Why do restraints and constrictions cause us to bellow so loudly

On my regular walks around my neighbourhood, I pass by a property where two large dogs live. If they are running free on the fenced property, they come up to the gate, relaxed, curious, and quietly watch until I pass. It is a different scenario should they be tethered on their chains. As I approach, their barking builds up into a loud cacophony, which echoes around the village, and continues long after I have passed.

  • I wondered if this behaviour applies to humans as well as canines.
  • I wondered what it is about restraint or constraint or restrictions that cause us to bellow so loudly.

The Catholic Church (and other institutional churches, I suspect) is sometimes defined by its restrictions and prohibitions. No talking about ordination of women or a married priesthood. Exclusion from Holy Communion if one is divorced and remarried (without the comvolutions of the annulment process). A long and often onerous preparation to become Catholic, so long as your marriage is proper, of course. Imposition of archaic language and rituals on a populace seeking relevance and meaning. Prohibition on receiving Eucharist in other churches.

Sometimes I think the bureacrats have forgotten the difference between obedience and oppression. One is about listening and response – based on a fully formed and informed conscience. The other is about power and conformity.

  • Why have religious sisters been rebuked for speaking out?
  • Why are married priests forbidden from active and relevant ministry in their new communities?
  • Why are ordinary Mass-goers denied from corporate worship in their own vernacular, despite a loud and raucous response to the new, awkward, Latinised, English translation?

Unlike my canine friends, I suspect that every day Catholics have been subjected to an apparently deaf, autocratic hierarchy for so long, that they simply acquiesce. Like the Israelites held in captivity in Egypt, we choose the path that requires the least confrontation, expends the least energy, convinced that nothing will change – in our life-time, at least. Even euphoria – experienced after Vatican 2 – or escape across the Red Sea – quickly subsides into ennui and disillusionment. We may go through the motions;

  • say the right prayers – but our hearts are not in it;
  • our minds not convinced;
  • our bodies and souls out of sync.

Simply …

  • we choose not to gather for worship at Catholic Churches any more;
  • we ignore rulings on contraception and remarriage;
  • we talk in small, safe, non-judgemental groups about our heartfelt, raw, feelings and frustrations;
  • we receive Eucharist wherever we are invited – one with the Lord, with those gathered in God’s name;
  • we drift away.

We reconnect with the divine – stripped of rules and regulations and prohibitions:

  • in the beauty of a sunrise;
  • in the smile of gratitude of a busker;
  • in the holy pause of silence;
  • in the random act of kindness from a stranger;
  • in the sacred touch of a loving embrace;
  • in the generosity of friends and family;
  • in acts of compassion;
  • in attentiveness to the present moment.

There is a delicious freedom;
a wonderful communion with God, with self and with others;
a unique experience of what it is to be fully, consciously, human;
when we are free to grow into the people we were created to be; and are continually invited to be. We choose boundaries and parameters as mature women and men of faith –

  • our faith community;
  • our prayer discipline;
  • the spiritual precepts we follow;
  • the physical and emotional environment in which we are immersed (or are immersed by circumstances); and
  • our learned and chosen responses to transitions in our life situations.

And within these boundaries, we are free to reflect who we are –

beloved children of God.

  • Not fearful;
  • not defensive;
  • not territorial;
  • not possessive;
  • not arrogant.

Simply loved.

Liz Pearce, a mother of three adult children, loves story, writing, and dollmaking www.heartfeltdolls.weebly.com

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