Burning Churches and 1.4 Billion Dollars

Today, there is darkness surrounding the Catholic Church. The term is on the lips of everyone conservative or liberal, but for wildly different reasons. One side is posting the associated press article saying that the Catholic Church lobbied for money during the Coronavirus payout and received 1.4 billion dollars. The other is mourning and angry about Catholic Churches that were attacked yesterday. Catholics are calling out discrimination, while the other side believes they are calling for justice by crying out against them. I wanted to take a minute to address both sides.

First of all, to those who read the Associated Press article. There are some problems with the way this topic was addressed. Catholic dioceses are responsible for so many schools, churches, charities, and more. They need money to keep all of those things going. Several Catholic mothers that I know were talking about increases in tuition by $1000 a month, panicking about how they were going to afford to send their kids to school. Catholic programs where I live distributed food to help those who could not afford any during the quarantine. Ideally, the funds received by Catholic dioceses would help these people.

It is also important to note that the dioceses are not connected. “The Catholic Church” did not receive 1.4 billion dollars-if that were to happen that would have meant it got paid to the Pope, which is not what happened and would not. The money was requested by and distributed to specific parishes and dioceses according to their need. All churches were opened for this, not just Catholics. In other words, the phrasing of the article would be like combining all of the small businesses under an organization that is meant to help them work together and saying that the organization received a lot of money because specific businesses did.

However, for the Catholics who are blowing off this article, there are issues present in the Catholic Church that are legitimate concerns present in this article. The journalist asserts that 11 million dollars was given to a West Virginia diocese that he says just got sued for embezzlement. That is a legitimate thing to feel wrong about. The author is using it to make it seem like the entire organization is evil like this and that’s where all of this money is going, which I do not believe, but it is important to realize that there have been some very intense revelations about misconduct dealing with money by authorities in the Church, who now have large sums of money, and that is a legitimate thing to challenge. It’s also important to note that many dioceses may still have debt left from the sex scandal that is not that far in the past. That memory is in people’s minds already creating doubt about how they would use money. I will clarify that there are stipulations on the loans they received(based on the article loans not grants, which I think is an important distinction) that they are forgivable, but only if the money is used for rent, wages, and utilities. If the money is used for those things, then the needs I discussed above would all fit into that, which I think would put everyone’s concern at rest.

On the same day, 2 Catholic Churches were attacked. Horrifying pictures of the burned structures are circulating among the other side of my friends. Some of my Catholic friends are crying out how badly Catholics are discriminated against. I am upset and scared by the Churches burning, but I have also been facing a scary reality. The article above was released yesterday, but even that is in the aftermath of people calling out racist tendencies in some priests. In fact, just a couple of weeks ago my family and I endured an hour long sermon that berated those who are fighting against racism and basically said they are working for the devil himself. I am not excusing the burning down of Churches or taking down statues or persecution in any way, but I have to admit that I could see how even a good person could be incredibly angry and discriminatory against Catholics if this is all they are being exposed to.

I know what it feels like to want to get rid of the Catholic Church. I have been through a lot of pain at the hands of authority figures and I have watched other authorities cover it up, and worse been made fun of by other Catholics for my trauma. By the grace of God, I have met some beautiful people who have supported me in my belief that the evil happening in the Church does not belong to the Church but to people doing wrong in it. However, when Catholics rage about how unfair it is that people talk bad about them, I think it is important to realize there are real reasons for people to be angry at the Church, and we need to show these people that that is not who we are. Again, I am not defending the people who attacked Churches, this is a horrible tragedy and it is not ok. What I am saying is that, we should realize that there is a lot of anger out there about the Church and it is not all unjust anger. There have been some grievous sins committed by people who appear to be the face of the Church, and have made it seem like it is a dangerous organization. That is a terrifying kind of anger to cope with, and there are many people feeling it. That anger should be addressed with compassion, humility, and understanding, and I think sometimes proclaiming the Church victims of discrimination misses the point that people do have legitimate anger and sadness that needs to be dealt with about things they believe the Church has done. I hope that this would help to relieve this divide that I am observing today. One side sees the Catholic Church itself as one of the most evil villains in the world, and the other sees everyone else as evil villains persecuting Catholics for no reason. What we all need to understand is both sides are made up of people who have been hurt, and seen other people get hurt, and we all want it to end.

Please Don’t Let Me Die

That song is playing agan

The one I play to praise

when I’m afraid

I won’t make it this time.

“Even when it hurts”

I pray again with beads

Clutched in my hand

Like a holy card or nun

Oh, God, Please don’t let me die.

It’s another one of those nights,

I don’t know if I’m dying

Or if my body is lying.

And if my body is lying

Is that better or worse than dying?

If this thing I live in can’t be

Trusted, or relaxed in.

If that, then how do I live

Again, how do I live this way,

How do I exist in a body

That lies? Or dies?

When Did I Stop Writing Poetry?

When did I stop writing poetry?

Was it when I told you who I was?

Was it when this place online

Became a place in your face

Without somewhere to hide mine?

When did I start preaching

Like so many talking heads

Doing the things I don’t do

Yet learned to, but still don’t

Understand how to.

When did I stop writing poetry?

Was it when you told me to take sides?

When my guts were pulled in both ways,

When you told me I am empty

Until I decide to play your games?

Hush. Take a breath. Be still.

When the poet speaks in the dark

There is no us vs. them, me vs. you,

There is you and you and you.

And me. Waiting for the words to come.

RE: White Girl, I’m Not Sure I Trust You Yet

There was this article I saw for about two seconds at one point a couple of weeks ago. It was on my newsfeed for a moment before it disappeared, but it has sat with me so intensely that I just want to respond to anyone who read that article and felt something.

Dear ‘White Girl I’m Not Sure I Trust You Yet,”

That is OK! I’m not sure I even trust me yet! Who am I coming into this thinking I know anything about this situation? In order to be helpful at all I have to say something and do something, but I’m constantly afraid I will say or do the wrong thing. I want to help, and I don’t want to hurt, but I know at some point I will hurt because I don’t have any frame of reference for how to do this.

In fact, I hate activism. I’m not into it. I don’t like conflict. I can be that fearful fragile little girl that so many people are mocking now, sometimes. When it counts though, I am fierce, but I try to hide how fierce I am sometimes so I’m trying to figure out how to be fierce right. It’s loaded with all of these conditions and demands and I don’t always know what I’m doing.

So, Black Girl Who is Not Quite Sure You Trust Me Yet-it’s ok. Me too. I’ll try to learn from you how to be trustworthy in your world.

With love,

White Girl Who is Working on It.

The Tapestries(from PEACEWEAVER)

While I was practicing yoga regularly, I redecorated my home. My tastes were bohemian, but I was concerned about surrounding myself with tapestries made in India about gods I do not understand. I searched for Catholic art, but I could not find anything that even remotely hit the style I was seeking. What’s more is that everything was the traditional Catholic paintings that I had grown up surrounded by, the ones that embraced suffering so fully that it was all I could feel when I saw them. Other people may not have the history I have with them, but there is a lot of pain and confusion for me in the typical Catholic art. As I continued to search I eventually found a few pieces I really loved, but they were so expensive I had no hope that I could afford them within the next century. I was so angry at how expensive everything was, and so frustrated that I finally decided to just get the Indian tapestries, but I would only get the ones that had a strong Christian spiritual meaning for me.

I chose a popular yellow tapestry with the symbol for Aum in the center because of how God had revealed Himself to me in their philosophy, a tapestry of elephants-which God had used to help me pray about some issues in my life, and a peacock tapestry that as far as I could tell was not associated with any deities. I treasured these tapestries. I took every picture in front of them, I planned which one I was going to use in the baby’s room, when I hopefully someday got a nursery. I laid them on the bed gingerly when I needed color in my room during long periods of stress. I designed my bedroom around them when I was pregnant with my first child.

As my two babies grew into toddlers, they used to love to play with the tapestries. During a time of particularly difficult post partum depression and hormone balance aggravated by what I can only ascribe to spiritual warfare, my oldest pulled on the corner of one that I had awkwardly hanging from the curtain rod in our basement apartment. It shredded down the whole side. She had pulled on it before leaving little rips, but this time the whole thing was shredded. A postpartum rage rippled over me and a she ran giggling to the other room, I ripped the tapestry in half, holding my breath while I cried so she wouldn’t hear me.

It occurred to me that that particular tapestry was probably not a great one to have around kids. My husband and I knew and understood the reason I had it and what it meant, but my girls would not for a long time. I threw the remains of it away mourning the independence I had lost. I cried too about how in motherhood the pretty pieces of art I loved were getting destroyed, the worst was a painted bowl I ate from for practically every meal. It was a bag of chunks of ceramic now, and it broke my heart.

The thought that the girls would not understand the tapestries stuck with me. For about a month I prayed and thought about it until in a progesterone and anxiety and spiritual dark night induced haze I pulled them all down and threw them all out. I kept the peacock one a little longer because it didn’t have a deity, but one day in another of these turbulent days I read on google there was a cult that worshipped Satan in a dark blue peacock, so I threw everything in my house that had a peacock on it away. (I found out later that the peacock is a symbol for Jesus so take that for what it’s worth.)

I honestly don’t know if it was wrong for me to have the tapestries in the first place or not, God knew it was about Him. I think maybe it was ok for me, but not my kids who were too young to understand and impressionable. As I began to do yoga and decorate again, I got alternating answers from God, yes yoga, no idols, yes art, no misleading art. I began to pray that God would help me create art that would meet that desire for color I had, and that He would help me to help others with the same struggle.

At first I thought maybe His answer was no. I started finding all these Catholic artists who were amazing. Plus, what I was trying to do with tapestries wasn’t working. I was painting, and when I did I prayed beforehand. When I work on any art, it is a prayer with the Holy Spirit, I ask Him for help and sometimes I can feel His guidance, sometimes I can’t, but the best is when I dive see the plan and it suddenly turns into something amazing and I can’t take credit for it. I went through a phase where nothing was working, these weird amalgamations of color sort of happened and took over everything I tried to make.

I hated them, and I felt so down on my work, Until a few months later, when I realized that the paintings resemble the crystals and nature art I love so much, but are all actually connected to God. I could not wait to buy every single one(but I had to because we were on a low income budget with toddlers. 🤦🏽‍♀️) What’s more is I already had them available to buy as tapestries. When I built my page on a website I didn’t even know had tapestries, I allowed them but it did not even occur to me that this was an answered prayer. Months later, in the middle of the night I woke up and realized I had created a line of bohemian tapestries that were rooted in God and not gods. The tapestries I needed 5 years ago. I laughed to myself once again about how the Holy Spirit works, and wrote this out for Him.

Selah

Note: This post is not meant to be a promotional post, but if you are interested in my tapestries they are available at https://fineartamerica.com/profiles/julia-odonnell

#Throughfire

As Quarantine began, the community led by Catholic Creatives exploded with innovators inspired to help others through their struggles. We faced our own giants of fear and trepidation, but something in us drove us to community and fellowship. My desire was to fill social media with art to help with the constant deluge of news all over our feeds. I went to Catholic Creatives who had a similar desire and together we launched the #throughfire.

We asked that you create art and share it on every form of social media. Now, the quarantine is at an awkward point of being kind of over but not really, and #throughfire is changing. Catholic Creatives must get back to their daily projects, so suzannagoretti.com will be the new home for the project. I will be sharing your art and hopefully getting to talk to you as you create it. I hope to get all kinds of projects involved so we can all see how many of us are joining together to walk through fire hand in hand.

Please continue to share your amazing works, so that we can keep this fire going. Thank you for all you are doing to bring Beauty to the darkness.

The Man in the Moon

What if God is the man in the moon?

What if He loved us so much that His Son’s

Presence was not enough of a present.

What if He wanted to send His own face,

To watch over us, mourning our grief from above.

Write Where it Hurts: Quarantine

Quarantine.

For some of you it’s a dirty word.

For some it’s despair.

For some it’s loss and grief incomparable.

For me? It’s life.

For me, it was hope.

For me, it was a home

With incandescent joy and bliss.

Published piece: Threads of Hope

Hey faithful readers,

I got published! I wrote a piece for Radiant on hope, and I also got to read it on an open mic night for them and Ever Eden. Here’s a little teaser and a link to read it.

I woke in a puddle of blood. As I rushed to the bathroom, tendrils curling around my legs, I felt my fear coming into stark reality. She was gone. We had lost Emma three years before, and this pregnancy was just long enough (31 weeks) for the process to be my worst nightmare. Shaking uncontrollably at what was to come, I woke my husband. We haphazardly gathered our belongings and rushed to the hospital

Read the rest at: https://radiantmagazine.com/2020/04/22/threads-of-hope/

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