The Angels as Patrons of LGBTQ

Did you know that Catholics do not actually believe that angels have a gender? As much as we refer to them as “he” and discuss them as these knightly men, because they do not have bodies, actual Church doctrine is that they do not have gender. It occured to me tonight as I was writing “he” when talking about an angel, that, in a way, that makes them the perfect patron ‘saints’ for those who struggle in some way with gender norms. (Quick note here: technically, angels are not saints because they are not human, however, there are a select few angels who are prayed to like the saints are, and they are often referred to as patron saints.)

I am pretty sure there is no saint that would better understand the feeling that comes with being referred to as a specific gender when you are not that gender than those who have it done so consistently. Granted, they are angels, so they may not care what we humans do, but we don’t know, maybe they do care. What if Michael is actually more feminine than we think of him, and ‘he’ would prefer to be called a ‘she’? Or maybe they would prefer a different pronoun altogether to encompass their body-less androgyny.

So, if you or someone you know is LGBTQ, especially Trans or having any sort of issues with their gender identity, ask the angels for their help. The archangels Michael, Raphael, Gabriel are particularly famous and helpful in need. They are great protectors and friends to have in the spiritual life.

How to Pray about Same Sex Marriage

A few months ago, I went to a Rosary event at a parish in my city. It was a gorgeous day out, a farmer’s market down the street, and a small gathering of people in the square of the parish praying the Rosary for the Nation. It was a really beautiful experience and I kept thinking what a great witness it was. That is, until we reached a certain set of prayer intentions. One of the prayer intentions was “for an end to same sex marriage” and my heart broke. All I could think was that if someone who experienced same-sex attraction had come up to that Rosary in the square, it would only have taken 10 minutes for them to feel like they do not belong there.

Don’t take me the wrong way, I understand that the Church teaches that same sex marriage is wrong. I am not arguing that point right now. What I am arguing is that even if the Church does believe that homosexuality is wrong there are better ways to pray about it, especially in an event that is meant to evangelize.

The first and most important problem with this prayer is that to someone who is same-sex attracted it is a prayer that they will never get to experience the committed love that straight people do. (Again, not arguing whether it is right or wrong at this point, just arguing points of view.) Can you imagine being drawn to a beautiful prayer service, only to hear them pray that you could never get married? How would that make you feel? All I could think was what a punch in the gut that would be. What’s worse is that they already have to deal with so much from the world, people acting like they are worthless, and in that moment, I can only imagine it would feel like God hated them too.

I closed my eyes and continued the prayer in my head, “Lord Jesus, if same-sex marriage is wrong, then take away their desire for same-sex marriage. If it is not, than help the Church and the world to understand and embrace them. Lord, if you get rid of same-sex marriage, then comfort these people who will feel so lonely and abandoned.” I’m sure there would be LGBTQ people who would be displeased with the prayer because it allowed for the possibility of same sex marriage being wrong, and Catholics would object to it because it allowed for the possibility of it not being wrong, but my point is that right or wrong was not the point for me in that moment. The point was that if this prayer got answered, people would suffer. Whether it is right or wrong, their hearts would be broken, at least for a time, and we were praying for that break as if we did not care about the people who would feel it at all.

We need to remember compassion when we pray for intentions like these. We need to remember that there are people who genuinely do not believe they are doing something wrong and yet will feel shunned by this kind of prayer. I am not saying that the prayer I prayed is quite the right way to say it, because it is just what came into mind at the moment. I do think, though, that if Catholics are going to pray for an end to same sex marriage, then we have to pray for healing for all of the people that would hurt. In the same way, whenever we pray for something that may hurt other people in some way, even if we believe it is for their greater good, we must also pray for protection and/or healing for them.

To be honest, I even do this when I pray for snow days now. “Jesus, I would love a snow day today, but please protect everyone and if I need to not have a snow day in order that people will be safe I accept that.” It’s cheesy, but true. 😉 (Yes, I pray for snow days, my husband works long days and I’m home alone with two toddlers, 8-0 ) On a more serious note, I also recommend this if you are praying for an end to abortion, because there are a lot of scared women out there who are desperate and feel like they do not have a choice, so if abortion is not an option, they are going to need some serious help from God and from us. I also pray this way when I am angry at someone and praying for resolution, I’ve been praying for whoever is working on my taxes for the last 10 months of trying to get my tax refund.

To put it all simply, if you are going to pray for something that may hurt others, pray for protection and healing for those people too. Ask God to comfort and help them if His will is to answer your prayer, and be there for them yourself. Most of all, please, if you are evangelizing to people, do not start out with condemning them ten minutes in, there are some teachings of the Church that are really, really hard to understand, and it takes a long time to appreciate or even accept them, but compassion and love are the most important things to know about our God, and that is how we should start the conversation, with His love, and ours because of Him.

Amen.






Please Stop Choosing Sides

Lately, my newsfeed has been inundated with posts screaming, “YOU HAVE TO CHOOSE A SIDE.” Of course, half the time the premise also includes condescending language about how if you don’t choose a side, you are choosing the wrong side, and there is something wrong with you. I am so sick of this.

Let me tell you right now. You do not have to choose a side.

You do have to make decisions in your life based on the knowledge you have at any given moment.

You do not have to choose a side.

Isn’t there enough side choosing in this world? Everything is about how we are divided from each other, and what makes us different, and why “I” am better than “you.”

Stop. Doing. That.

For all of the people spewing religion as the reason, and promising me that God will punish me if I don’t. Name me one time that Jesus took a side when He was on earth. He did not take sides. He loved people on either side. The only time He went up against people was when they were hurting someone else.

In fact, the people He went up against the most were the ones who were constantly beating other people over the head with their words. He got in trouble for “breaking the rules” again and again and again.

Yes, He did not come to “abolish the law” but to “fulfill it,” but that doesn’t mean that He didn’t dismiss things that weren’t really a part of the law, or were legalistic things that people were using to hurt others. The Pharisees tried to trap Him by asking about helping a man on a Sabbath day. There was no right answer to that, they would have said He was unwilling to help if He said not to help, and they would have said He didn’t honor the Sabbath if He said to help. He called them out and basically said, “You would help a sheep if it fell into a ditch. Isn’t a human more important? Of course, it’s ok.” AND THEY PLOTTED TO KILL HIM.


Sometimes, I feel like the Church today has a lot of people like this. Some Catholics are so caught up in the rules that they don’t see the people behind them, or worse, they just see them as evil. The Church I grew up in was so caught up in this that even though I was a goody two shoes, I basically wore a scarlet letter “A” my entire time there.

People have argued with me about this over and over and over again, and the biggest argument has always been, “Yeah, but Jesus said, ‘Go and sin no more,'” to the Samaritan woman.” Sure. He did. He never said what her sin was, and He never shamed her for sinning, or was harsh to her at all. He offered her life, and he offered her love. Same with the adulterous woman. “Whoever is without sin cast the first stone.” Ironically, He was the only one there with no sin, and He did not cast a stone.

I am not saying by any means that there is no truth, or that there is no right and wrong. I am always being told that that is what I am doing, but it’s not. Just because there is truth and there is right and wrong does not mean that you know all of it and I don’t. It also doesn’t mean that I know all of it and you don’t. There is a lot to learn and know in this world, and it is wise to realize that you are not the only one who knows truth, and you do not know all of the truth, and neither do I. We are all doing the best with what information we have been given, and that is all we can do.

This doesn’t mean that we can’t share our truth with others. That is the point of real discussion. If we have good reasons for believing what we do, it is good to share those reasons with others. It is not good to bludgeon them with our opinion and say they have to agree because we say so and our authority is better than theirs. Be willing to share your opinion, when it is the right time, and with kindness.

There is one exception to all of this. The one thing that really riled Jesus up. We need to protect people who are getting hurt. Jesus whipped the people who were taking advantage of the poor at the synagogue, He reprimanded those who wanted to kill the adulterous woman. Over and over again He defends those who are being hurt by others. He is the protector of the weak.

Is that who we are as Christians? Are we unashamed in our protection of those who are being hurt? Even if we don’t agree with them?

Are we vocal about protecting LGBTQ people from violence and discrimination? Do we speak about immigrants with kindness and love? Do we protect women who are trying to live a Godly life but it is an unbearable cross for them? Do we make our communities a safer place for everyone, not just the people who follow our dress codes, know our rules, and speak in our way?

Because there is one side everyone should be on. The side of Truth and Love. It takes humility to do that, to not be on one side or the other, but to see both sides and love both sides. It is what I strive to do, and what I pray that everyone will learn to do, so that there will be peace on earth. (starts singing, ‘and good will to men….’….yeah, couldn’t help it. 😉 )

Pax Christi.

Walls: Start with Love

Lately, I keep finding things that people say are rules or how things should be that are hard for me because I have walls up because of things that have happened to me. I learned this because I read a blog post about giving God our pain, and as I have been offering up my hurt to Him, God has repeatedly comforted me, and then shown me where my pain is making something I have learned impossible to understand.
This lent, I went to confession shaking and consumed with guilt and shame. The priest condemned me and even maybe mocked me, and it made it even worse. When I came out of confession though, “Reckless Love” was playing and it was as if God was telling me, “That’s not how I feel about you, I love you. I love you. I love you.” That gave me the courage to pray with some people who were there, and they prayed through my fear and pain with me. Only after their prayer, and God’s reassurance was I able to see that the sins I was accusing myself of were not sins, they were barely even mistakes. I felt like the most evil horrible person in the world, when in reality, I am just going through some things that make it really hard to keep up with doing everything.
The most intense example though, is seeing how much of my anger and hurt at the Church, and resentment of her teachings, came from my pain from being pregnant with and losing my first little girl. I was not treated well by the Church when I lost her. I was snubbed because groups thought I used birth control. I couldn’t bear being in Church and hearing the litanies of how holy people were if they had a ton of children, I was looked down on because I didn’t want to try again.
At the same time, resentments started to build in me against the Church. Pregnancy was my worst nightmare, and the Church demanded that women be pro-life. I was so angry about it. I felt like a baby-making machine, and if I was not making babies, I had no worth, not only that, but I felt punished by all of these Church rules that kept coming up to rule over my married life that was already hurting enough. I had experienced a loss I could not bear, and instead of being given comfort, I was given judgement. I was lost, and I was condemned, not loved. I wanted to hate the Church, I wanted to hate children, I wanted to hate God. Instead, I subconsciously put up walls to protect myself, and I waited to deal with what I was feeling until I felt like I could handle it.
That is not what the Church is supposed to be. No one should ever feel condemned or abandoned when they come into Church, let alone cry when they feel like they have to go to Church because it is the most painful place to be in the entire world. The Church should be a place where we have an encounter with the living Christ, where people pray for healing for us, where people embrace us in our struggles, and help and heal us. There are places where the Church is that way, but it is far from universally that way, and even in the Churches that are that way, it is easy to get missed if you are not good at saying what you need, or don’t know the right person to talk to.
I don’t know all of the answers in a practical way for these problems, but I do know that Love is the only thing that will change any of it. Everyone needs to stop fighting each other about rules and regulations, and LOVE each other. Only when I felt loved did my walls start to drop enough that I could understand anything I was learning. Only when we start to love will we be able to heal the crisis of pain that our world is consumed by.

Let the Little Children Come to Me: Defending Catholic Moms

Last night, I had to leave the Good Friday service halfway through. I went to this particular Church because the churches nearby us don’t have cry rooms, but at this parish, we had been treated kindly by the parish priest and daily mass crowd, so I figured they would be kind and merciful to us if the kids were not great. It was my first time going to mass with them alone, and I have a one year old and a two year old, so it is not an easy feat.

Just after I got little one #1 out of the car seat, my heart sank. The doors were chained shut. There was another door nearby that was open, so I thought maybe it was to the stairs. Turned out it wasn’t, but I made it down anyway. I knew the Church was under construction and I expected that, but what I didn’t expect is there was nowhere to take the kids. The service was being held downstairs instead of in the Church which we had navigated before.

There were some very sweet people when we first came in, the usher smiled at us and waved, another older man did, and two teenage girls were right behind us and they smiled at the girls and waved too. I was so excited and grateful that we had come here.

But then the girls had a much harder time than I expected. The younger one would crawl away under the chairs and the oldest kept calling for me to read “Batgirl! Batgirl!” I tried pacing the back of the church area but the two year old kept running away. I tried going by the entry door, but there were multiple doors open with Mass supplies, making it unsafe for her to be pretty much anywhere. I found a little nook with mostly closed doors, but one open one I could stand by and listen to the service. I was exhausted, but felt peaceful, finally I could keep an eye on them, and still be present.

It was still hard managing them in the little nook, but they were at least mostly happy(okay the little one face planted and wailed for a second, but mostly happy, lol.) Suddenly, after relative peace had been accomplished, an usher came back, cast us a dark look and slammed the door. Well, the closed door made the room echo badly, which my two year old just loved. I try not to shush her most of the time because she is rarely loud, and I want to encourage her to use her voice, and not make her feel bad about it. I became a shushing machine. We were boxed in and echoing so bad, and I didn’t know how much they could hear and seeing the door close made them want out, and I couldn’t hear the service anymore, so what was the point of all of this effort. Suddenly another usher came back, cast us a glare and left.

You guys, it is already so hard having two under two, it took all of my courage to even try to come to the service, but my lent had been so hard, and I had been clinging to Christ the whole time so desperately, I just needed to be there. I hadn’t expected them to be helpful, but I had expected to be treated kindly if it went badly. I was so frustrated to be trapped in this nook and feeling so ashamed. Finally, I decided I was just going to have to leave. I tried to get out, but the door wouldn’t open. Had it LOCKED on me? I muttered under my breath, “Are you freaking kidding me?” and of course it fell open jolting me and the girls, and what felt like the entire congregation turned around and glared at us. Most of them looked away, and we made our way out as fast possible.
Once I made it outside, I realized I could still be present to Jesus if we stayed. So we wandered around outside for a little while. It wasn’t a safe area for kids at all, but my girls are really well mannered, so I was able to keep them calm. A few minutes later a mom came out looking just as frazzled as I felt dragging her 5 year old son. He was crying already and she spanked him, hard. What got me was not just the actual fact of her spanking him, but I could so feel her frustration. If she was feeling even a little of the shame I was at making noise in that environment, I could sympathize with any amount of exploding in anger.
I tried to listen through the windows as much as possible, but I ended up timing our entry for the Veneration of the Cross badly. Most of the congregation hadn’t gone yet. I felt so awkward and ashamed, and no one looked at us. Finally, when my poor two year old was sobbing and fell to the floor, my attempt at “presence” with Jesus had to change. In this moment, I needed to be present to Jesus as He lives in my little girl. It was not ok to traumatize her, and become this angry monster in order to be present to Jesus Crucified. He would rather her grow to love Him than have silent resentments because Church was torture. (I firmly believe this because I have to work so hard to overcome how much I hated Mass and Church as a kid, and I was very spiritual, I loved Jesus.)
Finally, we left. I told my littles how much I loved them, and I prayed aloud for the congregation as we went home.
St. Paul says, “They shall know we are Christians by our love.” Jesus says, “Let the little children come to me.” Not only was this church not an example of these things, but they were the exact opposite. The church we normally go to embraces children, and loves them. They have a “wiggle room” for children to go to when they need to move around a little, but they have a sign that reminds parents that they are welcome and wanted in the main church area. There is a beautiful 3D painting of Jesus holding a crowd of children. I still occasionally get a little side-eyed glance for walking around the back of the Church or letting my little one look at the statues, but more often, I get smiles and nods. I am so grateful for that Church. It is a rare, and amazing blessing, I know because I went 5 years without being able to find a Church I called home.

This Church was the absolute opposite last night, it was the example of all the reasons why I hated being Catholic for so long. I almost left the Church. I was so profoundly angry at God. Last night, because of the mercy of having an amazing Church that provides for us, and my own work to stay in the Church no matter what, I wasn’t tempted to leave, and I wasn’t angry at God, but instead, I can tell you, this needs to change. There are people who have not had the same experiences I have that are leaving the Church because of being treated this way.
So, do better.

How?

1. Welcome people who come to your church. Say a quick hello, give them a smile, something. I have been to churches where there is a moment set aside at the beginning for greeting each other before Mass begins and as a first-time parishoner there, it made a huge difference.

2. HAVE A CRY ROOM, better yet, don’t call it a cry room-call it a Wiggle Room, or something else fun, so it doesn’t sound or feel like a horrible place to be.

3. Do anything you can to let parents know they are welcome. They are forming the children that are the churches future, and they are treated badly enough anywhere else. They don’t need to feel like even God hates them. Plus, kids can pick up on the anger and frustration and then they associate that with God, which is BAD.

4. In fact, do anything you can to let everyone know they are welcome. Be love, like St. Paul.

5. Incorporate the kids in ways that take into consideration the purpose of the service, aka meet their needs without corrupting the actual Mass itself. At my Church, the children get to bring up little meal offerings at the offertory. It doesn’t interfere with any actual Mass parts, but it gets them excited about helping the poor, and about giving back to God. My two year old loves this, and it brings me so much joy. They also bring the high-schoolers who want to up to the foot of the alter during the Canon of Mass, physically manifesting “Let the little children come to me.”

6. Let go of the desire for the “perfect” service. Jesus did not command us to have the perfect ceremony. He did ask us to remember Him. He asked us to love. Sure, we could have a perfectly silent Mass, with no children there, but I’ll tell you as an ex-member of parishes that were that way, there is a heck of a lot of pain there. A lot of pain, and it wasn’t just me. Maybe if you really want to offer a really nice fancy silent service, have a children’s Mass available where parents don’t have to feel condemned.

7. Jesus first. In any decision being made in the liturgy, or any way you act during church or at church or ever, remember who Jesus was, and live like Him.

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