Catie Jo was walking down the street carrying a soccer ball home from her freshman team soccer practice, when she burst out in loud laughter. In a moment of clarity, she suddenly had an understanding of how funny people were and how comic their actions complicated their lives. She had to sit down so that she could enjoy the rolling laughter issuing from her body.
She had spent a year in quiet meditation as she rested up from the first wonderful adventure that she had been led into by her spiritual friends. She had many things to think about after coming back from Rome.
She had to sort through the reality of her brother David being gay. She loved him and had no problem accepting him. She was part of the generation that knew that some people were gay and that was a part of life no matter how many strident voices proclaimed otherwise. She worried about him because it still wasn’t the simplest thing to be a young man from a Catholic background, a young man starting college, to be admitting to others he was gay. In her meditation, she came to believe he would be ok. He was smart enough to figure his way through the challenges he’d meet as any young person dealing with their sexuality had to do.
She also had many thoughts about the Church. She loved the Catholic Church and what it had given her. She wouldn’t have had the ability to recognize her relationship with her special friends like Catherine and Joan and all the other saints she met her in prayers without the historic and powerful imaginative memory of the Church. She loved the presence of the Eucharist that the Church brought with it. What was clear to her was that the men who ran the Church stood in front of the Eucharist and proclaimed that the world could only come to the grace of the sacrament through them. What had started out as a protective courage hundreds of years ago, now had become a protection of power to sustain the dominance of men’s role. This is where things got murky in her thinking. She saw that the Church was hurting from this problem. She knew her friends were both concerned and unhappy with the state of Church affairs. She wanted to do something about it, but she also had to start high school and figure all of that out. High school demanded her attention, so she let the end of middle school and the new school year at Helena High happen without thinking too much about these questions.
Her concerns never stopped churning in her underneath her daily thoughts. She could feel them being bounced back and forth between her thoughts, her feelings, her deepest parts. Now and then something would come to the surface and she’d have to face it. Some of her realizations were sad as she pondered how people were hurt by the recalcitrant mind of power. Some made her angry as she saw how people were demeaned and damaged by power. She didn’t talk these thoughts over with anyone. Fr. Hugh had died just before school started and her grief wouldn’t let her easily replace him. Her family was grateful to have her “back to normal”, as her mother called the past year – no news stories, no controversies, just teenage life. She had spent time with her heavenly friends, but she was “unusually reticent” as St. Catherine once teased her. Catie Jo knew some things she would have to figure out for herself.
So on her walk home from practice, itt was a pleasant surprise when all of her thoughts and internal mumblings suddenly produced a beautiful, detailed picture of the truth for her. What she saw was an image of little truths pieced together in an intricate puzzle that showed the whole mix of reality. The pieces fell together in her mind andwere held for a time in place by love to show her what it all meant, where it was going, and what part she could chose to play. Her anger at the ignorant, mean, and sometimes evil actions of people was transformed into stubbornness once again. She knew she could challenge other people no matter who they were or what they did. the Holy Spirit showed her in that moment that those people would confound themselves in trying to deal with her and that they would end up looking ridiculous.
She couldn’t put this picture into words yet, but she knew it reminded her of a commedia show her brother had been in recently in college. He went to school in Missoula majoring in Theater and her family had driven down to see him in the play, “A Servant of Two Masters.” In this medieval comedy. clowns, fools, and sinners complicated their lives, stumbled over each other, and ended up whacking themselves with slapsticks. Her moment of clarity looked a great deal like this comedy. What a gift this vision was to her. Because she could see it, she could resist the fear and terror of power and knock the powerful on their butts. That thought made her laugh even more.
She picked up her soccer ball and, still laughing, ran over several streets until she stood at the steps of the Chancery. She thought she’d see if the new Bishop was had time to see her.