I woke up this morning to news of the mid-report from the Synod. Things just got crazy pretty fast from there. Elizabeth Scalia has two great posts up already and then Simcha Fisher wrote this:
“The mid-term report described as an “earthquake” is nothing of the kind. It’s a reassertion of the constant, consistent teaching of the Church, and even the constant, consistent teaching of God the Father toward His wayward people: Come to Me. Please, come to me. Yes, I want you to change, and I will demand things of you. But we can’t get anywhere unless you come to Me.”
I just had to let it sink in. By “sink in”, I meant write about it. I had planned to write a whole other blog post, but man did that sentence hit me. The reason is that is exactly what God said to me in my car the first night that I attended RCIA and heard a sweet little mesican man say to me “God loves you more than you think He does, no matter what you have done or how far you have turned from Him, He loves you, He thinks you are good and He wants you to come to Him”. When I got in my car that night I sat in the parking lot for a long time sobbing. I never really have been able to put my finger on what exactly made me cry except that I knew God was calling out to me and asking me to come to Him. I now realize that it is because He was calling to me because He loved me, not because He wanted anything from me. For someone who had never had anyone not want something from me, that was exactly what I had looked for. That is how my conversion to Him began. The road that led me there began somewhere else years before, but this is when God Himself came to me. Maybe it wasn’t, but it was the first time that I knew for sure that it was Him and that He wanted me just as I was.
This is the thing: not once in the next 9 months did anyone tell me that I was a sinner who was too far gone or that I was “bad” or that I needed to do anything to become Catholic. They told me what repentance was and they let me argue with them about what sins were, but they never told me that I was wrong. Instead, they held my hand, guided me to the answers and then hugged me when I sat in front of them sobbing because I knew that I had screwed up a lot in my life. I already knew that I was not living life according to God’s plan, that is why I was even in Austin, because I was sick of the life that I had lived. I was sick of being used and left behind by man after man. I was looking for love, long-lasting, life long ,sacrificial love. The kind of love that would hold me up and make me feel like I was good and worth something. I found that love in the Catholic Church.
If someone had called my spade a spade then I would not have gone from a woman who was proud to have Crazy Bitch by Buckcherry dedicated to me in a club by two guys that I was “dating”, to a woman who is faithful my husband, loves Jesus, my children and is working hard to learn how to have healthy relationships with them. I didn’t need anyone to call me out, I called myself out as a piece of shit every day of my life since the first time I realized that I had lost my virginity at the age of 5 to a pervert in his garage. There would never have been enough people to tell me what was wrong with me that could ever have outdone the things that I told myself every single fracking day of my life for as long as I could remember. I walked in that parish knowing that I was bad. I also tried to make excuses for it, I was so broken and desperately needed to be LOVED, not scolded. My mother had lost her voice telling me what a disgrace I was since the day she found me in bed with my boyfriend at 15. What I needed, and I know God knew this and that is why I am so thankful for the people who He put in my path, was to know that I was loved. That I was good.
As Catholics we are so good at calling a “spade a spade” to those who already know. Maybe some people do need to hear it, but it is an act of discernment to know when it is not the time to do so because sometimes that is not love but it is abuse. That is taking someone who is wounded and telling them that their wounds make them less than. That is not what the Incarnation of God was for. In fact, Jesus said so to the Pharisees all the time. Anytime that Jesus goes off on people it is to those who think they are holier than everyone and want Jesus to point out the faults of sinners and Jesus stands between them and always defends the dignity of the sinner while calling the Pharisees vipers and hypocrites. I know, I know, it is only cool to call out the sinners, but heaven forbid you point out any Pharisee like tendencies. Funny how that “spade” isn’t really called a spade so fast by anyone so willing to point out the fault of public sinners. But I digress.
Look, I am not sure how anyone else feels, maybe some people will never want to make the changes demanded by them from God once they encounter Him, that is their right to do, He gives it to each of us every single day. I do know that as someone who walked into a parish office waiting for the people in it to tell me that I needed to do a list of things before being good enough for them that I already knew I was a horrible sinner. Just like the woman at the well knew that the man she was living with was not her husband. The voice of the evil one in my head told me that I would never be accepted as I was. Thank God for those people who did accept me as I was and loved me. They still love me when I fail. I would not be where I am today if they had not been there and instead had called my “spade a spade”. Forget spades, what people need is mercy and love. The world is starving for those two things. How Jesus lets them know that He wants to give them those things is by putting people in their path who show them mercy and love in the first place. That is what He has called us to, the rest is His job.