Monday, June 04, 2007

"No other path to peace"

A priest or religious is obligated to pray the Liturgy of the Hours or “the Office” several times every day – morning, daytime, evening, and at night. It consists mostly of psalms, prayers, and readings. The following is from today's Office of Readings and is a timely reflection for us, especially with regard to the comments under Saturday's post. It is taken from the teachings of St. Dorotheus, abbot:

“Let us examine, my brothers, how it happens that many times a person hears something unpleasant and goes away untroubled, as if he had not heard it; and yet on some occasions he is disturbed and troubled as soon as he hears such words. What is the cause of this inconsistency? Is there one reason for it or many? I recognize a number of them, and one in particular is the source of all the others. As someone has put it: Occasionally this results from the condition in which the person happens to be.

If a person is engaged in prayer or contemplation, he can easily take a rebuke from his brother and be unmoved by it. On other occasions affection toward a brother is a strong reason; love bears all things with the most patience. Another reason may be contempt; if a person despises the one who is trying to trouble him and acts as if he is the viliest of all creatures and considers it beneath his dignity even to look at him, or to answer him, or to mention the affront and insults to anyone else, he will not be moved by his words.

The result of this, as I have said, that no one is disturbed or troubled if he scorns and disregards what is said. But on the other hand, it is also possible that a person will be disturbed and troubled by his brother’s words, either because he is not in a good frame of mind, or because he hates his brother. There are a great number of other reasons as well. Yet the reason for all disturbance, if we look to its roots, is that no one finds fault with himself.

This is the source of all annoyance and distress. This is why we sometimes have no rest. We must not be surprised when we are rebuked by holy men. We have no other path to peace but this.

We have seen that this is true in many cases, and, in our laziness and desire for rest, we hope or believe that we have entered upon a straight path when we are impatient with everyone, and yet cannot bear to blame ourselves.

This is the way we are. It does not matter how many virtues a man may have, even if they are beyond number and limit. If he has turned from the path of self-accusation, he will never find peace. He will always be troubled himself, or else he will be a source of trouble for others and all his labors will be wasted."


At 1:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ufxjogr"Yet the reason for all disturbance, if we look to its roots, is that no one finds fault with himself."

I don't know how true this holds for me. I find more fault with me than with anyone else. When I am upset by someone's actions or words, whether they be in anger, or worse- indifference -it's almost always because it strikes a chord that sends me right to reflect on my own actions. What/how/why did I do what I did so that I am experiencing this now? I rarely assign blame and could probably do a much better job of assigning responsibility to someone other than myself. I appreciate being called on my poor behavior by someone with pure motives, but if their motives are something other than a genuine need to help me- thank you not! I can already be my own worst enemy.

At 1:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If only we would just blame ourselves more? Ouch.

At 1:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's harsh. It is possible for a priest to get out of line in the things he says in the confessional. To tell a penitent who experiences that to heap more blame on him/herself isn't fair.

At 2:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So what you're saying is that we should feel more guilty than we already feel? Great.

At 2:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If only I could blame myself more for all of my shortcomings. Wow, what a concept.

At 2:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Every time you come away from an unpleasant, confrontational exchange, do you launch into self-blame?

At 2:18 PM, Anonymous kay said...

To all: I must make this very brief because my daughter is graduating in a ceremony at the Shrine at 4:00 this afternoon.

Since I was referenced twice in Saturday's posts - due to my previous postings about confession and reconcilliation - I would like to say that i think Fr. Greg's post was dead on; i.e., he nailed it.

Yes, yes, yes, a priest can be unholy and uncharitable, even and especially in the confessional. In those cases, you are obliged to find another confessor. I have found it to be true that "God does not leave us alone; He will provide." If necessary, report him to his superiors if he violated any spiritual, emotional, or physical boundaries.

On the other hand, I spent a lot of time at adoration a while ago praying the penitential rite. "I confess to almighty God, and you my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done, and what I have failed to do . . ."

Everyone should pray with this everyday. I think we all need to be honest with ourselves and with God. I think that is what the abbott was saying a long time ago, and what Father is telling us now.

God Bless. I will pray for everyone on this blog at the Shrine!

At 2:19 PM, Anonymous Kat said...

It (the passage) is not about heaping blame on ones self, its about listening to and for correction in the spirit of Christ. It isn't an issue of blaming ones self.

And sometimes people who have heard something just need to hear what is said and take a step back and contemplate what is said more fully and no one can help them work out their issue. Though I wasn't the person who initiated the discussion on Saturday, I can understand where they are coming from, correction sometimes is a hard pill to swallow especially in the confessional... been there done that. But I have to also throw out that there are times when things are said by people that go beyond 'correction' there is a fine line between correction in the spirit of Christ and a blunt stick thwacking you upside the head. Ive never known FG or FM to be a blunt stick.

Sorry had to say one last thing.

At 2:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Sorry had to say one last thing.

Say it isn't so! You have a great deal to offer.

At 7:56 PM, Blogger fran said...

"It isn't an issue of blaming oneself."

Right! Let's face it, we are all flawed. We all have our faults, and recognizing them and accepting the fact that they exist within each of us,is important and necessary in becoming better stewards of Christ.

Brooding over them, beating ourselves up over them, heaping blame on ourselves for them is counterproductive and NOT what is being asked of us.

Now, does anybody want these things pointed out? Not really. It is uncomfortable, we don't want to be reminded of our shortcomings, it puts us on the defensive, whatever.... If it is done with love and compassion, and a genuine regard for the betterment of the person, I'll take the pointing out any day!

I think the teachings of St. Dorotheus are telling us to take a good look at ourselves and to keep an open heart as well as an open mind, when others speak to us. The words they are speaking, may be just what we need to hear and if heeded, may move us a few steps closer to our heavenly goal.

At 8:07 PM, Anonymous mindy said...

I guess when we take responsibility for our actions we have the opportunity to chose whether to feel "guilty" or be "repentant". I think I had some idea that guilt was a neccassry component of being truly sorry for my actions, but I'm starting to think differently. If something is wrong, and I know it's wrong, I can repent without raking myself over the coals about it. Maybe, repentance isn't meant to be tortuous, and maybe only learning through experience brings us closer to God. I guess we should all could be really thankful for the opportunities we are given to see the wrongs in our actions and correct them, regardless if they are painfully brought to our consciousness. I'd rather be brought to task on my misdeeds than be left to my own devices, for in that, I've suffered even greater results than the "bruises" of a few harsh words.

At 10:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think what St. Dorotheus is saying ia anything remotely similar to what the person on Saturday was saying. That anon had a bad experience in confession. The problem there lied with the confessor. What St. Dorotheus is saying points to the problem being with the penitent. These are 2 very different things. Anon on Saturday, you should not be made to feel badly for coming away from confession feeling badly. Find a new confessor. You will feel a lot better.

At 10:25 PM, Blogger fran said...

Hi Mindy,

I think it is only natural to feel some sense of remorse when our actions are less than exemplary, but harboring guilt over something can be stifling, or at least a stumbling block to one's spiritual growth.
I cannot recall where I read this, it may have been in "Tuesdays with Morrie," - it was the phrase "embrace and let it go." I think if we did that with some of the things that nag us unnecessarily, we would be much happier.

On a lighter note.....
I liked your post yesterday about Alleluia/Allie Lubeck - adorable.
Years ago,I attended the events at Camden Yards, when Pope John Paul II visited the U.S. My daughter, then 5 years old, asked who I was going to see. I told her "the Pope," several times. When I arrived home, she asked, "Who did you see?" Again, I said, "the Pope." She asked, "Isn't that what's in orange juice?!" :)

At 10:52 PM, Blogger fran said...

Sorry, but I politely beg to differ. Since none of us was in the confessional with the person who had the "bad experience," how can we really know if it was the penitent or the confessor?

The confessor says what they think is best for the penitent and it may be difficult to hear. If the penitent is not open to hearing those words, then of course he/she would come away saying it was a bad expxerience. On the other hand if they did a little more soul searching, perhaps they would be open to the comments and come away having had a good experience. It is all a matter of perspective on the part of the penitent and as St. Dorotheus says, "the condition in which the person happens to be."

I am sure there are differing opinions, but that is the way I see it.

At 12:30 AM, Anonymous Joan said...

What one perceives is their reality. As Fran said, we were not present. The only perception we have on which to base our reality is that of the penitent. The confessor could have been assisting anon to come to a deeper understanding of the gravity of the situation or the circumstances leading to it. Or, he could have been off-base and totally inappropriate. Whatever the case, I doubt he intended to hurt anon or drive anon from the sacrament. We must remember, priests are human – I haven’t heard a one say they are perfect. They have good days and bad days just like everyone else.

The indelible mark of the priesthood is a target for the devil. Satan can conserve energy by striking the shepherd, knowing it will scatter the sheep. Priests know the great danger of answering the Call. They strive for purity, and they too fall. Some fall a little, others come crashing down. Like us, they too must ask forgiveness from Him. I will always remember an experience in which I observed two priests, who having spent over an hour hearing the confessions of a large number of youth, were in line for confession with one of their brother priests. They could have easily gone home, changed out of clerical garb and gone to the Shrine or Monastery in anonymity. But, they didn’t. These holy and humble men, right their in front of everyone, received the sacrament of reconciliation.

Anon, unless you ask him, you don’t know if the priest knew or understood your feelings after confession; or the times you feel he has ignored you. I would suggest you talk with him about it. If talking doesn’t work (or you reject the idea of talking with him), find another confessor. We are blessed in the metro DC area to have access to the sacrament every day of the week. You may have to drive a ½ hour or so, but isn't the reception of God's grace and mercy worth it? On the rare occasion where I have experienced a priest who was off-base, I went to another priest, for a ‘second opinion’ if you will. Had I not done so, I may never have gone back to confession. It wasn’t an issue of my sins being forgiven, but more an issue of my considering abandoning God’s wonderful gift of mercy because of a priest's actions. I looked at it this way: What would I say to Jesus…….’I didn’t like how your priest treated me, so I turned my back on your mercy? I know you died on the cross for me, but I couldn’t take his attitude?’…………oh, that’s right, forgive us our sins as we forgive……….

Mary, Queen of Priests, pray for them.

At 4:09 AM, Anonymous mindy said...

"embrace and let it go."

Thanks- I like that- I should probably tattoo it backwards to my forhead, so I see it look ea time I look in the rearview mirror.

Regarding Saturday's anon comments and all the response- it's seems easy (sadly) to jump on the band wagon and say, "bad priest", but, as it was said, we weren't there. Furthermore, I think trust is something we choose to do. I choose to trust our priests, especially the ones here at SAA. Are they perfect? Probably not. Are they perfect for us? Probably yes. I trust that the priest in question had good motives in the confessional, even if, maybe, it didn't come across to our anon that way.

Kat mentioned this several times, and it made me really think. Going to the same confessor(s) time and again really does give us a great opportunity to not only confess our sins but to grow. This year was the first time I ever went to confession with a priest I knew. Before then, I went on days when I knew there would be visiting priests who I'd likely not see again. I know the confessional isn't necessarily the time for counsel but if it happens then too- all the better. Living comfortably isn't my goal- living joyously is. If a few tough things are said to me to help me get there- I'll deal with it.

At 8:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And you bloggers don't know what was said either. I am giving the benefit of the doubt to the penitent. Face it, anon is allowed to go to whomever he/she wishes for confession, and it shouldn't be a bad experience regardless of ANYTHING. Now move on people.

At 8:58 AM, Blogger fran said...

The spirited topic of confession and one's feelings and experiences has arisen several times throughout the history of this blogsite. Perhaps it will reappear in the future, who knows?

The assorted bloggers offer their own personl thoughts, and words of advice in varying formats and opinions. No one is forcing their opinion on another and one is certainly free to "take it" or "leave it."

This is an open forum with all appropriate commentary acceptable for print. If one wants to "move on" they are free to do so. If others with to continue a discussion which is important to them, they are free to do so as well.

At 9:01 AM, Blogger fran said...

If others wish to continue a discussion which is important to them, they are free to do so as well.

At 9:42 AM, Anonymous mindy said...

I think most of what is said here isn't to make anyone right or wrong- but, as Fran basically stated, to share opinions and experiences. Some will find some comments helpful while others will not. I don't think anyone here sought to minimize the anon's experience, maybe just offer another perspective. I know when I am upset and hurt, my goodness, what a distortion I can make of what looks like a very clear picture. When I am calm and honest with myself, the picture is usually quite different. I almost always regret choices I have made during the times when I act from emotion- they are usually my "stupid" choices.

So, maybe he/she goes to a different confessor, maybe that's best (??), but a fair amount of upset came through the anon's posts, and I guess that is probably what spurred so much response.

At 12:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for your sound and reasonable input. I think you've summed up the thread perfectly.

At 12:02 PM, Anonymous Kelly said...

After reading this saint's words and contemplating on them..........I wonder if "self accusation" is synonymous with "self examination or examination of conscious?"

Perhaps the term accusation through many bloggers off? I have to examine my conscious every day or I will quickly take 20 steps backwards. EVERY DAY! Do I like it? No. Is it necessary? ABSOLUTELY.

Fran, I loved your initial blog. Thank you.

There is a beautiful contemporary song(sorry forgot the artist) called "It's all about You , Jesus." It is all about Him and the secular world loves to tell us it all about our selves. We are bombarded with messages of self entitlement, me me me me messages.

There are entire industries built on telling people that they are okay - (in and of themselves) w/o Christ.

Examination of conscious (accusation?) is the hardest thing for me to do! Do I want to look at my sins, failings, pride, weaknesses? ABSOLUTELY NOT. Do I want others to tell me about them? NO WAY! Is it necessary to keep me turning back to Christ???? YES, Lord. yes, yes, yes.


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