Monday, April 11, 2011

Whats Your Take?

Many years ago a friend of mine went through a traumatic divorce.
They are all traumatic but his was a duzi: his wife went off with his closest friend, taking his two young sons with them.
So he lost his wife, his children and his best friend in one shot.
One can only imagine the pain and humiliation of that. . .

As if that were not enough, his church, the Roman Catholic church, closed its doors to him because he was a divorced man.
He was made to feel that he was persona non grata to the only One who could have comforted him and brought  him through to wholeness.

So, a broken, cynical, lost guy, he went about his life like a hamster on a wheel.
Oh he did all the usual things; had a good job, was socially entertaining; had lots of friends; drank far too much; drove a nice car - but there was an meaningless clangour about it all.
Like beating loudly on an beautiful empty drum.

People who knew his story were outraged at the treatment he suffered at the hands of his church.
And how they added rejection to rejection.
None of the disaster was his doing or his desire.
It broke his heart.
But it was the Catholic church's policy, so thats how they handled it.
So awful!
So merciless!

Its a puzzlement to me how leaders of churches should handle these things
Obviously, not like that!
But then, how?

But if there are no lines drawn, if there are no standards - (obviously not imposed- free will is everyone's privilege, no matter where it leads us) - if the wisdom of Christ is ignored, how then is the Church different from the world?
Behaviorally, I mean?

I remember also some years ago, someone in leadership bringing a young unmarried girl to me, telling me she was pregnant.
That lass was surrounded with loving support from the church, without exception (as far as I know)
And that felt right to me.
But I was also concerned about the message it sent to the other girls who were not doing what she obviously was.
None of them got the love and affirmation that she did.
What did they make of that?

To what degree should matters like these be addressed by church leaders?
Should all these things be ignored?
Should help be offered by leadership when it becomes known to them, or should they wait to be invited?
And if that invitation never comes, should they just turn a blind eye to it?
Should they just preach Christ and let Him sort people out in His own way and time, or do they to say something to the people themselves?

One thing is for sure, church leaders need all the prayers for wisdom and understanding that we can offer!
Their task is one that would make brave men tremble . . .


cat said...

I live by the "cast the first stone if you have no sin" motto. I feel the church should be accepting and supportive. We all sin - I also believe that God has infinite grace for us.

Ness at Drovers Run said...

It's not a church's place to judge. Period. (just my thoughts)

Meriel said...

Rule number 1: be like Christ.

He saw people as individuals and He spoke to them, with them. He sat and he ate with them.

He wasn't scared to get involved. He also didn't soft soap the truth nor mince his words.

lg said...

Interesting post - makes you think. I agree with everything that the previous people have said. I always see Jesus treating each person as an individual. He spoke to them, engaged them in a way that they knew they were cared for by him. I feel that's the way to go: Love people, be interested in the individual, care for them, and show them that you do. Maybe its easier said than done - maybe its simplistic...

Bottom line - We've been given grace - we can therefore give it too.

Olivia said...

I also agree with the other comments. I must say witnessing how the Catholic church rejected people when they needed help the most was a sure cold shower. I believed in what Lg said, to love one another and genuinely care about them, for, who are we to judge? However, let's make it clear that certain behavior cannot be encouraged.

Anonymous said...

Can't help thinking about the prodigal son's return and how annoyed the older, well behaved brother was at the Father's warm extravagant greeting. I think about that older brother a lot - even though he was dutiful, he didn't know who he was (he acted like a servant instead of a son) and what his father had given him (everything his father owned had always been his). He was full of self-righteousness and judgement. Surely the church should embrace the prodigal's the same way the Father did.
Thanks for getting us to put our thinking caps on!

Kirsty said...

I am Catholic, and whilst I know the church was wrong - especially in cases like this, I have to say that in recent years I have seen forward progression within the Catholic church. The younger priests coming through are much more in-touch with modern day reality and accepting of dire circumstances, like your friend. I would hope that if that happened now-a-days, he would be treated with compassion, and not turned away. I know he would in my Parish, but I can't say the same for others x x

allie. said...

I will revisit here when I have a bit more time because I'm so interested in everyone's input. Thanks so much.

"Family" specially to you, if you come back here: won't you make yourself known?
I tried to find you but your blog is not available.
I am very much on the same page as you and know that a number of my readers will be too.

Later, guys!

Lynette said...

At the mission we teach love and grace...we believe that if we want to be Jesus' hands and feet on this earth we must walk in the same love and grace He taught.

Elizabeth said...

Hey Allie, Just wanted to share my take. Although your friend may feel like the church has closed it's doors on him, this may be his perception. That doesn't mean to say he's not hurting. Although the Catholic Church does have it's regulations regarding divorce, they do have a lot of support for those divorced persons seeking an annulment. Getting an annulment is not as difficult as most people think, my sister got one about 20 years ago,and it wasn't so hard back then, I believe it's even easier now and since then my sister has continued to be very involved in the church, she's a lecture, eucharistic minister, is involved socially and more. So although you're friend may feel abandoned by all, he needs to know that he's not. Tell him to check out the Catholic Answers website, if he doesn't have a priest he feels comfortable with or look into various support groups in many parishes. It may take effort on his part, but the doors are definitely "not closed". He just has to knock real loud.

Meriel said...

Allie (re: "family") please also post one day on the prodigal. I have never "got" that story. I so often see "the good guy" getting the short straw in a family. Almost like if you can cope then you must - but if you are irresponsible everyone runs to help and give and bless you. I would love to see the other side and to understand the story.

blackhuff said...

I don't really know how I church should handle something like this - all I know is that the Bible says we should not judge and I think that a church should neither?