The theme song to Cheers, a sitcom from the 1990s, pointed out that “Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came.”
Yesterday morning I arrived at St. Benedict’s Monastery, where I will spend ten days hopefully doing the final round of edits of the manuscript of my book on my conversion from Catholicism to Buddhism and back to Catholicism. The Monastery has a visiting scholar program (Studium), and this is my sixth stay here in the last several years.
As they always do, Srs. Ann Marie and Teresa, directors of Studium, had coffee and breakfast for me when I arrived. After breakfast, I had enough time to unpack in both my apartment and my office before it was time for noon prayer. At prayer time, I sat in my “usual” spot in Oratory, next to 89-year old Sr. Olivia, who was delighted to welcome me into our pew. After noon prayer, it was off to the Monastery dining room for lunch where I was warmly greeted by any number of the Sisters, including the prioress, someone who always makes you feel like you are the one person she has been waiting to see.
Hugs. Smiles. Welcome back greetings. Queries about my current project and about how my daughter is doing. It is hard to imagine being more embraced by a community. Welcomed into a place where everybody knows your name and is glad you came.
During my talk at our Lady of Lourdes on Sunday, someone commented that many Catholic churches are not welcoming of new people. I thought of that comment as I walked back from lunch yesterday. The Benedictines here at the monastery are a model of welcome. All of our Christian communities should be as welcoming.
How blessed are we when the first ‘welcome’ received is ours offered – offered to another in whose presence we celebrate once more being with or among. . .
If only. I’ve decided to leave the church for good but remain in community with the Benedictines I know. I’m just tired of the church as an institution. I’m interested in community not institution. Institution is soulless and evil.
Oh my! I had two powerful experiences in the past week – one at my parish, and the other at the diocesan pastoral center. Both had me singing the theme to “Cheers.” I reflected on moving to Albany 5.5 years ago, not really knowing anyone beyond my husband or stepdaughter, and now I enter many church related places and spaces and am always welcomed by name and with great joy. I had thought about writing a post, but had not gotten to it… I’m glad that you did, and so very beautifully so!
I pray you have found a ‘welcoming’ place were you continue to receive the Eucharist.
And the church as ‘institution’ is not soulless or evil. It continues to be ‘welcoming’ – throwing open its doors to serve the greater community while regretably, frequently requiring ‘identification’ of those seeking to enter under its roof and approach “The Lord’s Table’.
Such dichotomy, broadly welcoming while selective (often judgmental) in its acceptance and affirmation of many of God’s children. . .
Thanks Christine. First let me say the body of Christ is not the Roman Catholic Church or any other denomination. Second I am leaving so long as it continues to be selective and judge mental it will continue to be evil as an I stirring despite the good intentions if some of its members. Likewise for all denominations. A large part of its leadership act like Pharisees, are corrupt and misguided. Their love which I don’t doubt was or still might be real has become uncompassionate and unresponsive to even the agape love Chrust demands of us. This corruption even the well- intentioned Pope will fail to correct. It is a failed church as an institution within which exist successful people.
Forgive the grammatical and spelling errors but I’m writing from my iPhone. How should devout Catholics response to bishops or cardinals who verbally say that only some people should receive the Eucharist, or as Cardinal Dolan recently expressed a vague message to the LGBT community which sounded like a “hate the sin not the sinner” garbage I have come to expect from fundamentalists. In practicing centering prayer there seems to me the overall idea if recognizing the other, becoming one with the other, then realizing there is no other. I don’t hear this coming from the despots of the Roman Catholic Church. I hear from them the need for authority over people’s lives without being in relationship with the other. We all will do nothing to change anyone. Only God can do that through the Son and the Holy Spirit all working in concert with one another in the dustbin of our bodily temples to sweep out the cobwebs of sin. Does the ruling class of bishops and cardinals care about letting people come to the church as they are? No. What only matters to them is obedience to medieval notions of authority and agency. Those monks, sisters, and priests who are on the front lines, in the mess of the world attempt to live and be the gospels and I wish they are in charge. Not the tired old men who liken themselves the lords of the laity. I wish my oblate director was a cardinal of the bishop of my parish!
Matteo. . . “…(they) who are on the front lines, in the mess of the world attempt to live and be the gospels. . .” Continue doing your part with grace and understanding.
As special and valued as the friendships are in my parish – most of my (our) ‘day’ is spent in the presence of others (often strangers) frequently many have no spiritual home and the manner in which we live our faith is initially, and subtly, then more fully revealed – as God intends.
Cardinal Dolan’s comments often haunt – haunt Catholics (in good standing through his eyes) when others discern over his comment above. How to answer another when they ‘love’ the individual (us) though struggle ‘loving’ our faith – as the Catholic church remains exclusive in sharing the Eucharist. Doctrinal differences are healthy and should be discussed, and discussed heartly, though at the end of the day we should all recline at ‘Table’ – Jesus dined with many the ‘learned’ of His time considered unworthy. . .
How will priests, bishops, Cardinals and the Popes answer when standing at the gates of heaven Jesus asks, -why did you not feed your brothers and sisters as I commanded? God’s Kingdom begins at His Table, And Jesus’ return will be delayed until we prepare His way and all are invited.
If today we can not lovingly break bread together, then when? His great miracle began with a meal, the meal He commanded we share in remembrance of Him.
If asked, most on the ‘front lines’ are willing to serve at His Table – and waiting to be joined in service by those in ‘authority’. . .
Matteo…, pray, listen and may your voice be gently heard. . .
Christine thanks for the words of wisdom. I would stay in the church if the ruling royalty allowed doctrine to be discussed. But since they seem to feel they are morally superior that discussion is shut down. I could stay in the church and maintain that I don’t care about what this cabal say (which I don’t) but then is feel like a hypocrite. My obedience to god had not changed but I cannot be obedient to a sinful and corrupt leaders who demand my obedience when they commit sins behind closed doors. Maybe heartfelt repentance in public would make me feel otherwise but iI’d sooner believe the hobbit is a true story than to think that will happen. A dimple oops I’m sorry I sexually abused children or stole food and money of the poor isn’t repentance.
Matteo, the words of Cardinal Dolan have upset me greatly as well. They sounded far from welcome, healing and love to me. I immediately thought of the words of Gregory Boyle SJ, that I had read the same day… ““Humility says ‘How can I serve you.’ Hubris says, ‘Here’s how you fix yourself.’”
Oh that Cardinal Dolan had an ounce of the humility that Fr Boyle has. Cardinal Dolan is a disgrace to his office.
Susan that is a very large reason why I find being an Oblate is just where I need to be. Thanks
Matteo. . . You are correct. the ‘Jeanne’ (of many transgressions – sins) are finally out of the bottle – an hopefully a ‘cleansing’ will begin, slowly though it may be.
Jesus’ public ministry spent little time in the ‘Temple’ – more among the Jews and Gentiles alike and often in the most common of locations. Are we not also called, called by example to ‘be the change we desire’. . .
It matters not where the change is initiated – and it is often personally challenging to continually return to where I first received the Eucharist – though to honor my parents, granparents, family and friends who introduced me to God in their faith, I remain – listening, questioning and outspoken. . .
I pray you remain blessed, inspired and encourage to do the same – respectfully – among those you choose and in a way that also challenges you. . .
Christine, thanks. Why does the leadership think like you. When the Pope and conclave and every bishop an cardinal and deacon and priest in every parish that has dubbed and all the laity get out of their fog of denial and cognitive dissonance that will be an interesting day. In my lifetime? Or the lifetime of everyone who subscribes to this blog and in the lives of their children? Never.
Matteo… – You made me smile!!!
Just remember, remain young at heart at your lifetime will be long enough!
While walking with the Lord, the most comforting words I have heard are, -Out of My love for you, be assured, you will never dissappoint Me. With His hand in ours, though we may be tempted, we are steadied before we fall.
I often wonder why each morning when His hand is extended and we hear, ‘Come!” more of us do not accept His offer. Imagine the day when we are ‘all’ holding hands.
We are called each morning, one hand at a time. May yours be first, then the next, and the next and . . .