Wednesday, March 6, 2019

My Lenten Reflection on the Pope’s Exhortation to the Faithful By Rev. Diane Dougherty-Roman Catholic Woman Priest.

Diane Dougherty ARCWP, left of Bridget Mary at her ordination as a priest in Atlanta, GA.

When Pope Francis says:
Fast from hurting words and say kind words

I exhort the faithful to speak openly and freely as did the saints.
“We've had enough exhortations to be silent. Cry out with a thousand tongues - I see the world is rotten because of silence.”
― St. Catherine of Siena

Speak truth demanding that systems of  shared power be established. 
Even though it hurts the hierarchy to entertain this thought, speak out so that our minds and hearts are open and the harm done by clericalism and hierarchicalism can be seen, heard and felt.  Only then will the hierarchy be moved to repent for this sin of silence .

When Pope Francis says:
Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude

I say bend toward our collective sadness …
Claim our sadness and heartbroken feelings.
Understand the appointed administrators of our Catholic faith have failed God and God’s people.  
Name clearly the hierarchy’s ill deeds as well as those who have hidden them. 
Understand these actions are cancerous and the source that destroys and dismantles our church. 
Call for global recognition of wrongdoing and repentance for healing. 
Be grateful that the blindness at the foundations of Catholicism is being shattered and while our collective vision is still blurred, many are beginning to see clearly. 

When Pope Francis says:
Fast from anger and be filled with patience
I say,
The time for a patience that waits for clerical leadership to bring about gospel change has ended.  Use words that are sharp and clear to hold the hierarchy accountable for years of misdeeds.  Speak and teach authoritatively and with wisdom.  God weeps until we speak in the name of our creator.

When Pope Francis says:
Fast from pessimism and be filled with hope
I say, we work in joyful hope our actions today are bringing about new forms and ways of being church..

When Pope Francis says:
Fast from worries and have trust in God
I say
Hold the memory of your worry while continuing to trust in God.
Remember daily that appointed bishops are deconstructing our churches, pushing out the vocations of women and lay ecclesial leadership, closing facilities, schools of learning, ending the Vision of Vatican II, embedding sexism, racism, homophobia and militarism within our institutions in the name of Christ.

Hold that worry with trust that from the tension new forms of Catholicism are arising and the present destruction holds every possibility that will lead to all things new.

When Pope Francis says:
Fast from complaints and contemplate simplicity
I agree.
The time for complaints is over and beginning of contemplation,- taking long, loving looks at the Inclusive Churches of the 21st Century and the strength of our oneness in love of God- will begins.   A new day and new age beyond the ancient forms of clericalism and hierarchicalism that wrap the people of God up and name these oppressions Christianity will only arise if we recognize clearly the misdeeds of the past with every intention of reconstructing a future church based in equality and equity.

When Pope Francis says:
Fast from pressures and be prayerful
I say,
We need to hold the tensions of our heart without fear or abandon. Through tensions, a third way will arise….

When Pope Francis says:
Fast from bitterness and fill your heart with joy
I say
Hold onto bitterness until it is transformed.
Bitterness should not be ignored.
If you look into this feeling, it will deepen you spiritually.
Address it- but do not respond to it. 
Rather than setting it aside-grasp it –look at it deeply. 
By looking directly at your own bitterness, you will face your worst fears. 
By honoring it for what it is but not holding on to it, you will be given peace.  Hold fast to it until you recognize its root. 

Only then will your bitterness grow smaller and smaller, as your spirit grows wiser and wiser.

When Pope Francis says:
Fast from selfishness and be compassionate to others

I urge all as laymen and women working in the Church, to take time to be selfish and take care of your best asset-you.

The reality is it is difficult to remain faithful to our call to be catholic, knowing we live daily under the influence of misogyny, homophobia, militarism, hierarchicalism and clericalism.  Maintaining balance in ministry is an uphill battle for those who refuse to remain silent….. 

The reality is that there will be conflicts lost on a regular basis that bring great emotional and social stress. No one wins in this framework.  

Therefore, for those who continue to advocate for equality and equity in ministry, we need to be selfish, get away to meditate and pray, to rest in order to revive our drooping spirits.

Without our voices a prophetic church will never rise.
Without our fullness of spirit to bring about a renewed church, equality and equity in ministry will never be achieved.

When Pope Francis says:
Fast from grudges and be reconciled
I say:
Once you recognize the grudges you hold, face yourself.
Ask why…what is their unforgivable sin.   Rather than fast from them-bend toward them until you understand yourself and your own needs more clearly. 

When Pope Francis says:
Fast from words and be silent so you can listen
I say,
 “Speak the truth in a million voices. It is silence that kills.”
― Catherine of Siena (14th Century)

Perhaps this is a caution to the hierarchy as the faithful raises our million voices.  As we petition the justice systems of our state to hold the hierarchy responsible for criminal behavior, we need to demand the end of clericalism simultaneously promoting systems of transparency, inclusion and voice in creating a global church that works for everyone.  This means we must find a way to share power as well as accountability. We cannot afford to fast from works or be silent…our collective silence has allowed evildoers to thrive.

Diane Dougherty, ARCWP

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