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After the lockdown I am trying to return to Mass but I am not sure they want the real me
I loved my childhood Catholic home. My Irish parents hung pictures of saints next to family photographs. Statues of parishioners would think. They insisted I wore American Tan tights and court shoes and my mother’s skirt and blouse and jacket to Mass, and because I loved them, and did not want to worry them, I obediently changed. I felt like a freak at Mass, and I knew that I looked odd. My joy and optimism and new confidence disappeared. I could no longer be myself with my beloved parents anymore, and all my attempts to talk to them about what I had learnt from my studies or the people I had met when I was away went nowhere.
Our Lady, St Patrick, St Bernadette and Padre Pio were on the mantelpiece and sideboard and on top of the TV. We went to Mass, Benediction, Stations of the Cross and Confession at every opportunity, and to Lourdes and Walsingham and Knock on pilgrimage. I prayed to my guardian angel morning and evening, the Morning Offering every morning, and every night we prayed the Rosary together. We prayed for the living, but also for anyone who had died and was hoping for support as they waited in Purgatory. We were all, living and dead, one Catholic family.
And now, after the lockdown, the bishops are asking me to come home. I’m trying to return to Mass, but I am not truly sure if they want the real me, and if
I will be expected to change my clothes. I am 57, and I have been told not only that women can’t be priests, but that I, a grown woman, and mother of three daughters as well as a son, can’t even talk about women being priests, even though I have met amazing women Anglican priests who
Off I went to university … I went to lots of parties, but I also kept going to Mass and saying my prayers
Off I went to university in 1983, aged 18. I took with me a bottle of Lourdes water, a holy water font, my crucifix and the Morning and Evening Prayer book I had asked for when I was 16, and a cassette of Gregorian chant. I went to Mass every day. I studied English Literature, and met lots of people, in books and out of them, who were not Catholics, and who did not keep the rules I carefully adhered to, and I found that I loved them all the same and learnt a great deal from them.
I went to lots of parties, but I also kept going to Mass and saying my prayers, and I listened, to the girl who had had an abortion, to the boy who had tried to commit suicide when he realised he could only fall in love with another boy, to the friends from very different backgrounds, who didn’t believe in God or see why the Mass was so important to me, yet still accepted me. I met other Christians, and people from other faiths and none. I learnt so much in such a short time and I grew in my faith.
And then I came home from university. I was so excited to be back home, with my long curly hair, my earrings dangling, my long jumpers and leggings and Doc Marten boots, the way I had dressed when I went to Mass every day at the chaplaincy. I expected to go to weekday Mass with my parents and was completely taken aback by how appalled they were at the change in my clothes. They were very worried at what the radiate faith and love of God.
As a married woman I have had the experience of being pregnant and refusing an abortion on medical grounds because of my faith, and being so grateful I made that choice, but I can’t talk about how my experience has also made me believe it is wrong to criminalise the women who choose otherwise, or my fear that the far Right are hijacking the abortion debate.
I am married to a man and feel blessed by his love, but I also recognise that love from God in a married gay couple I know. I have four beautiful children, all born within three-and-a-quarter years, but I do not feel welcome to talk about my struggles with family planning or to argue for change, or to talk honestly about marriage and relationships in general. I want to come home as an adult, freely, to a Church I still love. But am I really welcome?
Anne Booth has published 23 books for children. Her first novel for adults, Small Miracles, about three nuns who win the lottery, is published in August by Harvill Secker.
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ATT LÄSA TIDENS TECKEN
att göra en meningsskapande teologi för vår tid.
Föredrag av av sr Madeleine Fredell OPhttps://www.dominikansystrarna.se/sr-madeleines-teologiska-sida/?fs=e&s=cl