Thursday, October 8, 2015

What the people need from the Synod

I've been a lazy blogger this week.  True, I got sidetracked by some Facebook discussions about why women won't be deacons in the Western Church and why it's silly to derail the Synod to talk about the feminist agenda for the umpity-eenth gazillionth time just because some of my fellow females get all bent out of shape about things like women's ordination (but...but only to the diaconate!  We swear!), male pronouns in prayers and music, and a phrase like "fellow females." To those ladies and their supporters I have my usual advice: man up!  We don't need deaconesses.  We need married couples to quit using birth control, stay faithful to their wedding vows, avoid porn in all its ugliness, raise their own bleepin' kids, and stop acting like marriage is some rom-com fantasy instead of what everything else in human existence is: hard work, sacrifice, suffering, and disconcertingly large amounts of joy threaded in among the work and sacrifice and suffering.

And then we need to look around and help people who are shouldering way more suffering without the leaven of joy.  People like this lady:
When I married my husband, I was full of joy and hope because I believed the Church’s teachings about marriage, and my husband professed them too. He was chivalrous and faith-filled and a true friend when we courted. But as soon as we were married, all thoughtfulness and self-giving from him ceased, and a burning anger took hold instead.
Bewildered, I looked for answers in spiritual direction and Catholic books. Time after time priests turned me down for spiritual direction, saying they were too busy or wouldn’t meet with a woman, so go to the confessional or counselling instead. In the confessional I was told go to counselling. But my husband did not want to go to counselling—it was too hard to make the time with us both working, and it was so expensive we could never afford to attend more than a few sessions. Those few times we went to a Catholic counselor did not change anything.
The Catholic books told me to love more, to sacrifice more, to give him affection and build him up with words. All these things I tried to do, but his temper kept burning a hole in my heart and in the heart of our children. I tried to tell him time and again how his words were hurting us, but he ignored me or simply excused himself as “only human” or accused me of thinking I was perfect to shut me down. I asked what he wanted me to change and he said “nothing.”

When is the last time you heard a homily that talked about the sin of wrath, of unjust anger? When is the last time you heard a priest exhorting his flock to avoid temper tantrums, outbursts of rage, bad language, incendiary speech, and forms of entertainment designed to make people angry and self-rightous toward others (such as certain types of talk radio)?  When is the last time you heard a priest start talking about the love of God and neighbor (as most of them do) and then break it down into practical things like, "You know, men who love their wives don't yell at them for not doing the laundry the way they expect it done, or fuss at them because the children are playing loudly when the Almighty Football is on TV.  And women who love their husbands don't nag and nitpick them to death over the timeliness of the kitchen garbage removal, or make them feel like an idiot if they don't load the dishwasher the way she likes it done."  Things like that.

Now, if you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail, and if you have an obsessive desire to see women admitted to Holy Orders, then even this lady's problem would have been solved by...wait for it...Deaconesses!  Because a lady deacon would have cared, and listened, and offered practical help...

Oh, bosh.  Nobody is more critical of women than other women.  Nuns, now--I could see nuns helping women in these situations.  But married female permanent deacons?  If married Catholic women want to help other married Catholic women by counseling them in situations where they are struggling in their marriages, then they should just do it.  No ordination is necessary for this sort of thing.

What is necessary, though, is that certain feminist agitators and their episcopal supporters stop seeing the Synod as their own personal ideological playground and remember that they're supposed to be helping struggling, suffering, even shattered families.  They're supposed to be recognizing that an awful lot of our culture is made up of people who are not merely hostile, but totally apathetic to the idea of marriage, people like this:
For many other couples, especially those approaching the four-year mark, this kind of relationship might lead to a march down the aisle — but not us. Starting with our conversation on our very first date, in which he urged me to “Never get married,” we’ve both made it clear we’re not interested in matrimony, holy or otherwise. If it’s not a priority for either of us, if I’m not invested in becoming his wife — and the cultural baggage that entails — why do it?
My parents got divorced when I was 2 years old, and several of my relatives have divorced as well: grandparents, aunts, uncles, great-aunts and uncles, cousins. So I didn’t grow up thinking of marriage as the only way to ensure the longevity of a relationship. I’ve never lusted after a wedding venue or wanted to plan an elaborate ceremony. Marriage has always felt like something other people do.
There's more of that out there than we want to admit from within the Catholic bubble.  There are more young people finding the whole idea of marriage irrelevant.  The other side of the coin is made up of young people, many of them Christians, who sort of take it for granted that you're supposed to have a "starter marriage" when you're young, but of course once you grow up a little you'll have an amicable divorce and marry the sort of person you actually want to raise kids with. Sort of the "upwardly mobile real-estate model" of marriage, with its "starter homes" replaced by more expensive and bigger homes in better school districts when it's time to have a family.

And in the midst of all of that is the Church, insisting (as she should) that marriage is supposed to be permanent and faithful and exclusive and open to life.  But she herself, through Pope Francis, has been saying that the Church needs to walk beside her children more tangibly and substantially as they embrace this reality amid a culture that ignores or despises it.  And walking more tangibly and substantially means not ignoring the woman who comes to her pastor in pain because her husband is a mean-tempered man whose anger is ruining the family; it means not ignoring the woman whose "good Catholic" husband abandoned her for a floozy or, even worse, because he'd rather be alone and basking in a selfish lifestyle full of pleasures than actually be a father to his kids.  It means not brushing aside the fears of the man whose wife is addicted to the sort of daytime television that tells her she can't be happy so long as she is married; it means not ignoring the man whose wife walked out on him because his hairline receded, his waistline expanded and his wallet contracted, and is now in a bitter custody battle with him over the kids, whom she no longer wants raised Catholic.

The people are begging for the Bread of Life.  Those in the Synod who are handing out the stones of opportunism and the scorpions of feminist ideology instead should be ashamed of themselves.

7 comments:

L. said...

"When is the last time you heard a homily that talked about the sin of wrath, of unjust anger?" -----> So, all of the anger on this blog is different, presumably because it's "just" anger?

Red Cardigan said...

Well, I never said I was perfect, L. :)

Still, if you're talking about anger in "tone," I can assure you that I'm usually not angry when I'm writing, and if something that is directed at a person comes of as sounding angry it's probably unintentional on my part. On the other hand, if I write, "IVF is evil, and here is why," and it seems like I find the evil of IVF something to be angry about--why, then, yes, that *would* be an example of just anger, because we are supposed to have complete enmity with sin, which would include some sense of anger that something that is evil is being applauded by our frequently sick culture.

To put it back in the context of the present post: if the lady's husband were coming home and saying in a loud and passionate voice that he is very upset by some great societal evil (for the sake of argument given present company let's pretend it's a societal evil you, L., would also call evil), and inviting her to agree with him, and she did agree with him and had some just observations of her own about the evil in question, I highly doubt their marriage would be suffering from that. But it's more than likely that she is talking about unjust anger directed personally toward her or their children.

L. said...

Ha, one of the reasons I enjoy reading your blog, even when I disagree with you, is your superb use of hyperbolic sarcasm. You do sound angry much of the time, but I can't really tell, just from your words. I have no idea what is really in your heart.

There are some times when you seem to "hate the sinner along with the sin," though.

Abe Dana said...

The most disturbing thing about that post is that Fisher had to close down comments on it.

She says
"I have closed comments on this post. It was only up for a few minutes before people started criticizing this woman for her behavior. Please pray for her family instead of telling her what to do."

What behavior?? What kind of people are out there??

Abe Dana said...

The most disturbing thing about that post is that Fisher had to close down comments on it.

She says
"I have closed comments on this post. It was only up for a few minutes before people started criticizing this woman for her behavior. Please pray for her family instead of telling her what to do."

What behavior?? What kind of people are out there??

Elizabeth said...

"...and stop acting like marriage is some rom-com fantasy instead of what everything else in human existence is: hard work, sacrifice, suffering,"

That's not how I would describe my marriage of nearly 30 years. Life is like that, but marriage gave me a partner in it, a "companion in shipwreck" as Tolkien put it. Someone to hold me after an exhausting a day of work at home AND my job. Someone to laugh about the absurdity of some situations with.

You "pro-family" people need better PR. Seriously.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Erin doesn't get angry often, she just has a biting sense of humor. My mother had one too, and she bequeathed a lot of it to me, so who am I to judge? Lighten up, its HUMOR. Its funny a good deal of the time, even when she's lancing my favorite position on a controversy... she may not win me over, but I can admire a blow well struck. I suppose that comes from playing chess. Every round of every tournament, HALF THE PLAYERS LOSE, always, and sometimes one of them is ME. If you can't smile in admiration of an opponent's well-played attack, you might as well not bother.

Anyway, I didn't see much in this post to disagree with. I don't have any reason to object to women in the diaconate, my mother was on the Session of her local Presbyterian Church. But Erin isn't Presbyterian, she's Catholic. What's so almighty important about women deacons that Erin should have to support the notion?