Business As Usual

I am really just rambling today so please stick with me, I’m hoping it all comes together in the end. My blog used to be called “Ramblings of a Crazy Face” and that’s why. It is how I write.

At the beginning of March I went and spoke at the FemCatholic Conference in Chicago. (You can buy the talks here. Honestly, I think that they are all worth the money and mine was not bad even though I almost fell apart in the middle of it.) At the end of my talk a woman who was the victim of sexual abuse as a child asked me how I felt about the current scandal in the Church. I guess from the look of most of my feeds on social media we might wanna start calling it the “last scandal” because nobody seems to remember that we are mad about it still and that nothing has been done at all. My I am bitter so maybe it is just me.

Here’s my answer: I am pissed. In my opinion, this is more than just about the sex abuse scandal though. It is about the way that we as Catholics accept lies when we think they are worth whatever end we are trying to achieve. It is easy to look at the sex abuse cover up and want our Bishops to face the fire for their part or their culture in those cover ups but then we all turn the other way when it is a lie that helps some narrative that we are trying to push, whatever that might be. And we all do it.

Catholicism is a great mask for psychos. People who take jabs at other people and mask it all with “I pray the Lord gives you peace” or other such piety speak that makes you look crazy when you tell other people that it was a jab at you. People with agendas and fakery fit right in when it comes to Catholic media. People who seethe with rage in real life but post pretty Instagram pictures of their rosaries and flowers telling us all how their morning prayer time was so fruitful. In the last nine years I have seen the under belly of our Church and it is ugly. Even in Parish council meetings where people say racist things about Hispanics without batting an eye.

The last time that I was this mad about the PR machine in the Catholic Church I lost a speaking job and was removed from the list of approved speakers for my Diocese. They were “concerned” about me. Then I set all of my social media accounts on fire and burned my platform to the ground. I have 0 desire to be made into someone I am not to do the work God has called me to do. I will not do it.

I have had a hard time articulating what exactly it is about all of this that makes me so ragey. But now I think I have finally figured it out.

After Anthony’s suicide I was on Instagram just scrolling out of habit when I saw so many of my friends just living their lives while I was sitting in a funeral home waiting to start planning my son’s funeral. His body was in a morgue somewhere and I was sitting in a funeral home and my friends were posting videos and pictures of them having fun. At that moment, I wanted to take a hammer to my phone. I hated that little device that showed me how little everyone cared about my dead kid. How they could just go on with business as usual without having their world stop because their son was dead.

In hindsight, I am not mad at anyone in particular about that at all, I’ve been and still am the person who goes on with my life when tragedy strikes another family. We all have our turn in that chair at the funeral home when our world has crumbled and everyone else is going to the movies or eating at Applebee’s or having a birthday party you aren’t invited to because you are dealing with dead bodies and funerals. It is part of life. But we haven’t always been able to see life go on when ours is at a standstill in a funeral home. Now we can.

Now we are all branded and have things to promote even in the middle of someone else’s tragedy, including the Catholic Church. And to me, that seems so wrong. I do not think that Jesus died on the Cross because it was a good content for His brand. I don’t think that His Passion was a marketing move. Or that He died at 3 pm because that is when the most people are online. In the modern world we have allowed the tools to become our masters. And with that comes dehumanizing ourselves into brands and dehumanizing others as brands and mostly we dehumanize Jesus into content for our feeds. That is not how God intended us to grow His following. That is how the Kardashians grow a following.

When I see the USCCB’s social media devoid of any talk about the sex abuse crisis I feel like my pain does not matter. I was sexually abused as a child by a mechanic and those things, those happy social media posts selling some kind of Catholic stuff, still hurt me. I cannot imagine what it is like for people who were victims of clergy. Each one of those “business as usual” social media posts might as well say “we do not care about your pain”. It is a signal that The Catholic Brand means more than the Gospel. A signal that I hear loud and clear. And it makes me angry. There is something more important than all our branding. There has to be, otherwise we are all just fooling ourselves and each other.

At some point I will have to find a place for this anger. I will have to process it and figure out where to put it because I am not going to allow it to stop me from doing what God has called me to do. But for today, I am just going to allow myself to be angry. There just has to be another way to be witnesses of Christ without the PR spin and without being fake and without accepting lies for the greater good. The Truth matters. The Truth has a name and a face. The Truth is Jesus and if we do not believe that then we should all just stop spending so much time pretending we are Catholics who believe in God.

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Hate, Love, Darkness & Light

Here is my family’s make up: I am Hispanic. My oldest son Anthony is the grandson of a Mexican man who came here illegally and made a good life for his family. My youngest three children are half white and ethnically Jewish. My husband is white. His three sons are half white and half Hispanic.

This is a diverse family. I am Hispanic but I was raised in South Texas, my stepsons’ mother is from the Rio Grande Valley which is further south than South Texas but is The Valley, not “south Texas”. I know, it’s weird. Even weirder is that the Hispanic culture is totally different in The Valley than in South Texas and even more different than the Panhandle of Texas.

Both the men I married are white and both are honorary Hispanics. They were both raised with Hispanic friends, love Mexican food and fit right in with my family. More than I do even. But my ex-husband was raised in the city of Houston and my husband was raised in the country like me. Ben is a city slicker and Stacey is a redneck.

My oldest son Anthony was born in the ghetto and has always felt most at home among black people like me. But my three youngest kids are very suburban to the point that they pass as white and have to tell people they were raised by a brown mother.

All of this is to explain how diverse my family is and that is without even going into politics or religion. None of my children are practicing Catholics. My grandkids go to Mass with their mother who became Catholic after my son Anthony died, but my children are all over the place when it comes to both politics and religion.

In my opinion, what real tolerance and diversity and peace will look like is when no part of my family is being attacked for the color of their skin or their worldview. When the world is a reflection of my family, then I will consider that we have made some progress in creating a loving society.

Right now racists attack my Hispanic heritage, Trump attacks the grandfather of my oldest son, people fighting racism attack my white kids and husband, people equate redneck with Trump supporter and anti-antisemitism attacks the heritage of my children. Everywhere I turn there is some insult based on culture, skin color, social class, worldview, generation or heritage that insults someone in my family. It is getting pretty old.

Dr. King’s dream was not that people of color would one day outnumber or overpower white people so that we could insult them and their skin color. His “I have a Dream” speech ended with these lines:

When we let it ring from every city and every hamlet, from every state and
every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all
of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and
Gentiles, Protestants, and Catholics will be able to join
hands and sing in the word·s of the old Negro spiritual,
“Free at last, Free at last, Great God a-mighty, “We are
free at last.”

His dream was one where we all saw the dignity of each other. Where black people were lifted up as equals and who were judged by their character not by the color of their skin. Where their pain from what was done to them and is still being done to them was acknowledged. Where they were given a chance to lift themselves out of the poverty and trauma that was put on them by a system that dehumanized them. He never called for any of that to come as fruit of dehumanizing white people or religious people or non-religious people.

It is very fashionable to quote Dr. King on MLK day, but how many of us are willing to read the words of his “I have a Dream” speech and live them out in our everyday lives?

As Hispanic Catholic woman I ask that you do not claim your prejudice of anyone is in defense of me. Do not put that on me. I reject it a hundred times.

Sex, Marriage and Grief

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I have recently started writing again on my own website. I am still over at Patheos and plan to stay there but I also want to just write here as well. I don’t really know why I want to do both but I do.

Yesterday I realized that a lot of my very old and original blog posts are on this website and people are reading them. That is good because I love the traffic but it is bad because so much has happened since I wrote those posts. For one thing, my husband and I have been through a lot of shit.

When I first started blogging after my conversion I was very cheerful, happy and a bit full of myself. I was a new convert and a newlywed. My conversion was amazing. God moved mountains for me and I was feeling the love from everyone because my testimony is really miraculous. Plus I loved the Church, the pro-life movement and I was saying all the right things because I was new at everything.

I still love the Church and I am still in love with Christ to the max. But I have matured in a lot of ways, including how I talk on issues like marriage, sex, and the abortion. My politics have changed now that I realize you don’t have to be a Republican to be Catholic. The election of Donald Trump as President freed me from that lie, thank God for that.

I am still very much obedient to Church teaching on everything. Marriage is a Sacrament between a man and woman but I don’t feel the need to disown all my gay friends or to lecture them constantly on my beliefs. That is a good thing because it gives us a lot more time to love each other. I missed them so much!

I am still against abortion and believe that it is the ending of an innocent human life but instead of sharing all these angry posts on Facebook about it, I do what I can to support women in having their children. I support equal pay, health insurance, assistance for women in low-income situations, housing programs and whatever else I can support that will support women and families to thrive. And sometimes that means standing with pro-choice women in getting those things done. I have become so consistently pro-life that I can see the dignity of the human person, even the one who disagrees with me. I also believe there is so much more to being pro-life than abortion. I believe suicide, mental illness and the current situation with mass shootings are all part of the pro-life stance as well. I have lost a lot of faith in the Pro-Life Movement itself but I am still Catholic which is really the important thing. I have no use for pro-life celebrities to tell me what to think and do. I have a catechism and spiritual director to help me be holy, which is my end goal.

I no longer see sex as the most important thing in the life of a married couple. Most of my life has been centered around sex. That’s just the truth. Sex is a part of my marriage but it is not my marriage itself. I learned this the hard way the day that my husband and I stood over the body of my oldest son. What made that man a husband was him taking care of my son, standing next to me as I made funeral arrangements, and when he got me to eat and sleep for the year after we buried that boy. Marriage is so much deeper than I ever knew and I wish I had not learned it this way, but I did and I am so thankful for my husband. Sex is what we share with each other and nobody else but the real foundation of a marriage is serving each other in ways that you don’t serve anyone else.

Finally, I am not so chipper. That is not to say that I am not happy to be Catholic. I am. I am honored to be the mother of these children and to be a grandmother. My family makes me very happy and I have moments where I can feel the joy of God shining on my face. I can breathe. I can love and I am laughing again. But I also know that grief is real and it is also a part of life. I know terrible things happen in the blink of an eye. I know that there are days, weeks, months and maybe even years when some prayer intention seems to not be making it to God’s ear. None of that changes how good God is or why I am a Christian. If anything, it makes it more clear to me why I am one!

There is probably a lot more that I could clear up, but really, if you read my old posts, just know that I am so different now in so many ways. There is before Anthony died and then after. He died on March 8, 2017, for reference. If you read anything I wrote before then, chances are I have an entirely different view than I did then.