Dear, Anne Rice

13 Aug

Dear Anne,

Thank you for being a voice of reason. I’m with you. As far as being Catholic, I’m out too. To be clear, my decision was a long time coming. I’ve been in and out of the church so often and for so many years, I was never quite certain what my place was or where my faith was hiding. I was looking for it like a lottery ticket or a valuable heirloom earring. But the reality is that I can not be a part of it any more. I was mystified, confused and downright pissed off about so many things the Catholic Church was involved in and “up to.” I would listen to Catholic radio and be inspired and enchanted by the mesmerizing reciting of the rosary. I would nod my head in agreement when a priest talked about the evils of war. I would feel in my right mind when I listened to the saving grace that prayer provided to someone who was ready to end it all. I would think fondly, even romantically about the gorgeous cathedrals in Venice and how I openly wept in that church of St. Francis in Assisi when I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit push through me like life-giving air. I recall a moment of grace in a cathedral in San Miguel surrounded by old women on their knees with the sweetest smiles on their sunworn faces. I recall the intimate conversations with the Virgin Mary after my mother passed away. I would find a church in every city I visited just to light a candle for her. I recall the overwhelming moment of joy when my son, only four months old, was raised high above the head of an Irish priest after the moment of his baptism. I recall the smell of burning votives and incense and the taste of the Eucharist. I remember lying flat before a hanging crucifix and Jesus in an empty church pleading with him to help me understand myself and what my purpose here on earth really is. I was twelve. I did again when I was 18. Again when I was 26. I would watch “A Nun’s Story” and “Brother Sun, Sister Moon” over and over fantasizing of a life devoted to God and prayer, but knowing in my heart that writing was my truer calling.

My home is full of crosses, sacred hearts and pictures of Mary and little statues of my mother’s favorite saints. When John Paul II died, I cried for days recalling a moment during midnight mass on Dec. 31, 1998 when our eyes met briefly as he slowly walked to the magnificent altar in St. Peter’s Cathedral. I felt changed and came to the church after a long departure. And in the last three years, I have learned more about the presence of angels and the divine guidance and intervention of the heavens than I ever dreamed possible. There are so many things to love about the mystery, magic, artistry and ancient wisdoms of the Catholic Church. And knowing that I could be in Dublin, Rome, Mexico City or Boston and have access to my dearest spiritual tools by just rounding a street corner was extremely comforting to me for many years.But it’s not enough. Not even close.

I think Christ is real. But what the Catholic Church is doing now is destructive. I have not self-identified as a Christian for some time, and I was never quite sure why. But it has become clear that they are not delivering news from God. They are firmly implanted in the world of man under the guise of spirit. And to me, that is wrong. Perhaps that’s why I have felt so disconnected. I went to church to hear God. But all I kept hearing was man’s feeble interpretation with an ever-increasing emphasis on politics. The bottom line is that I can not be a part of a religion that treats women, gays and lesbians with such unapologetic disdain and cruelty. I do not believe anyone, in good conscience, can participate in a religion that systematically denounces condoms in Africa. It’s ridiculous . I can not condone a religion that puts saving face over the safety and gentle care of children. I can not be a member of a church who indoctrinates its most devoted messengers — priests and nuns who have holy callings— and tells the spiritually dedicated that sex, marriage and children are obstacles to living a spiritually awakened existence.

I wish I could tell you how difficult my spiritual journey has been. But in all honesty, I must admit that being Catholic at least gave me an awareness and a language for understanding the universe and cosmic laws in a way that was rich and beautiful and memorable. I believe in God with my whole heart. I believe in powerful human messengers that have delivered some of these universal truths designed, essentially, to save us from ourselves. I believe in divinely-inspired music that can lift my soul out of my chest and helps me to meet the angels halfway. I believe in sincere contemplation, stillness, meditation and prayer. I believe that humans sometimes need artifacts and rituals and a common history to absorb and understand spiritual truths. But I believe, above all, that love is the answer to everything. So, Anne, I feel your pain. I understand your confusion and how pissed off you’ve been. I get it. I just want you to know that you can take the girl out of the cathedral, but you can’t take God out of the girl.

Take care and God Bless.

Love,

Jennifer

9 Responses to “Dear, Anne Rice”

  1. Pamela Villars August 14, 2010 at 1:44 am #

    Jennifer, your last line says everything that’s important. Thank you.

  2. JenniferHillRobenalt August 14, 2010 at 7:34 am #

    Thanks, Pamela. It was a strange post for me to write, but I was inspired by Anne Rice’s willingness to be open about her beliefs.

  3. peteysilveira August 16, 2010 at 4:03 pm #

    Wow Jennifer! Talk about opening your soul to allow us to feel and know and love you even more than we do! I am honored to be your friend and I thank you for the depth and breadth of this wonderful post!

  4. vil23 September 4, 2010 at 12:12 am #

    Jennifer,

    Thank you for expressing so beautifully what many of us have been feeling for so long.

    • JenniferHillRobenalt September 4, 2010 at 1:22 am #

      Thank you so much. I think my commitment to God requires me to be as honest as I can about these issues. I am still on the journey, and not perfect by any means. But so many of us do care enough to continue the conversation, and I think that’s great. I really appreciate your comment. Thanks again.

  5. catglancy September 4, 2010 at 3:09 am #

    I couldn’t have said it better. Being raised Catholic, it has been a struggle for me for years. My family is not at all happy with my decision to leave the Church and it is very comforting to know that someone else feels the same way that I do and went through the same emotional turmoil about leaving my religion behind. Thanks! I often feel very alone in the world and ashamed of sharing my feelings with fellow Christians because they always want to “recruit” you or change you mind rather than accept differing opinions.

    • JenniferHillRobenalt September 4, 2010 at 3:48 am #

      Cat, thank you so much for your comment. Don’t worry about finding people who are more like you. It’s difficult, but with social media, blogging, Facebook, etc. you’ll find that you’re not alone. I so appreciate your comment. You can also friend me at facebook.com/jenniferhr. Have a great weekend!

  6. Sonya Feher September 4, 2010 at 5:46 am #

    I grew up in Northern New Mexico with the Penitentes who would publicly flagellate themselves in a procession the week of Lent. That formed my early views of Catholicism, so I never was able to accept the church as a loving and spiritual place. What you describe of being able to commune with God in the Catholic church, as a spiritual experience and practice, but outside of the religious and political dogma, I understand what a loss this is for you and for Anne. Thank you for writing this.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Emailing with Anne Rice | mamaTRUE: parenting as practice - September 4, 2010

    [...] church prompted Jennifer to put her relationship with the church into words. Jennifer posted her letter “Dear Anne Rice” on her blog and then sent the letter to Anne in an [...]

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