Tuesday, September 16, 2008

"Lord, I am not worthy"

“Often there are people who do not give much thought to religion or God until the going really gets tough, even desperate. Then they go crawling. I have turned to God for the first time in my life because of very difficult circumstances that sometimes feel unbearable. But I think I may be unworthy in God's eyes because prior to this I had no use for religion and even snubbed it when others expressed religious beliefs. Can this be overcome?”

To the anonymous blogger who posted these comments recently, I would say that, yes, your thoughts of unworthiness can be overcome. A good starting point might be to meditate on the story of the centurion (Lk 7) who, most likely, would fall into the category of those who “do not give much thought to religion or God until the going really gets tough, even desperate”. He is desperate to find someone who can save a servant of his who “was valuable to him” (v. 2) and was dying. As Jesus was approaching his house, the centurion sent his friends to tell him, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof… say the word and let my servant be healed” (v. 6-7).

Jesus was “amazed” at his faith, and rewarded it by healing the servant. Our Lord did not focus on the fact that the centurion was a Gentile or dwell on how little thought he might have given to religion or God. He focused on the present moment, and that the centurion was showing great faith in Jesus and in his power to heal.

We say the words of the centurion before we receive the Eucharist each time: “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed”. None of us is worthy to have Jesus “enter under (our) roof”. We are aware of that but not overcome by that. If we find ourselves overcome with unworthiness, then we should simply remember the command of Jesus to receive the Eucharist: “take this, all of you, and eat it”.

It might help us all to think about the strongest human relationship in our own lives. Have we ever felt particularly unworthy of this relationship? Was it because of sins in prior relationships? Did these thoughts of unworthiness prevent us from going forward in the relationship? The answer to the last question is ‘no’ for a variety of reasons – one of the most important ones is confidence. The more time we spend with the person and are committed to the relationship, the more confident we are in the relationship.

The same is true with our relationship with Christ. The Church herself says that “it’s not about a religion; it’s about a person”. That person is Jesus Christ. It’s all about a relationship with Christ, especially in the Eucharist. We are not worthy to enter into relationship with Him, but the more time we spend with Him and the more we are faithful to Him, the more confident we are in the relationship.

Finally, Anon, you mention about those who “go crawling” to God. Here’s an inspiring story (posted by an anonymous blogger) about a woman who literally has crawled to the Eucharist:

Valencia, Aug 28, 2008 / 01:42 am (CNA).- The Little Sisters of the Abandoned Elderly in Chissano (Mozambique) took into their home this week a 25 year-old African young girl named Olivia, who despite not being baptized at the time and not having any legs, crawled 2.5 miles every Sunday to attend Mass.

According to the AVAN news agency, the nuns said that one day, they saw “something moving on the ground far away,” and when they drew near they saw, “to our surprise, that it was a young woman.”

“We were able to talk to her through a lady who was walking by and who translated into Portuguese what she was saying to us” in her dialect, they said.

The sisters said that although “the sand from the road burned the palms of her hands during the hottest times of the year,” the young woman crawled to Mass, “giving witness of perseverance and heroic faith.”

The young woman received baptismal preparation from a catechist, who periodically visited her at home. After she was recently baptized, one of the benefactors of the sisters donated a wheel chair for Olivia.


At 11:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was always kind of the opposite when times got tough. When I was in an abusive relationship I missed church for 8 months, when I probably needed God and help getting out of it the most. I felt like everyone was staring at me, judging me when I did make it to church, even though there was no way they could have known what's happened to me.

These days I'm trying to be a good girl and go to church every Sunday, and even daily mass (unusual for someone my age), and go to Confession regularly even though Confession scares me (I'm terrified of opening up and showing what's really on the inside).

During the abusive relationships and after other events in my life, I turned to drinking and partying. That was a low point. I really felt like I wasn't worthy of God at that point, and I felt like I would taint all the good, holy people in my church if I was there. I was also afraid of Confession, of facing what happened, and how I dealt with it afterwards.

This time around I'm trying to reach out, though it's hard for me, and not in my nature to get help for myself. I'm starting to realize that God wants to help me heal, He doesn't want to give me trials all the time and watch me suffer.

Anyways, that's just my 2 cents.


At 6:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are things I keep private. I don’t want others to know those things b/c it might change how they think of me and treat me. Others have distanced themselves from me b/c of something I’ve said or done. I’ve kept my distance from others whose behavior I didn’t like. I'm told God isn't so fickle.

I believe God knows all. Although He isn’t just anyone, I battle gnawing doubt that ANYONE could love me if they knew all. The kind of love and acceptance God offers is beyond the scope of my comprehension, so it’s hard for me to experience it, much less enjoy it.

I remind myself that I don’t understand how many things work- my computer, for one. I can do cool stuff w/my computer, but when I turn it on, gibberish pops up on my screen- lines of letters, numbers, symbols that I assume is code for whatever program gets me up and rolling. Wires under my house connect me to a satellite somewhere in space, which then connects me with people in all over the world. I thoroughly enjoy my computer, but I’m clueless as to how it does all it does. Likewise, I don’t have to figure out how & why God loves me before I can enjoy his love, but I do have to keep reminding myself of that.

At 4:12 PM, Blogger CynthiaBC said...

The “Lord, I am worthy…” reminds me that several weeks ago, someone mentioned that the text of the liturgy was undergoing some revisions so that the English translation more closely matched the original. [For the text see the link http://www.usccb.org/liturgy/missalformation/OrdoMissaeWhiteBook.pdf] I suppose once the new liturgy comes out, even lifelong Catholics will need to crack open the Missals to read the text instead of speaking it from memory.

It may be reassuring to speak the same exact words week after week, but when the words are TOO familiar we don’t have to think about what we’re saying. If we let our mouths go on automatic pilot, we’re not really engaged in the liturgy, and we’re not really THERE at Mass. Perhaps we need an occasional nudge out of our complacency. Fr G has given us a few, with his explanation of the Mass at his Summer Series and this post about the faithful centurion.

The revisions may not be all that substantive (at least to this non-linguist/non-theologian) but if nothing else they’ll force us to put more thought into the words we’re speaking.

At 7:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My heart aches for Anon going through difficult and unbearable circumstances. I know our Lord loves you very much. I have felt unworthy of God's love because of sin I committed and it didn't help much that I was a victim of others sin against me. Our Lord takes us where we are now and can even see us without our prior religious feelings or lack of faith. I will be praying for you.

At 10:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My children’s doctor retired, so I met with a new doctor who was recommended by friends. After we discussed ea. child, he announced that he wasn’t Catholic (btw- I didn’t express a concern @ his religion). He told me it is his responsibility to protect my not-yet-teenage daughter from Aids and other infectious diseases. I’d not be permitted in the room during exams so she was free to ask, and he to freely answer, any and all questions.

I was taken back, not only by what he was saying but the tone; he expected to do battle. Maybe he was right, b/c I sat there thinking- what an idiot! Of course I want my children to have complete and thorough medical care but hardly to my exclusion. I appreciate the Dr.’s obligations, but he, too, should appreciate mine.

I asked if he tells kids, “Alcohol is a sedative hypnotic and the neurotransmitters no longer…” NO- of course not- he says, “Underage drinking is illegal and WRONG and it will cause you problems. Don’t do it!” But when a child (A CHILD, people!) is sexual active, the medical profession thinks it best to talk about condoms and back-up birth control and nothing about right and wrong choices- with parents left out of the room and in the dark.

Here’s the funny part. Upon parting, the doctor told me that he thinks we put too much on our children these days. He thinks we overload them with responsibilities and difficult expectations of achievement. He encouraged me to “lighten-up.”

Okay, isn’t having sex an ENORMOUS responsibility? While I agree with the Dr. @ sometimes pushing kids too hard to achieve, we do sell them short by not expecting them to honor their self-worth. That’s where we should set the highest expectations for achievement.

At 11:58 AM, Blogger fran said...

Anon 10:40 -

I do hope you are considering finding another doctor for your children. I have accompanied my daughter when she visits our family doctor, every single time, until she was 18 years old!! Never was I told I could not enter the room. Fortunately, my daughter is very forthcoming and was willing to discuss whatever it was the MD discussed with her, the one time I was not permitted into the room. I then shared my opinions with her on the topic(s.)

One of the best pieces of advice ever given me, by a friend in the health care field, was this: "You, as the patient, are the customer." As the customer, you have every right to be treated with respect and to have every single question you choose to ask, answered thoroughly and professionally.

A week or two ago, GMA host Chris Cuomo interviewed (separately) a group of teen boys and a group of teen girls on the topic of sex. Later in the segment he brought the two groups together to continue the discussion. One young teen woman said the following: "We know everything about how to have sex, but we know NOTHING about self-control." This, I believe is the underlying issue today with our children becoming progressively younger when they first engage in sex and the subsequent teen pregnancy rate. We have educated them on EVERYTHING except self-control. Or at the very least we have not emphasized it and reinforced it enough with them.

When we start educating our children on the value of self, (self-worth as you said,) self-confidence and self-esteem are built upon. Self-respect and respect of others is also learned and appreciated. And all of this makes self-control a whole lot easier.

At 1:56 PM, Blogger CynthiaBC said...

Fran/Anon 10:40 FYI what Maryland state law says about minors & healthcare. As a parent I'm not wild about how these can play out.

(a) Minor who is married or parent.- A minor has the same capacity as an adult to consent to medical treatment if the minor:

(1) Is married; or
(2) Is the parent of a child.
(b) Emergency treatment.- A minor has the same capacity as an adult to consent to medical treatment if, in the judgment of the attending physician, the life or health of the minor would be affected adversely by delaying treatment to obtain the consent of another individual.

(c) Consent for specific treatment.- A minor has the same capacity as an adult to consent to:

(1) Treatment for or advice about drug abuse;
(2) Treatment for or advice about alcoholism;
(3) Treatment for or advice about venereal disease;
(4) Treatment for or advice about pregnancy;
(5) Treatment for or advice about contraception other than sterilization;
(6) Physical examination and treatment of injuries from an alleged rape or sexual offense;
(7) Physical examination to obtain evidence of an alleged rape or sexual offense; and
(8) Initial medical screening and physical examination on and after admission of the minor into a detention center.
(c-1) Capacity to refuse treatment.- The capacity of a minor to consent to treatment for drug abuse or alcoholism under subsection (c) (1) or (2) of this section does not include the capacity to refuse treatment for drug abuse or alcoholism in an inpatient alcohol or drug abuse treatment program certified under Title 8 of this article for which a parent or guardian has given consent.

(d) Consent to psychological treatment.- A minor has the same capacity as an adult to consent to psychological treatment as specified under subsection (c) (1) and (2) of this section if, in the judgment of the attending physician or a psychologist, the life or health of the minor would be affected adversely by delaying treatment to obtain the consent of another individual.

(e) Liabilities.- A physician, psychologist, or an individual under the direction of a physician or psychologist who treats a minor is not liable for civil damages or subject to any criminal or disciplinary penalty solely because the minor did not have capacity to consent under this section.

(f) Disclosure.- Without the consent of or over the express objection of a minor, the attending physician, psychologist or, on advice or direction of the attending physician or psychologist, a member of the medical staff of a hospital or public clinic may, but need not, give a parent, guardian, or custodian of the minor or the spouse of the parent information about treatment needed by the minor or provided to the minor under this section, except information about an abortion.

[An. Code 1957, art. 43, §§ 135, 135B; 1982, ch. 21, § 2; 1992, chs. 494, 495; 1994, ch. 175; 1995, ch. 473; 2001, ch. 284.]

At 2:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It’s great that your daughter is able to speak with you. Unfortunately, some kids don’t realize their parents are their biggest allies until after they’ve had difficulties.

Sometimes our educators (physicians included) foster hte idea that privacy from parents is necessary to provide “proper” information. Education on important matters needs to be cooperative. My daughter will take a class this year in which reproductive issue will be discussed, but the curriculum isn’t made widely known to the parents. It seems like a lost opportunity.

I have spoken with my children, each and every one, in what I think is age appropriate about their bodies. But, I’d like a head’s up if someone is going to introduce a subject that we haven’t discussed. I’d like the opportunity to “go first.”

At 3:35 PM, Blogger fran said...

Anon 2:37,

You are so right. Often children do realize too late that their parents are their allies. And sometimes children are aligned with their parents and make mistakes anyway.

More often than not, the young women at the crisis pregnancy center where I volunteer say, "My mother is going to kill me!" when their pregnancy test is positive. Obviously these teens have been talking with their mothers, and do not want to disappoint them. Once, one of these women called her mom to share the news, and put me on the phone with her. Her mom did not believe her and sadly did not want her daughter to keep the baby.

Simply put, we need to talk to our children early, (age appropriate of course,) and often, on a whole host of topics. My younger daughter shared something with me this morning. The children in her 6th grade class have been discussing the election, amongst themselves, and they ask each other who they are "voting for." My daughter told me that she shared with her friend all that I told her(!) about McCain and his views on abortion. We are our children's primary educators and they are listening.

And on a happy note, I placed a follow-up call to the young woman whose mom did not want her to keep the baby. She is keeping the baby and her mom is happy about it. Anything is possible, with God.

At 7:41 PM, Anonymous Marion (Mael Muire) said...

Anon 10:40 AM wrote: "He (my daughter's physician) told me it is his responsibility to protect my not-yet-teenage daughter from Aids and other infectious diseases. I’d not be permitted in the room during exams so she was free to ask, and he to freely answer, any and all questions.

I was taken back, not only by what he was saying but the tone; he expected to do battle.

The doctor is sadly mistaken, actually. You, as the parent, are the one primarily responsible for protecting your minor sons and daughters from contracting diseases, or from suffering any other physical, psychological, and spiritual injury. The primary responsibility is yours as the parent, not the physician's. The physician is to be your counselor an your assistant in this, not the authority. Yet, as you have related, how typical of America's elites arrogantly to assume unto themselves the parents' rights and obligations, overriding the parents' sacred authority, and picking and choosing which adolescent activities they shall deign to grant or not, as they see fit: "Let's see, this family's teens may not drink, but they can have sex . . . I've decided."

In front of your daughter, ask her to ask Dr. Big-Shot whether he knows what the word chutzpah means.) Hint: He has it in spades.

At 12:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Something doesn’t seem quite right here. As a parent, we have the right to protect and respect our children (under age 18). As a medical professional, we have the right to protect our patients as well as ourselves. Any child under the age of 18 is a minor, meaning, a parent or legal guardian has the right to information concerning that child. Once a child becomes 18, they are considered an adult and become legally responsible for their care and records. At this point, NO ONE can not get information on this person unless authorized by the patient, in writing or verbally, with a witness. It’s a law, designed to protect the patient’s information.

You mentioned that your child is a not-yet a teenager, which means the psychological picture of the child can vary greatly. The gender of the physician was not mentioned so it is difficult to get a clear picture of the situation you explained. Having worked in the medical field for over 20 years, and having been a parent for 20 years, I can not imagine any parent being denied admission during the physical examination of a minor. In terms of religion, there are times when the religion of a patient is important, but they are minimal.

As children approach adolescence, most physicians will talk with the patient and parent separately in an effort to get honest answers to their questions - some young adults, not-yet teens, may feel uncomfortable answering questions honestly in front of their parent(s). If the patient is approaching the young adolescent age, or nearing puberty, most physicians/nurse practitioners, physician assistants, etc. ask the patient if they would like their parent present during the physical examination. Any male physician should have a parent or chaperone present during any physical examination of a female patient. It protects both parties. Some female physicians feel the same when examining a male patient.

One critical piece of information that is missing here - what did the child want. We, parents and health care providers often forget to assess our patient’s needs. When dealing with the pediatric patient, the health care providers really have two patients, the parents and the child. Both party's needs need to be addressed when evaluating and treating a minor.

Bottom line – parents and legal guardians have the responsibility to act in the best interest of their child. If they are not comfortable with the approach a health care provider takes when treating their child - they need to find another provider.

Lastly, we are all human and each profession has its good and its not so good members. It is only my opinion, but I do believe the world would be a better place if, when offended or confused about treatment we have received, we took the time to gently offer our thoughts and opinions with the goal of broadening the person's perspective. Let us not forget that we too can make mistakes. Often it's not what we say, buthow we say it that matters the most. When possible, teach, inspire and be a postive example, don't tear down, destroy and promote negativity.

At 10:19 AM, Blogger fran said...

The popular thing to do when I was seeking a pediatrician, years ago, was to interview the doctor(s), before making a decision. I don't hear so much about this practice anymore, but I still think it is a wise thing to do.

When choosing a doctor for myself, I always find out if they are pro-life. Part of educating our children, is to educate ourselves first.

At 11:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

to the 12:57 anon-

Thank you for your perspective. I plan to do as you suggested- find a practice with which we are comfortable.

When this doctor was speaking, I wasn’t thinking about what was legally applicable in terms of rights. I was taken back by this brash statement of policy and procedure as well as the assumption that I didn’t want my daughter to receive information (b/c I’m Catholic?). Surely this was, as you stated, a human failing on his part, b/c he was incorrect.

I want my daughter to have access to all the information she needs, but I want that info tempered by teachings of right and wrong. There are people, organizations, agencies who seem to want to protect children from their parents’ values. As a society, we’re becoming bent on giving our youth information without direction. Yet, simply from a medical perspective, the frontal lobe of the brain, the reasoning center, is undeveloped in youth, making it difficult to look toward outcome and consequences. But- we still allow (even encourage) youth to make adult choices without adult direction. As a parent, when you want to put the brakes on that process to say, “I want to know, have a say and, yes, even restrict what you, my child, does,” you are treated like an unreasonable, unrealistic prude. And I’m not trying to be flip, but I find it hard to be inspirational in the face of that. Instead, I want to get my back up and say, “Don’t buck me, buddy!”

I also know that, as Fran stated, parents who are engaged and provide direction will have children who make their own mistakes- that is part of life’s learning process. Good comes from those mistakes when a parent can help guide a child to learn and look toward the next choice with greater wisdom. I think it’s an adult responsibility to aide not thwart parents and children in that process.

I know there are wonderful physicians who encourage parents to be cooperative in all aspects of their child’s development at each stage. I will find one.


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