Posted in category "Lesbian in a Catholic Sort of Way"
Brigid was one of the many Celtic saints who insisted that a vital component of the spiritual life is having a soul friend (Anam Cara). Her own dear friend was the younger nun Darlughdach, who slept with her and sometimes functioned as her ambassador. When Brigid told her that she expected to be dying soon, Darlughdach begged that they might die together. Brigid responded that she would outlive her for one year, in order to succeed her as abbess. Ancient accounts show that their souls were so connected even after death that Darlughdach outlived Brigid by exactly one year.
Anam Cara refers to the Celtic spiritual tradition of souls connecting and bonding. When you connect with another person and become completely open and trusting with that individual, your two souls begin to flow together. Should such a deep bond be formed, it is said you have found your Anam Cara, your soul friend.
According to John O’Donahue, an accomplished Irish poet, philosopher and Catholic priest, “…You are joined in an ancient and eternal union with humanity that cuts across all barriers of time, convention, philosophy and definition. When you are blessed with an anam cara, the Irish believe, you have arrived at that most sacred place: home.”
Carol Curoe is a business consultant in Minneapolis, where she lives with her partner of twenty years, their sons, Patrick and Jonathan, and the family dog, Max. When she came out to her parents in 1990, their response was one of shock. They were from a small, conservative, Irish Catholic farming community in eastern Iowa, and were totally unprepared to deal with their daughter’s “coming out” as a lesbian.
Yet Carol and her father Bob were determined to keep the lines of communications open. What followed over the next several years was a steady stream of correspondence, both poignant and liberating in its honesty and candor. Many of these letters comprise Carol and Bob’s book, Are There Closets in Heaven? A Catholic Father and Lesbian Daughter Share Their Story, published in October 2007 by Syren Book Company.
“From within the context of a traditional Catholic family, Bob Curoe and his daughter, Carol, share their journey together from denial and suffering to full rejoicing in the gifted life of Carol as one of the Moms in a two-Mom family. Their willingness to share their journey will help to break down many barriers of prejudice and discrimination facing the homosexual community.”–Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton
This book can be purchased on Amazon.com.
In the “Family” section of the cclonline.org Archives is an article by my father, Eugene Doherty. Dad describes how my coming out affected him.
“Turn away from sin and hear the Good News” is how the woman blessed me placing ashes on my forehead this morning.
During his homily, the priest said by wearing ashes we are announcing we are like everyone else – broken, imperfect, and in need of healing. We are publicly committing to penance and positive change.
He went on to say Jesus gave us three ways that we can be cleansed and healed during this time of Lent-through giving alms, prayer and fasting.
Do we give to others through our time, talent, and treasure? Do we ask for the grace of God’s forgiveness and transforming love? Does fasting-not only from some foods but also behaviors-provide the opportunity we need to examine our choices and priorities?
A wise woman wrote, “Lent asks us to pray passionately for the humility to meet our demons head on. These 40 days of Lent demand that we rethink our relationships, not only to God and others, but to food, to our words and deeds, to the ways in which we spend our time and money.”
A few days ago, Lori and I were discussing what we were going to give up for Lent. I usually give up candy, chocolate, dessert, but I always bellyflop before the end. In any event, my heart isn’t in it this year.
I also thought about making a pilgrimage to go to different churches either in the City or out on the Island for Mass early in the morning or at noon. This idea sounds great, but after one or two work crises I’m sure that intention will derail, too.
I decided to give up cursing.
Going from an upbringing where “using the Lord’s name in vain” would have landed me in big trouble, I have deteriorated to relying on a battery of four-letter words to blow off steam and get me through the day. Cursing has become a bad habit.
Every time I slip up during Lent I will put $5 in the poor box. (A quarter wouldn’t be any kind of meaningful incentive–at five bucks I’ll at least think about it.)
I haven’t come up with an alternate word or phrase to replace cursing. I guess I’ll start by refraining from saying anything. My old spiritual director once said Lent isn’t giving up so much as going towards. By giving up cursing I’m hoping to go towards more reverence–and less cheapening–of God in my speech.
Here’s a first peek at the design for Nihil Obstat, which will be replacing Lesbian in a Catholic Sort of Way (LCSW) in the next week or so. LCSW will be retired to the Archives section of this site. I also plan to have a “Best of LCSW” for posts where I received a lot of traffic, and some posts I really enjoyed writing.
I decided to move from chronicling my faith journey musings as a Catholic lesbian to something a little less personal and more issue-focused. Nihil Obstat will comment on statements, letters, news, wit and rumors by church leaders and concerned Catholics on gay/lesbian issues, women’s ordination, dissent, accountability, and politics. There will be plenty of coverage and comments on sharp minds and nitwits of all stripes.
A female FBI agent has a torrid affair with a best-selling female author. The agent’s husband tries to shoot her in a church. He gets caught and sentenced to jail. The FBI agent ends up in the San Francisco police department.
Sound like a novel by Patricia Cornwell? It could be-it’s the story of her seduction of FBI agent Margo Bennett in the early 1990s.
The two first met at the FBI’s Quantico facility where Cornwell was researching her latest Kay Scarpetta novel. “As they sat in chairs next to each other, Patsy (Cornwell) kept swiveling around and touching Margo’s leg with the toe of her shoe…as they talked, Margo felt the blood coursing through her veins, very aware of the close proximity of her body to Patsy’s. It felt dangerous. Wrong. Thrilling,” the book related.
The meetings and steamy make-out sessions continue until they finally make it to bed. “They undressed each other and got into Patsy’s bed, a soft inviting sea of powder blue, where they made love for more than an hour,” and then toasted their intimacy with “a spicy red wine.”
Their sweat had barely dried before Cornwell tried to cement their relationship by spiriting Bennett off for a meeting with an elderly psychic who told her, “You’re worried about people getting hurt. You have some tough times ahead, but don’t worry, you are doing what is right.”
Bennett recalled to the authors that it was a strange way to end an otherwise memorable day, spoiling “the intimacy, calm and peace I’d felt.”
In 1996, Bennett’s husband, Gene, an undercover FBI agent lured his wife to a church and tried to shoot her. After his arrest, he accused Cornwell of stealing his wife.
Ah, memories can be so bittersweet..
A dear CCL friend included me in a forwarded message. It was titled, “You are my 1 in 11.” In her preface to the message she said to all of us: “I’m not a big fan of forwarded messages, but I took St. Theresa’s name for confirmation because Mom said an novena to her to get our first apartment. St. Theresa came through for us.”
The message included this photo of Pope John Paul II and Mother Theresa. It started by requesting us to “Look at the picture, make a wish, then read the prayer.”
I did as I was told. (Another good Catholic girl.) I looked at the picture, made a wish, and read on.
“Hi – I am picking 11 people who have touched my life and who I think would want to receive this. Please send it back to me.”
“In case you are not aware, Saint Theresa is known as the Saint of the Little Ways, meaning she believed in doing little things in life well and with great love. She is represented by roses. May everyone who receives this message be blessed.”
Saint Theresa’s Prayer
May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forgot the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God. Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.
Since I bought it in Portland in 2006, I have received a lot of compliments on the bone jewelry I wear. It is a Koru, a Maori symbol of a fern frond opening to new life. It represents peace, tranquility, and spirituality, as well as new beginnings. The Koru is also used to represent the strength and purity of a loving relationship within a family. I wear it all the time: working, sleeping, swimming. It never leaves me. It is such a part of me at this point I’m not even aware I have it on.
The man who carved it, Jared Richards, left an office job to pursue a calling in bone and ivory carving. He was inspired by Maori symbols from the earth and sea. But every carver also puts something of him or herself into each work, as does the person who wears it.
I lost my crucifix. Horrors! It’s in the house somewhere, but some crucifix elf has it for now.
Yesterday I went to buy another, but instead came home wearing a “Four Way” medal with a nautical theme. Since I live in a seaport town, it’s perfect for me. Until yesterday, I didn’t know anything about “Four-Ways.” They include the Sacred Heart of Jesus, St. Joseph and the child Jesus, the Miraculous medal and St. Christopher.
The medal feels warm against my skin. It joins a bone Maori fish hook carving as my two constant emblems of protection and spiritual affinity.
Last Saturday Lori and I attended the annual meeting for NFWFW (North Fork Women for Women) at Poquatuck Hall in Orient. We wanted to learn more about the organization and see if we wanted to volunteer for some activity or committee. We found everyone to be warm, welcoming and very friendly. The leadership and members impressed us as a wonderful group of women, and we plan to get involved later this year.
Driving home after the meeting, we stopped off at the Atelier Gallery to see James Napoleon’s one man show. We planned just to stop by to say hello and see his new paintings, but we ended up with “Sunswept” which Lori and I were both attracted to the minute we saw it. James explained the distance in painting is calculated on some mathematic perspective. I don’t understand it. What I do know, is that from whatever angle, in whatever light, I see something new. The tree in the painting reminds us both of the driftwood and dead trees that we see walking along the beach towards the lighthouse. Hikers often stick welk shells on the dead branches. An offering?
I am also very drawn to his paintings of leaves. I especially like “Trinity.” I’m thinking of going back to get it before the end of the show to feature on my new blog, Green Canticle.