Let’s Just Beat People with a Stick, Why Don’t We?

Again, CAF seems to be full of people who would rather smack people down than help lift them up.  There’s a thread on how a “priest was harsh in confession” (harsh? define harsh) plus threads on cafeteria catholicism, soft catholicism, etc. and there are people who are going on about how priests today are weak and that nobody talks about hell and damnation anymore.  There are people advocating holding people from receiving the Eucharist (wow, even Christ isn’t that mean) for months to even years at a time, to arguing that people should have to recite multiple Rosaries, to saying that no priest preaches hell and damnation and that since most people are damned anyways (where does it say God on their drivers license) that people should know what to expect after they die.

I will admit there are people who have no concept of sin let alone their own sin.  But to advocate withholding Sacraments and fire and brimstone teaching deviates way past any truth about the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Reconciliation is not about the priest hitting the penitent over the head for not being sorry enough or not confessing every sin as if it were mortal sin or for scaring the penitent into fearful obedience.  Reconciliation is about admitting our sins to Jesus and being forgiven, being absolved of our sins, and receiving the grace that comes from that sacrament that grants us the gift of being in a state of grace to receive the Eucharist.  Reconciliation reconciles us with Jesus and strengthens our relationship with him.  It’s not meant as a means of forcing the penitent into doing what the Church expects of him/her.  It’s about repairing a relationship not reinforcing an abusive dictator.

Scaring somebody straight doesn’t work.  They tried that with juvenile delinquents.  Didn’t work and there are studies to prove it.  Yet people want people to be afraid of GOD.  Why?  A fear of God doesn’t mean you obey him out of love. It means you obey him out of fear of punishment.  That’s not a healthy relationship.  As somebody who was raised in a fear filled environment, fear only made me tense and hypervigilant to my mother’s moods and words.  It made me unable to trust people and I definitely don’t understand how to love. I was always afraid that I was doing something wrong or did something or even just breathed funny and my mother would start screaming at me for being a bad girl that’s going to Hell.  Many times it didn’t even need to be something I did.  It could be one of my sisters or something on TV or some imagined slight my mother came up with.  I was going to be screamed at no matter what and there was nothing I could do about it.  To this day I cringe when anybody says my name or I hear a loud noise or people speak in a certain way because I’m expecting to get screamed at for something I did.  Or blamed.  And I know I have to take it because there’s no arguing.  They are right and I am wrong.  Remember, this is conditioned into me from nearly 20 years of abuse.

So I have a hard time accepting that yelling and screaming and making people afraid will get them to cooperate and do good.  Oh, it might work in the short term but eventually, in the long run, it will backfire.  The Bible doesn’t just speak about God’s wrath, which usually happened after several chances to repent and change their ways but also God’s mercy.  Why do people want God’s wrath for everyone else but God’s mercy only for themselves, if that?  There is more justice in God’s mercy and mercy in God’s justice than anything we can conceive.

Why do we have to smack people down and hurt them all in the name of religion?  Jesus didn’t do that.  He criticized the Pharisees but he didn’t hurt them or say they weren’t loved by God.  He did call for them to repent and that the people should listen to them, just not act like them.  Yet people want to condemn people to Hell all for not agreeing with them or not being sorry enough in their eyes or for the priests not smacking the pulpit while preaching hellfire and brimstone and hell and damnation.  Each priest deals with a unique congregation and unique needs specific to that congregation.  Don’t put down priests just because they don’t preach what you want.  They aren’t there to please you.  They are they to be in persona Christi and to offer the Mass, not to satisfy your need to put down others and hold yourself as a superior model of Catholic living, because you aren’t with that attitude.   What the priest may not deal with in public, he may deal with in private.  It is not your place to determine which priests are acting like priests and which aren’t.  They are priests and that is all you need to know.  You are not God.  You have no place to judge for you judge Jesus himself when you judge a priest.

You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.  Just a though.

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