April 11, 2009

Religion, Part Two

"I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God. Amen." - Martin Luther

It was late. Both kids were soundly sleeping in the next room. I was sitting on the bed, book in hand, bawling. Between sobs I told my puzzled husband, "I think I'm going to be a Protestant!"

I was reading -- muddling through, really -- a book of Christian history that was far over my head. It was written by a Lutheran theologian, it so happens. I got to the part about the Reformation. To my great dismay, I was rooting helplessly for the reformers.

After much soul searching, I decided that the only thing my conscience would allow me to do was to begin worshipping in a Lutheran church. I wonder if anyone not raised Catholic could understand my great sorrow and reluctance. The world had been divided for me long since into Catholics and non-Catholics, and now I was non-.

My reluctance never abated, but I acted in obedience to what I believed then -- and believe now -- to be a call from God. For seven years I lived as a too-Catholic Protestant. Today, I am a too-Protestant Catholic.

Religion is how I have always understood and defined my faith. Rote prayer and spontaneous. Lectionary and Bible. Tradition and scripture. Authority and freedom. Alpha and omega.

Today, I have to face this solemn and painful truth: Neither the Catholic nor the Protestant iterations of religion has encompassed my lived experience. The rhythms of the mass resonate to my core. The scriptures do too -- when I study them and come to my own understanding of them as history and story and truth. Sacrament embodies the reality of the Risen Christ. But I am saved by grace through faith.

Nine years ago I became willing to abandon my Catholicism as a way to respond radically to God's call. I received in return nothing less than Christ, who can never now be taken from me. Am I willing today to abandon the desire to fit into a single religious mold, Catholic or Protestant, and discover what I may receive from God in return?


  1. "I am the church, you are the church, we are the church together. . . I'll go follow Jesus, all around the world. . . yes we're the church together." This was a Sunday school song that stuck. I think it is supposed to be a song of unity and yet it actually makes a point about a major problem. . . "we are the church," the church is made up of people. . . a sinful, prideful, picky lot. It has got to be part of the Lord's refining fire plan that we join for corporate worship and community. . . because no matter; Catholic or non, we fail to get it right. . . to worship Him in spirit and in truth all the time differences aside. I love that you are listening for His voice, and are obedient to His calling on your life. . . I love that you live in a devotional, one-piece fashion. . . authentically. Well done . . . well doing :). . . This is one way to live with outstretched hands ready to recieve what He has to give us.

  2. Elegant and Eloquent as always. Thank you for writing what so many of cannot put into words. Always inspiring. I agree with Kristen--I love that you show us a life lived authentically.

  3. Three things: Be-Loved... Be-lieve... Be-Love...


    It is a daily thing, this learning to speak Truth and Love well.