Posts Tagged 'catholic'

FOR GREATER THINGS YOU WERE BORN: A PASTORAL LETTER TO THE FAMILY OF GOD IN LOS ANGELES ON GOD’S BEAUTIFUL PLAN OF LOVE FOR OUR LIVES AND OUR WORLD – Archbishop Jose H. Gomez

Some Lenten reading. Bishop Barron put up a link to this on his Facebook page.  I think it’s worth a read. I’ve read a bit of it so far and it is a good read. While Archbishop Gomez is not my Archbishop (I’m in the Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon with Archbishop Sample), I can’t recall an prohibition on reading the works of Archbishops not my own. So go ahead and read. Ponder. Reflect and maybe re-read again.

http://archbishopgomez.org/planoflove

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Lent is Coming. Time to Start The Misery Competition

Lent starts next Wednesday and my anxiety has increased. It doesn’t help that I’m not on meds anymore.  

I hate Lent. It fills me with dread.

Lent always seems to bring out the competition in Catholics, more so online these days.  It’s like Lent needs to be the horrible torture fest in the name of God and if you aren’t miserable and despairing than you aren’t a good Catholic making a good Lent.  The more miserable you are the better.  Of course that feeds my anxiety and depression because I already believe I’m a horrible Catholic because I don’t do fifty devotions everyday, volunteer 70 hours everyday along with working 90 hours a day while caring for 4000 people.  Heavens, I have a hard time going to Mass on Sundays and I pray in the morning and at night and go to Confession regularly but apparently that isn’t enough.  That God isn’t going to love me until I’ve worked myself into the ground and then He’ll deign to notice my existence but only the once because I still haven’t done enough to even be considered worthy enough to gain a second glance. And forget about Heaven. As my mother constantly told me growing up, bad girls like me go straight to Hell.  I existed therefore I was bad.

Lent seems to turn God into a psychopathic, sadomasochistic tyrant bent on humiliating people and sending them to Hell, going by the way Catholics act and talk during Lent. (And outside of Lent, too, at least for some Catholics).  It’s like God is absent or barely there the rest of the time or at least this pleasant parent that lets the kids get away with everything but then Lent starts and God turns into this bully that lays down the law very strictly and any deviation is automatically a sending to Hell, do not pass Go, do not repent and go to Confession, there is no way that forgiveness is going to happen so you better freaking forget it.  Messing up means you’re dead to me.

Intellectually, I understand that this is not God but how people imaging God to be and what they think Lent should be.  The part of me that constantly heard that God couldn’t possibly love me and that I was going straight to Hell along with all the “Catholic” opinions stated as Church teaching make this easy to believe and to fall into this mindset.  And I’m left to figure out what is real and what isn’t all on my own.  It all feeds my depression and anxiety and just makes worse. And there are a lot of Catholics that would like to keep my marginalized or even excommunicated from the Church because of my depression and anxiety. I am not in a good place when it comes to Lent let alone my faith sometimes.

Lent has an emphasis on three things: fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. Yet, I’ve always seen an extremely improper focus on fasting and fasting alone with maybe Stations of the Cross thrown in.  Everyone is “giving something up” which they think is the whole purpose of Lent.  This is where the competition comes in. And it is competition because it ends with Easter and they can resume what they had “given up” which many do with relish.  This is not the purpose of Lent. So what is?

The purpose of Lent is to prepare for the Crucifixion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ. It is also when the elect (those going through RCIA) prepare to enter the Church and receive the Sacraments, to be Baptized into the Body of Christ.  Fasting is important but it isn’t the main thing or the primary importance.  Jesus is.  Our focus should be on our relationship with Jesus and what we can do to improve that relationship. But that relationship shouldn’t necessarily be at the cost of our other relationships.  A parent can’t stop taking care of their children to go to daily Mass, volunteer at the parish, etc. They can add these things if they are prudent but the care of children is how the parent lives their relationship with Christ and their vocation and has priority.  A mother can’t add or do things that would harm her child(ren).

And what about prayer and almsgiving?  Other than adding the Stations of the Cross or maybe daily Mass most don’t focus on prayer. And almsgiving? Well, Catholics seem to be tight fisted with money and give the least out of all groups.  

Lent uses all three (fasting, prayer, and almsgiving) to help us focus on Christ and his Crucifixion, Death, and Resurrection.  Like Church relies on Scripture, Tradition, and Magisterium (think a three legged stool) to uphold her teachings/doctrine, so does Lent rely on the three legged stool of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving.  You can’t focus on one to the detriment of the other two.  You’ll fall off the stool on to the ground and end up with bruises and embarrassed.  I can’t think of Lent as a time to focus on being punished for my sins, as a time to suffer just to suffer.  Yes, I have come across Catholics that just want fellow Catholics to suffer just to see them suffer and so they can gloat about being “better” Catholics.

So what to do for Lent?

Well, the Church already tells us when and how to fast and abstain. Maybe add Wednesdays during Lent as an extra day of fasting and/or abstinence. If you have an activity or behavior that drives you batty and you know gets in the way of your relationship with God and/or others, then definitely give that up.  I know I shouldn’t read certain things on the Web  (I’ve started it already) since they make my anxiety worse.  It’s not just something I’m going to do for Lent because my anxiety exists all the time and not just in Lent. Don’t just “give up” something just to give up something.  Do it with purpose and that you can continue outside of Lent. I suggest giving up sinning because you can continue it all year round.

For prayer, I’m working on being consistent in my prayer life.  I started that several Lents ago and work on that all the time.  That’s a good habit that can continue outside of Lent.  Or maybe add one prayer. Or add a prayer to pay at specific times of the day.  I pray a Hail Mary as I’m making my bed in the morning (okay, when I get up) and include several in my bedtime prayers.  That was actually a penance I received several months ago that has turned into a good habit and I liked doing it so I kept doing it. Yes, you still pray the Stations of the Cross.

Almsgiving.  Yes, you’re going to have to open your wallet.  Look at your budget.  How much is truly necessary (rent, utilities, food, gas, insurance, student loan payments) and how much is luxury (daily trips to the coffee shop, the gym membership you barely use, buying new and expensive clothes when you have perfectly good clothes already or can find it cheaper and used at Goodwill, etc.)?  If you haven’t been giving anything, start with $5 or $10 at least once a month.  If already giving, give another $5 more or start giving weekly.  Or at least give to the special collections like St. Vincent de Paul or the Bishop’s Appeal. If you can’t give at all, offer you time. Volunteer.  Parishes always need help somewhere. (I do give even though I’m still currently unemployed.  I give because I can and my lack of employment doesn’t effect my relationship with the parish.)

See, Lent doesn’t have to hurt.  You don’t need to suffer needlessly or pointlessly or at all.  I don’t have to either.

One thing I am focusing on is taking better care of myself. Depression can be very debilitating.  It can be hard to do simple, everyday things let alone new, complex things.  And my anxiety feeds my depression and my depression feeds my anxiety. Not fun. So I’m working on treating them and not just during Lent.

I am totally giving up snow, however. That stuff is vile. (And yes, we had snow yesterday (23) and today (24) and it’s almost the end of February. Seriously whacked if you ask me.

In Response To Those “Catholics”

I suggest reading and meditating on this section from Christopher West’s book Theology of the Body for Beginners. A direct contrast to the ‘God is out to get you and damn you to hell crowd’ that prefers a harsh, unforgiving tyrant than a merciful Father who who forgives when asked.

image

West, Christopher. (2004) Theology of the Body for Beginners. Ascension Press: West Chester, PA. p.43

The Angries

I have anger issues.

There. I said it.

But I’m not supposed to get angry or be angry or feel angry or show anger.

I’m supposed to keep my mouth shut and take it. I’m to keep smiling and never show any emotion but happiness. Feeling any emotion is explicitly NOT allowed.

That’s not what women do.

That’s not what good Catholics do.

That’s not what good Catholic women do.

I’m not supposed to get angry at all. It’s practically apostasy and pretty much a sin against the Holy Spirit.  No one who wants to be considered a good person ever gets angry, especially not a woman.

Feeling anger means I’m entitled and as a woman I am not entitled to anything. I am to put up and shut up.

So getting angry means I have completely and unforgivable – ly screwed up. Only God can get angry. And men. And certain women. But not me. My anger makes me evil.

There is no injustice in world, well not for me. I’m to put up and shut up.  My anger is wrong and has condemned me to Hell.  I’m supposed to be all sweetness and light. I’m supposed to let the bullies and the abusers win. That is godly. They say that is what God wants and the only way to truly love God: let yourself be abused and accept the abuse as deserving. Abuse is love.

I’m not supposed to get angry at my mother for abusing me. I deserved it, you know, for not being the child she wanted.

I’m not supposed to get angry with the agendas that force sin and destruction down our throats.  I am to suffer silently, or better yet accept and indulge in the destruction.

I’m not supposed to get angry with the neighbors who have no respect for me or my things. I deserve their harassment and abuse because I’m not a person worthy of respect.

I’m not supposed to get angry but I do. But I’m not supposed to, am not allowed to be angry. So what am I supposed to do?

I confess it all the time. Avoid the things that deliberately make me angry. But I still get angry. I pray. I go to Adoration and end up angrier hours later.

I am an angry person but I’m told, no, demanded, that I never get angry or ever feel anger.  I hate that I get angry because I believe all this.  And I’m definitely angry at myself for being such a screw up and failure and for getting angry.

But I’m still angry. I tried all the techniques and nothing has worked. So what am I supposed to do? Become a Vulcan?

And Now The Anxiety Hits

Well, not full blown anxiety but definitely  thinking “what have I gotten myself into signing up for Eucharistic Adoration”.  I’ve even considered calling and asking to take me off. It’s just nerves so I won’t but yeah.

So I’m mildly freaking out though I don’t need to.  I have to remind myself that it is just an hour a week. I do not need to freak out over what I’m going to do or say. I can figure that out when I get there.

Therein lies the problem. I unfortunately have the tendency to overthink things. I can make mountains out of grains of sand. All in part of how I was raised and the abuse I faced. I had to overthink things to make sure I wouldn’t set off my mother even though that rarely, if ever, worked since she would fly off the handle for any reason. I’m used to being hyperaware and that necessitates thinking a lot. Which triggers my anxiety.

Plus, I don’t deal well with new things and this was not something that I put a lot of thought into which I’m worrying over though I don’t need to.  I’m almost always doubting my decisions because I don’t truly trust myself.  I’ve conditioned not to trust myself, my thoughts, my feelings, my decisions, my beliefs, etc.  I can’t be trusted so I don’t really trust myself.

I don’t want to have to change into someone I’m not. I think that’s part of what I’m worried about, changing who I am to fit some perceived expectation. My thinking is that I’ll have to completely rearrange my life and schedule around this instead of adding in and adapting, that this takes precedence over everything but Mass though it doesn’t. (I’m unfortunately adept at screwing up priorities.)  But that’s not true. Again, it’s only an hour. I don’t have to be super holy to do it and going to Adoration isn’t going to make me super holy let alone overnight.

Basically,  I need to worry less, not overthink and understand that I’m not making huge, irreversible changes to me or my life. I’m just adding something. Nothing massively huge.  Just dedicated time with Jesus. 

Now I’ve Gone and Done It

I signed up for Eucharistic Adoration at the Ministry Fair this morning after Mass. 

Yep, I’m Catholic. What can I say?

Trolling for Kids

Apparently, pointing out how “gay marriage” can potentially hurt children makes me a bigot.  Because name calling *so proves* the same sex parents are “better” at being parents than opposite sex parents.  Sorry, no it doesn’t.

Science has proven time and again that children thrive much better in a home where their mother and father are married to each other.  There is currently no evidence that supports same sex parents being the same as opposite sex parents.  The studies that have been done are too few, too small, and the sampling too self selective. 

I do not hate gays or any one suffering from same sex attraction. I’ve had friends who were gay. They have a heavy burden to bear.  But they have been deceived and lied to about living the homosexual lifestyle and it’s effects on themselves and others.  Children should not be brought into this mess. 

So what if their same sex parents love the children?  Parenting and being good parents is more than just “love”.  But too many people, of all stripes, think love will fix anything and everything.  No, it won’t. Children are abused all the time because their parents “love” them but they are still being abused.  Love is an excuse here and hurts everyone.

Homosexuals need help, not hate. 

They, themselves, are not the issue.  Their sexual acts, their attempt to redefine marriage, and their agitation for “rights” are the problems.  Homosexual people are made in the image and likeness of God.  Same sex attraction is an effect of sin that entered the world at The Fall when Adam disobeyed God and ate of the tree of knowledge. Same sex orientation is a deviance.  It has no evolutionary benefit though the people who suffer from it are not, in any way, at fault from suffering from same sex attraction.

So, my pointing out the problems of “gay marriage” and adding children into the mix does not make me a bigot,  a hater, or a homophobe.  It makes me concerned about all involved.  As someone who has been abused, I choose to speak out against abuse and potential abuse.  I choose to speak for children who cannot or are prevented from speaking for themselves.  I choose to a voice for the voiceless and those who have their voices silenced.  I also stand up for the teachings of the Catholic Church on family and marriage  because they are the best teachings and protect men, women, and children from abuse and violence.

And since I forgot this in my previous post, children born from artificial means are still children worthy of love, protection, dignity, and respect.  Their parents’ decision are not theirs and do not reflect on the personhood of the child.  Children born from these means should not be considered wrong or bad.  They are just children.  Their parents’ decision to use artificial means of procreation is wrong but the children are never wrong.

*insert sarcasm*


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