I have a love/hate relationship….with Facebook. While I am inclined to keep up to speed by anyone’s standard, it seems that they change the format often enough to confuse me just when I think I’m getting the hang of it.

Admittedly, I have always been a sort of ‘geek’. I like technical things and am curious enough to try and figure out how to use new gadgets as they come up — within reason. Now, I am not one who needs the latest and greatest right now, but I do like to keep up with my now adult children, long-time friends and various nieces and nephews and their families from day to day.  It is one of the benefits of Facebook.

Information is another benefit.  Of late, there has been an interesting dynamic of widespread opinion and passing of information on the HHS guidelines and its assault on all religious institutions–especially Catholic institutions.  It was first through Facebook that I learned much about how our own Bishop understands the issue as well as other Catholics and people of faith on my ‘friends’ list.

Today, they were in no short supply. There is an old acquaintance that I ‘friended’ a few months back. She is a Catholic, but our views are as different as night and day. I always take that as a personal challenge. So when she posted today about this subject, apparently most of her ‘friends’ feel as she does; basically, ‘what right does the Church have telling us what to do with our bodies?’ At the point I started reading, there were about 23 comments….all bemoaning the Church’s position. I have no way of knowing if some were even Catholic; except, of course, for those disagreeing with what they heard in their respective parishes over the past weekend.

Those who know me best know that is akin to saying ‘sic ‘im’ to a dog. As I was preparing to respond, there was no place to comment and then, the whole thing disappeared; I had become disconnected! I don’t know if I pressed a wrong key or perhaps my own guardian angel was looking out for them, but it was much like having my mouth covered with duct tape…and I did not like the feeling.

In all 23 ‘comments’, each taking personal, anecdotal swipes at the Church, I was struck by something. Not one person addressed what I consider to be THE issue in this battle. Their First Amendment right to practice their religion (or none) as they see fit is being threatened in real time. For the first time I can remember, our government is going toe to toe with one of the largest denominations in the country and basically saying that they, not the leaders of the Church, not 2000 plus years of history, have the right to decide what teachings we will accept, and which we cannot. Incredible. Yet, these women were, one right after another, taking it as an opportunity to tear down the Church for refusing to ‘listen’ to women; refusing to ‘get with it’, refusing to allow women to set the agenda in this matter.

Follow me here. These women were bemoaning the fact that their Church is not more ‘democratic’; all the while their own fundamentally democratic rights are being threatened by a government they are defending.


When MY desires, MY choices, MY decisions take precedence over the voice of more than 2000 years of experience in the human condition with some of the world’s best minds would it not be reasonable to think that perhaps I need to take a breath, do some praying, study the teachings of Holy Mother Church who asks us as in Isaiah 1:18 to ‘come, let us reason together.’ Our emotional attachment to all things worldly will not allow us to do that.

I am not a Catholic because of any man—save Christ—I am a Catholic because it is home to me. In the same way that as a young wife and mother I often asked for and received loving advice from my own mother, I look to my earthly vessel of heaven to guide me.

Sometimes the teachings of the Church are not what I want to hear, but to dismiss it would be foolish and prideful. Do I always agree with the Church? I would be disingenuous if I claimed that I did. However, years have shown me that I need to step back when I don’t ‘get’ something and realize that perhaps the Holy Spirit is working to clear something in my own heart and soul that has no place in a child of God. As an old friend once told me “God loves you just as you are…but He loves you too much to let you stay that way.”

By God’s grace, may these perilous times serve as an encouragement to reconnect and respond as He and His Church continue to call us home.

Denise Smith lives and works just outside the St. Louis area. She is married to a Permanent Deacon in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, and is the mother of three grown children and proud ‘Nana’ to two (so far….).   She is Director of a Crisis Pregnancy Center and active in her parish. She blogs at treacherousbrook.blogspot.com.