You may have seen some recent news reports about a self-described group of “nuns” in Merced, California who call themselves the “Sisters of the Valley.” Pictures of them show the women wearing a kind of dark blue habit with a while veil while they tend marijuana plants. Let’s be clear, these women are not Catholic and they are not nuns. In fact, the seven women say they are “against religions.” They were founded in 2014 and they raise and process marijuana for medicinal use in balms and ointments. They claim that the hemp plant is their “Holy Trinity” and soon plan to move their operations to Canada.
Other cannabis “churches” have been founded around the country in several states over the last few years. Indiana, Florida, and Ohio also have communities whose “worship” centers around smoking weed. Just this past week, the “International Church of Cannabis” opened in Denver. Cloaked in many of the symbols of traditional Christian worship, they use words like “sacrament,” “priest,” “ministry,” and “spirit.” At this point, the legal entanglements of mixing worship and weed are still being worked out, even in pot-friendly Colorado. Right now, the church is regulated as a private club and is only open to registered members. But that will probably change over time. All sorts of crazy “religions” have popped up over the centuries and that trend shows no signs of slowing down.
People yearn for God. They seek out Beauty, Truth, and the Eternal. They invent ways in which to experience Him. They reject His Church because it makes demands of them. It asks them to confess their sins, repent, and sin no more. It asks them to follow God’s commandments and submit their will to the will of Jesus Christ. But that’s hard and means self-denial. It’s lots easier to dress like a nun (without any sense of true religious vocation), call yourself “Sister” (without any true commitment to community), and claim that hemp is your “Holy Trinity” (without any understanding of what is holy or god-like). It’s like children playing a make-believe game without any mature understanding of what they’re doing. But, unlike the innocent play of children, this sort of imitation is hollow and sad.
It’s sad because they long for an experience of God but they reject the grace that He longs to give them through the Sacraments of His Church. They seek self, not a relationship with their Savior. Each of our souls was created to be nourished by the grace of Baptism, Confession, Confirmation, and the Holy Eucharist. Nothing short of these will satisfy the spiritual hunger which the Lord created within us. As more communities embrace the legal use of marijuana, the number and variation of these sorts of “churches” and communities will probably continue to grow. Just as we see so many seeking God in the things of the world, they need our prayers as well as our living example of loving forgiveness and mercy. How many of us have wandered down the wrong road before we were led to Jesus Christ? We pray for them as we do any brother or sister who is lost, that they may find the Truth of His salvation.
“One road leads home and a thousand roads lead into the wilderness.”