Holy Water

10 Years Ago

Yesterday – my daughter called to let me know that she didn’t burn when splashed with holy water. She has volunteered as an escort at planned parenthood over the past years.  On Saturday mornings she rises early and travels into the city to serve as a slight buffer between the women who have made the difficult decision to abort their pregnancies and the protesters who gather to berate, harass, and judge them.

holy-water-1431421_1920Yesterday – a catholic priest threw holy water on my daughter as a curse.  His anger was a bright blaze that led other protesters to howl their own curses at her and the other escorts.

Yesterday – we laughed about it.  I told a few friends about it over the course of the day – and they also laughed.  “She should have thanked him for blessing her” said one.  Another commented, “she should have pretended to burn, like the witch in The Wizard of Oz.”

Today – I’m feeling a little more disturbed about the incident.  Holy water is blessed and set aside for sacred uses – for blessings.  To use it as a curse is an abomination – truly vile. Somehow, the radical violence of the priest was dissolved in the telling of the story.

The protesters – most of them there on ‘religious’ grounds – are not allowed to be physically violent toward the escorts, the doctors and nurses, or the women who come as patients for breast exams, birth control, and yes, sometimes abortions at the clinic. But oh, the protesters are surely willing to be violent in so many other ways as they shake signs, hurl imprecations and yes, holy water.

I’ve done some research – and found that there is a percentage of protesters who are willing to put their beliefs aside for themselves or their daughters.  Stop Abortion Now they chant at each woman who walks past – except when “I don’t want to have another child,” when “my daughter is ‘too young’ to bear the responsibility”, when “my mistress isn’t going to destroy my career if she has a kid.”

This hypocrisy is rampant. It speaks to me of people who have not learned what true values are and how to lead their lives according to those values. I see their protests are a place to spew their anger, their fear, their misery onto others who are simply trying to live their lives as best they can.

I wonder:

  • How do we teach people to think for themselves?  It goes against the grain of our culture. The systems we now have in place are obsessed with enculturating our children with obedience – to train them for the assembly line … whether they end up in the factory or the corner office. Thinking outside the system is not encouraged.
  • How do we teach people to shift out of the rut of their practiced beliefs?  Each experience can and should teach us to expand our understandings and beliefs toward a truly catholic view – inclusive, universal, and loving.
  • How do we teach people to discover and live by their values? We  live in a world where there is so much focus on fear mongering – from the media, from politicians, from the pulpit. Stepping away from the constant drone of these voices to listen to our own still small voice is truly the only way.


Holy Water
Bethany Torode

This morning I was showered
with the blessings of the new year.
With head bowed
I watched the droplets fly
and sanctify. Later
the chub cheek of my son
rubs against mine in fun
anointing me with slobber
and my husband’s quick kiss
leaves a trace of his element
on the corner of my lips.
All, the moisture of grace.

From my archives ~ February 2009