A few weeks ago, I got to speak at the wedding of my nephew and his fiancé. Like many weddings today, it was not held in a church. In fact church weddings declined 40 percent between 2000 and 2012. Catholic law requires couples to marry in churches or to get a special dispensation.
I understand it. I love the Catholic liturgy. I love my faith. I love the notion that marrying in the church puts you in the presence of the community and at the table of God that feeds us on many levels.
But for so many people, that law, that notion holds no meaning. For so many, the Church has become a symbol of disturbance and disappointment, grief and frustration, oppression and secrecy (even before the Pennsylvania grand jury report on sexual abuse.)
I truly believe that many young people want to be married in a setting that feels sacred and carries the weight of beauty. They just don’t find that in church.
And so, here we were in an intelligently designed and ornate building from the late 1800s in downtown Buffalo, NY. And I was talking about this setting – this church of beauty, created with talent from the Great Designer. It’s the same Designer who creates that which we cannot see or hear or taste or touch, but which we feel and know and believe and which draws us together as family and friends and supporters of total royal strangers. It’s love.
It was in the sacred space filled with love of family and friends that I realized something. Much like we are building monasteries without walls on this platform – orders with borders – the Catholic Church needs to break down its walls – on so many levels – and bring God to birth in the world. Let Christ be carried on the tongues of evangelists and prophets with collars and without, with maleness and without.
We can’t wait. I won’t wait.
Kathy Felong is a writer and pastoral musician in Erie, Pennsylvania.
What walls do you believe need to be borken down to "bring God to birth in the world?" Explain.
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Monks in Our Midst: writings by monks from the 3rd to the 21st centuries.