Just watched the video. Grew up on the NW side of Chicago in the sixties, went to Catholic grammar school and HS, educated by the good Franciscan and Benedictine women. Was confused by the mixed messages I heard. The teachings of Jesus did not coincide with the attitude of the Church. I was involved in a small community group who used to help out at Precious Blood Parish. I felt guilty because I felt so much more comfortable there than I did in my own parish. I loved the joyful services and the welcoming attitude. The happiness I felt in those days came from Mass but so much more so from the interaction I had with the people I was fortunate enough to serve. Eventually life changed. I married a wonderful Jewish man. (Have always been a rebel) We had 4 kids. We moved to the NW burbs because the schools were so much better. I struggled with my faith. As a woman I felt beaten down and disrespected by the hierarchy of the Church. They wanted to control my body and my mind. That was not acceptable. The hopeful changes of the Eccumenical Council vanished and it seemed to me a very dark period of time. The people I met in my faith community said all the right things. There were many good people but I could not understand how they could blindly accept the archaic, controlling attitude of the Church hierarchy in regards to very important issues. As I learned more about the history of the Church since the time of Christ, I felt like it had grown so far away from the way Jesus lived his life, his message to us on how to live. Many of the rules and regulations seemed to come about from political and monetary gain and the need to control. It seemed to me that the most direct message from Christ, to love God and to love our neighbor, was being overshadowed by them. I began to feel like a hypocrite being Catholic. I felt alone and unworthy. I tried to abandon my faith and sought out other more simple ways like Zen. Something kept calling me however whenever I tried to completely separate myself from the Church I loved. I tried REALLY hard not to listen but the spirit was always there, in spite of myself. During that period of time I began paying particular attention to Fr. Pfleger. He stood up for many things I felt passionate about. I'd admired him before, but began to really be inspired watching him speak his mind to the Cardinal! I loved seeing him living his faith! He said Mass and gave a great homily but he adopted children! He did things no one else would dare do. I began to look further into his ministry. His courage and refusal to back down renewed my own faith. I was reminded that I must follow my own conscience. I must live what I believe. I'd always seen my stubbornness as a negative. I had to rethink that one. I was reminded that it wasn't going to Church that made me happiest. It was my interaction with the people of the Church, the living Church. I mean no disrespect to those that stress the importance of the mass but I LOVE the analogy of the huddle. I agree that it's what happens later that counts. We have to take the message and live it. That was overwhelming to me at first. I still struggle with feelings of unworthiness. I must continually remind myself to find a quiet place and listen to what's coming from within. To me it's my conscience, the voice of God, allowing me to listen or to choose not to. It takes practice. The more you do it, the easier it gets. Sometimes it's still overwhelming. I am a shy person. When I listen though, somehow I find ways of doing things I hadn't thought about. I guess that's what faith is. Going full circle, I feel more of the hopefulness and trust in God that I felt as a child, not over thinking, just doing. Fr. Phleger is indeed a good "errand boy" but in addition to that, a good human being. His powerful prescence sometimes makes me ask myself, how could I do anything even close to that? But I have learned to listen to that feeling inside and trust that I will find my own way and it is working. I am grateful.
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