punchy line

...and he (Simon Peter) saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the face-cloth ... not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself. - Jn 20: 6-7
-Jn 20: 6-7

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Occupy Your Parish Church!

In this time of economic and moral downturn (read: suicide leap) I choose to occupy my parish church grounds as often as I can. Here’s why.

While our friendly mainstream occupiers are shutting down business districts, threatening law enforcement and turning public streets into a politically charged “Woodstock,” the Church is holding its own concurrent version of social rebellion, where the faithful can revel in holy hippie-ness (is that a word?), or hippie holiness, or whatever can be equated with casting off the world in pursuit of personal sanctity.  We're going 'back to basics,' back to the things that matter the most: faith, family, friendship, and yes, fun!  
Miniature Catholic occupiers (going incognito, dressed as saints) at our Shrine.
One of them is the Auxilary Bishop, though, so we're okay.
For example, our parish homeschooling group just held their annual All Saints Day celebration where the kids dressed up as saints and paraded around for the community.  Families came together to basically run an event that simply offered a couple of hours of God-centered fun. 

So what does this have to do with today’s “Damn the Man!” climate?  Everything! 

Although it's difficult to tell, Wall Street's protestors are really looking for what we all are looking for in a time of crisis: hope.   Everyone needs hope.  But they’re looking in the wrong place (which isn't to say we shouldn't protest injustice, but I'm more than a bit skeptical of their strategy).   Catholics on the savvy, on the other hand, know where they can go to find hope and protest "the Man": their own Church. 

That's right, we’ve got hope; the Catholic Church has it.  Real hope. And looking around at my fellow parishioners during our All Saint's celebration, at a community assembled with their children looking like an amalgamation of saints and hobbits proved that to me.  Pick any deficiency in society, and we Catholics have “got an app(licable) Catholic response” for that.  For instance:

Fatherlessness.  The number of men taking on the responsibility of dad-hood, at large, has severely dwindled.  We’ve got fathers! I saw lots of them during our parish All Saints festivities, holding their babies, snapping photos, helping their wives and building community alongside one other.  Imagine: a network of supportive dads all endeavoring to educate their children, work for their families, and deepen in their faith in the process.  Real men.  Real fathers who are also teaching their sons to do the same.

And we’ve also got Fathers with a capital “F.”  Priests who love us.  I mean, really love us.  They're not only shepherds for our souls, but they also want to be a part of our lives.  You should have seen how they all lit up like cassock donning Christmas trees at the sight of the kids dressed up as nuns and friars!  They love us and we love them and they are Fathers to us all.  And who knows how many of our sons will grow up to be like those good men?

In society, the nuclear family is broken.  We’ve got families!  Lots of families.  Big, intact  (they always seem to go together, don’t they?) families whose kids may not always wear the trendiest clothes but they're too busy enjoying life to notice that they may lack some of those oh-so-important material ‘things’ that are supposed to make us happy but never do.

Marriage. The no-longer greater institution of marriage is in tatters and several groups are poised to ‘redefine' it. Hm. Remember when marriage meant a husband and a wife, a mom and a dad, who were committed to each other for life?  We’ve got that!  I saw that at our carnival too! I know what you're thinking: mom-and-dad-marriage is like soooo ten years ago, and before then, like soooo only the bedrock of every society that ever existed. Er...so, yeah, we've still got that; we’ve got people persevering in their vocations to holy matrimony, granted, the latest statistics on sacramental marriage don't look so good.  

One of the organizers of the All Saints event took
 this lovely photo of me and mine.  That's the girl
dressed up as St. Rita (sewing credit: the grandma
and her godmother ) and the boy, who's busy
fiddling with his tummy button.
Society objectifies women. The Church reverences womanhood. See that huge statue of a woman in the picture at the beginning of this post? That’s Our Lady, Jesus’s mama, our mama too, the woman we honor above all others; our example of faith, trust and courage.  The Church recognizes womanhood's distinct beauty; our bodies are not to be used, our fertility is not to be feared, our gifts as women are not to be hidden.  Looking around at the good women, some of whom I know personally, for me and for them, it’s not: I’m a stay-at-home mom because I’m a woman.  It’s: I’m a gifted, well educated, and truly liberated woman called to give myself creatively, selflessly and utterly as I work for my family at home.  (Not to discount the stay-at-home dads, of course, you guys rock!)

Society: lotsandlotsandlotsa temptation to pull you away from sainthood. The Church: well, hey, look, we’re trying!  And sometimes we dress up our children up as saints to bring the idea of sainthood within reach (if only you had seen them that morning…we parents probably achieved some degree of sanctity just getting them ready for the parade).

In short, I choose to occupy my parish church because that’s where true hope lies.  I have the best occupation strategy in this world: one that looks beyond this world to the next, one that doesn’t bring fruitless mayhem, but manifests the fruits of the Holy Spirit which are love, joy, peace, perseverance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Fruits that endure forever, no matter how unjust society becomes. Hope, in other words, that we can all really believe in.

Here's a link to an absolutely awesome article by Scott P. Richert, with a similar title to mine, written in response to a blog post on America, The Catholic Weekly's site.  His is a slightly different angle, more scholarly, less costumes, but ultimately the same gist: Catholics, occupy your Church! Read it here.


  1. We read your blog, and we are slightly more committed now to dress our children up for feast days and celebrate our Catholic faith more pubicly. Thank you very much. God bless you.