Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Getting Discouraged

I've lived in Connecticut for a few years now, and for the most part, up until a few months ago, I was fortunate to find Catholic parishes and communities that were stimulating, vibrant, socially conscious and intellectually honest. The pastors, chaplains and campus ministers who presided at Masses were intelligent, sincere, and had a way of making the faith which I identify as my own fresh, new and relevant to my life. But that was before I moved to Middletown. That was when I lived in New Haven and enjoyed the benefit of the St. Thomas More Chapel at Yale University. That was when I worked in Southbury and participated in the parish life of Sacred Heart Church. Here in Middletown, I am at a loss.

I began participating in the Eucharist at St. Pius X, a Capuchin parish. While things went well for a while, in recent weeks, the preaching has been lackluster, and the music has been so bad that Michelle and I decided to look elsewhere. Two Sundays ago, we went to St. John Church in Cromwell, and last Sunday, I went by myself to St. Francis Assisi Church in Middletown. St. John was no better than Pius X and St. Francis was simply sad.

All of this makes things very difficult for me.

My wife has been alienated from the Catholic Church by the oppressive nature of the more traditional and conservative liturgies, by the Church's stance on women, homosexuals and reproductive rights (to name a few). She went to church with me because she loves me and the churches we were attending were neither oppressive nor conservative in their liturgy or approach. She did not feel as alienated at Sacred Heart Church as in the parish in Northern Virginia where she was raised. The past few parishes here in Middletown have turned her off all over again. Where she once even looked forward to coming to church with me in Southbury, she now comes only grudgingly.

I never asked Michelle to share my faith. But I do ask her to accept that it is part of me and who I am. She has done this. She loves me and my faith. But she is concerned that I may not be able to pass on my faith to our daughter; that I will somehow force the oppressive of her childhood onto Vivian. I have no intention of doing this, but I need a little help. I need to find a parish or catholic community that is vibrant, relevant, speaks to the daily lives of ordinary women and men, seeks the ongoing reform of the Church, reaches out beyond its own walls, stands up for the poor, oppressed and hurting, rejects hatred and violence, has an attitude of openness and true dialogue with other cultures, denominations, and religions. Is that so much to ask?

I am Catholic. I wish it for my daughter with all my heart. I love my church, but hate the injustice it's leaders and many of its members perpetrate in the name of Jesus Christ. I pray that, as she gets older, I am able to find a parish somewhere where I feel comfortable taking my family to celebrate. Right now, I'm not finding any help around here.