like having the cheerleaders like you can guarantee popularity in high school. Ridiculous, but I think many people never rise above that level. In fact, when you think about politicians and elections, many never rise above middle school.

  6. I heard Sr. Pat Farrell’s interview on NPR a while back, live, I guess. I suppose if we are heretics in this regard, then I guess we are, in the eyes of some of the hierarchy. A quiet heretic, that is what I will have to be, in this area of opinion. I do not take any such pronouncements seriously or personally at all. Nor do I want to become riled up and angry about it, this thing that I am absolutely powerless to change. That would be a waste of energy that I do not have to spare. These things I leave to the Lord.
    Maybe I am just a coward.
    Not to be argumentative, but the issue of female ordination is not an infallible pronouncement, and those who have been excommunicated for this issue have not been thrown out for expressing it, but for acting on it: such as, ordaining a woman priest or a woman who says she is a priest and celebrates a Mass.
    Simply believing in it or expressing an opinion is not enough to be excommunicated, not even in an authoritarian hierarchy. There was more to the story in every case, I bet.

  7. P.S. we could argue about this forever. Which is fine, actually I am glad we are in some agreement, and I am truly enjoying your posts. I look forward to reading your thoughts, and have enjoyed our dialogue.

  8. Pingback: LAZY RESOLUTIONS « hastywords

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