Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue


Video: Me? A Cafeteria Catholic?

posted by Beyond Blue

I spent this morning in Washington DC among all the other journalists covering the pope’s visit. My interview on Sirius Radio, the Catholic channel, got pretty heated with the listeners who called in, after I spilled the beans about my disagreeing with the whole birth control thing.Here’s the thing: my recovery from bipolar disorder, and also from addiction, depends on my listening to and adhering to my conscience, which sometimes clashes with the Catechism. In 12-step circles, they say you will relapse if you don’t have a clear conscience. I think the same is true for recovery from depression.That is why I have taken so much time and energy to hear what mine is saying.



  • Tricia

    Therese,
    Did you know in Websters’ Dictionary under the
    word, WISDOM:
    There’s a picture of YOU!!!
    (No surprise I might add.)
    I am Grateful, more than you’ll ever know, that there is -you- in this life at this time…
    Sending you “The Texas Petawatt Laser!!”
    [^ , ^]
    V

  • Barbara formerly Babs

    Therese,
    I affirm what you said. A legalistic view of faith, which is the “follow the rules or leave,” response you got from listeners, is to my mind, not the Spirit of the Founder of our Faith. I too, take seriously the teachings of the Church. But everything doesn’t have the same weight. Jesus said as much when he indicted the Pharasees for keeping the letter, but not the spirit of the law.
    We follow Jesus the best we can. That’s it.
    Thank God, that we can rely on His Mercy.

  • Kevin

    Damn, you have courage. You get major points for talking about birth control on a Catholic radio program. A few loose associations…
    JP II wrote about conscience being the sanctuary of the individual, that no Church teaching took precedence over one’s conscience. He went as far as to defend the responsibility of an individual to reject the Gospel if for some reason an honest examination of conscience just wouldn’t let a person accept the Gospel. Worth thinking about….
    Church teaching on birth control seems patently absurd to most people. Curiously, I actually think I ‘get’ the teaching though I don’t follow it. I respect the genius in the teaching. I hope to be in a position to ‘give it a go’ at some point.
    Right now, we live in 21st century USA–the ‘Culture of Death’ with ‘structures of evil’ is quite alive, exceptionally well, and taking massive amounts of steroids. We are so embedded in this womb it’s essentially impossible to see clearly. People think I’m joking when I say that tv is more dangerous than all the drugs in the world combined.
    We are living through the darkest age in history. We are way ahead of the game if we are alive and working to keep our souls alive. Forcing oneself to adhere to Church teaching on birth control would be a self-destructive act for most and result in suicide for many more.
    Therese, I really admire your honesty and courage. John Paul II would give you a warm embrace for your work today. At the moment I’m more interested in tongue lashing the people who hassled you on the radio show. Give me names and numbers and you will receive apologies.
    Funny thing how ‘Christians’ spew venom knowing not a thing about Love.

  • valerie

    I get so frustrated with legalistic views in the church and such pharasaical (sp?) rules we need to follow. Give me a break! You know, the most important thing, the ONLY thing you need to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven is to believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior–that he came and died for our sins and he arose again. It is by faith and grace that we are saved, not works. I realize everyone’s interpretation of the Bible and their catechisms are different. But let us remember what it’s really all about instead of getting so tied up in things. Doing things.
    There is nothing we have to DO. In Christianity, it already has been DONE. Isn’t that awesome? It’s already been done for us.
    Okay, I’m getting off of Therese’s subject here. And I’m not Catholic. But I’m Christian Reformed and believe a lot of traditions and guilt and you know, “all that stuff” is in my denomination as well. It’s just slightly different.
    God Bless you, Therese. You do such a wonderful job and you are able to express yourself so eloquently. I feel I’m constantly searching for the “right” words for things so be sure to savor that gift of eloquent speaking/writing. You got it, girl! Put that one in your self-esteem file! Love Valerie

  • Larry Parker

    Therese:
    I could get very angry (not at you, of course, at those attacking you), but instead, I will just make some observations.
    1. It is my understanding that buried in Humanae Vitae is a tiny exception if obeying Pope Paul VI’s edict will threaten one’s life. It must be a VERY tiny exception, if people with AIDS are not allowed to use condoms, but maybe with your understanding of Catholic teaching you can find it.
    2. Humanae Vitae itself is an interesting story. Before he died, Blessed John XXIII (a.k.a. “Good Pope John” to Americans) asked a Vatican II committee of theologians, bishops, and lay scholars to take up the question of whether artificial birth control could be permissible. The committee, after several years of deliberation (transitioning from John XXIII’s reign to that of Paul VI), voted overwhelmingly that artificial birth control was consistent with previous Catholic teaching and could be permitted.
    Pope Paul VI studied the report. While he understood its merits, he disagreed that it was consistent with previous Catholic teaching, and thought therefore its enactment could be a threat to the very Papacy. So he overrode it by fiat in the Humanae Vitae encyclical.
    The protest from Catholics in all corners of the world was so overwhelming that it left Paul VI, by all accounts, a broken man for the rest of his papacy until he died. The action he took to “save” the Papacy, ironically, damaged Catholics’ respect for it in a profound way that only John Paul II’s charisma managed to repair (though John Paul, obviously, strongly reaffirmed Humanae Vitae).
    3. Which brings up the fact that, birth control aside, being a Catholic in America is always a delicate balance — being a citizen of a democratic society, and a member of a Church that is an absolute monarchy. (“Monarchy” being a kind term for actions such as that of Paul VI on Humanae Vitae.)

  • MAMACACA

    Your comments are exactly why I am no longer a Catholic. Born and raised next door to a church, it was my life. I also feared God, was convinced I was going to Hell and definintly not on good graces. I was tired of looking at every hypocrite I knew in the pews, worshiping in church on Sundays, but I was out with the night before for some sex, drugs and rock and roll. No one intended on changing the behavior either. I refused to ask forgiveness to a priest because I was an unwed mother. I truly felt that the baby was a gift from God, and a miracle(after chemo I was told I wouldn’t have children)
    I met my husband and joined his church and am happily a Protestant of 12 years. It’s the same teaching (without the guilt). The only difference I can tell is that in my church, you DO follow your conscience and God is a loving, supporting God. We don’t focus so much on Christs suffering(although we do teach it), but we focus more on the Resurrection, hope and Gods promise. When we sin God isn’t mad, He understands we are imperfect humans and is always there to love us anyway. If we stray He waits for us to return and is pleased ten fold when we do. It’s time Catholics stop shouting out rules no one can honestly follow. My mom had ten children to an abusive alcoholic because she couldn’t use birth control. I am much more spiritual and closer to God as a Protestant than any Catholic I know.

  • klauden

    Hello Therese, i just viewed/listned to your YouTube video. I have to
    constantly remind myself the distinction between my ‘conscious’ [i
    recently read it spelled 'conscience'] and with the concept of
    ‘moral relativism’. As you rightly say there are many, many gray areas
    in anyones belief system[assuming one is not a diehard monk]. But when
    iam confronted with moral standards of living i can only turn to the
    Mosiac Law blazened on those tablets[colorful metaphor]. And there
    certainly ‘ethical standards’ by which one conducts his commercial
    business. Sure, much of the Churchs teaching, cathecism[is that the word] was written by humans for other humans. I am not sure if the
    concept of abortion of fetus is even discussed in biblical text. But
    i certainly can understand how many women feel about the Roman Catholic
    Church and its unyielding stance on the issue. To my knowledge, a man
    has never experienced/or could experience growing life inside ‘his’
    body. As a Man and as a Christian iam totally lost in this issue.
    It is so intensly a personal issue there simply cannot be a right
    or a wrong. I’ve been on the site for a few months and this is one
    of the best postings so far. So many intelligent voices out there
    in cyberspace/@Beliefnet. Blessings.

  • Nancy L.

    Dear Therese –
    You were brave to be involved in the interview on Sirus Radio, knowing that your convictions would clash with some listeners; yet you did it anyway. You weren’t a “yes” person for the Catholic community, and then, behind closed doors, live in another manner.
    That is why you are so well loved and respected here. What you see is what you get. Your athenticity is evident in all areas of your life. That is the gift and blessing of being a truly “sober” woman in the thoughts and actions of living.
    Naturally, I agree with you on the birth control issue. You are being a responsible, level-headed woman, who already has 2 children who need their Mom, and you know the great risks to them and yourself (and Eric) were you to continue on the path of another pregnancy and birth. I, myself, had to limit myself with 2 children, when the ramifications of extreme post-partum depression threw me into the spirals of clinical depression from one pregnancy through to another and after.
    What should have been a happy time was experienced through the black veil of harrowing depression, which ultimately led me to being hospitalized when my second son was 3. I had lived in hell for years; although I fought unbelievably hard to not have it affect my children and life (type A personality +++) and overcompensated to the point of collapse.
    I cannot imagine that Jesus would want that for you in the name of all that is holy. Many religious, legalistic “laws” or teachings are based on man; not Jesus/God. This was one reason my father would not allow my brother and I to be baptized Catholic, even though he was.
    I was married (the first time) in a Catholic church, and myself, would have baptized the kids Catholic if not for a “glitch” our local Priest imposed upon my husband and I. He thought we would cave on the matter. We did not. My children wound up with a wonderful, religious and spiritual background, and I am glad that they will not have to add to the many pressures of life, whether using birth control is a “bad thing”.
    I will refrain from getting on my soapbox about the situations the Catholic Church should be focusing on within their own sect/denomination. It’s not my purpose to belittle other people’s religious choices. That would not be in the context of a loving Christian.
    I’m just writing this to let you know, Therese, that I am so proud of you for being true to yourself and your family on this issue. I know that in the end, one day, you will still hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
    love you, Nancy

  • Margaret Balyeat

    As with Klauden and Valerie, my perspectiveisnot from a Catholic background, but it certainly seems to me that your reasons for accepting birth control would make sense to a loving God. Your “creative wiring” coupled with another pregancy could prove to be literally life-threatening (Especially taking your pituitary gland into consideration.. Would God be made happier or be better served by Catherine and David losing their mother’s sanity if not her very existence? I think NOT,Would your marriage suffer id=f you and Eric no longer engaged in sexual expressions of your love for one another? At leastfrom my own perspective, (And that of Paul when he wrote that husbands and wives should not forsake one another except for a time, by mutual consent and for a specific purpose, I think in Ephesians) the answer to that one is a resounding YES! I cannot trace the basis for restricting birth control in the ten commandments like I can the ban on abortion (Thou Shalt Not Kill),unless the type of birth control employd is of the type that destroys a fertilized egg AFTER conception has taken place as is the case with abortion, some IUDs and the “morning after pill, so it’s difficult for me to understand WHY the Catholic church takes this stand. The human race has ALREADY “gone forth and multiplied,perhapstto the extreme.(DEFINITELY to the extree in some parts of the world. I agree with those who applaud your courage, therese, and simply cannot conceive of this being an issue when you come face to face with our maker as we all will one day. I think He’ll be more concerned with the kind of care you’ve taken of the two little lives He’s already blessed you with and the treatment you gave to your fellow humn beings than He will be with your decision to keep your family size at four especially because it hasn’t been decision made w/o much prayer and contemplation, Your choosing to honor the sanctity of your marriage and the relative sanity of Catherine’s and David’s mother It’s not like you’re using birth control so that you can run around playing loose and free without worrying about the consequences or aborting little lives that you helped create as a way of minimalizing the size of your family. The vert fact that your conscience HAS dictated this choice is telling to me; it wasn’y made rashly or selfishly or w/o prayer and meditation. I realize my non-catholocism may be/IS coloring my perspective here, but I think you deserve PRAISE for not only your decision, but the way you made it as well as for bucking the church’s authority on an issue which has become(as I understand it) one of the biggest reasons many cite s their reason NOT to join the Catholic church(and perhaps setting an example of prayerful decision making in the priocess.! I’ve no idea how far back the birth control ban goes, but surely not all the way to Peter”s papacy(?) I’m also a strong believer that G-d made our sexual experience pleasurable for a reason and EXPECTS us as husands and wives to enjoy that gift! iN ADDITION, i’VE NEVER HEARD YOU PUSHING THIS BELIEF TO OTHER cATHOLICS AS A PROPER WAY OF LIFE; IT’S always in the context of PERSONAL choice that you discuss it, so you aren’=t advocating “disobedience to the church” for others who might NOT have been so contemplative in regards to it. Few people whom I’ve encountered in life bother to take such a meditative approach to their decision making. That speaksVOLUMES as to the importance of your relationship to G=d in your life, and I believe a merciful, loving G-d will take that into consideration as well. I highly doubt that the bible’s metaphor of belivers as sheep is meant to encourage sheep-like behaviors! insofar as not thinking for ourselves is concerned.

  • Bob

    “…depends on my listening to and adhering to my conscience, which sometimes clashes with the Catechism.”
    But as Catholics, are conscience (and this is clear in Church teaching) is to be informed by Catholic doctrine.
    This is what I don’t understand: If a person can’t agree with what the Church says, then why be a member? Why not become an Anglican, for example?
    If you don’t like the three-strikes-and-your out rule, then why would you play baseball? If you hate the idea of running to the end zone, then why would you insist on playing football?
    And to all the cafeteria Catholics, (and it pains me to say this) if you you can’t live with Catholic doctrine, then why be Catholic?
    There are plenty of churches that make up the rules as they go along, always bending to the popular opinions of the time. If that’s what will make you happy, that’s where you should go. But we’ll be sad to see you leave. And I mean that with all sincerity, too.

  • Anonymous

    I am not Catholic. I admire the faith of the faithful in every storefront church or magnificent cathedral. I am thrilled the Pope is in town. And I love to the best of my ability – everyone. When we make rigid silos with very little, if any, communication between the different ‘flavors’ we all suffer. So, I’ll say good morning and wish you well, Therese. May you be blessed for your diligence in serving a community of just plain folks – I don’t think of this community as being any particular flavor but rather a grouping of folks who are hurting and sense that there is healing in this venue. So, it’s a good place to be. I love it here! But I don’t particularly enjoy rigidity on the part of anyone – professing faith. The “my way or the highway” approach just grinds my gears. Being Catholic or Baptist or Velcro or Kevlar doesn’t mean that you hang up your brain and stop thinking for yourself. We were given that brain – from God. And He expects us to use it. So, if you hold a particular truth to be self evident, then it is probably one that you need to honor. And you don’t have to stop being a this or a that unless the ‘Suits’ say GO AWAY. And if they do, then they’ll answer for it. Be faithful to God, your husband/wife and your beliefs. I don’t want to dilute the Message or change it but I am convinced that the Holy Spirit will give us clarity of thought about what it is meant to mean to us. When you get directions from any other source, consider the source.
    God bless you, each and every one.
    Frank,

  • nillawafer

    i have been the teen girl in the abortion clinic. i have also been the married mother who had three pregnancies that brought forth three term children and one miscarriage (my last pregnancy) at 11 and a half weeks, exactly the same gestation of my abortion. i have also been a midwife who has helped at the births of mothers having their 8th or 9th baby. these were mostly the births of amish, german baptist(dunkard), or fundamentalist christian women. my job was to help support a mother into bringing a new life into this world safely and with dignity. i remember one amish mother who looked so sad when her child was born and made some comment about how now this child has been born into this awful world. amish women get depression, too, and take prescribed meds for it. they say, “es iss im blut” (it’s in the blood–meaning inherited.)i could feel the pain in her heart, for women are give life to something we know will have to die, and that cuts to the heart. for christians and other spiritual people there is the promise of life again after death. \
    it makes me have nightmares to think of a world where women are “breeders.” what would life really be like if this happened? we would all be praying for the second coming because it would be so awful. i don’t know how to make women want to have that many children and raise them. i don’t know how to force “amos” to sleep on the daybed (amish don’t have couches) and not to go in and get “rachel” pregnant again. i don’t know how to make rachel strong enough to say no and still be a dutiful wife, or to ignore her own passions. so she will lose some teeth and have urinary incontinence. he will be strong and strapping from outdoor work. she will have fallen arches and a pendulus abdomen. most healthy amish women do this willingly and with joy, but those with depression have a miserable life, in my opinion.

  • Joseph Schreiber TOP MA

    I heard the show the other day and I only have one thing to say….disgusting! You have not only done violence to yourself, but you have done violence to the whole Body of Christ. To claim public ally that your “conscience” calls you to disagree with the wisdom of God’s Church is at its base…immature, and at its worst leading people to loose their salvation.
    As someone who has suffered with depression and a physical handicap I could never even think of killing another life (especially one of my own children) so that I can “deal” with my depression or medical condition better. In fact, offering myself to others has helped me cope with my problems. Imagine that offering yourself in a self-less way instead of being totally selfish…..Hmmmm…
    As a Catholic you should understand that our consciences are clouded and wounded from Original Sin. This is why God has given us the gift of the three pillars of faith…Tradition, Magisterial Teachings and Scripture. To follow an unformed or an “un-informed” conscience is simply death.
    I pray for you Theresa, I sincerely do, not because I think you are an evil person, but because it seems from your witness that you are someone who is in need of the loving hope and redemption of Christ.
    I do further note that I hope the Catholic Channel does the right thing and does not invite you on to the network again until you do repent so no other damage to the Church regarding this issue happens.

  • Barbara formerly Babs

    Bob — you characterize the decision to disagree with Church teaching rather flippantly. You also make it sound like to disagree in one area is to disagree in all.
    “There are plenty of churches that make up the rules as they go along, always bending to the popular opinions of the time. If that’s what will make you happy, that’s where you should go.”
    Your response is unChristlike, and demeaning. There are a lot of assumptions and generalizations in your statements that show a lack of nuance. I think the Pope shows a greater degree of tolerance than you do.

  • stevie

    Bravo for you Therese! I believe you have taken the responsibility of a mature, thinking woman who makes her own decisions about her health and welfare.While our beliefs may not always be popular, we must remain true to ourselves. For after soul searching, prayers, and study, who knows us better?You have shown over and over in your blogs that you are a serious person who does not take serious matters lightly.In concern for our health and especially mental health,we have to find our own path to right action.

  • DeSoto

    Glad to hear it Therese. I agree. I’m a good Catholic except for that adultry thing. But that rule was written 2000 years ago and times change. So I agree with all the Catholic teachings except the outdated adultry rule and consider myself a true and faithful Catholic.

  • Calling All Angels

    Barbara/Babs,
    You truly represented Therese in your reply to Mr. Schreiber.
    We are all grateful that he will be praying for Therese.
    And God will answer them.
    “For I know the plans I have for you, (Therese,) plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and and a future.”
    Jeremiah 29:1

  • Forgive the Interuption…

    Dear All,
    There is a young lady; named Anne, who needs help.
    She posted on:
    The APRIL 12th. “On Cherry Blossoms…”

  • Kevin

    BOB AND JOSEPH:
    WATCH YOUR TONES AND ATTITUDES. Leave it to two men to lash out like teen age girls. Neither of you responded to the excerpts re-posted below. Square your thoughts with those of JP II.
    JP II wrote about conscience being the sanctuary of the individual, that no Church teaching took precedence over one’s conscience. He went as far as to defend the responsibility of an individual to reject the Gospel if for some reason an honest examination of conscience just wouldn’t let a person accept the Gospel. Worth thinking about….
    Church teaching on birth control seems patently absurd to most people. Curiously, I actually think I ‘get’ the teaching though I don’t follow it. I respect the genius in the teaching. I hope to be in a position to ‘give it a go’ at some point.
    Right now, we live in 21st century USA–the ‘Culture of Death’ with ‘structures of evil’ is quite alive, exceptionally well, and taking massive amounts of steroids. We are so embedded in this womb it’s essentially impossible to see clearly. People think I’m joking when I say that tv is more dangerous than all the drugs in the world combined.
    We are living through the darkest age in history. We are way ahead of the game if we are alive and working to keep our souls alive. Forcing oneself to adhere to Church teaching on birth control would be a self-destructive act for most and result in suicide for many more.
    And another thing—-what do you know about these matters anyway. More importantly, how come you guys come across like two self-righteous self-anointed Judges…….thought we were to leave that to somebody else.
    No free passes for taking jabs at this woman. You have jabs to throw, direct them in my direction. We treat women with respect around here.
    You are being ‘informed’ not ‘asked’ to behave.

  • Rachel

    I heard this show (on my way to work) through the first two callers and I was appalled at the how openly you were judged and how evident it was that these men were not hearing you. I respect your ability to cope with this so calmly. Your responses were dignified and eloquent and I just wanted you to know that someone was listening without judgement.

  • Tricia

    “Run The Race That Is Set Before *+YOU+*…”
    (Hebrews 12:1)
    I love this passage because it challenges me to run my own race in this life. Not someone else’s, but the race that God has specifically designed for Tricia!
    I am to keep my eyes on Him, instead of the race someone else might be running beside me; that God may have designed for them, not me!
    The race of faith set before each of us is different from our ancestors. Each of us now have additional weights to carry. As any runner knows, the more weight you have on yourself, the harder it is to win and you grow weary.
    In addition you can be sure there Will be other people running beside you that will seek ways to add more weight on us:
    “You’re running the Wrong way!”
    “This is the Only Path.”
    “Run This way.”
    “Run That way.”….
    We become distracted and forget about the path in front of us. Because we begin thinking:
    “I just want to live for one more step under this monstrous weight!!!”
    IF we continue to carry the weight, we may end up saying:
    “It’s too much. I quit.”
    Instead, leave the weights with the original runner…they are Not Yours – send them love and move along,running the race that is before You.
    For no matter who you are, no matter what your age, no matter what gifts and abilities you have been given – God has a calling, a purpose
    and a ministry for You.
    Run the race that is set before You by God. Pursue it, run through it, because He has called You to serve Him *+ There+* all along the way.

  • Barbara formerly Babs

    Tricia — I appreciate your comment.

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