Listening for the call

I can’t count the number of times in my lifetime that I ask myself, “Why do I care about the Catholic church?” It’s not as much that I love the church as it is about the women I know and love who give so much to their church and to the people in their community. Like many of my role models, I am committed to God because I am in love with our God. I’ve always known that God loves me; but recently I realize that I want to love God back!

It’s not my personal calling to be a deacon (at least not yet) but it is my dream for all women that there is a choice. Professor Cecilia González Andrieu suggests that women become better aligned with the poor and marginalized “because we are closer to the ground (than the priests and bishops) of our church and more dependent on God.” 

Twenty years ago, when my husband died at age 50, it was a WAKEUP “call.” to reinvent myself.  Little did I know that was going to be the point when a brand new opportunity became available to me. There really was a Divine Voice, calling me to go to Hawaii to work and teach. Ten years later, when I retired and moved back to the Mainland, the Marianist Social Justice Collaborative held a “Changemaker” retreat and an issues team was born for Women’s justice.  Answering this call was going to allowed me a great leadership opportunity.

I learned how to align with marginalized; like so many women throughout time have continually done. But the much bigger challenge was to decide how to change the minds of those around me.  The “tone death clergy” were not listening.  Many good Catholics have refused to engage the world’s pain.  They could talk about change but there was no action, only empty promises. 

When this workshop was offered, I again made a commitment to find time to stop and listen intently to my heart.  DISCERN: Go deeper…why does this really matter to me? DREAM: refine my vocation and seek God in all. SCHEME: By finding a group of like-minded and prayerful people, (much like the vowed religious of our past) we pray and keep trying.  I have been reminded; I don’t do this for my own calling but to accompany, to live in solidarity, to really recognize the possibility of transformation.

I was a student of the sisters who were motivated by the Vatican Council. I thought that as adults became better educated, the church would realize the potential of ALL members, not just males!? Here we are many years later, I thought the Amazon Synod was that time for some to be transformed. I was discouraged but have not given up. At this point, I humbly pray for my Spirit to fully engage that robust imagination, to help me know what God has imagined. 

I have done a little work with women in prison, I have no problem imagining a new possibility for them returning to society. I tell them, all women need to act with power, (not the power that corrupts) but the power that pushes through, that comes when every voice is counted.

Jesus respected the women who pushed forward. Women know Christ intimately…through those who have been marginalized by our society and our cultures.  The Sisters of my past and those today, keep announcing our work will continue because we know we are loved.

This workshop calls me to compare what we see now, to dreams of a perfect world as described in our sacred scripture. I am still lacking but I persist! May we continue to be robust women with voices that are indispensable to the church. #minetoo

9 thoughts on “Listening for the call

  1. You mention that you desire to discern why this really matters to you. I’m wondering what “this” means and if you have indeed answered the why. I have a semblance of what it might be, but I’m not sure and would want you to voice it.

  2. Thanks for asking Rose. The question that I am discerning is “Why do I care about the Catholic Church? Why am I working for change, when I could more easily walk away?

    A few days ago in my previous post, I named a specific goal/dream for this workshop:
    “Given the Pope’s appointment of a new council on the topic of women as deacons in the Catholic Church, I would like to find a group to create a virtual prayer space with; praying with others who recognize the impact this commission could make on the future of the Catholic Church.” How we could be grow and learn from each other!

    I hope that clarifies. Thanks for the feedback.

  3. Your writing about transformation and imagination is really powerful to me. I find that our prophetic imagination is often constricted when we’ve been fighting the fight for too long, when we experience more empty promises, or when we lose sight of what we know we were called to. What helps you reignite that “robust imagination” to help you imagine what God has imagined?

    1. Revalon, It’s so funny you asked about how to be “reignited” I so often feel like I could easily give up and then something like this group comes across my path and the challenge just keeps coming back! I often want to give up, but some things and some people keep encouraging me! Even a little affirmation goes a long way. Thank you for voicing your inspiration…you are one of those sparks!

      Looking forward to meeting again in our small groups.

  4. (at least not yet)

    I wonder about this parenthetical.

    Why not for you?
    What’s the hesitation? Is there fear under that?

    1. There may be some fear but I don’t think that’s it. I think that reality is the strongest reason for my hesitation. There is no path in the church for women to be ordained. Impossible at least now at this time in the Catholic church!

      But, transformation does not come without struggle. I have only recently (past couple years) explored the actions that are possible to begin the dialogue about women deacons. I don’t expect that paving a new path is going to be easy, many zigs and zags (make the path more interesting).

      Through this group, I hope to find like-minded persons to accompany me, to find those places and times where that conversation can happen. Unfortunately, I am not enthusiastically welcomed in my own local parish. Question for me now is: do I can I do same work somehow elsewhere? BTW, I have not given up completely on working in my local area but slowed down for awhile. An upside of the pandemic is that I have been given time. I am actively discerning and dreaming! I pray that others reach out and join me in this dream to continue the dialogue. After all, there is a papal commission at work and we can easily pray for the Spirit will set a fire within that commission.

      Thanks Casey for your challenge. You have been a wonderful gift to me!

  5. “I don’t do this for my own calling but to accompany, to live in solidarity, to really recognize the possibility of transformation.”

    If you don’t do this for your “own calling” what might your calling be and look like? Is there a reason you don’t think this is your calling? How do you know?

  6. Hi Barbara, thank you for joining our group this week! I wish you all the best in whatever group is blessed to have you for the coming weeks. For my feedback I’d like to highlight a few portions:

    “I am committed to God because I am in love with our God. I’ve always known that God loves me; but recently I realize that I want to love God back!”

    “DREAM: refine my vocation and seek God in all.”

    “At this point, I humbly pray for my Spirit to fully engage that robust imagination, to help me know what God has imagined.”

    “The Sisters of my past and those today, keep announcing our work will continue because we know we are loved.”

    I’m struck by your love for God and your sense that God loves you.

    As you “refine” your “vocation and seek God in all” do you trust that God offers you the grace to “know what God has imagined?” Is it possible that what God has imagined has also come up for you when you “recently” realized “that I want to love God back!”

    What would our world look like if we all realized a desire to love God back? What is the best way to love God back?

    As we look to Jesus with these questions, how do you imagine that “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” applies? What about, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”?

    I look forward to the prayer that you will engage all ~40 of us in before these weeks conclude. Thank you for who you are Barbara and for all of God’s love you will help us to share!

  7. Daniel, thanks for your comments. I should clarify that I have always loved God, but recently I realized that I wanted to say to God – “I love you back!” I may have assumed that God knew this in the past, hopefully my actions speak as well. But more recently I have been explicit in writing prayers down and sharing them with others. I’m just not sure how much/which ones should be private and what to publically share.

    Also, I was hoping that all ~40 of us would have input in writing that prayer as well as distributing it to our parishes, small faith communities and other support circles. It might be as easy as quoting many of the posted reflections but I wouldn’t do that without consent of each of the authors.

    I pray that others reach out and join me in this dream. Thanks for naming your interest and support.

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