WELCOME! Here is my not-terribly-eloquent attempt to grow closer to God via... blogging. Unfortunately for you, I'm not sure what that means either. I guess we'll find out!

I'm 30 years old, married to an IT Guy and a stay-at-home-mom to two spectacularly gorgeous children. While we attend Mass on Sunday mornings, I spend the entirety of the Eucharistic Prayer focused on making sure the baby uses her crayons on the bulletin, not the pew

You can read more about me at Mighty Maggie and more about my Catholic and not-so-Catholic background on the Official About Page. Thanks for visiting!

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02/24/2013

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Lauren

Okay, we can talk more about this in person when you come to DC, but I VERY STRONGLY DISAGREE with Phillip on this one. Arwen and Miriel are probably better equipped to talk about this than I am, but I can't see a single thing about having a gift for intercessory prayer and seeking to use and develop that wonderful gift that is in any way contrary to being a faithful, active Catholic. I mean, there are entire orders of religious brothers and sisters who devote their entire lives to prayer, much of it prayer on behalf of other people!

I think that if you were to even remotely consider leaving the Catholic Church, you'd have to conclude that (1) it is not what it claims to be--i.e., the Church that Christ himself founded, and (2) it does not offer access to Christ in the Eucharist in a way that no other Christian denomination (except for the Orthodox churches) does. But if the Catholic Church WAS founded by Christ and DOES give us Christ in the Eucharist--both of which I obviously believe--then it would be spiritual insanity to leave.

It's a real shame that there aren't more resources available to help you better develop what I think is a pretty amazing spiritual gift. But! Ecumenical work and worship and study are JUST FINE, as long as they're not with people/groups that are disparaging the Church and trying to draw Catholics away from it. (And as long as the people you're worshiping with know you're Catholic.) In fact, maybe you have some sort of a special vocation to be a Catholic witness to other Christians who might not otherwise have an opportunity to interact with Catholics in a spiritual context, and dispel some of the false ideas that exist about Catholics amongst our Protestant brothers and sisters.

I can't remember--do you have a spiritual director? I don't, but I've been wanting to start working with one, and it seems to me that this is an area that is RIPE for work in spiritual direction.

But God doesn't give us good and beautiful gifts in order to push us away from Him. Unless you for some reason conclude that the Catholic Church is actually WRONG and lacking in authentic authority, I think it would be a huge mistake to leave it for a better opportunity to develop a particular spiritual gift elsewhere.

Lauren

Oh, and it sounds like *YOU* are totally on the right track with all of this. It's Phillip's suggestion that has me reeling. What a wonderful guy and great husband and father, but so wrong about this particular thing!

Miriel

Hmm. Hmmm. HMMM.

Okay. You said this:

"Even though it would be a HUGE shift, it might make some people unhappy and all that, if I truly thought God was calling me somewhere different, I'd like to believe I have enough integrity to follow, whatever the risks. I think I would."

I think that is fundamentally the right approach. I can honestly say, with conviction, that if God were actually, truly calling you to leave the Church, then I would think you should do it.

But. I can also honestly say, with conviction, that I do not think that is what's happening here. You're right that we don't go to Mass for the primary purpose of cultivating any specific spiritual gift. We go to Mass because Jesus is waiting for us in the Eucharist. We go to Mass because the liturgical prayer of the Church is a manifestation of Christ's presence in the world. We go to Mass because we're Catholic, and we're Catholic because God gives himself to us, and leads us to himself, through the ministry of the Church.

So the only reason it would ever make sense to consider leaving the Church would be if you had a serious reason to believe that the Church was not what it claims to be--if you had a serious reason to believe that the Church's teaching about the Eucharist and the presence of Jesus and the grace of the Sacraments was not true. (I believe that those teachings are true, but I've also wrestled with them A LOT, and I think it's important to acknowledge that the Church puts a lot of emphasis on our duty to form and follow our consciences.)

It doesn't sound to me like you have those kinds of questions, though. It sounds to me like you are faced with two things -- your conviction that the Church is where you belong, and your conviction that you are called to develop the spiritual gift of intercessory prayer. And the question is maybe something like: can these two things fit together?

Here is what: they TOTALLY can. You can be right that God is calling you to be Catholic, AND that he is calling you to develop this gift. This sounds tooootally right to me! I went to college at a NON-charismatic Catholic school and I STILL encountered tons of people with spirituality similar to yours, and I experienced a LOT of long-lasting blessings through my interactions with those people, and I developed tools that I still use in my spiritual life today. It is definitely true that not every parish (okay, not most parishes) has the kind of culture that seeks to develop those gifts, but that does NOT mean Catholicism and a gift of intercessory prayer are incompatible. I am trying to track down resources for you so I will Keep You Posted, but in the meantime, you are totally in the right place.

Love you.

Miriel

p.s. I read Lauren's comment after I wrote mine. Which is why they are practically identical. Clearly we MUST be right ;-)

Arwen

Maggie, I love the idea of intercessory prayer being the Thing You ARE. That's beautiful.

(I am also thinking about how you sometimes have angst about what you are supposed to Do With Your Life, and I know you didn't say this but I love the idea that prayer is it. Like, you'll spend your life praying and probably very few people will even notice but then someday your great-grandchildren will go to your canonization: St. Maggie, great contemplative of our generation.)

(Obviously YOU are not thinking along these lines, but I like to daydream great things for my friends. :-) )

With due respect to Phillip (holla, Phillip! I think you are great!) he's just... um... well. The thing is, the idea that the Catholic Church is not the place for people who are called to prayer... well, it's not exactly true. It's sort of the opposite of true.

Do you have a copy of the Catechism? If not, look! Here it is: http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/catechism/catechism-of-the-catholic-church/epub/index.cfm

There are four sections and the entire fourth section is about prayer. The whole thing! I've just been skimming it, trying to look for key things to talk about here, but the whole thing is beautiful. I mean, yes, sometimes kind of theologically-talky, but beautiful.

Will you read it? At least, will you read it if you feel like the idea that the Catholic Church is not a place for prayer is making sense to you?

I do understand why Phillip doesn't see that the Catholic parish where you are is serving your vocation to prayer. It seems like maybe you have a specific vocation to intercessory prayer in prayer groups (CCC 2689 calls prayer groups "schools of prayer") and there are not prayer groups where you are? I can see how that would be discouraging.

(I also get feeling that the charismatic way is not for you - even though we attend a charismatic parish right now I have some reservations about it - and I definitely am not saying you need to switch parishes, but I will say this: the charismatics are ALL ABOUT the prayer groups. They get this right.)

In the end, though, training in prayer is not really something that *other people* can give you, I think. It's the work of the Holy Spirit in your heart. And obviously I firmly believe that the work of the Holy Spirit in your heart happens best through a sacramental life, through participation in the ultimate prayer of the church that is the Mass. (That's kinda like, uh, Catholic teaching on the topic, though, so not super surprising that I believe it.)

I guess, like Lauren and Miriel said, it really comes down to what you believe about what the Catholic Church is. So I guess that is what you have to figure out.

Also: where are prayer groups supposed to be and what is your role supposed to be in them? I have a feeling that's a Big Important Question in your vocation. I'll be praying for you on that one, lady.

XOXO

Lizzie

This is an interesting thing to me and I'm not sure I have anything to say about it beyond that. I starred it in Google Reader because I wanted to come back to read other people's thoughts in the comments.

As a non-Catholic Christian, who will openly admit that I don't get Catholicism - NOT meant as a criticism, I think I have a different perspective than the other commenters, but I'm not sure how to articulate it without writing an essay sure to be significant in length.

I did want to comment in support of your thought process though. Not sure where you'll end up and certainly not going to presume to know what is best for you and your family, but I think the things you are thinking through are valid things to be thinking about.

Christina

Another non-Catholic here... feeling wholly unqualified to speak on whether you are called to stay or leave (and mind you, not leave the faith, just change denominations... but maybe that is a protestant way of looking at things?)... however, I will say that often my husband has this way of giving advice that is rather, um, drastic. As in like I'll say "so and so is bugging me" and he'll say "so stop talking to her" or I'll say "I really just want to write" and he'll say "Get going on that novel, we need the money." You know what I mean? It's like guys see the world very black and white and if there's a problem they want to Solve It Now. So maybe you are called to worship in another denomination, or maybe you are called to be your Intecessory self right where you are?
And you know the real reason I'm commenting? I really want to know how you and your friends did what you did. Seriously. I want to do this with my friends and I haven't the first clue how. So can you
1. Give me a brief (yet understandable and do-able) summary?
and then
2. Write a book on the topic?

:) just thought I'd throw that out there... you being a writer who is also gifted in intecessory prayer and all...

Becky

Another non-catholic. Doubt, questioning, seeking are all a very big part of the Protestant faith journey. It was interesting to read the comments from your Catholic readers. Is it not embraced so much in the Catholic tradition? My former Catholic husband says no but he hasn't crossed the threshold of a Catholic church in 30 years, so probably not the best authority. I do want to thank you for writing about your journey. I don't remember what series of link led me here but so much of what you are dealing with parallels my own life right now. And you express much more eloquently than I ever could.

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