Don’t ‘declutter’ Catholicism

Photo: Sean MacEntee, CC via Flickr Photo: Sean MacEntee, CC via Flickr

My friend attended a class on life after a divorce. She is Catholic. She loves the faith and simply wants to heal and be whole for Christ and his church. She lives in fidelity to the faith she has received.

Her counselor suggested that she attend a post-divorce class which was held in a nondenominational church in the area. My friend went once, and she didn’t go back. On the night of the first class, she walked down the hall and read the signs on the doors as she looked for the class on healing after divorce. The sign on one door said “Decluttering Catholicism.”

It felt like a punch in the stomach, she said. And the one thought she had was how much she loves her faith, and how little the members of this faith community must understand about the Catholic faith she holds so dear. She kept on walking and eventually found the class on divorce, but the blow against her faith and her church stayed with her.

When she shared the story with me, I felt her anguish.

I do not want to declutter any part of this beautiful faith. It is a treasure. And nobody throws open the kingdom’s treasure chests in order to toss out all that is beautiful and precious.

Nobody raids the coffers in order to cast the treasures aside.

How precious the intercession of saints. How dear the gift of the Blessed Mother. How sacred the chrism, the bells, the incense that rises to the heavens. How lovely the holy cards and statues and icons. Mosaics. Stained glass. Sculptures. Paintings. Paten. Chalice. Ciborium.

How holy the body of our Lord. The most precious blood.

How full of grace the sacraments, the open door to the confessional, the steps that lead down the aisle to the eucharistic Lord of life.

How healing the touch of Christ through the hands of the priest, the anointing of the bishop, the blessing that comes down to us through the pope, through St. Peter and apostolic lineage.

How sweet the feel of smooth rosary beads, the voices of those beside me praying, the cares and intercessions lifted by each one kneeling. What joy is found in the holy water font, the cool water touching the forehead, the smell of chrism on a baby’s head. What a treasure the family baptismal gown, a grandmother’s prayer book with its weathered pages.

What meaning comes with the flowing stream of the liturgical calendar, the readings each day and each hour, the colors, the altar, the tabernacle and lit candle.

The stations line the walls. The kneelers wait to be lowered. The book is opened and ready.

No. Do not declutter my precious faith. Do not reduce it to something too small. Do not suggest that it is better to have a faith that is summed up in five bullet points and one passage from Scripture.

I need it all.

I thirst for these streams of running water. It is life. It is strength. It is all a venue for grace.

One would never enter the king’s palace in order to declutter the rooms and toss out the treasures. And so it is with the faith. It is a sacred deposit worthy of keeping. Worthy to be passed down to our children.

It is rich, so very rich, and the divine life infuses all of it.

No. You cannot purge the holy, beautiful, precious of all that serves to bring us into the most holy, the most beautiful, the most precious.

It is a treasure worthy of our treasuring.

Denise Bossert

Denise Bossert is a member of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, Missouri. Contact her at denise02@centurytel.net.

Website: www.denisebossert.com