Journal

sanctuary

48.sanctuary

The father of orphans and the defender of widows is God in His holy dwelling. God gives a home to the forsaken; He leads forth prisoners to prosperity.”
-Psalm 68:6-7

Churches have been referred to as “God’s house”. Naturally, as we’re God’s children, everyone is welcome.

Some churches will have a different atmosphere than others, maybe slightly different house rules apart from the set ones (eg. in Catholic churches, the spectrum between relaxed Novus Ordo and traditional Tridentine, or things like celibate priests in the Latin Rite vs priests who may marry in the Melkite Rite*). Even so, everyone is welcome, as we are all His children.

It occurred to me last Sunday that it wasn’t as strange as I thought, as some have expressed, that I came to church as often as I did; while other people had families to come home to, or otherwise spend time with at least over the phone, I didn’t. People would go home Sundays to spend time with their loving, non-abusive families, and I don’t have that (and I can only stand myself for so long). For better or worse, the Church is my family now, and God is my father. So, I like to come to His house to be in His presence on the altar, one of the few places I actually feel safe, so much so that the fact that it’s where my family knows they can always find and potentially hurt me doesn’t take that security away (until I consider them hurting others to hurt me, but maybe that’s for another time).

I don’t know if this is good for me indefinitely (I do feel called to marriage and a family someday, perhaps then limiting my church-time), but it does help for now. What’s more, when advised what to do when fatherless or otherwise orphaned the way I have through abuse, it was one of the first things on the list. If I do end up having (more) children one day, I really do plan to teach my children that if anything happened to me, God will take care of them, as He has me these last couple years.

He took care of me today, feeling as broken apart as I did recently with all the racial/social class stuff being thrown about like a tornado, prompting a large White/Asian family next to me in my spot in the very back, giving me the tiniest feeling like I had a family with me this Sunday. He let me talk with people who care, inspired me to maybe invite someone over to play my new card game I always wanted to own (Apples to Apples!), or maybe be with a friend at a church event coming up. It was a nice break anyways, from the pain I was feeling. Even though my family actually was mentioned or inquired of a couple times, I didn’t feel the weight of my surname.

A priest once came to our parish a couple years back, and gave a talk about fatherhood and masculinity. I came up after to ask him what one does when one’s father was (emotionally) out of the picture. He told me to run to the Church, to God, priests, and saints. Everyone’s quite excited about Blessed Mother Teresa being canonized in 1-2 weeks, as am I, another mother to the motherless. As for fathers, St. Joseph certainly is one to me, has provided for me whenever I think to ask. I also follow the example and words of St. (Padre) Pio, and yet-to-be canonized Ven. Fulton Sheen, often receiving a fatherly guidance and advice about life from them.

It’s not easy, though; when I’m sad and scared, none of these spiritual fathers could give me a shoulder to cry on, wipe my tears, or look me in the eyes and affirm my dignity. Some girls would date to get that, but I don’t know…I don’t ever want to mix losses from an emotionally absent father with romantic affection. Usually, I’m sent someone, sometimes a male someone, who just says something nice, makes me smile a bit, like today or last Father’s Day.

There was also a day or two ago when I learned how to calm that small, fragile part of me lost in anxiety by inviting God to hold her; don’t ask me how, but I’d literally feel like my heart is taken into His hands, and He holds it close and safe, the anxiety leaving me.

That’s all I have for today; I was hoping to try swimming again (as I hadn’t gone since that one idiot hit on me), and do laundry. It’s nice to share good news sometimes, when there’s so much bad news, where life feels more livable.


*footnotes:

I started to talk about this yesterday, but yeah; contrary to popular belief, there are many Rites within the Catholic Church, all as equally within the Church as the better-known Latin Rite, not unlike the different religious orders who have different charisms, or specialized ministries (eg a Franciscan being different from a Carmelite or Benedictine). That said, some switch Rites over those things that are important to them, like priests being able to marry (like the Melkite Rite).
On that note, the origin for Latin Rite priests being celibate is because a long time ago, celibate priests were observed to do better than married ones, not having a wife and children to take care of on top of their (sometimes dangerous) duties as priests. Also, Jesus Himself was celibate, and with the whole in personae Christi thing, it’s thought to give them a closer resemblance to Him as a Priest (remember, Mark 3:31-35).
A married man could (really, should) of course resemble Him in a different way, just like we women who likewise can’t be priests are also called to be Christ-like, but I think it makes good sense that’s how it is in the Latin Rite. There are exceptions though, if very few: like the priest I mentioned above from the Anglican church, there are converted priests with families who can still be ordained priests in the Latin Rite. The other exception, like Fr. James from the movie Calvary, are priests who take up Holy Orders after their wife died (something my father said he wanted to do if/when mother died…not until a whole bunch of correctional therapy, he ain’t).
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