WHY I BELONG TO PAX CHRISTI.
Last night, I was thrilled to be surrounded by fellow-Catholic-Christians who do what I call "practicing what they peace." The aura of inclusiveness is astounding, from the opening prayer(We use prayers based on saints, we have done prayers from Jewish texts, etc.) to the song we ended the evening with(last night, a favorite song of mine:"And They'll Know We Are Christans By Our Love").
What occured in-between the prayer, and the song? First, we share "peace moments"--moments where we feel a renewal of spirit, of harmony, of peace--in our lives. Sr. Sally White, the most progressive, authentic person you'll ever meet, and our sponsor/moderator, spoke(nearly in tears) of how excited she is, seeing President Obama elected, and hearing him speak. She recalled the days(daze) of riding on buses as a child(she is a white person), when she cried while witnessing "the way the bus drivers treated our brothers and sisters"(she was referring, of course, to the mid-1950's-1960's, when it was so common to see Black Americans forced to the "back of the bus", being degraded, called names, etc.). We were all moved by her memories.
We discussed some upcoming events(check back in a few weeks; I'll have interesting news on a famous peace activist who may be visiting us, in March of next year(2010)!!).
Then lovely Stephanie, one of our newer members, gave a book report(each month, we select a book which will support our spiritual growth).
Fr. Ken, who has been with our group less than a year, is genuine and kind, and he possesses an acerbic wit. He often speaks of priests he's known who are, in his words, "brilliant"--many are well-known authors of philosophical works and spiritual doctrines-- and he recommends their books. Many of these same men have left the Roman Catholic Church "to marry, and have a family", which Fr. Ken seemed to understand(something many Catholics might want to work on--the concept of being "understanding").He also strongly urges inclusiveness for all gay people, and he advocates, always, for peace . I'm in awe of this man.
We also welcomed a brand-new member to our group, Patrick D., who came from very faraway to meet with us. Given the traffic in Atlanta, that's really saying something. Welcome, Patrick, to a spiritual home known as Pax Christi, St. Jude. Pax Christi is the organization; St. Jude's(the Patron Saint of Hopeless Causes) is the chapter.
It's easy to find fault with "organized religion", and maybe especially the Roman Catholic Church(with its' obvious misogyny(no women(yet!) officially allowed to be priests), "official" non-recognition of LGBTQ people, and the rule created about 820 years ago(long after the Church was established) that dictated priests no longer had a choice to marry(!), but instead had to remain single.
But Pax Christi is in service to what I feel in my heart is the true meaning of being what Christ asked us to be:
followers of Him.
Many of us are fearful of the word "Christian", because unfortunately, there are an awful lot of scary folks throwing the word around, and they seem to have missed the most important message Jesus--the "Christ", carried: Love.
Pax Christi ignites love in my heart. I feel tears in my eyes, and my breath catches, even as I type this.
Why, you say?
Because I have seen Love--the Love that Christ spoke of--when I am around these people. These people who support me: Lisa Allender, the writer/actress, the out bisexual, the happily married woman, the dog-owner, the A-theist for some 17 years.Late last year(in 2008)when I was terribly ill, and headed for the hospital, I received not only a beautiful card--filled with kind thoughts, and a reminder that they were all praying for me, and had a special Mass said for me--but also a check(no one is terribly "wealthy" in our group), to help out with my expenses. I had never asked for any help, and felt awkward accepting any(but I did). It's risky to even mention this, as all these people are too humble to want "credit" for helping. But they deserve credit.
They support me, they love me, and I see that love radiate from each and every one of them.
I'm very grateful to have them.
If you're reading this, and you're touched by any thing I've said here, and you think, well, I don't want to be "labeled" a Catholic, or even a Christian, I say to you:
Click on the links, below, to Pax Christi, anyway. In five minutes, you might have your heart opened to Peace & Social Justice in a huge way.
You don't have to "be" anything, or anyone, except yourself.
At Pax Christi, we have room for everyone who wants to be of service. Because when you spend Love, you never have a deficit, only a surplus.
Invest your time in Pax Christi--unlike the current world economic situation, you'll reap huge returns on this!
Peace, kids. Peace.