Dear friendly, devoted, wonderful church workers, I apologize in advance for unleashing my wrath upon your oft over-worked heads.
I'm your happily married Catholic woman, royally ticked off today because there is nothing out there that encourages people to treat marriage as a vocation that leads to holiness. Oh no, you say. We pray for sacramental marriages in Mass, and we have flyers about NFP in the back of the Church, and all that. We have devotionals for women and some big whopping families. Dang, we even have a website. And, uh, we're nice to married people. So see, we do it.
Friends, how do I put this? Hmmm..how about how delusional can we be here? It's not that any of the above are bad, in fact, they're quite good. It's just that no one seems to have a clue as to how to encourage holiness as a married couple, and when kids get in the mix, watch out. Churches seem to think that if they have a nursery that may or may not be open or run by competent adults during one of the Sunday masses, they ought to get a gold star in vocational development. Excuse me while I go do a primal scream right now.
[People outside my building in the street: "Wow, I've never heard someone primal scream the Hail Mary before."]
OK, I'm back. Here's a bright idea. You know how you nurture the "other" vocations, the first two that get mentioned in the Mass intentions? That's right, you encourage, enable, and expect prayer. You don't talk about "how the heck are ya going to balance your parish's budget?" You talk about devotion to God. But I can't tell you how many times I've seen those in the religious life flounder on this one with married folks. If you pray a lot, that's probably a sign you should be a nun or priest. And if you're already married, well...um...yeah. You're literally multitasking job, house, spouse, children, and pregnancy, and you ask how to deepen your prayer life. And bless your hearts, you religious life folks often fumble on that one like a greased football (OK, ok, not all of you, and I'm sure my readers haven't done this. 'Cause you're special.). I have gotten back:
- "Um. Wow. Do your best, you know?"
- "Gee, I don't know how you do it."
- "Your acts of family-nurturing are your prayer." (And that last one--perhaps yes, but only if you can have time to be with God for God alone. That "I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God" doesn't have a great affinity for multitasking the religious life.)
I know that canon law says those called to the religious life are a particular witness to Christ's whole and complete self-gift. I'm not denying that. I think consecrated celibacy is a beautiful witness. But geez, can you stop blinking at me when I say I crave a deeper prayer life? I get to pray too. I'm not just a breeder for future celibates.
For example: how about offering some free daycare so parents can go to adoration? How about doing a series of retreat mornings (again, free daycare) focusing on a couple's growth in God? How about reduced cost spiritual direction for moms and dads? How about praying for and with couples in challenging situations? How about making some of those Church activities child-friendly? But whatever you do, deal with people's relationships with God! I can go to the Lions Club for service activities.
Imagine this as a parish mission statement: "It is our priority to foster the first declared married saints in the USA"! But that means you need to tell me why I'm called by God to this relationship and this family, rather than say, oh, and that third vocation is OK too, you know, if you have to go that route. I was never under the impression that we have too few witnesses for a deep relationship with Christ to squander the lived reality of the majority of the Church.
I'm a wife and a parent and I'm proud. You may not be meaning to, but stop treating me like a spiritual child.
Ranting and Raving in God's Justice,