A Church Where Sheep May Safely Graze

Imagine you’re pregnant, unchurched and addicted, and you want to step out of the darkness and into the light. What sort of hand will you trust to lead you out?

My first child was conceived out of wedlock. I was, at the time, not only unmarried but also a crystal meth addict. I was not Catholic but some strange combination of agnostic/lapsed Protestant; my boyfriend and the father of my child was a Catholic. Obviously neither he nor I were living virtuous lives at the time, but the reality of a child on the way forced us to try and straighten ourselves out.

We began seeing a wonderful Cistercian priest who helped us work through that difficult time.

She and her husband were blessed to be guided into the church by a true shepherd, one who understood that wounded lambs cannot be asked to leap before they can properly stand on their legs.

“The other option was that we live together but maintain a chaste relationship. “Live together like brother and sister” was the phrase we heard repeated over and over. This is a task that is widely acknowledged to require heroic virtue from even the most virtuous, yet the likelihood that two people who hadn’t attempted to live virtuous lives, basically ever, would be able to accomplish it was somehow not of interest to solicitous advice-givers.

It was of interest to our priest, however. He was interested in a great many things everyone else overlooked. He spent hours with the Ogre and me, together and separately, figuring out our strengths, our weaknesses, our fears, our limits, our feelings for each other, and our hopes for the future. I suspect he recognized that we had both lived in a state of chronic, habitual mortal sin for years and quickly decided that a quick “get out of mortal sin fast” card was not what we needed; at least, not then. I believe his ultimate goal for us was not short-term but long-term. He was trying to figure out how to bring both of us into a state of grace, how to help us learn to love God, each other, and our child, and how to begin building a foundation that might one day support a solid family.”

I love this exquisite little piece by Calah Alexander and I am so happy to have it for Patheos. Calah blogs Barefoot and Pregnant, where she exudes the kind of joie de vivre that comes from knowing where and who one is, where one belongs, and to whom.

You’ll end up bookmarking her!

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • http://scrutinies.net Dorian Speed

    Calah writes with such honesty – she is a unique voice in the Catholic blogosphere and I really appreciate how blunt she can be at times when sharing her perspective as a convert who overcame some serious obstacles. Glad to see this piece being recognized!

  • Matthew

    It would be interesting to try to gauge the acceptance this type of pastoral solicitude in relationship to the issue of homosexuality.

  • http://jscafenette.com Manny

    Calah’s priest showed great wisdom. Sometimes the perfect, sinless option would have been the enemy of the ultimate good. Sometimes we have to take small steps and perhaps still live with sin to reach a better life. In this case, it appears that some sin led to a greater good. Kudos to that Cistercian priest.

    And blessings to Calah and her family. Good story.

  • Katherine

    …and a small child shall lead them. This also echos the birth control post. He has plans for us, but we need to say yes.

  • Katherine

    This could not be less important, but what time is your time stamp set to? It’s 1:32 where I am, 4:32 where you are, and my comment is stamped 5:22 pm. Weird.