Proud to be Catholic, but . . .

Faith is for me a mix of intellect straining to understand God, my senses, and what Van Morrison calls "the inarticulate speech of the heart." Music, the water and mountains of my Puget Sound home, the garden grown from seeds, and my kitchen full of bread, roasted garlic, wine, and friends daily show me God. Faith is the invisible spring in my core that feeds the river of my daily life.

I have tried many ways to deepen my life of faith. Zen requires more discipline than I can muster, substituting reading of theology for prayer has drained me, and the Roman Catholic Mass alone does not sustain me. Yet I proudly choose to worship within the Catholic Church, because I grew up in the diocese led by Archbishop Hunthausen, because a laywoman "priest" leads our parish, because it is my church too—not just the domain of the hierarchy.

But while I remain an active Catholic, I no longer wish to work in direct church ministry. I now work as a community organizer. While the church talks a good line about social teaching, it has not taught me, nor my community, how to work effectively for justice locally. I am tired and angry at seeing churches spend so much money and time on charity work, while we ignore our biblical heritage of developing leaders and communities of power. I want to see churches begin to take thoughtful, disciplined, and strategic action. I want to see a revival and blending of the biblical passion for justice with the best of our democratic, republican (with small "r") tradition.

I recently read a Midrash of Deborah, the Hebrew judge, that spoke of her training in the temple and the marketplace to be a "woman of flames" who would lead her people. Her story reminds me, also a Deborah, that God is found in everyday life—in the people I meet in organizing work, in the marketplace of the city of Seattle, in the dirt of my garden, in the Rainier Valley.

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Sojourners Magazine November 1994
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