Resurrections I Have Known

by Pearl Maria Barros

A few weeks ago, when I started to think about what I wanted to write in this reflection, I recalled a chapter from Kathleen Norris’ The Cloister Walk entitled “Easters I Have Known.” In that chapter, Norris weaves together her various experiences of Easter all of which entail some sort of transformative moment. At the time, I thought it would be good to write about those “Alleluia moments” (as my friend Sr. Kathy terms them) in my own life. But as the weeks passed and the papers filled with more reports about pedophilic priests and the powerful men who hide them, I felt less and less inclined to sit and write about being a Catholic woman. If anything, I wanted to ignore my Catholic identity as much as possible.

But the funny thing about being a Catholic woman is that it becomes an integral part of one’s identity. It’s not a pair of shoes that I can decide don’t go well with an outfit, or a hat I can take off at any moment. No, Catholic identity is more like a gall bladder: removing it does not necessarily kill one but it does entail surgery and your digestive system is never fully the same. Unwilling to extract myself from Catholicism, I now sit here trying to write about those resurrections I have known within my own life. Meanwhile, from the other room, my husband announces that the Pope has chosen to appoint a new Cardinal to Los Angeles: the new Cardinal is an active member of Opus Dei. Hmm, is it time to get out the scalpel?

I’m not sure. I cannot fathom my life without Catholicism. The resurrections I have known: the ability to walk back into the world after suffering with agoraphobia, the complete recovery from a serious bout of illness, the softness of Springtime blossoms after a hard winter – I recognize these as “Alleluia moments” because of Catholicism. It’s the place where I learned that life could come after death, bread and wine could be transformed into body and blood, and the most ordinary things could be filled with the infinite. Being Catholic enables me to be. At least that is what I try to focus on in the midst of a Church that is often more human and flawed than it would like to admit. I try to remember that the pain and hopelessness I feel will not last forever: Easter always follows Good Friday they taught me in catechism class. Always.

Pearl Maria Barros is currently pursuing her doctorate in Theology at Harvard Divinity School. She holds an MTS from Harvard Divinity School and a BA in English and Religious Studies from Santa Clara University. She wishes everyone a blessed Easter season and has decided not to listen to anymore “breaking news” from the Vatican. Well, at least for a week or two.


2 Responses

  1. Kate Dugan and Jennifer Owens,

    I am a student in one of Professor Hinsdales’ classes at Boston College. After reading your work and attending your lecture here at Boston College, along with reading this piece about Catholic identity, I have realized that our identity as members of the church is really all that we have sometimes. In many of the essays in your anthology, the authors seemed to say that while they had qualms with the church, they could never fathom leaving. How, I wonder, can an institution have such a strong hold on its members that it keeps them even in the face of adversity? I know in the foreword that Professor Hinsdale spoke of the church being a “home” for its members. I think this really is at the heart of peoples’ decision to stay with the church. The Aristotelian approach to love shows its somewhat confusing face here. People love the church so much, I think, that they are more willing to help it better itself than to leave it to slowly die. As a member of the church, I feel the same way. I know that at times I will have questions or concerns with certain elements of the church, but it’s my faith and my identity that keep me coming back. I really enjoyed your work and I wish you the best of luck in future endeavors. Thanks.

    Paul J Maglio

  2. Is saying the Rosary Prayer important to you? If so, please take part in this anonymous online research study to provide more understanding about the place of the Rosary Prayer in Catholics’ lives. This doctoral research is intended to provide information that can help mental health professionals to better serve their Catholic clients. Thank you for your help.

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