My friend Peg Helminski recently e-mailed me the following words of encouragement in response to a letter published in the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The writer of this particular letter denounced both myself and the organization I work for (the Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities), for not being sufficiently Catholic in “practice and philosophy.”
I asked Peg if I could share her words as I believe they have the power to inspire and encourage all of us who are dedicated to seeking and encountering God' spirit of justice and compassion in the lives and relationships of all people – regardless of sexual orientation.
Thanks, Peg, for sending this encouraging message, and for allowing me to share it via The Wild Reed.
I just want to encourage you. If people perceive you as a mere nuisance they ignore you. If they perceive you as misguided, they indulgently correct you. But if they attack you, it means they perceive you as threat. If they attack you personally, they perceive you as a personal threat.
If they can find no flaw in your rhetoric to tear apart, they attack you as a person. If they can find no illogic in your argument, they create it, projecting values and meanings you never spoke into your points. If they are really desperate to tear you down, if in fact you made perfect sense to them but accepting your point of view would upset the core of something important to them, they may even accuse you of the very things you stand against. I, for example, was repeatedly called a racist because an essay I had published described a mutually respectful dialogue with an African woman! It made no sense.
It is at the point where criticism by the opposition becomes so ludicrous that one realizes what power one holds. It is the power of truth resonating within their own hearts, a truth they are afraid to face. Their attacks are a sure sign that one is on the right path.
They swallow up this attack in a rhetoric of self defense. They in fact, perceive our proclamations of who we are as an attack on who they are!
So, they say they are defending the family or defending the faith, but really, they are attacking an uncomfortable truth that we have spoken or that our very beings represent to them. They think that if they can silence us they can silence the truth beating in their own hearts.
But God is truth and God will not be silent.
God will especially not be silent in the face of injustice.
If the religious authorities of our day tell the Jeannine Gramicks to sit down and stop shouting “Hosanna,” God will cause the stones to cry out. The very building blocks of the church will cry out for justice. The laity are these building blocks. We are the power of the church – all women, gays, the poor, the disabled, victims of AIDS and of wars, violence and degradation . . . We have been given no voice by the hierarchy, so our only voice is from God. The hierarchy cannot silence what they have not given a voice. If they try to silence us, they acknowledge we have a voice. If they have not given us a voice, and they acknowledge that we indeed have a voice, a voice that disturbs them, then in their demands for silence, they in fact acknowledge that God has given us a voice. If our only power comes from God, God alone has the power to silence us. Jesus knew this. In his conversation with Pilate – Pilate claiming power over him and Jesus reminding him where the power comes from.
So, Michael, be encouraged. If you prayerfully consider your words and speak them from your inner being, God speaks in you. If you remain faithful to God, and you are attacked and discounted as “not Catholic,” rejoice! It means the Word of God within your words has forced your attackers to acknowledge the truth within themselves, though it is a truth they are unwilling or unable to face at the moment. Pray for them: that the Word of God you have planted in them will take root in their darkness and grow to seek out the light.
See also the previous Wild Reed post:
CPCSM Co-founder Responds to “Not Catholic” Assertion.