In this note, I address the men and women who have been raised Catholic and are searching for spiritual nourishment and acknowledging that 90% of the people that have enjoyed the programs and services of Authentic Freedom Ministries were in fact, raised Catholic.
While Authentic Freedom Ministries is open to people of all spiritual traditions, I have come to realize that of the women and men who seek my services, 95% of them were raised Catholic. I have not actively pursued this audience, yet I cannot ignore these statistics. When asked what has brought them here, these are the answers most commonly offered:
- I love my faith, but feel like something is missing.
- I yearn for a personal relationship with God.
- I’m struggling with some of the teachings of the Church.
- I have been wounded by the Church.
- I feel disenfranchised by an Institution that does not honor me for who I am as a woman, gay, divorced, co-habitating, a single parent, called to a priesthood that does not welcome me…
- I left the Church years ago and have not yet found a spiritual home, I’ve looked elsewhere, but even there, something seems to be missing.
If these issues speak to your heart, know that you are welcome to come and explore your spiritual journey in a safe and sacred space where you will be honored for who you are and for where you are in your journey.
A letter to my Catholic brothers and sisters:
“At the sight of the crowds, Jesus’ heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd…
Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, make the proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of God is at hand.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons.”
The above scripture passage has become the foundation and intention of the work of service I do in the world. As I reflect more deeply on this invitation, it has revealed to me the audience that I have been called to feed and I can no longer ignore the fact that 95% of the women and men who have sought my services have been raised Catholic. This is not due to any specific effort on my part. This is purely coincidence (or God-cidence!)!
As I reflect on this reality, I have come to recognize some common denominators in those who come to me for Spiritual Direction, Reiki or to participate in the programs that I offer. The most common characteristic among these men and women is that they are free thinkers, and seeking to find a place where their questions, thoughts, reflections, doubts and explorations can be honored as sacred. They are seeking a safe place where they will not feel judged or condemned for their questions or for the truths that they have discerned within themselves and the life choices they have made. These are folks looking for tools to help them know God personally and to learn how to discern God’s guidance in their lives. These are men and women who love much of what they experienced in the Catholic Church, but are looking for something more. What this something more might be, most of them do not know. This is what they are seeking….that “something more” that cannot be named. They have sought this something more inside the Institution and feel they have not found it. They are enlivened when they discover that the “something more” is deep within themselves and is the Source of peace, joy and love that we call God.
Many of the people who have found benefit in the work of Authentic Freedom Ministries have felt disenfranchised by the Institution- most commonly because they do not feel the questions they have and truths they have discerned are honored by the Church – women and married men called to be priest, victims of abuse who were turned away or ignored, women and men who seek equality within a decidedly hierarchical and male Institution, gay men and women, those who have experienced divorce, single parents, women who have suffered the tragedy of abortion, men and women in abusive relationships, people who have been told their truth is heretical because “it is not explicitly handed down by the magesterium”. These are the people I have come to call “the lost sheep of Rome,” These are the people who are looking to be honored and loved for who they are and to know that there is a place where their truth is honored as sacred. They are seeking to be freed of the guilt-ridden, fear based paradigm many of them experienced in their Catholic upbringing.
To all of these aforementioned men and women, I have tried to provide a safe and sacred space in which they can freely and openly seek to know the Divine within and in knowing God, to know the truth of themselves. To the best of my ability, and admitting my own attachments to ego, I seek to provide tools that honor people where they are at and to empower them to live out that truth. I am grateful for the many opportunities in which I have witnessed deep transformation, healing and empowerment in those who have sought companionship and witness through the Spiritual Direction, Reiki and program offerings Authentic Freedom Ministries provides.
I am truly grateful for my own formation within the Catholic faith, eight years of Catholic school, seven years of post-graduate study in Catholic theology and spirituality and ten years of employment within the Institution of the Catholic Church. I look to Jesus as the model of human empowerment. He came to reveal the truth of Oneness in God’s love and to show us how to live that out. I look to Jesus the Christ as teacher, friend, companion, guide, counselor and beloved. I look to Jesus’ life and teachings as a model for how I too am called to live. I honor Jesus as being both fully Divine and fully Human and as one who had realized the fullness of this truth. I have a passionate love of the spiritual, liturgical, social justice and scriptural traditions of my faith. I am deeply moved by the sacred art and architecture and am inspired by the men and women who make up the communion of saints. I would not be the person I am today without this formation.
At the same time, I cannot deny the transformation that is being called forth and has been ushered in through the work of the Holy Spirit at the Vatican II Council. The reforms of Vatican II have barely begun, and Vatican II was just the tip of the iceberg. God is calling forth a new vision of Church, and we are being called to participate in its revelation. As God said to Moses, “I have witnessed the affliction of my people and have heard their cries of complaint, so I know well that they are suffering. Therefore, I have come down to rescue them from the land of slavery, into a good and gracious land, a land flowing with milk and honey.” (Exodus 3: 7-8a) Perhaps these are God’s words for us as well as we embark on our own journey toward freedom into a new life that has not yet been revealed. As the owner of Authentic Freedom Ministries, I humbly offer the space in which discernment of what this new life may be can be safely and freely explored individually and in sacred community.
In humble service,
Authentic Freedom Ministries