Responding to the Catholic self-appointed inquisition.
Just when I think I am off their radar and free of the wrath of the Catholic self-appointed inquisition, they rear their fearful head. This morning as I was enjoying a glimpse of the new and expansive opportunities that are coming my way, not the least of which is the pending release of my new book – Union – a year of spiritual lessons and practices with Mary Magdalene, this shows up in my email. Not one….but two emails from the same individual spewing their wrath:
You wicked evil christian. You thought you could deceive me and lead me to believe you really discern spirits when in fact you said it led you to practice Reiki, an occult practice forbidden for Catholics.
The Lord rebuke you. It sickens me you practice Reiki.
Your charism is not from God. The occult practices indicate otherwise. What I don’t understand is why mix catholicism with the occult?
Even if you have the charism, I know you are not in the truth because you are an occult practioner who is doing what is forbidden by Catholic practice. What happened to you…
I’m really saddened to see that you practice the occult because if you really do have the charism of discernment, The Church and people really do need it and not mixed with occult practices…
Normally, I would not give any energy or attention to emails such as these, but today, I find myself particularly annoyed, not because of their words, but because of the larger message behind these words which is:
If you are a woman who happens to be doing the work that Jesus did, you are evil, wicked, doing the work of Satan and condemnable as a witch.
As it relates to being a witch, I wear that mantle proudly for to me being a witch means:
- Dedicating my life in service to the Divine and in support of the betterment of our world.
- Emptying myself so as to be a vessel through which the Divine might be known in our world through my own unique gifts.
- Allowing the Divine to work through my spiritual gifts of discernment, teaching, encouragement, leadership, pastoring, prophecy and healing to transform our world from fear into love.
- Engaging in ritual practices for the purpose of concretizing my commitment to God which then act as efficacious signs of grace…by which divine life is dispensed to us (ref. Catholic Encyclopedia).
- Strengthening my commitment to God and to the mission of love through daily meditation, contemplation and prayer.
- Being of service to others as a source of love in all things.
I see none of what I do as contrary to the Christian message, most especially as this message was modeled by Christ. Jesus taught. He prophesied. He counseled. He meditated and prayed. He performed ritual. He led. He pastored. He laid on hands for the purpose of healing, expelling demons (fears) and to empower those he taught to do what he had done.
It wasn’t only men whom Jesus empowered to continue his work. The FIRST ordained to continue Jesus’ work was Mary Magdalene (John 20), and she was a woman! Sadly, the early response to Mary Magdalene’s role as successor to Jesus was ridicule, condemnation and slander. She immediately went from being Jesus’ co-equal partner, the one who first saw the risen Christ and the one sent forth to share the good news, to adulterous woman, prostitute, whore….in other words….a witch. What happened to Mary Magdalene two hundred centuries ago has been the burden inflicted upon all women thereafter who have attempted to do what Jesus did and be whom he called them to be. The message has been clear:
If you are woman called to do the work of Christ, you are not welcome and we will enforce this ban by calling you a witch, a heretic, a whore, a blasphemer, who does this work in the company of Satan.
While it would be easy for me to get on my feminist bandwagon, I find here that I cannot as these accusations of being in the company of Satan go beyond gender. In fact these are the exact same accusations heaped upon Jesus by the self-appointed inquisition of his own time:
When Jesus had driven out a demon, some of the crowd said: “By the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons, he drives out demons.” Others, to test him, asked him for a sign from heaven. But he knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste and house will fall against house. And if Satan is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that it is by Beelzebul that I drive out demons. If I, then, drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your own people drive them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the finger of God that I drive out demons, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you. When a strong man fully armed guards his palace, his possessions are safe.
But when one stronger than he attacks and overcomes him, he takes away the armor on which he relied and distributes the spoils. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.
Luke 11: 15-26
Apparently ANYONE who tries to do the work that Jesus did is vulnerable to condemnation. When I pierce through the veil of these accusations I see one thing:
Fear – specifically, the human fear of that which is outside of our control.
Catholic (and most religious) doctrine, wraps life up in a tight little ball. We are told what to believe, what not to believe, what is good and what is evil. Theologians might have the freedom to argue about these beliefs, but the common person sitting in the pew is expected to believe without question. For many, believing without question provides the perceived surety they crave in an otherwise unsure world. The problem is that life CANNOT be wrapped up in a tight little ball for us to control. The truth is there is very little we truly know and even less that we can control. Those who have been called beyond these tightly defined parameters, who are comfortable in the world of the unknown, where life embodies many shades of grey and where freedom is found in ambiguity become a threat to those who cling to the illusion of surety. To the latter, it is easy to think of the former as evil as our presence stirs their fears and the unhealed wounds that cause them to cling to what they think they know. Witches….shit-disturbers, we might be one and the same. J
While my initial response to the emails above was annoyance and my second response was hurt, I can now sit in the compassion of understanding the fears that caused this person to lash out in this way. I am sorry for the unhealed fears that cause them to seek after surety. I am sorry for the fact that my presence has triggered these fears. But even more so I am sorry that they chose not to use the tools that Jesus gave them to heal those fears so that instead of finding separation, they might have found the love that unites us both. In this, there are no witches, there is no inquisition, there are only human beings trying to find peace in an otherwise fearful world.