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Being Catholic in Cleveland

Right now, being Catholic in Cleveland, Ohio - like being old - is not for Sissies! The Catholic Church is discussing serious issues in Rome: the role of women in the Church, LGBTQ+ members, the politicization of religious expression; the American choice of individual rights against the needs of the Greater Good; while many in the Cleveland Diocese are resisting a Bishop's ruling. All are struggling. Growing pains hurt!

As a result, I have found myself in dialogue with friends and family about each of these situations. I have even written several letters to the editor … mentally. Taking the advice of St. Angela, to "Obey the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking always in the silence of your heart;" I have taken solitary walks in order to discern what God may be asking of me. All of this reflecting has only increased my awareness that every aspect of the created world is God's expression of Love; that the central message of both Testaments is God's love for each individual person and God's desire for healing and wholeness for all of creation. Each and every concern I have named is a concern of God’s. They belong in God's loving hands. How?

At a meeting last week, I was given a copy of the daily prayer being used at the Synod in Rome. I found the prayer especially meaningful right now. As in every session of the Second Vatican Council and historically at all Church Councils and Synods, the community gathers and begins by praying:

We stand before You, Holy Spirit, as we gather together in Your name.
With You alone to guide us, make Yourself at home in our hearts;
Teach us the way we must go and how we are to pursue it.

The prayer continues, but might as easily be addressed to the U.S. leaders and political "tribes" that have used distortions of the truth for political gain:

We are weak and sinful; do not let us promote disorder ...

And closer to home in Cleveland, we can pray:

Do not let ignorance lead us down the wrong path nor partiality influence our actions.

For Church and country and city, the prayer remains inclusive:

Let us find in You our unity so that we may journey together to eternal life and not stray from the truth and what is right. All this we ask of You, who are at work in every place and time, in the communion of the Trinity, forever and ever, Amen.

Together let us pray.
Together may we grow more fully into Jesus the Christ.

Sister Anne Marie Diederich