On Oct. 6, the preacher at evening Mass used his time at the pulpit to discuss Respect Life Sunday with great passion.
That seems logical enough, but the homily took a turn for the insulting—at least to this parishioner—and I’ve been struggling with going back to Mass ever since.
Part of the preacher’s premise in his vociferous decrying of our modern culture was that everything started to go downhill in the 1960s and ’70s. The “Culture of Death” began to take root when Americans started doing any number of things in a long list of sins. Among his litany of ill deeds was this phrase: “children being born out of wedlock.”
That was Game Over for me.
I am one of those children. I’m also a practicing Catholic who serves in ministry to my parish and tries, with varying levels of success, to be a good person of whom Jesus is at least occasionally proud.
That day at Mass, I was in the choir loft, where I sing in our music ensemble. I stayed after to water the plants in church, because October is my plant-care month. I’d run up to church at 9 a.m. that day to drop off a lasagna on behalf of the bereavement committee. And yes, I put in my monthly monetary contribution.
Yet, according to this preacher, I’m part of The Problem. I am part of What’s Wrong with the World.
Now, I suspect if I confronted him, he’d tell me he certainly doesn’t blame us children. But then, what of our parents? Perhaps it’s not my fault I was born to a single mother, but then how would this preacher relate to my mom? I guess she’s just another one of those ne’er-do-wells who’s contributing to the hastening decline of the world as we know it.
In a perfect scenario, every child would be born to two adoring parents. Every baby would be planned and welcomed with joy and delight. But that’s not reality.
Some people make mistakes. Some people are victims of crime. Some people wish they could take back one brief moment, one poor decision, that changed their life forever.
Many, if not most, of those people go forward and do the best they can. They make the best of a situation they might not be ready for, and their children do the same.
What I wish the preacher would have understood is how hurtful his statement was. How his words came across so mean-spirited and cold. How many of us out-of-wedlock children spend our lives trying to make up for something we couldn’t control, perpetually apologizing because we know we’re not really supposed to even be here. And how we sure don’t need anyone, publicly or privately, to remind us of that.
As a Church, we have to do better. We have to welcome everyone who comes to the table, regardless of how they got there. We have to extend Christ’s love to all our brothers and sisters, regardless of who their parents might be.
After all, I might not have grown up with a father, but I continue to grow with my Father.