Monthly Archives: August 2015

Annulled

Hi there,

Pope Francis recently praised “pastors who have shown a fraternal and attentive acceptance for those who are divorced, had their marriages annulled.”  He went onto say that, “Children especially will be damaged if they see their parents kept at a distance from the church”… They are the ones who suffer the most in these situations…How will we be able to recommend to these parents to do their utmost to educate their children in the Christian life, giving them the example of a convinced and practiced faith, if we hold them at a distance from the life of the community, as if they were excommunicated?”

How true!  This is my story.  As a young girl, I watched as a priest told my mother she could not take part in communion because she was a divorced woman, remarried to a protestant.  My mom, in his mind, was an adulteress.

Back in the good old days of Hester Prynne of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s, my mother would have donned the scarlet “A” on her chest.

“‘People say,’ said another, ‘that the Reverend Master Dimmesdale, her godly pastor, takes it very grievously to his heart that such a scandal has come upon his congregation” (The Scarlet Letter, Chapter II).

As it stood back in the late 1980’s to the early 1990’s, she was wearing one symbolically if not literally.

I saw hypocrisy, but mostly a lack of mercy and grace.  This was probably my strongest motive for turning my back on the church.  I believed in God, I just didn’t see God in church, so why would I go there?

My mom stood up to one of the priests. She said Jesus forgave the adulteress, caught in the act, so why wasn’t she forgiven?  Why shouldn’t she be allowed to take part in communion.  The priest had no response.  One point for my mom.

On another occasion, she did not fare so well.  My last memory of being in church was this: I was sitting with some friends in a pew.  My mom was talking to the Priest.  She turned around, her eyes red from crying, and said, “Elizabeth”.  I stood up immediately, knowing we were not coming back to church again.

Looking back, I know there must have been some priests, who showed mercy and grace.(As there are today.) They just didn’t happen to cross our path.

And, so I wonder that God allowed that experience to happen.  It puts me in mind of the Beatitudes.   In Matthew 5:7, Jesus says, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”

A good reminder…

Blessings,

Ellie

http://news.yahoo.com/pope-keep-door-open-divorced-catholics-remarry-092621613.html

One Step

Hi there!

Several months ago,  a day that was one of the worst I experienced in terms of my chronic pain,  I decided to go to the grocery store.  It wasn’t that far. I had my shopping cart and I was only going to pick up a few items.  I thought I could make it.  Big mistake.

When I got in the store, I began to notice how warm it was. I wondered why they had the heat up so high.  It was winter, but still.  I bought a cold drink for the walk home.  I was not feeling well at all.  (I later realized it was my own body  overheating, as it shut down into panic mode – not the store!)

The pain was excruciating.  I had to will myself to keep moving forward, to keep taking one step at a time, to put one foot in front of the other and go on.

It was brutal.   I almost asked two city employees to help me.  But, since they were men, I opted against it.  I wasn’t entirely comfortable.

Along the street, there are planters in front of some of the restaurants/bars.  I plunked my butt into a couple of those along the way, trying to cool my body down.

Then I saw a lady standing outside of Starbucks.  She smiled at me, and I wondered if I should ask her for help.  Then, her daughter or friend came out, and they began talking. They past me, and I said nothing.

As I continued to slowly press on, I began to think about the Apostle Paul.  He was beaten severely, almost stoned to death (who knows how many times), and had an affliction he begged God to remove several times.  But as Paul writes, “Each time he [God] said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

It helped me to know that there was someone afflicted, in pain, who continued to put one foot in front of the other, trusting God for each step.

I know that it is God’s power that works in my weakness.  It was God who got me through the dark moments like the one I just described.  Chronic pain is humbling.  It reminds you of your weakness, of your humanity. But more importantly, it reminds you of your need from God.

One day some time after this particular outing, I actually remember feeling thankful for my chronic pain experience.  It has taught me things I would not have learned otherwise.

I want to end with Psalm 91, a Psalm of protection:

“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows my name.
When he calls to me, I will answer him;

I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”
(Psalm 91:14-16)

Blessings!

Ellie

Happiness

Hi there,

“Happiness is not dependent upon dreams coming true.”

I read that on a plaque somewhere.  It struck me because it is so true, yet swims against the current of culture.

I worry about us – a lot!  We Canadians have it pretty good.  I’d argue we even have it better off than the Americans (I mean, for Pete’s sake, President the Donald?)  It  makes me want to use words that would make a sailor blush.

I am still scratching my head wondering how a billionaire can relate to the working-class, and vice versa, but hey I guess that’s what you call celebrity culture.  (What was it that they said about Ms. Hillary Clinton – America would never elect a divorcée? Apparently, that only pertains to women.)

Right, back to Canada, the true North strong and free.

I worry about us because I think we have an entitlement complex.   We work hard.  Our money doesn’t seem to go very far.  We take trips to sunny places in the Winter.  (I’ll never argue that we aren’t entitled to sandy beach vacations in the middle of a -30 cold snap, with a wind chill that makes it feel like -40, Canada! – We’ve definitely earned that pleasure!)

But, it’s more of a sense that we are owed things, and in particular an easy life.  In reality, we are owed absolutely nothing, whether you believe in God or the universe.

Personally, I’ve realized I have a bit of a problem, ahem, with authority.  I don’t like people telling me what to do. I like autonomy (and that’s not a bad thing).  It makes me human, but I don’t particularly like my own sense of entitlement staring me back in the mirror.  It’s ugly.

I think I got the first glimpse of it when I felt like God should give me want I want, given my difficult upbringing – things were supposed to be getting better, not worse!  And, I was peeved about it too!

And, this confession leads me to the fact that “[h]appiness is not dependent upon dreams coming true.”

I think a sense of entitlement takes away from true happiness, or rather true joy, which is not dependent on us getting everything we think we want.

That said, I do believe God is working in our favour.  It’s usually not how we think it should be.

Joel 2:25 says, “The LORD says, “I will give you back what you lost to the swarming locusts, the hopping locusts, the stripping locusts, and the cutting locusts. It was I who sent this great destroying army against you.”  I pray the “Year of the Lord’s Favour” on you and me – and will leave it up to God to decide what that looks like:

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified. 
(Isaiah 61:1-3)

Blessings,

Ellie

PS – Smile – there are cameras everywhere these days – just don’t smile too big or they may take you away in a padded vehicle…