Jan 27, 2011


I just read these inspiring words, posted on the NCR website,  from one of my oldest and dearest Catholic friends, Gini Cashman, mother of 11 children, grandmother of untold minions and a truly extraordinary, charismatic, catholic woman of long years of service to the Church. Gini is responding to an article about the ongoing and quite scandalous investigation by the Vatican of American women religious, and her statement- that she can no longer in good conscience participate in the traditional Catholic ritual of the Mass - is a thunderous, shattering decision of conscience from this great, long serving Catholic grandmother.

I am a not-not catholic.

I am a not-not catholic. Catholicism is in my blood, I received it thru my Mothers breast milk. Today I can no longer participate in the traditional catholic ritual. The Holy spirit has called me out, kicking and screaming. I can no longer adhere to or repeat many things that are no longer true for me.

I love Mother Church, but not the established church. Society has corrupted the established church. It is hierarchical, it discriminates against women, it does not protect children, it compromised the Gospel for the Gross National product rather than the human person

I am "In Love With Jesus"------= translated as in "God's Love" with Jesus. For me Jesus is the way and the truth and the life. The institutional church for me no longer is the rock, it has sold out.

After a year of silence before this important move, being in my late eighty's with a family of 11 children who were educated in Catholic schools, and 42 years of committed marriage I do not say these words lightly.

As for the Sisters in America and I presume in other countries, tho I do not pretend to know, America would be barren indeed without the compassionate work of these courageous, compassionate women. I acknowledge they were not without their weaknesses coming from the dysfunctional families of the times. However they carried the essence of humanity, compassion for all life.

I wholeheartedly proclaim and support the Sisters as the voice in the wilderness for today's world, and am hoping the investigation will give them the power of the Spirit in their lived experience to speak out in truth and love.


Carla said...

My new hero.

Father J.H. said...

This letter leaves me very sad. None of the religious communities who have actually met with the visitation team have felt that they were dealt with disrespectfully or uncharitably. There has been callous, false and malicious coverage of the whole process in the press. Rome's "investigation" is simply an attempt to understand what is happening in religious communities of women in the US. Why are so many dying out? Why are new communities arising and prospering that seem able to combine traditional theology and spirituality with new apostolic openness and enthusiastic experience of religious life and secular life? I am very sorry that the fears that have been stoked by ignorance on the part of many and prejudice on the part of some have brought pain and anguish to this good lady and to many other generous and long-serving religious women. . . But to give up the Mass? the Eucharist? to implicitly and explicitly condemn the faith-commitment of all who remain? No; that is wrong; that is un-Catholic; that is tragedy.

wild hair said...

Gini Cashman says that the institutional catholic church has sold out.

She doesn't say anything about giving up the Mass or the Eucharist. There are places where the Mass and Eucharist are offered where I would never go today because my faith would not be nourished.

This long life grandmother says she is "not - not catholic." Today there is a lot that is not catholic in the catholic church. The investigation of women religious is one of those things.

Jayden Cameron said...

It's my understanding that after a 'year of silence,' which Gini spent in prayer and discernment, she then felt called in the Spirit to make the very painful decision to remove herself from the formal Eucharistic liturgies of the Church. Whether that was an absolute decision I can't say, though I've sent a message to her via her daughter and perhaps she will reply. As Father J.H. remarks, this is indeed a tragedy, when looked at up close, but in the long term, I feel such decisions are very much in tune with the authentic Catholic spirit. We are in a state of profound crisis at the moment in the Church, and the Spirit (in my opinion) seems to be performing some radical surgery, calling a few prophetic individuals to make this very radical and dismaying decision as a form of shock therapy for the whole Catholic body. But I liken them to the priests and Catholics imprisoned during Communist times who were deprived of the Eucharist for tens of years in a row, a profound trial of the spirit, causing much anguish (much like the absence of the Beloved during the Dark Night), yet Jesus the martyred, persecuted prophet was closer to them in their suffering and deprivation than ever before. The analogy is not perfect, of course, since we are talking about free decisions on the part of adult Catholics to willfully remove themselves from participation in the formal liturgies of the Church. Quite a different thing from being forcably incarcerated against one's will with no means of celebrating or receiving the Eucharist. But in Gini's example and countless others, this is not entirely a "free, willful decision." it is welling up from the depths of their being, and feels very much like a loving impulsion from the Spirit which they cannot deny without also denying their love for the Crucified. They are being asked to make a painful sacrifice, and willingly, through the love that had been nourished in their souls through the Eucharist itself, they freely surrender themselves to this call.
Knowing Gini as I do, I'm certain there is no implied criticism or judgmentalism on her part towards those who feel called to remain. I should also point out that Gini is theologically a highly educated woman, a Eucharistic minister of long years standing and a practicing family therapist who is in touch with women religious all over the state of California and beyond. Her views are highly informed and it is just not plausible that she is simply being swayed by false and misleading information from an ignorant and prejudiced press. Her decision, and that of so many other conscientious Catholics, deserves respect as a strong wake up call to an institutional Church in a profound state of dysfunction at this point in history. But as Gini points out, Mother Church is much larger than the present institutional framework controlled by Rome. And through these painful exits from the common body, the Spirit is no doubt pointing the way forwards to new forms of being authentically Catholic, authentically Church, in the Spirit of the Crucified Lord, who's heart must bleed at this moment in time at the sins of betrayal by so many (males) in positions of power.