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.