My friend Cecilia died last week. She was a joyful and radiant soul from Peru, a Third Order Carmelite dedicated to working with the poor of her native country. She was here in the States pursuing a Masters degree through Loyola's Institute for Pastoral Studies.
My friend Thom is very much alive. Among other things, he is a blogger. His recent postings "Vaya Sin Dios I and II" speak truth. His writing is a wonderful ministry; he is a Secular Franciscan.
My close friends and classmates live their faith daily. So do my professors and the staff of IPS.
All of these folks have had a profound impact on who I am and am becoming. They know how I have raged at the injustices committed by the Church against the Sisters, women, LGBT folks, children, and the list goes on. They have also stood by the Church; I left it.
Right after Cecilia died, I wondered what she would say to me. I could hear her getting excited saying "Don't worry about the hierarchy and some of the priests; just do IT!" Just live your faith; it's a relationship. She is right.
I simply cannot remain outside the Church, the Roman Catholic Church, any longer; it's where my heart sings. Yes, I still disagree with it on many issues. But I also stand in the long tradition of dissenting with an informed conscience. Many saints did it, so why not me? Many were treated like crap by the Church, but didn't give up.
Heaven knows that I have a rather interesting journey of faiths. That's okay. Some will be betting how long I remain this time. But something's different; I am different. I am far more ready to weather the storms because I am in a much more secure place than before; I am home.
In returning, I find myself in very good company. People are not taking things sitting down any more. This is an exciting time to be a Catholic! The Spirit of Vatican II still beats in the hearts of faithful Catholics everywhere. I need and want to be part of a Church that is so much more than cranky hierarchs and some stodgy clergy, though the Church includes them, too! I want to show folks the beauty that is the Church.
Coming back will not be easy; but it will be worth it.