Saturday, April 28, 2007

Freedom to forgive

Here are two recent posts related to forgiveness:

“Midnight ponderer”: I understand there is a great healing process for the person who can forgive another. I admire everyone that can forgive another person's indescretions. I need help with all of this 'forgiving' though. Can it be a finite thing like : one time per person? For example, I do not know how to reply to an extended family member's criticism of this aspect of our religion. She says "What use are all of your church rules, you have many hypocrits because people can do anything they want, then God and christians forgive them and they get to go to heaven anyway". I sure doesn't sound fair when she puts it like that. Can you help me counter with the appropriate answer?

"Anon": “Are there some basic steps for forgiveness? I honestly do not think I know how to actively forgive someone. There is one particular person who has done some things that really hurt me. In my head, I understand that she must be hurting herself in order to unleash that kind of venom, but, even with that understanding, my heart still feels bruised. I pray for her at Mass and adoration, but when I find myself thinking about her, I feel sick to my stomach. Just yesterday she called my home, and when I saw her number on the caller ID, I literally felt ill. How do I get my heart and body to cooperate in forgiveness?”


To “Midnight ponderer”, there is a story which involves the late, great Archbishop Fulton Sheen. Archbishop Sheen was an extraordinary preacher who was very popular in the 50s, 60s, and 70s – he even had a show on NBC. One time he was preaching to a packed house at St. Matthew’s Cathedral here in Washington when a man came into the Church off the street. He was yelling all kinds of things when Sheen finally paused to hear him. The man said, “you Catholics are all a bunch of hypocrites!” Sheen didn’t miss a beat, responding immediately: “yes, and we have room for one more”. You can use that as an appropriate answer to your family member!

In a sense, we are all hypocrites. None of us is perfect. Christ preached a Gospel of forgiveness. We continue to study, follow, and teach this Gospel. Just because we don’t live it perfectly, does that mean that we abandon it? Of course not. In fact, it’s exactly because we’re not perfect that we need Christ and his Gospel. But, the focus is not on us.

The focus of Christianity is Jesus Christ. The point is that He offers forgiveness - despite all of our imperfections, selfishness, stubbornness, etc. – whenever we turn back to Him. It is an infinite amount of forgiveness. This is an unbelievable mystery!! It might be a little too unbelievable for some people, so they mock it instead of pursuing it.

God’s forgiveness has no end, so we are all called to have abundant forgiveness as well. Jesus says to forgive, not seven times (which implies a limited, finite amount), but seventy times seven times (which implies abundant forgiveness).

To Anon, the best way I have learned to forgive is to ask for forgiveness. Regular Confession is so key to living the Gospel of forgiveness, if you ask me. If I am constantly seeing how often I sin against God and neighbor, and how often I am forgiven by God and neighbor, then I will be much more prone to forgive. We pray each time in the Our Father, “forgive us our trespasses AS we forgive those who trespass against us”. That reminds us that we will be forgiven if we have forgiven others; also, it means that we will not be forgiven if we haven’t forgiven others.

If we make regular acts of the will – doing a daily examination of conscience, going to Confession regularly, etc. – that lead to our own forgiveness, then we will make regular acts of the will that will lead to forgiving others. In other words, our wills lead us to forgiveness, and our hearts and bodies follow our wills.

Finally, forgiveness is all about conversion of heart. This is what Mp’s family member or anyone who takes the cynical view of Christian forgiveness misses. The process of forgiveness is one of the most beautiful things to witness or experience in the world. In it, a person turns away from self (sin) and turns toward God and others…toward love. Ultimately, forgiveness leads to true healing of mind, body, soul, and strength as well as freedom. The person who forgives others freely – while not condoning sinful behavior – is living true freedom; the person who ignores or avoids others who have hurt him or her is not living in freedom. The former is living the virtue of humility; the latter is living the vice of pride. If we are living humility, then we are living in freedom…the freedom to forgive as God forgives.

34 Comments:

At 12:49 PM, Anonymous Kelly said...

It has been my experience that forgiving others always begins with conviction. Conviction of my own sins. Next, humility, here comes reconciliation. It is incredible to receive Christ's mercy and forgiveness.

I had a hard time forgiving my father for divorce. I tried so hard to do it myself but the results more anger, more hurt. Our parish priest (this was 15 years ago) asked me to ask Christ to forgive my father (if I could not do it). Thankfully , Christ continuued to call me to forgiveness. I began to visit my dad regularly. I took my children to see him and he enjoyed them so much. I learned to love my dad and the Lord helped me to let go of much pain.

My dad has a sudden diagnosis of incurable cancer. I have spent the past month sitting near him and ministering to him. It is the most pitiful thing in the world to see your dad weak and sick. It is an honor to serve him at this time.

Jesus continuues to astound me. I am overwhelmed by gratitude that Christ helped me to forgive my dad all those years ago. I have no regrets now. There is so much freedom in forgiveness. The freedom to love and experience such healing.

I have had 15 years of my adult life getting to know my father as a person. If Christ had not given me the grace to forgive, I would be stuck in anger, hurt, abandonment.

It blows me away that I am preparing to say good bye to my dad. More than anything I praise God for the gift of forgiveness (all those years ago).

 
At 1:34 PM, Blogger Kiwi Nomad 2006 said...

Anon, I know what you mean about it being very hard to forgive someone. Quite some years ago now, I was receiving some (well overdue) grief counselling. The name of a particular Aunty kept coming up, and the cousellor zeroed in and made me talk about her. At the end, she just commented that I was "emotionally abused" by this relative. Somehow, just having someone else name and recognise what had happened took away all the hurt I had been feeling. Once my own hurt had been acknowledged, I was able to forgive.
I find what Fr Greg says about forgiveness very powerful here and it has given me a lot to ponder. In my own case, I was carrying a lot of baggage from being orphaned and needed a brief period of some professional help. Maybe if I had been going to church and confession, I could have asked for help to forgive earlier in confession.

 
At 5:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Somehow, just having someone else name and recognise what had happened took away all the hurt I had been feeling."

Being acknowledged was huge for me too, b/c, finally, my feelings were validated. I wrote the 2nd post to which Fr. spoke, and the situation with that particular person is unchanged. Recently, my mother was witness to some of what I've found offensive and actually apologized to me for not understanding the "abuse" I've endured. It was good to have someone "get" that I was in pain, but that alone wasn't enough. I had to finally ask for help- a huge thing for someone as private as I like to be. There wasn't a chance I could begin doing what I need in order to forgive this person, as well as several others (and myself), without some guidance.

I guess this goes back to the "Ginger" post about getting direction. When you just can't even see where you are, you can't possibly choose which way to go. I know I'm not in the place I want to be, and I just need someone to help guide me for a while. There is a great deal of humility in that for me. I kept thinking, first I'd need to feel this over- abundant amount of trust in someone before I could allow them in my personal space (much less share any personal info). I knew needed help, but kept waiting for this "feeling" of trust in someone else to materialize- but it didn't happen. Instead, I made a choice to trust someone, and at the same time, I was also choosing to trust myself. I was, in essence, trusting that God has given me what I need to handle my problems- and, for now, I need direction. Occasionally (like last night- pretty badly!), I think, everyone else may have what they need, but I don't, and God isn't getting it- I'm not that strong or capable- I'm "defective".

Atleast for me, my difficulties regarding forgivness probably have more to do with allowing myself to experience it. I am a serious critic when it comes to matters of me. I'm thankful that many of you are so open- it really helps. When I read about the number of ways each of you has and/or is healing, it gives me hope. I guess that's why faith is meant to be communal. I decided to ask for help as a result of the testaments of so many here. You all are in my prayers each day- I'm truly grateful for each of you.

 
At 8:08 PM, Anonymous Kay said...

"To Anon, the best way I have learned to forgive is to ask for forgiveness. Regular Confession is so key to living the Gospel of forgiveness, if you ask me. If I am constantly seeing how often I sin against God and neighbor, and how often I am forgiven by God and neighbor, then I will be much more prone to forgive. We pray each time in the Our Father, “forgive us our trespasses AS we forgive those who trespass against us”. That reminds us that we will be forgiven if we have forgiven others; also, it means that we will not be forgiven if we haven’t forgiven others."

This is circular logic that I do not understand. It seems that the grace we are asking for in confession (to be forgiven) is dependent on our ability to be able to forgive; yet, our inability to forgive is WHY we are in confession!

Basically no one can truly live up to the standard of the Our Father. It also begs the question as to whether one is then truly forgiven in confession. It seems hopeless, absolutely hopeless.

 
At 8:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Regular" confession is something I don't understand. What is regular? If I were to go to confession each time I succumb to my weaknesses, especially at this particular point in my life, our priests would be practically cloistered. I do examine my conscience regularly, and I do work on improving in my areas of weakness- the things that lead me to sin (acting out of anger, fear and doubt). Mostly my sins regard negative thoughts and lack of forgiveness as well as other things I believe would be considered venial. So given that as the case- how often should one go to confession? I'd also like some suggestions on how to make a "better" confession- upon entering the confessional, I blather.

 
At 9:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The person who forgives others freely – while not condoning sinful behavior – is living true freedom; the person who ignores or avoids others who have hurt him or her is not living in freedom. The former is living the virtue of humility; the latter is living the vice of pride."

Why is it an act of pride to avoid hurtful situations? I agree that forgiving is freeing, but there are some who continuously repeat the same hurtful things over and over again. So you forgive once, twice, 3x. At what point does one say- enough? To me that would seem prudent- NOT prideful.

 
At 9:58 PM, Anonymous Kat said...

Kiwi;

Wow, I just read your post and wow, you have a pretty powerful insight there about yourself.

~*~*~
Other comments:


I have been in the place of "doing it on my own" like Ginger in the earlier posting and it is a horrible place to be in I look at where I was in August and where I am now, what 8 months later(?) and I don't even feel like I am the same person that almost bailed on the first meeting with Fr. G and who sat cowering in his office bairly talking above a whisper lest someone hear me. For a month and a half my roomates didn't even know I was meeting with FG just that I would disapear for a couple of hours now and again, but even they started noticing a change in me before they even knew what I was "up to".

Spiritual Direction, has been something very positive, yes FG has listened to me blather on and kavetch about my issues and problems and hurts. But he has also pointed out some connections to various things with thoughts nad behaviors leading to others and occasionally I have realized he was right about something when I at first thought he was full of it. Though I don't always go back and admit he has a point... don't want him getting a big head and all.... (LOL!) It usually involves me looking skyward and saying "good grief!" post moment of clarity.

These sessions, along with frequent reception of the sacraments have helped me to work on forgiving people who have hurt me, to a point, and the reason I say "to a point" is because I wonder if it is possible to completly forgive someone for something they have done to you if that person has no contrition... I can see getting to a certian point so that it doesn't eat away at you but total and complete forgiveness without contrition... is that possible? I don't know.

I know that recieving the eucharist and going to confession frequently has helped greatly in the things that I struggle with and in helping me get as far as I have as has spiritual direction. And I don't always like what FG has to say or agree with him 100% on everything nor do I think it is a requirement or even humanly possible, but his is a diffrent perspective and sometimes he has a spark of insight that I wouldn't have ever seen and other times he just outright challenges me on things be it my attitudes, actions, sins, or struggles with patience, anger and bad language. And FG can be blunt at times, and quite frankly sometimes I need a good swift kick in the rear.

Having "done it on my own", and having Spiritual direction... I prefer the person walking with me ready to (metaphorically) thwap me upside the head when I do something dumb. Because otherwise I end up in the quicksand of my own pride and arrogance.

 
At 10:08 PM, Anonymous Kat said...

"Why is it an act of pride to avoid hurtful situations? I agree that forgiving is freeing, but there are some who continuously repeat the same hurtful things over and over again. So you forgive once, twice, 3x. At what point does one say- enough? To me that would seem prudent- NOT prideful."

I don't think FG is talking about not beign prudent about issues of say safty. But what I think he means, and I am sure he will correct me if I am wrong, is that we as humans have the instinct to avoid people that hurt us to the exclusion of forgiving them and moving on. Example: I have a tendency to avoid my mother's phone calls 9 times out of 10 because she usually manages to attack my faith or the church or something, that isn't forgiving her for her words or actions even if my intention is not to get hurt or angry, rather I should be avoiding the topics that start the problems between us (church etc.). But That doesnt mean that I need to go out and have icecream socials with my father who abused me for years and poses a possible real threat to my wellbeing. Prudence plays a part but avoiding a person because you are upset with them (outside of safty concerns) I think is the issue at hand. Even in abusive marrages the church expects the abused spouce to seek safty.

 
At 8:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding forgivness-
What if you did something really awful. When you did it you didn't understand just how awful it was, but then you grow, life changes you, and you're left with the GLARING reality that you sinned in really the most horrible way possible. You know that to have thought about yourself and life in the way you did, you must have been living a completely sinned-filled, self-centered life. You are further reminded of it when you celebrate the happiest of times. Finally, you realize that only God can make this one better, and you turn to confession. You go and confess- fall completely apart. The priest is kind and compassionate, which actually makes you feel worse (you never again go to HIM for confession). You perform your penance (adding more of your own), but you still feel awful. What then? Going back to confession to say things like, "I said something unkind to my spouse," or "I yelled at my kids" seems silly when confessing the really BIG ones still leaves you full of guilt and shame. You can't begin to imagine how being sorry and a few Hail Mary's is going to make it okay. What then....

 
At 8:51 AM, Anonymous Kat said...

Anon;

Forgiving ones self is sometimes harder then forgiving someone else the things they have done to you. This too is where Spiritual Direction comes in. . . or atleast it has helped me in this regard. I have done some pretty rotten things in my life, things that I am supremly ashamed of even since "coming back to the church" and I struggled with forgiving myself, it took a couple of confessions (the incident and aftermath stuff) and talking about it alittle to work through it to come to terms with it that and FG reminding me that once it was confessed God didn't see it anymore the slate was clean again and that agonizing it and beating myself up about something wasn't doing myself any good.

At the time I was beating myself up and was so miserable that I expected and half wanted FG to yell at me when I went to confession over this issue, but he didn't. The reason he didn't, and would never, is Christ didn't yell at the woman at the well or the woman cought in adultry or any other sinner he encountered.

So no matter how much we may think we deserve something other then compassion when we go to confession, no priest worth thier salt is going to ream us no matter what we bring to the sacrament. The harder thing to do after confession is then to forgive ourselves and ask forgiveness of others for our actions... hitting up Dad (God) for forgiveness is pretty easy comparitvly.

 
At 10:06 AM, Anonymous kay said...

I've had the priest in confession bring up something I did in the past, and use it against me as a weapon. It was something that I had actually forgotten that I had ever even done and told him about. So then it was like great, thanks for 1) bringing up something I had forgotten about; 2) using it as an example of how I'm a bad person; 3) making me cry and think it is hopeless to ever even try.

He ended the confession by saying that he didn't know how to help me besides pray for me.

I've had another priest great me in the confessional by saying "why are you here? You don't have any mortal sins." (P.S. - no issue of scrupulosity here).

I've decided that confession causes more pain than healing. If I don't have any mortal sins, than I never really am required to go.

BTW - I guess the first priest didn't really break the "seal" of the confessional because he hit me with it inside the confessional.

"The grace of the sacrament doesn't address the problem of the priest being stupid."

 
At 10:19 AM, Anonymous Kat said...

Kay;

Are you sure he was bringing it up to us as a wepon against you? In my own experiances with the sacrament anytime anything from the past has ever been brought up has been to help me see patterns of behavior. but then again I wasn't there so I don't know. . .

As to the "why are you here" comment, ok I havent gotten the comment but I have gotten the look that accompanies the comment :)

 
At 11:06 AM, Anonymous mindy said...

To Kay-
I'm sorry you had a bad experience with a priest in confession. Although that specifically hasn't happened to me, I do understand something you give in trust being used against you. It makes it hard to trust again, but the alternative is living in a pretty bad place. I hope you have others in your life to talk to, but don't give up on all priests. I really think most enter the priesthood b/c they're called to deliver a pretty spectaular msg. I think some probably pray more often than others for the strength/wisdom to guide. When you meet one of those priests, they have a way that makes sharing not only ALMOST easy, but helpful (and kind of neccessary).

Fr. Greg- a favor- at some point, is there something you could say to our kids (especially with the onset of "strappy" dress season) about appropriate clothing for church. I'm tired of argueing the same point and could use some back-up!!!

 
At 3:00 PM, Blogger fran said...

On any given day, I am sure there have been moments where/when we have said things we wish we could retract, wish we could rephrase, or wish we had spoken with a different tone of voice.

On any given day, I am sure there have been moments when we have heard what others are saying to us differently than they intended, become defensive over something said which was actually meant to be helpful, and so on.
Since our priests are only human, could they not experience the same?

At another parish, during confession, I was told once to "lighten up, mom." Now I could have taken that as a rather unusual response to something that I considered very serious, and gone off in a huff. Instead I actually did begin to let go of this particular situation, and have found it to be incredibly freeing. It has also yielded the results, which were not occuring previously. It is often hard to hear that which really needs to be heard.

This is an excerpt from the Pieta Prayer Book, under "Criticism Of Priests" Our Lord's revelations to Mutter Vogel

"Child, never judge your confessor; rather, pray much for him and offer every Thursday, through the hands of My blessed Mother, Holy Communion (for him)" (June 6,1939)

 
At 6:04 PM, Anonymous Kay said...

Thanks for your comments.

"In my own experiances with the sacrament anytime anything from the past has ever been brought up has been to help me see patterns of behavior."

But WHY would a priest EVER bring up something from the past in confession, If I haven't spoken of it myself??? It's not really true that the priest "forgets" your confession as soon as you leave the box? It's not really true that the slate is wiped clean? If the slate is really clean, then why bring up past issues already confessed and forgotten??? Why would he even remember something that I have forgotten???

BTW - It wasn't just an off-hand sort of remark on his part. It was a serious accusation about a serious topic. There was no misunderstanding.

 
At 7:15 PM, Anonymous kat said...

Kay;

Have you spoken to the priest in question about how it bothered you that he did this? Approcing it in a non accusatory and non judgemental way? We do have to remember that our priests are human too.

yes the slate is wiped clean in confession but hipothetically if say I have an issue with chastity and I repeatedly go to confession with similar issues with failing in the area of chastity and I always go to one priest for confession he is better able to help me with my issue and bring up ideas of why a certian behaviors are repeated or remind me that doing X helps me not fail in this area and that maybe I need to do X more often or something. Granted I don't know your specific situation, but maybe the priest wasn't saying what he said out of malace or to be hurtful but was saying it in order to help you to over all grow. Maybe just talk to the priest about the situation.

 
At 9:45 PM, Anonymous mindy said...

Let's face it, some priests are just jerks. I met one who I thought was a big, rather arrogant jerk, and I would NEVER have gone to him for confession. It's abundantly clear that priests are capable of wrong doing- I mean, they're human! My only point is this- maybe this priest was a jerk, maybe he was misguided in how to deal with your issues and maybe, although maybe NOT, you misunderstood his intentions- regardless, soooo many can attest to the help they've received from a caring, committed, compassionate priest. Don't give up. Your absolution is worth another look. The fact that people here are willing to attest to it, I hope, speaks to you. I pray you find what/who you need.

 
At 11:32 PM, Blogger fran said...

An additional excerpt from the Pieta Prayer Book; "Criticism of Priests" Our Lord's Revelations to Mutter Vogel

"One should never attack a priest, even when he's in error. Rather, one should pray and do penance that I'll grant him My grace again. He alone fully represents Me, even when he doesn't live after My example!" (page 29, Mutter Vogel's Worldwide Love, St. Grignion Publishing House, Altoting, South Germany, June 29,1929)

 
At 6:51 AM, Anonymous kay said...

Again, thanks for the comments.

Yes, I did try to talk to him about it later. I think the fact the I had been speaking about how hard it is for me to forgive the priest that sexually abused me, and additionally how hard it is for me to trust in the priests and the sacraments because of the great trauma I had been through in the past, would have made him REALLY, REALLY CAREFUL about how he treated me in confession. BTW - this was something he already knew about.

I think here would be a time when even in desperation you DON'T go for the kill with whatever you can think of.

Mindy, THANK YOU FOR "GETTING IT."

Fran, I'm sure your prayers are meaningful, but not to me right now. I'm not attacking the priest - I'm discussing the truth of the situation. If it seems like an attack, then the priests need to be more respectful of how they treat us.

The issue of forgiveness is what drew me in here in the first place. It is why I was in confession that day. It is why I am in spiritual direction and VERY EXPENSIVE counseling (that the archdiocese won't pay for - even though it was a priest working here that abused me.)

The priest I am seeing for spiritual direction right now told me last week that I should "take a vacation from the church." I'm apparently better off out of the church than in it. Go figure.

Father Greg - my questions about confession, and the circular logic of the Our Father still stand. Apparently I'm not going to receive the grace of the church until I forgive the priest that abused me. BTW - I would never go back to confession with priest #1 from confession because he told me when I went to talk to him that I am a sexual tempatation and threat to the vows of young priests - EVEN THOUGH I HAVE DONE NOTHING WRONG (HIS EMPHASIS).

Father Greg - another question: Why would a priest ever say that to a person as obviously hurt and vulnerable as me - OR ANYONE FOR ANY REASON. If he's thinking that, he needs to be talking to someone else. This is a problem. Otherwise, um, he seems to be a very good and holy priest. But . .. .

 
At 9:04 AM, Anonymous Kat said...

Kay;

Unfortunatly, Mindy is right sometimes Priests can be jerks just like the rest of us.

It is inexcusable however for a priest to tell you to that you are at fault for soemthing that is clearly not your fault. And no priest should ever tell you to leave the church. It is just a BAD idea, no matter how we are hurting in regards to the church, the church is our home and our family. And being outside that family and the grace that the sacraments aford us can send us into a self destructive spiral.

I am sorry that you are having issues with the archdiocese in your situation. When I was undergoing therapy I had extreemly good insurance that paid for pretty much all of it. In truth though I have come further in Spiritual Direction, though we have only touched on this one issue a little bit, then I ever did in therapy though it was nessisary for a while.

For what it is worth, don't "take a brake" from the church, it is a bad idea... been there done that don't want the t-shirt.

 
At 9:21 AM, Anonymous Tom said...

This is circular logic that I do not understand. It seems that the grace we are asking for in confession (to be forgiven) is dependent on our ability to be able to forgive; yet, our inability to forgive is WHY we are in confession!

If you're literally unable to forgive someone, then not forgiving them isn't a sin. Sin has to be chosen.

I'd say, then, that it's not circular logic, but spiral logic. Suppose I can't forgive, and maybe I can't even want to forgive, but I can want to want to forgive.

So I choose to want to want to forgive, and God forgives me all my sins. Then, with God's grace, I am able to choose to want to forgive, and God forgives me all my sins. Then, with God's grace, I am able to choose to forgive, and God forgives me all my sins.

Easier said than done, of course, but I think that's the idea.

 
At 9:36 AM, Anonymous Tom said...

Also, the "as" in "as we forgive those who trespass against us" shouldn't be understood in a purely legalistic sense.

Remember, the Our Father isn't a statement of doctrine. It's a prayer. When we pray it, we aren't agreeing to the terms of a contract, we're asking God to be as forgiving to us as we are to others.

And since He's more forgiving than we are, the way He answers this prayer is by giving us the grace to be as forgiving as He is -- or at least more forgiving today than we were yesterday.

 
At 11:10 AM, Blogger fran said...

Kay,
May I begin by saying how sorry I am for the pain you are enduring. I can't begin to imagine what you continue to go through and how you must feel.

Earlier in the blog dialogue,it seemed that poor choice of words on the part of a priest, or a misinterpretation of words by those hearing them, was the problem. Since we all say things we wish we hadn't, I was merely coming to the defense of those, (specifically priests,) who may have done the same.

Your set of circumstances is ENTIRELY different. Words are one thing, abusive behavior another; and it should never be defended.
That was not, and never would be, my intent.

I hope and pray that you will find the peace and renewal of trust you are seeking in the Church. We have two wonderful priests at St. Andrew Apostle. You are welcome here.

 
At 4:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"One should never attack a priest, even when he's in error. Rather, one should pray and do penance that I'll grant him My grace again. He alone fully represents Me, even when he doesn't live after My example!"

No offense intended, but I think this kind of teaching was at the crux of the abuse problems in the church- especially the justification for how the charges of abuse were handled (not to mention blame). I'm not saying we should gossip or even complain about our priests, and prayer for ALL to receive God's grace is something we are called to. However, I think priests should be held to a higher standard of conduct- I'd bet most priests would agree with that.

Feedback can/should serve those truly dedicated to their calling. If there is some emotion behind that feedback- so be it! They are capable of sucking it up (like the rest of us)and will hopefully benefit from the experience. I'm not condoning "trashing" anyone, and maybe calling someone a "jerk", regardless of their being clergy or lay person, isn't christian behavior. However, given what this woman has written about experiencing here several times, I think the word "jerk" is rather mild choice of verbage.

 
At 7:21 PM, Blogger fran said...

I thought I had cleared up the fact that when I posted the "Criticism of Priests" excerpts, I was unaware that the person had suffered abuse from a priest. (see 11:10 am post) I understand that this is a completely different and excrutiatingly painful experience.

Regarding the use of terminology to describe anyone, I will only say this:

Christ suffered the ultimate abuse - death on a cross. I don't believe he uttered the word "jerk" or any other phrase to describe each and every one of us.

 
At 2:07 PM, Anonymous Kat said...

Anon;

There is a diffrence, I think, in attacking a priest and taking issue with something they said and clearing the air ie setting our gifts before the alter and going and reconciling with our brother...

We all have misunderstandings and we all can be total "jerks" at times. My interpretation of what someone says based on my experiances and language usage can take something to mean one thing where they may have ment it another. If some one were to say to me, in a conversation about things in my house they found objectionable, "live in a dirty house have a dirty life", I would take that to say one thing whereas they ment it another and this can cause problems between us. But in clearing the air we figure out that they perhaps ment one thing and from experiances and where I come from I take things like that as an insult.

We have to be wiling to talk honestly to our priests not just pray for them. The reason I say this is the fact they are undeniably human and need to learn as much as the rest of us.

 
At 8:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Kat- as usual, you stated a point bautifully for me!

 
At 6:54 AM, Anonymous kay said...

Again, thank you to all of you. You are a very loving, generous, helpful, supportive community. I'm sorry if the pain and frustration I was trying to convey in my earlier posts seemed in any way cynical or rude to Father Greg or any of you. God Bless.

 
At 9:46 AM, Anonymous Kat said...

Kay;

I don't think it was, that is just my opinion. You are hurting and going through a rough patch at the moment. I know from experiance FG can take the rough patches with quite a bit of patience.

 
At 10:02 AM, Anonymous mindy said...

"Christ suffered the ultimate abuse - death on a cross. I don't believe he uttered the word "jerk" or any other phrase to describe each and every one of us."

Fran- you're right....my calling anyone a "jerk" isn't called for. I tend to speak from emotion, both in the moment as well as in reflection on past experiences, and not always THINK about what I'm actually putting out in the world- definately something for me to work on. I had read other posts from Kay, and did have an idea regarding the circumstances of what she was relating, and I just thought, "JERK!" The praying for this person part didn't quite enter into my thinking (note to self)and is something I should definately consider in the future. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

 
At 12:18 PM, Anonymous Kelly said...

Kay,

Take great heart in the fact that the Holy Spirit has begun a great work in you. God knows your suffering is a heavy burden. It is a miracle - the divine graces of the Holy Spirit - working within you that have kept you coming back to Him. From the book of Matthew: Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Be patient with your self. You have endured abuse & suffering. Ask the Lord to clean your wounds, to heal them, and let Him hold you in the palm of His hand.

 
At 1:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kay-
Here's the priest's arguement that I just don't get- even if you were (I'm not saying you are) a temptress, however this priest means that to be, why would someone else's feeling tempted toward you be your responsibility? What nonsense! Who knows what aspects of the woman that you are tempted the priest who violated you. If he were attracted to your wit, should you never laugh? If he were attracted to your smile, should you forever be solemn? Throughout history women have been blamed for man's temptation which. Through the teachings of Christ, woman's importance was finally acknowledged. If a priest is in persona Christi, one would think this priest would seek help you instead of blame you.

 
At 4:33 PM, Blogger fran said...

Hey Mindy!

Believe me, I have also been guilty of speaking from emotion, and it is something on which I continually work. Perhaps that is why I have a particular sensibility to it.

When growing up, my sisters and I did not always speak kindly to one another, as siblings are apt to do, and my mother would say, "He who calls his brother a fool, is a fool." I would think, "well I did not call her a fool, I called her a *****" ...... not exactly the right response, I know.

Eventually, her words began to take hold.

She would also correct us, when we would talk about other people, telling us to "condemn the act, not the person." Our reply was often, "how do you not condemn the person when they are the one committing the act?!" She would say, "the person can always change." That one took me a while to grasp. For me it was hard to separate the person from the action.

I try to live by those words today, and that is the point I was attempting to articulate. It is often difficult to express things in writing, here, devoid of the sound of one's voice or other expression.

Making an effort to be non-judgmental is another area on which I focus. I, personally, will reserve the right to judge for God, and God alone. Not looking forward to that day!

See you on Saturday!

 
At 6:09 AM, Blogger MICHAEL said...

About 3 years ago I dropped into a black hole – four months of absolute terror. I wanted to end my life, but somehow [Holy Spirit], I reached out to a friend who took me to hospital. I had three visits [hospital] in four months – I actually thought I was in hell. I imagine I was going through some sort of metamorphosis [mental, physical & spiritual]. I had been seeing a therapist [1994] on a regular basis, up until this point in time. I actually thought I would be locked away – but the hospital staff was very supportive [I had no control over my process]. I was released from hospital 16th September 1994, but my fear, pain & shame had only subsided a little. I remember this particular morning waking up [home] & my process would start up again [fear, pain, & shame]. No one could help me, not even my therapist [I was terrified]. I asked Jesus Christ to have mercy on me & forgive me my sins. Slowly, all my fear has dissipated & I believe Jesus delivered me from my “psychological prison.” I am a practicing Catholic & the Holy Spirit is my friend & strength; every day since then has been a joy & blessing. I deserve to go to hell for the life I have led, but Jesus through His sacrifice on the cross, delivered me from my inequities. John 3: 8, John 15: 26, are verses I can relate to, organically. He’s a real person who is with me all the time. I have so much joy & peace in my life, today, after a childhood spent in orphanages [England & Australia]. God LOVES me so much. Fear, pain, & shame, are no longer my constant companions. I just wanted to share my experience with you [Luke 8: 16 – 17].

Peace Be With You
Micky

 

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