November 18, 2005

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

Thanksgiving message: Let us love our faith

A few months ago, I was at a neighboring Catholic church to express my condolences to someone whose daughter died. As I waited, a woman a few feet away asked if I write a column for The Criterion. When I said “yes,” she then asked, “Why don’t you write about women priests?”

I said, “Perhaps I should, but I doubt that would get into print.” My husband later suggested I should have asked, “What women priests.”

Granted, Episcopalian women fill many clerical ranks in that Church now; and, as close as Episcopalians and Catholics are in many areas of faith, the possibility of Catholic women priests is still soundly negated. Yet, much like the woman who approached me, there are many Catholics who would welcome women priests as much as they would married male priests.

The same woman who chided me about this subject spoke with me later, asking if I belong to Voice of the Faithful or am interested in Call to Action. Both groups lobby for more lay authority and less hierarchical rule in our Church. I am not knowledgeable on such subjects, and I doubt I ever will be, so it behooves me to steer clear.

There will always be Catholic liberals and, although I’m hardly one of them, I do admire what some of these men and women have accomplished.

The focus for my column, however, is not about such issues. I purposely chose “Faithful Lines” as the column’s name in order to reflect my own feelings about our faith and the Church. Have I ever strayed? Of course! Have I ever openly promoted something that is contrary to our faith? Not to my knowledge. When I say the Nicene Creed, I believe everything in it. When I think of the many blessings of our Church, I thank God for them. It is easy to find fault with anything, even the Church. Why is it so difficult for some to love our Catholic legacy?

Not long ago in The Catholic Journalist (the official publication of the Catholic Press Association), editor Mary Iapalucci shared a letter she received from an 85-year-old woman, Catherine Tittmann, who reminded Catholics that “Blessed Mother Teresa said we don’t have to be successful, only faithful.” After a meaningful retreat with her daughter, she decided to write to every Catholic editor suggesting columns about our love for the Church, but she took a shortcut by writing to the CPA editor.

Tittmann has the right idea: Instead of belittling our Church and our faith, shouldn’t each of us be loving it and sharing that love? As she says, “Where else are we [or anyone else] gonna hear it?”

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)


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