(An occasional series, where I get my theological rant on. Apologies to those of delicate constitutions in advance.)
Ok, people. I know what is making me madder than a wet hen this month. It also happens to be reason #452 why the non-immigrant influenced segments of the Catholic Church in the USA seems to be in semi-permanent drift. (BTW, I have that list under lock and key, and you don't want to see that list. It ain't pretty.)
We don't talk about miracles.
(Shhh! Freak! She said the "M" word!)
See, I was in my parish family faith formation class, leading it, actually, and talking about a bona fide medical miracle that happened to me that would withstand the medical scrutiny of the Lourdes observers, for crying out loud. (FYI, Lourdes wasn't involved.) Almost 2/3 of the gathered assembly dribbled out over 15 minutes for the 10:30am mass (the idea is to attend the 8:30 mass and then do this formation meeting from 9:30am-11am). The eight people left were paying rapt attention until all our kids came back early to do foam crafts for Thanksgiving (--don't ask. As religious education crafts go it wasn't bad, but moving from witnessing to the almighty power of God to gluing thankfulness leaves to foam trees for a holiday centerpiece was...bizarre). I realize that the apostle Paul preached the Word under more trying circumstances, but you know, I'm talking about giving a presentation in a church where people are free to be there to praise God and reform their lives. I'm not talking about people facing jail time, torture, shipwreck, and execution to show up.
The issue here isn't that people weren't paying attention to me. Heck, I teach college freshmen at 7:45am. I'm used to that. But this story speaks to the truly stunning power of God to heal and save and surprise us: that is, it's about paying attention to God, not me. And there isn't a space to tell that story in any Catholic parish I know. Another person came up and talked to my husband (since I was busy gluing foam leaves) about a miraculous experience he had, and how obscenely grateful he was to hear someone at a church talk about the miraculous.
Isn't that...utterly absurd?
It seems like the only time it's OK to talk about a miracles is when Jesus did them in the gospels, or you are dead and have been declared a saint.
News flash, folks: God is good. God is great! God is truth and beauty incarnate! I had no real idea who God was, or who I was, until this event happened. Don't you think that we all would want to know a little better this Mysterious One we call Our Savior through sharing these stories and building up our faith? We're talking about mountaintop events where God graciously reveals his love and power to the unworthy...and we'd rather picnic in the valleys and stare at ants.
If we aren't going to talk about miracles in parishes, where on earth (literally) do we talk about the power of God in the world today? Who carries the witness?
(And Peter went out and wept....)
p.s. I've said this before, but I reiterate: I really like my parish, honestly. We have a great priest and many good things happen there: it is a lovely, vibrant community. I got some very positive response from the people who hung in there, and many offered that the set-up was unfortunate for reasons that don't lie with any one person. But I'm ticked off right now due to a sense of parishes scheduling and busying themselves out of real sharing and witness to God's work...because whenever I do share this, people say things like "wow! we never talk about things like this in my church! But let me tell you MY story...."
p.p.s. Encouragement is the theme of NaPraGoMo today. I'll go read that now. Again.