I've talked about being Catholic, and the conflicts my Catholicism created for me, particularly when I became a part of the nascent reform movement attacking clergy sex abuse.
By birth I'm an "in-between" Roman Catholic. My mother was an almost-novitiate/a graduate of a convent girls Catholic High School in Kokomo, Indiana; my father was a low-church Episcopalian. My mother held my baptisim at the cathedral in Indianapolis and some of my earliest memories date from the late 1950s. I recall being with my mother in what seemed an enormous, echoing church, Latin mass, and the penquins in procession. Throughout my life when crises became manifest--I say manifest, because my professional career has always been crisis; I've never ceased seeking solace at mass. After I quit drinking in the my early 30s, I returned to church and was confirmed. At one point I actually sang and played guitar in a folk mass with my parish--at least until my work on behalf of clergy sex abuse victims put me at odds (in my mind) with the Pastor.
I have returned to my roots to confess on many occasions, and with this recent lack of sleep I've felt a real need to get relief. Confession is a gift, a sacramental gift available to all Catholics.
This morning I awoke at 4 am, my heart racing, nearly out of my mind. I was able to take some prescription medication that I have for anxiety and get another 3 hours of sleep, oversleeping by an hour. When I got back from coffee, I did a meditation that described the specific act of bridging myself to a future place beyond this life crisis. This meditation instructed me to take a certain, specific act. I did this with no resultant solutions, but I felt better for doing the act.
You see I am confronting what the Kabbalahists call my Tikkune--my life issue. The reason my soul was sent here. Go ahead and laugh, but have you ever noticed that in your own life or in the lives of those you love or those who you are close to, people continue to make the same mistake, over and over? People struggle with their life issue--that is, the problem in their life that needs resolution--it may be as Cardinal Newman said, your life has a purpose. You may not learn that purpose it in this life, but in the next God will tell you, because there is always a reason for your life.
I went to confession, at 11 AM, and it was the longest, most intense and tearful confession I've ever experienced. Poor priest! But a very good priest who heard me out--in as few possible words as I could compose, --I told him the story, the same one I tell on this blawg. I told him about my fears for my family, I owned my "corrupt and criminal" soul. I told him that as I prayed at the Mary statute outside the confessional where I have prayed many times, before, I noticed for the first time that the Blessed Virgin stands looking down her hands gesturing downward with her left foot on a serpent, an apple in its' mouth. I told Father that it feels like that serpent is in my heart. As I confessed, I owned every sin that I could find in this dark heart of mine, and Father blessed me and forgave me. I prayed my penance.
When I first drove downtown I passed through the warehouse district and I noticed a Psychic's storefornt which has been there for years. I thought to myself, that must be a very good psychic, because that storefront has been there for a long time. After I went to confession, I thought to myself, Father must moonlight at that storefront, because he read my psyche. Father said I am struggling with a pattern that occurs and recurs again and again as part of my family legacy. Father said, I have a chance to put an end to that curse with my life actions--Father sounds like he was reading my Tikunne. He was offering peace of mind. I believe him, I'm buying--I want that peace of mind.
There are many things about the Catholic church in the world that are heartbreaking, as with the law, as with academia, and business. Today I was reading in the New York Times, about a Catholic theologian who offers the opinion that torture can be morally justified under Catholic teaching. The rejoinder of both liberal and conservative Catholic critics of this stance is is that torture may be a "necessary evil," in this dangerous world, but becasue something may seem necessary, does not cease to make it "evil." You stand convicted in the eyes of God, regardless of your intent. But, you can look at the dark matter and forget the light, forget the stars and the heavens and human good.
Father shared his humanity, and mine with me. I am the angry and judgmental Bad Lawyer, but I pray that we may all find a place of love and mercy and grace.