Why We Left, Why We Stay: ‘I remain one foot in and the other outside the threshold’

In DecemberBondings 2.0  invited readers to share the stories of their relationship with the Catholic Church by writing on the theme of “Why We Came, Why We Left, Why We Stayed.”  We “borrowed” this topic from a feature that Commonweal magazine published recently.  We felt it was important for LGBTQ people to share their own stories, so we made the invitation to our readers.

We asked contributors to keep their contributions under 500 words, and also asked how they would like to be identified in terms of name and gender/sexual identity, location.  Anonymity was offered as an option.

We received many responses, and we have been posting a selection of them them over the last few months on Sundays.  

However, because our Sunday Lenten reflection series has started, the “Why We Came, Why We Left, Why We Stayed” series will be moved to Saturdays during Lent.

To read all the previous posts in this series, click here, or click on “Why We Came. Why We Left. Why We Stayed” in the Categories section of the right-hand column of this page. Many thanks to all the contributors!

Name:  C.R. Martinez

Identified:  Queer Woman, Teacher, and Youth Minister

I neither leave nor remain. I am in limbo. Ten years teaching, six years studying in school, a decade ministering, hundreds of students taken on retreat, dozens and dozens of LGBTQ students lives’ made more livable for the safe space my classroom provided them: these are but a few of the numbers that mattered most to me before the day I was told I could no longer teach or remain in my position as Campus Minister because I was married to another woman.

The message sent was clear: my hands were not worthy to pass on the love of God because of the person I’d chosen to marry and love as Christ loves me. I’d clung to this love I found on the cross my whole life long and especially when my family struggled to accept me. I turned to my faith, to my church to be the home I did not have at the time. Today I feel like someone without a home at all, without refuge.

Still, I remain one foot in and the other outside the threshold. I still cling to the hands of a love that does not want me, that was willing to benefit from the gifts God gave me, but only in secret, and never beneath the bright light of truth. I have yet to come to terms with this loss despite having lived in its shadow for over a year now. What am I to do with hands purposed for this work and nothing else?

The glaring truth that I have been ignoring is that there is no place for me in the Church anymore and that there is nothing that my knowledge can do to save me. The years spent studying the theologians that came before me provide no solace. In reality this is not a journey that my mind can navigate. It is a matter that must lean upon the only part of me that stands a chance at approaching the divine: my heart. It is a heart that loves God despite the pain inflicted by this Church on so many others like myself. I believe God understands, that Mary understands the angry words I hurl in prayer.

The blessed Virgencita I’ve called mother all my life longs to gather me to her heart and comfort these shaking fists. She knows that I will come home eventually. It remains to be seen whether that home will be the Catholic Church. I rest only on the hope that God has given me a gift in this suffering that will allow me to grow in patience, love and humility when the time is right.

C.R. Martinez, March 16, 2019

6 replies
  1. Friends
    Friends says:

    This is a very powerful and poignant statement — and I suspect that probably one-half to three-quarters of our readers would be willing to co-sign it, since it reflects their own frustration in trying to come to terms with the hypocritical hierarchy of a “busted” Church. My own problem of conscience turns upon whether it is justifiable to keep pouring money (i.e., free-will donations) into the coffers of a seriously corrupted religious institution. I’ve paused my own participation and my financial support for the time being. And I await the Guidance of the Holy Spirit, in trying to discern an appropriate and acceptable path forward. In the words of Ricky Ricardo (as played by Desi Arnaz in the 1950s “I Love Lucy” TV program), the top-level hierarchy of the RCC has got some very serious “‘splainin” to do.

  2. diane mckinley
    diane mckinley says:

    Dear Ms Martinez,
    You are why I stay and hope to create that home in our Church that needs you back. More and more Catholic parishes have LGBTQ ministries like ours that are working towards inclusion. My heart breaks for you, but I am also awed and inspired by your faith.

  3. Mary Jo
    Mary Jo says:

    Dear CR Martinez, please know that there is hope and love to be found outside the RCC. A church will love and cherish you and acknowledge you in the light of truth. I feel your pain so acutely. There is another way. Please know you are loved. Step outside the box you are in and you’ll find it. Blessings and peace.

  4. Jan Schwegmann
    Jan Schwegmann says:

    I think that C.R. Martinez has a beautiful way of writing and she should teach this somewhere, and never quit telling her story through this amazing gift God gave to her. My heart breaks for her and all who have been treated in this same manner.

  5. Loretta Larkey
    Loretta Larkey says:

    Thank you for your powerful, deeply honest, raw sharing. I am so sorry for this pain inflicted upon you. God is so much bigger than this often misguided church we have called home. ❤️

  6. Rosa G. Manriquez, IHM
    Rosa G. Manriquez, IHM says:

    Mi hermana, lo siento que la institución ha pagado tu amor y lealtad con esta violencia espiritual. Yo creo que la institución no es la iglesia. Tal pensamiento es como creer que las computadoras en una escuela es la escuela propia. Y nadie, menos yo misma, puede decidir si soy o no soy Católica. Estas cumpliendo con tus promesas de bautismo y confirmación. Has actuado como Jesús en su ministerio. Y tu matrimonio es testamento que eres hecha maravillosamente en el imagen de Dios.

    Voy a rezarle al Espíritu Santo que te llene de sabiduría, entendimiento, consejo, fortaleza, conocimiento, piedad y temor, también, caridad, generosidad, alegría, mansedumbre, paz, fidelidad, paciencia, modestia, amabilidad, auto control, bondad y castidad. Y le pido a la Virgencita Morena que te mantenga en el hueco de su manto y en el cruce de sus brazos.


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