Meet the Magdalenes – Michelle Lynn Davies Schaeve

The Magdalenes are women and men who have completed the Authentic Freedom Leadership training or the Magdalene Priest/ess Training. The Magdalenes are called and empowered through their own unique giftedness and within their own circle of influence to be a vessel through which Divine Love is brought forth into this world.  I am honored and humbled to be in the company of this amazingly powerful community! This blog series features the Magdalenes and all the great work they are doing in the world.

 

Michelle Lynn Davies-Schaeve, OM, LMT, RM-T, PLC, SD

Michelle is a Licensed Massage Therapist, Reiki Master-Teacher, Professional Life Coach and Spiritual Director. In practice since 2003, Michelle offers a wide variety of treatment options to support your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual wellbeing, In addition, Michelle offers Life Coaching, Spiritual Direction in support of these, has completed the Authentic Freedom Leadership Training, along with the Magdalene attunement and ordination under the direct guidance of Lauri Ann Lumby. You can learn more about Michelle and her ministry at www.mlstherapeuticmassageandreiki.com.

 

I have to share a few things on my own about Michelle because I know she won’t do it for herself!  🙂   I have often said that Magdalenes are born not made, and that I know them by the recognition I first experience when meeting them.  This could not be more true for Michelle!  I first met Michelle when she was a little girl!  She was helping her dad who was catering a retreat that I was facilitating in the early 90’s at the local Catholic Campus Ministry.  I knew her right away.  Fast forward ten years or so and I’m reporting for my first day of work at my new position as the Program Director at the Harmony Wellness Center in Oshkosh.  There’s Michelle!  We both stopped dead in our tracks and said, “Hey, I know you!”  Michelle had just started at Harmony Wellness herself as a massage therapist and Reiki practitioner.  The rest, as they say, is history.  Since then, Michelle and I have worked together (disturbed the shit) on all matters of spiritual formation, healing and service to the community.  Michelle has completed all of my classes, the Magdalene ordination, and spiritual director training, mostly under my direct guidance.  At somewhere around 5’2”, Michelle is a force to be reckoned with.  Welsh in ancestry, she is not to be confused with a Welsh Pixie….Michelle is a DRAGON!  I love this woman like a sister and we have shared many, many lifetimes.  I am grateful that the Magdalene brought us together in this life to remember our past, to heal what was lost and to bring it all forth, fully formed into this life.  The world needs our magic and I am honored to share this journey with Michelle (and the miraculous beings that have come into the world through her children!).  I love you Michelle!

If you one who is hearing the calling of the Magdalene, please check out our Resurrecting the Magdalene online course: 

Magdalene Resurrection Course

Posted in Mary Magdalene, order of the magdalene, priestess training | Tagged , ,

The Keepers – Netflix Documentary

I just finished watching the Netflix documentary series – The Keepers. It its official advertising, the docuseries is described as:

This docuseries examines the decades-old murder of Sister Catherine Cesnik and its suspected link to a priest accused of abuse.

OMG! This does not even begin to express what is covered in this series.  I will be the first to admit that this has been perhaps the most difficult series for me to watch and yet I felt watching it was critically important.  In fact, I would suggest that it is critically important for everyone to see.  I will, however, preface this recommendation with a HUGE TRIGGER WARNING.  The docuseries catalogues IN DETAIL the sexual abuse inflicted on (likely) hundreds of teens by Fr. Joseph Maskell of the Baltimore, Maryland Archdiocese. In addition, the docuseries describes the far-reaching efforts by the Church, law enforcement, the courts and even the FBI to cover up the abuse and curtail the investigations of the murders of two local women, Sr. Cathy Cesnik and Joyce Malecki.  The Keepers provides provocative evidence suggesting both women were likely killed by Fr. Maskell (or he ordered their murders).  To say the series is chilling would be an understatement!!!

Like the movie Spotlight, this is a series that stayed with me. I felt it to the depth of my being.  Being raised Catholic and having worked in the Church for a number of years (finding my calling within the Catholic Church in fact), this series hit home.  On one hand, the series did a beautiful job of portraying the potential good in the Catholic Church. It demonstrated the beauty that comes out of the Church in people like Sr. Cathy and other women and men who found the love of the Divine in the Church and who sought to live out that love in service to the world.  On the other hand, the series demonstrated the insidious evil that dwells in the shadows of the Catholic Church, the depth of that evil and its far-reaching effects.  In Baltimore, it was not only the Catholic Church that was involved in the abuse and its cover-up – this culture of abuse and the efforts to keep it secret involved law enforcement, the courts, and even the FBI. Some suggest that members of the local law enforcement may even have participated in the abuse.

What troubled me the most in this documentary were two things:

  1. The archdiocese’s deception (which continues today!) and the efforts they put forth to curtail any investigation, including arguing AGAINST raising the statute of limitations for abuse victims. If nothing else, cue up episode 7 for the ludicrous arguments put forth by the diocese against increasing the statute of limitations for abuse victims!
  2. The abuse itself. This troubled me because of the way in which the abuse was described. The details of the abuse were so similar to what I have heard from others, and so specific to certain “sacramental” acts and so depraved that I have to wonder if these priests are being trained to do these things. You cannot make this stuff up! It is not normal sexual behavior by any stretch of the imagination. When I heard of a single priest performing this kind of abuse I thought, “Well that’s weird, sick, twisted and super disgusting.” But to hear of it AGAIN with another priest I have to ask the more difficult question: “Why is this more than just an isolated incident and from whom are these priests learning this kind of deviant behavior? It is an abuse of power and distortion of the sacraments in a way that is beyond imagination. It is beyond sick and the pure definition of evil! As one who honored and held the sacraments as sacred, I am horrified – not just by the abuse, but by the Church’s ongoing efforts to deny, ignore, push under the rug, that this is taking place in the Catholic Church and then doing nothing to: 1) hold priests accountable 2) make appropriate restitution to victims (I’m sorry, but a $25,000 pay-off does NOTHING to heal the abuse and its ongoing effects on a victim’s life!!!!!), 3) change the system that made any of this possible in the first place!

This, in fact, is the final piece that I came away with after watching The Keepers. It is too late for the Catholic Church.  There is no possible way the institution of the Catholic Church can fix this.  The disease is too far reaching.  The cancer is too deep.  The tentacles of the tumor are too tangled and intertwined.  You cannot restore or rebuild a structure that is this far gone.  The only answer is to tear it down, creating space for something new.  For me, watching The Keepers put the final nail in the coffin of any dreams or hopes I might have had of the Church reforming itself.  It really is too late.

How lonely sits the city
that once was full of people!
How like a widow she has become,
she that was great among the nations!
She that was a princess among the provinces
has become a vassal.

The roads to Zion mourn,
for no one comes to the festivals;
all her gates are desolate,
her priests groan;
her young girls grieve,
and her lot is bitter.

All her people groan
as they search for bread;
they trade their treasures for food
to revive their strength.
Look, O Lord, and see
how worthless I have become.

For these things I weep;
my eyes flow with tears;
for a comforter is far from me,
one to revive my courage;
my children are desolate,
for the enemy has prevailed.

From the Book of Lamentations

 

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Meet the Magdalenes – Tracey Wickham

The Magdalenes are women and men who have completed the Authentic Freedom Leadership training or the Magdalene Priest/ess Training. The Magdalenes are called and empowered through their own unique giftedness and within their own circle of influence to be a vessel through which Divine Love is brought forth into this world.  I am honored and humbled to be in the company of this amazingly powerful community!  This blog series features the Magdalenes and all the great work they are doing in the world. 

Magdalene – Tracey Wickham, UK

Tracey Wickham is an Angelic Healing Practitioner, Reiki Master, Meditation Guide, Hand Mudra Energy Healer, Crystal Therapist and Archangelic Life Coach. Tracey is a voracious learner and has many more qualifications to follow. She lives in the West Midlands of England with her tabby cat Cedric.  Learn more about Tracey’s work (or better yet, sign up for one of her amazing sessions) through her website: www.traceywickham.co.uk

Tracey’s journey of embracing her Magdalene calling: in her own words:

I have been interested in healing for as long as I can remember.

My mum used to suffer from migraines when she was alive and I hated seeing her in pain. In fact I used to try and help alleviate the pain, using my hands, although I knew nothing about Reiki at the time.

My first qualification came as a Crystal Therapist, and these days I work with Etheric Crystals so that I can offer clients crystal therapy on a distance basis. Although Etheric Crystals are not here in the physical they are very affective and much more powerful than working with the physical form.

In 2012 I became a Reiki Master and since then I have continued to study many different forms of Reiki. In fact I have some attunements lined up so there is more to come.

I set up my website as I want to be able to help as many people as possible. And one way to do this is to offer all my work on a distance basis.

In the past when I have worked with friends this way it has proved to be successfully. They all said at the time that they benefited enormously, whether they had distance Reiki or a distance Crystal Therapy session.

I am an Angelic Healing Practitioner and have been accredited by the IAOTH. I am going to start studying for my advanced certification soon.

In 2016 I studied with Charles Virtue and became a certified Archangelic Life Coach. As a result I am able to offer clients a number of oracle card readings.

Since gaining my Meditation Guide certification I have added 1 to 1 online guided meditation sessions for four different things including depression and relaxation.

I have also got a certification in Energy Healing Hand Mudras and I am very excited about this. Let me explain. Hand Mudras can be sent energetically just like Reiki. It is my intention to start offering clients a number of Hand Mudra distance sessions. Now I may be wrong, but I don’t think I have ever seen this form of energy healing being offered to clients elsewhere, and if I am correct it will be an honour to be the first, or among the first, to do this.

Something I am looking forward to offering clients is EFT. I hope to finish the course I am taking next week and once I have received my certification I shall start offering 1 to 1 online sessions.

I guess you may have discovered reading this that I am passionate about healing and helping others.

Since becoming an ordained member of the Order of the Magdalene I have come to realise that healing work and helping others is my ministry. And I am proud to rise to that challenge to the best of my ability. To me this calling is a blessing.

Not everyone lives near an alternative therapist or can afford their fees. I hope that by offering my services this way those who would not otherwise receive the help they need will be able to do so.

 Support your own Magdalene calling through the Magdalene Priest/ess Training Program:

Authentic Freedom Academy

 

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The Death of the Hierarchical Church

The hierarchical Church is dying. Heralding its death are the ongoing revelations of priest sexual abuse and the Catholic Church’s inability (or unwillingness) to do something about it. The “sins” of the hierarchy go deeper than we can even image (for just a glimpse, watch the Netflix documentary The Keepers. It is the chilling account of one priest who sexually abused hundreds of young girls, who murdered two who threatened to report him, and the entwined system of corruption that allowed him to get away with it). Nothing short of a complete dismantling will change the system of clericalism that places priests and bishops above the law (civil and doctrinal). Jesus spoke against the very system that we see in the Church today as he witnessed the “sins of the hierarchy” in his own Jewish faith:

Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying,
“The scribes and the Pharisees
have taken their seat on the chair of Moses.
Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you,
but do not follow their example.
For they preach but they do not practice.
They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry
and lay them on people’s shoulders,
but they will not lift a finger to move them.
All their works are performed to be seen.
They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels.
They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues,
greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’
As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’
You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers.
Call no one on earth your father;
you have but one Father in heaven.
Do not be called ‘Master’;
you have but one master, the Christ.
The greatest among you must be your servant.
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled;
but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

MT 23: 1-12

In this exhortation against clerical hypocrisy and hierarchal abuse, Jesus lays out the kind of leadership he had in mind. Jesus did not preach FOR a hierarchical institution, he spoke of humility and service, “The greatest among you must be your servant.” The hierarchy of the Catholic Church has exalted themselves, placing themselves in positions of power, above those they are supposed to serve. For this they are being humbled. The Church is experiencing the consequences of their actions. In this the Church will be brought to its knees.

The mighty is falling and a new order is rising up to take its place. What that new order is, we do not yet know. And yet, this “new order” seems to be a part of my own calling:

Supporting those who are grieving the loss of the Church they once knew, or who are grieving the damage done to them by the Church…and guiding them to the only Church they will ever truly need…the Church within themselves. Learn more HERE.

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Order of Melchizedek Level One Training

20 lessons in ritual and divination practices

This is the first course in the full Order of Melchizedek Training Program created and facilitated by Lauri Ann Lumby, OM, OPM, MATS.  This course provides the foundation for ritual and ceremonial magic, integrating Kabbalistic teachings with the simple practices of native cultures.  The rituals here are adapted to meet the intention of Union, moving beyond the popular notion that the purpose of magic is to “get what we want.”  Employing these practices supports and amplifies the intention of Union while facilitating the healing and release of that which resides within you that is blocking the experience of Union and hindering your ability to be an empty channel through which the Divine Purpose of Love can be made manifest in our world.  While appearing simple, these lessons will have a profound impact on your inner and outer experiences.  You will be changed and your life will change as a result. 

 

Stand Alone Price:  $660.00 payable in full or in three installments of $225.00 each.  

 

Pay in full here:

or click BELOW for the 3 month payment plan. 

 

NOTE:  There are no refunds on online courses.  If you withdraw before completing your payments, you will be invoiced for the balance due.

 

Course Outline: 

Lessons One:  UNION

The original meaning and purpose of magic

Lesson Two:   Ritual of Dedication

A daily dedication in service to the Divine

Lesson Three: Attunement to the Divine Name

A daily attunement to the Divine Name

Lesson Four:   The Hexagram/Anahata/Star of David/Seal of Solomon

The power and meaning of the 6-sided star

Lesson Five:   Emanating Love ritual

A daily ritual for clearing and sanctifying space

Lesson Six:  Agape (Divine Love) Bath

            A daily practice for clearing and aligning our energetic bodies

Lesson Seven:  Introduction to the Tarot and its Kabbalistic origins

The tarot as a metaphor for our own “hero’s journey,” as and a teaching tool for the Kabbalah, and as a source of divination

Lesson Eight:  The Wheel of Life/ The East

Introduction and attunement to the Divine directions

Lesson Nine: The South

Lesson Ten: The West

Lesson Eleven: The North

Lesson Twelve: Spirit/the Heavens

Lesson Thirteen: Gaia

Lesson Fourteen:  The Divine Names

Attuning to and applying the power of the Divine name

Lesson Fifteen:  Tree of Life/ The Kabbalah (introduction)

The ancient mysticism of Judaism and the path of consciousness evolution

Lesson Sixteen: Archangels (introduction)

Our helpers and our guides

Lesson Seventeen:  The Holy Bride

The lost feminine archetype and the culmination of the human journey toward enlightenment.

Lesson Eighteen: White Magic vs. Black Magic

Humility and pride in magic

Lesson Nineteen: The Adversary/the role of temptation

The inner forces which seek to obstruct our path

Lesson Twenty:  Ordination

Ordination as a Level One practitioner

Required texts and materials for this course: 

B.O.T.A. or traditional Rider-Waite Tarot themed card deck with guidebook. (I use the Gnostic Tarot of the Saints by Robert M. Place )

Modern Magick by Donald Michael Kraig  (As a reference book only.  Buy it used!)

Gnosis of the Cosmic Christ by Tau Malachi

The Emerald Tablet by Dennis William Hauck

Suggested Reading:

Witchcrafting by Phyllis Curott

Celtic Magic by D.J. Conway

NOTE:  There is a significant discount when you register for the FULL Order of Melchizedek Training Program.  Click on the image below to learn more.

A Note from Lauri Ann Lumby, OM, OPM, MATS, program creator and facilitator:

For my entire life I have been fascinated by magic. Naturally drawn to the mystical, I found my childhood role models in Samantha Stevens, Morticia Addams and Lily Munster.  In my teens, I become overwhelmingly obsessed with anything that had to do with King Arthur and read every book on the subject that I was able, ultimately culminating in the Arthurian masterpiece, The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley.  To say that I loved Tolkien and Star Wars would be an understatement, and Excalibur was my friend. 

This love for magic was further supported by my Catholic upbringing which brought me up close and personal to magic that “turned bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ,” that healed the sick, exorcised demons, and made a humble human into the “child of God.” Jesus magic was everywhere and the rituals which facilitated this magic spoke to something very deep within my Soul.

Fast forward into adulthood, along with formation as a Catholic lay minister, I studied Wicca, Native American spirituality, Celtic myth and magic. I set up my home altar and when I asked for guidance it came in the form of a brick which flew through the air, awakening me to my true purpose which had to do with Priesthood – but not the priesthood I had grown up with.  As it turned out, neither was my call to Priesthood somehow wrapped up in any of the neo-pagan, priestess or goddess movements.  Instead, it seems like it was a Priesthood that predated all of these – what I have heard recent authors call “the primordial tradition.”

In the Judeo-Christian tradition in which I was raised, this primordial tradition is given a name: The Order of Melchizedek.  First mentioned in the Book of Genesis as relating to the High Priest of Salem, Jesus is also mentioned as associated with this tradition.  What distinguishes the primordial tradition from the systems of magic popular today is that in the Order of Melchizedek:

  • Magic is not done for the sake of “getting what we want,” but for the sake of aligning our purpose with that of the Divine.
  • It is not we who are “doing” the magic; it is the Divine working through us.
  • The Order of Melchizedek “keeps it simple,” acknowledging that the true power of magic is not in complicated rituals, invocations, chants or spells, but is in our intention to be One with the Divine – surrendering our own will to the Divine, and emptying ourselves so that the Divine might live in and through us.
  • We acknowledge and accept what was said to be true of Jesus:

Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped,
 but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave,

being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form, he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross.

Phil 2: 5b-8

It is for all of these reasons that in spite of more training programs on magic and ritual (including the ancient Jewish mystical system of the Kabbalah) than you can shake a stick at; I have endeavored to create a training program that presents magic in another light.

Learn more about Lauri Ann Lumby HERE.

 

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God is Cleaning House!

Or should I say “Goddess?” As the horrors of the priest sex abuse scandal continue to make headlines I can’t help but celebrate the truths finally being made known.  I’ve seen the horrors first-hand (I’m not only speaking about sexual abuse!) and it is only right that the sins of the Institution be made known and that the hierarchy be held accountable to the grievous harm they have inflicted on humanity for thousands of years.  I suspect (hope) that this current wave of truth-telling marks the end of the priesthood as we have known it and the end of the patriarchal/hierarchical structure built on fear, power and control. The Divine (by whatever name we call Her) is CLEANING HOUSE!  Amen!  Amen! Halleluiah!  (Cue Handel:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=usfiAsWR4qU )

In light of all of this, I found it hilarious (God has a great sense of humor…..or is it timing?) that this reading came up in my daily scripture feed this morning:

The word of the Lord came to me:
Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel,
in these words prophesy to them to the shepherds:
Thus says the Lord GOD: Woe to the shepherds of Israel
who have been pasturing themselves!
Should not shepherds, rather, pasture sheep?
You have fed off their milk, worn their wool,
and slaughtered the fatlings,
but the sheep you have not pastured.
You did not strengthen the weak nor heal the sick
nor bind up the injured.
You did not bring back the strayed nor seek the lost,
but you lorded it over them harshly and brutally.
So they were scattered for the lack of a shepherd,
and became food for all the wild beasts.
My sheep were scattered
and wandered over all the mountains and high hills;
my sheep were scattered over the whole earth,
with no one to look after them or to search for them.

Therefore, shepherds, hear the word of the LORD:
As I live, says the Lord GOD,
because my sheep have been given over to pillage,
and because my sheep have become food for every wild beast,
for lack of a shepherd;
because my shepherds did not look after my sheep,
but pastured themselves and did not pasture my sheep;
because of this, shepherds, hear the word of the LORD:
Thus says the Lord GOD:
I swear I am coming against these shepherds.
I will claim my sheep from them
and put a stop to their shepherding my sheep
so that they may no longer pasture themselves.
I will save my sheep,
that they may no longer be food for their mouths.

For thus says the Lord GOD:
I myself will look after and tend my sheep.

EZ 34: 1-11

What was true for Ezekiel (622 BCE) is true for us today. The “shepherds” (priests) have sinned against their people and against their God.  They have brought harm upon the people of the flock (us) and the Divine says NO MORE!  The truth is coming to light and as God said to Ezekiel, “I myself will look after and tend my sheep.”  What need have we for human shepherds (priests) when we have God/dess to guide us?  As Jesus chose God over the institution and his disciples did the same, this is the invitation we are currently being given as the outside perceived authority of institutional religion (here symbolized by the Catholic Church) comes crashing down around our feet.

As I have come to know in my own journey, we do not need an outside perceived authority (the Church) when the only true authority is the Divine within.  This is the truth Jesus came to know and what he then went on to teach his followers.  Mary Magdalene got this and held true to the Divine within.  The male disciples had to re-learn this truth after getting expelled from the Temple, and then somehow forgot this along the way when they appointed themselves “Bishops” and “Priests.”  But as I have said a million times over, “God/Love always wins!”  She is reclaiming what is hers; casting out all those who did not heed Her words and who did not care for Her people and inviting all of us to return to the only “Church” we will ever truly need – the “Church” that is in our own heart where we are One with the Divine (Love) that dwells within.

P.S. If you don’t yet know that “Church” within, I am happy to help you find it.

Posted in church, Raised Catholic | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

If Pope Francis Hired Me to Give the Catholic Church a Makeover

In the face of the most recent revelation of the deep culture of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, I wonder what will become of the Church. Ultimately, this may be the beginning of the end of institutional religion which wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.  However, in spite of all that is wrong with the Catholic Church, there is some good and if they can heal all that currently ails this 2000 year old institution, the Catholic Church has the potential for being a great force for good in the world.  It will take a miracle to get there, but if Pope Francis (read Pope Francis’ response to the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report HERE) called me today and invited me in as a consultant on how to heal the Church, making it relevant and useful to the modern world, and he was willing to pay me a sh.t-ton of money to do so, I would undoubtedly say yes.  So Pope Francis, in anticipation of your generous offer, 🙂 here are my thoughts on the first order of business in healing and reforming the Catholic Church:

The first order of business would be to get rid of the ridiculous notion of original sin!  If we are made “in the image and likeness of God” and “loved without condition,” then how can we be sinners?  Wounded and in need of healing?  YES.  But not inherently evil.  Eliminating the projection of  Saints Paul and Augustine ‘s unhealed shame will do two things a) eliminate the first source of manipulation used by the Church against its members and b) heal the shame Catholics have been conditioned to feel.

Eliminate the hierarchical priesthood.  Fire them all.  In their place, prepare, equip and empower the most powerful priesthood that the Church has so far only given lip-service to:  THE PRIESTHOOD OF ALL BELIEVERS!  Every single person on this planet (and in the Church) is uniquely gifted to be a vessel of Divine love in the world.  Some are called to be teachers, preachers, facilitators of ritual, healers, counselors, artisans, leaders, pastors, sales people, administrators, financiers, etc. etc. etc.  Support the LAITY is naming, claiming, and cultivating their unique giftedness and then empower them to use these gifts in service to the mission of love and the betterment of the world.

After 1 and 2, my sense is that the rest will simply take care of itself. Absent the shame that imprisons and controls, and empowered in our gifts, Jesus’ mission of love (the mission the Church claims as their own) will naturally and effortlessly be fulfilled.  Scripture will be re-interpreted.  Sacraments re-written.  Liturgy will become vibrant and life-giving.  The Catechism will be tossed out, along with Canon Law.  Religious Education will be replaced with Spiritual Formation – the process through which people become self-actualized. Meditation and Contemplation will be at the center of all that is done. Baptism will become a ritual of celebration and welcome (not for the purpose of removing “the stain of original sin”). Confession will be replaced with Spiritual Counseling so that the unhealed wounds that cause our non-loving behaviors can once and for all be healed.  All people will be ordained in their own gifts and mission. The people of the Church will work for justice and peace in our world and love will lead the way.

Authentic Freedom Academy Leadership Training

 

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Catholic Church – the Darkness and the Light

As the revelations of the priest sex abuse scandal within the Catholic Church continue to erupt, and more and more evil is uncovered, there is a great temptation to believe that the Catholic Church is only evil and that the entire institution should be destroyed. Yes – the evils that have been predicated upon innocent people at the hands of the Catholic Church are unthinkable and have to be stopped.  And if the Church doesn’t do something NOW to stop the abuse and make the radical changes necessary to eradicate all manners of evil from within the Church, the Church will most definitely be the source of its own demise.  In all honesty, there is a part of me that might revel in the wholesale destruction of the Institution of the Catholic Church, but, beyond the projection of my own woundedness is a deep sorrow for the 1.2 billion Catholics in the world who would suffer should the institution fall.  For the sake of those who have found comfort and peace within the embrace of the Catholic Church, I hope the Church does the work that it needs to – for hiding behind the evil actions of men is the great light of love that is seeking to be known.  In fact, it might be this love that is bringing the evil to light so that the evil might be healed and released, making way for the light to be revealed.

The light of which I speak is the light of Christ – the very namesake and source of inspiration for the institution that bears its name. When I speak of Christ here, I am not referring to the ways in which men have twisted Jesus’ teachings to fit their own political agenda.  I am speaking of the man who walked upon this earth and taught the way of love.  Jesus – a man who came to understand his original nature as One with the Divine in Love, who came to fully embody this love and then tried to teach others how to do the same.  This is the Jesus that I came to know WITHIN my Catholic faith.  It was also within my Catholic faith where I learned the tools and practices for coming to know the love that Jesus embodied.  Finally, it was within my Catholic faith where I heard the call to dedicate my life to the way of love – living out this calling by sharing what I have come to know with others.  All of this came out of my relationship with the Catholic Church – not the Church that rapes children – the Church that has a rich tradition of spiritual practices and teachings on social justice which support humanity’s journey toward self-actualization and which says that it wants to support people in coming to know who they are, their unique giftedness and how they are called to share those gifts in service to the betterment of the world.  This is the great light that is currently veiled by the evils of the Catholic Church – the light that I believe is blowing the winds of truth through the Institution so that all its evils might be revealed.

In the light of truth, darkness cannot remain, but in the meantime, I fear many people will be hurting. While I have no power over what the Institution of the Catholic Church will do to support its own reform (or hasten its demise), I do have the ability to support those who are suffering or in pain because of what their Church is doing to itself.  Through my writing, online classes and one-on-one spiritual counseling, I am here in support of those in need. If you are suffering, scared, confused or simply need support in processing your own grief and disillusionment, I am here.  lauri@authenticfreedomacademy.com.

Posted in church, Raised Catholic

Clergy Sexual Abuse – Compassion for the Victims

As social media continues to rage over the topic of clergy sexual abuse, I find myself wondering “what about the victims in all of this?” It is appropriate to be enraged at the Catholic Church for centuries of abuse, the culture of clericalism, fear, power and control, that made the abuse possible in the first place, and the long-standing refusal of the Church to do anything about it.  It is only right that the Church “pay for its sins,” and that they begin to do the really hard work of identifying and then eradicating the cause of clergy sexual abuse.  If the Church continues to do nothing, which I suspect it might, I predict that their days are numbered.

As it may be appropriate to wish karmic retribution upon the Catholic Church, this does nothing to address the deep needs of the victims who have suffered – and the victims are many. First, of course, are the hundreds of thousands, if not hundreds of millions who have been sexually abused by Catholic priests.  There is no doubt in my mind that these are the ones who have suffered the deepest wounding at the hand of the Church – deep psychological, spiritual, emotional, mental and physical wounding.  Unless we ourselves have been abused, we cannot begin to imagine the depth of their pain or the sense of betrayal.  I do hope that one day the victims will have the courage to speak.  Their voices need to be heard so that true healing can begin to take place.

The second victims are those who perhaps have not been sexually abused, but who were used by men of the Church so as to gain power or for their own selfish needs. When speaking of these, I think of all the women and men who have been the priests’ concubines – their “lovers.”  All the housekeepers, cooks, secretaries, vacation buddies who were made “special” by the priest because of his attentions, but who were never given the dignity of marriage.  Those who were good enough to spend time and sleep with but who had to do it all in hiding because “Father” couldn’t possibly leave the power of his position to make you his wife or partner.

The third victims are the good priests. I have known a few.  Not all Catholic priests are pedophiles and not all are abusing their power.  Many are good, kind, gentle men who have been called by God to serve.  They serve with a sincere and humble heart and do their best to continue the work that Jesus began.  Now these men are guilty by association – or at the very least, suspect.  My heart goes out to these men and I hope and pray that they receive the support they need to continue their work in spite of the suspicion that will now surround them, perhaps even becoming vehicles through which true reform and healing can begin to happen in the Catholic Church.  If nothing else, they will be needed to support the fourth group of victims.

The fourth group of victims is the people in the pews. Those who have found a home in the Catholic Church, who have found peace and comfort there and whose peace is now disturbed.  Those who grew up believing the Church was good and had only the people’s best interests in mind.  Those who gave their lives to the Church through their participation and support.  Those who found comfort in the traditions, the teachings, the prayers, and the scripture and who came to know Jesus and the love of God through their Catholic faith.  Those who believed the priest was a good man 1) because they were told this and 2) because they have personally experienced his kindness. These are the people who are now scared and confused – trying to make sense of senseless acts in an Institution that is supposed to be made of love.  My heart bleeds for these people because the Church is their home and now what?  Leave the only home they have ever known?  Leave what has been a source of comfort and support and go….where?  Watching as friends and relatives leave the Church and wondering what they are supposed to do.  I get it.  I’ve been there.  As one who eventually made the decision to leave the Church, I can say that it was the most difficult decision I have ever had to make and after ten years, I am still grieving this loss.  In light of the latest wave of truth-telling as it pertains to priest sexual abuse, some of this group might choose to leave the Church, doing the difficult work of mourning that loss. Others will choose to remain, hoping they can be a vehicle for healing and change.  Others will have no choice but to turn the whole thing off – turning away from the stories of abuse because it is just too much for them to handle.  Regardless of the choices made by those in the pews, my heart is with them.  They too are victims in this.

Actually, we are all victims in the clergy sex abuse scandal. Not one of us is exempt from the pain of the evils done by humanity.  When one of us suffers, we all suffer.  Life is suffering.  But in this suffering we have a choice.  We can let it destroy us, or we can use that suffering to find the path to healing and in that healing find our way to the new life on the other side of that pain.  This is my hope, and my invitation to all those who are currently suffering as a result of the latest reports on clergy abuse – let us come together as one, seeking together the path of healing so that something new might come forth out of this pain.  Ironically, this is what my Catholic faith taught me and what it would call me to do.

Healing Our Religious Wounds

 

 

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Priest Sexual Abuse – There are No Words

Actually….there are a whole lot of words! On Tuesday the Pennsylvania grand jury report was released with a list of over 300 priests accused of sexual abuse  –  300 in Pennsylvania alone and that number accounts for only those who have been named.  This doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of all those who have suffered in silence, or the centuries upon centuries of clerical abuse that preceded this investigation.  In reporting priest sexual abuse, the media tends to highlight the abuse that was inflicted upon young boys, completely missing the girls, nuns and women who have been and continue to be the victims of clerical abuse – sexual or otherwise.  The sheer magnitude is staggering!

priest sex abuse, sex abuse scandal, clerical abuse,

The culture of clerical privilege and clergy abuse is nothing short of evil – condemnable evil. Thank God someone is finally doing something to bring the truth to light and that the Church will finally be made to pay for centuries of abuse. Unfortunately, none of this does anything to heal the grave damage done by the Institution to its victims; neither does it do anything to change the culture that created the environment in which priests could get away with, and even be celebrated for raping women and children.

As one who worked in the Church when the sex abuse scandal first erupted in the late 1990’s and as one who has watched in horror as the Church has given lip service to the “changes” they are making to prevent clerical abuse, I can assure you that nothing has actually changed. Yes, band aids have been put in place, but the culture that created the environment in which abuse could happen in the first place has not changed.

I suspect the Church might not survive this layer of truth-telling. At one time I may have had pity or compassion for a Church that is suffering from its own woundedness, but no more.  The Church has had ample time and opportunities to take a good hard look at the culture of patriarchal privilege and power that makes it “ok” for priests to abuse, but again, the Church has done nothing.  Instead, they have systematically worked to protect the abusers, silence those who have been abused, and ignore (and even condemn) the voices of those who might actually be able to help the Institution transform the culture that has allowed sexual abuse to happen in the first place.  In short, the Catholic Church has made its own bed….and now it will have to lie in it.

The healing and reform of the Catholic Church is no longer my concern. The Church is dying.  It is long-past time for end of the tyranny brought forth by the Catholic Church.  It is time that this patriarchal, hierarchical Institution based in fear, power and control, which has used the name of Jesus to kill Jews, Muslims, and “witches;” and which has used God as the justification for their “holy wars,” and the subjugation of women, to  come to an end so that something new might come forth.  What that something new might be, I do not know, but I suspect it will have a lot more to do with what Jesus taught and Mary Magdalene lived out than what we are currently seeing.  At least I hope so, because what Jesus taught is really quite simple:

  • Love God.
  • Love one another.
  • Love your neighbor as yourself.
  • Everyone is your neighbor.
  • Feed the hungry.
  • Clothe the naked.
  • Set prisoners free.
  • Care for the widows and orphans.
  • Share what you have with those who have not.
  • Give money to the poor.
  • Give sight to the blind.
  • We are all one – with God, with each other and with all of creation.
  • Love is who we are and who we are meant to be.

It really is that simple. As Jesus taught, love is truly all there is, all we are, and all we are called to be and do. As Jesus taught, love heals all that is broken within us, thereby eliminating the cause of “sin.” Love is the answer.  It saddens me that the Church, in its quest for power, forgot this simple truth.  But like the phoenix that arises out of the ash, may the new that is brought forth out of the death of the Catholic Church be rooted in love, bringing forth the fulfillment of what Jesus originally taught and was lived out through Mary Magdalene.  Love is all there is and all we need to know.  When we know love, the rest flows effortlessly out of us.  It really is that simple.

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