Web news sites like Bondings 2.0 are important resources for us—they funnel stories to us that we might not otherwise hear in our little pockets and corners of the country. Case in point, Bondings 2.0 recently reported on a news article in a Baton Rouge newspaper (ironically named The Advocate) that has reported yet another case of a Catholic parishioner being denied communion because of his sexuality and marital status to a man. Retrospectively, such incidents have tended to occur during the funeral of a parent—as occurred in this instance—an extremely sensitive time of necessary compassion. And yet, individuals who come to the table for healing and to receive community strength are given a second blow by such acts of derision and exclusion.
The diocese where the incident occurred has apologized,…rightly so. However, the specific priest who committed the atrocity has not made any public comment. Supposedly, he will be allowed to continue his teaching and sermonizing of hate to his congregation.
The diocese’s apology is important. So is the dialogue that ensues due to publicity about the incident. But the irony—which seems to happen over and over again—is that the perpetrator weasels out of repentance and his sinfulness is condoned by silence from his superiors; while the congregant who came to the table of Christ for healing and soothing of the soul is failed, disparaged, taunted as an outsider, and publicly humiliated. We come to the table like beggars with open mouths and open hands—not taking the food ourselves but begging it from another human being.
The Rev. Roger Keeler, executive coordinator of the Canon Law Society of America seems to have spoken best about the situation when he stated:
“[The Eucharist] is not a weapon. Communion is not a reward for good behavior,” he said. “It’s the food for weary souls.”
As a practical matter, Keeler noted that a priest or Eucharistic minister can’t possibly know the marital standing of everybody in the communion line; therefore, if he is making assumptions or acting on his knowledge, he is in essence discriminating based on heresay and presumptions. Further, it is not the job of the priest or Eucharistic minister to execute philosophical righteousness upon individuals nor to condemn individuals for alleged Church social teaching concerns (the same way that it is not the job of ethical tarot readers to make judgments about their clients or their situations). It is the job of priests and Eucharistic ministers to provide the solace that is necessary to make Christ-like community decision going forth from the juncture of enlightenment and sustenance.
This seems like a rather absurd juxtaposition, doesn’t it… to speak about the role of priests and the roles of tarot readers? They don’t often cross paths. But the point is that when placed in a role of authority, one has a choice between the roles of power or responsibility. Is the job of tarot reader that much different from priests? Depends on your spiritual worldview, I suppose. A tarot reader is a counselor of sorts, just as a priest can be. Both are (or should be) schooled in certain mystery rituals and knowledge. And both have the responsibility to respond to those who approach them with compassion and empathy. Don’t be judge. Be counselor. You can’t make the choice for the client/congregant—only he or she can make their own choices and decisions. All you can do is give them the knowledge and pathway options to make best-practice decisions on their own. You, as a reader—or a Eucharistic minister—provide the sustenance. The client or congregant has to live with how they choose to sustain themselves with the experience henceforth.
My mind races—I can think of pros and cons to argue regarding my correlation between the Eucharist and getting a tarot reading. The Church would be horrified. But I only mean to imply the most basic of similarities—that we as individuals need consolation at certain points in our lives. And both the institutional sacraments and the individual connection between reader and querent can be a “place” of solace.
But I can hear the questions of the outraged: Is this a consumerist perspective? Is this relational comparison valid? What are the differences and the similarities?
One is a paid transaction (tarot); the other is not (although for much of the Church’s history, tithing has been an assumed responsibility). The sacrament of Eucharist is rather a community celebration/experience; a tarot reading can also be a celebration/experience, but is more often considered a opportunity of personal counsel (although the role of priest or Eucharistic minister is also thought of as a representative counselor of the Gospel message).
No offense, no harm in this correlation (for the creative of mind). The point of this blog and website is to de-mystify the tarot in the face of its demon-ization by the religious community, and to re-affirm its catechismic role in the lives of “weary souls.” Both forms of counsel/consolation can be sacramental. Sacramentalism is in the eye of the beholder. Which means that, sure, ignorant counselors of the Church might be able to deny us a sacrament (or two, or three). But only we can decide what is sacramental in the ecstatic rituals in which we choose to participate. And only we can determine what is empowering in the sustenance we choose to receive in our lives.