Tuesday, July 24, 2012


 For those of you joining the program already in progress, I have left the Roman Catholic Church. I could go through the long and varied list of everything that led me to this place, and it has been an interesting journey, but the most important thing to say is that it was simply not the place I belong.  I gave it my best shot; I tried and tried, but, at the end of the day, it was never home, no matter how much I wanted it to be or contorted myself to fit. I can think like a Catholic theologically, but I can’t think like an American Catholic culturally.  Will that satisfy my more Thomistic friends?  No, it won’t. 

I am interested in the life of prayer, the mystery of the incarnation, and the joy that characterizes the Christian life.  I do not find my vision of the church reflected in the right or the left of the Roman Catholic Church in America.  I often have theological and liturgical sympathy with one group and political sympathy with the other, but I find myself at home with neither.  I suppose there’s a good bit of anarchist Campbellite in me that I can’t shake and perhaps that has led me to having an outlaw conscience.  If that is the case, the sin be upon my head.

For all of that, I am thankful I took my sojourn across the Tiber and for the time I spent as a monk.  I met some good people along the way and learned some important things about the spiritual life and about myself. I admire any number of people who criticize the Roman Catholic Church from within from a variety of viewpoints, but that is their task to do in love, not mine as an outsider, except perhaps where these things touch on the larger church and world.  I wish all my Roman Catholic friends well.  You remain in my prayers.

A year after leaving the Abbey, I find myself living in Arkansas for the first time since graduating from college, pursuing a doctorate in history, and throwing in my lot with what is becoming known, thanks to the work of John Plummer, as the Independent Sacramental Movement (ISM), in which I have taken orders.  The ISM or Independent Catholic Movement, as it is also known, is a messy place, full of both promise and human frailty where people attempt to live out Christian faith and the sacraments in small communities.  The denominational overhead is low, the emphasis on individual discipleship is high.  These pages will show where this leads, with frailty likely outpacing promise on most days.

This blog takes its name from St. Raphael the Archangel to whose patronage I have entrusted myself on the road ahead.  St. Raphael is the healer, companion of travelers, and something of a super guardian angel.  I feel like I’m in good hands.