Daily Archives: February 21, 2008

Part III: I’m tired, and I need a sign

My last two posts built up a train of thought, written over several hours, drafted and redrafted (mainly due to accidental deletion), culminating three weeks of deep spiritual crisis for me.

It actually opened up a big key to the puzzle for me, this reflection.

But I’m still at a loss. Something has gotta give. I am tired of Mass being nothing but a source of stress in my life; i can’t remember when it wasn’t. Every now and then it isn’t, but usually it is.

People think I’m bitter. If you’d been through what I have, you would be, too.

In the world, people have always made fun of me because of the way I look, my posture, etc. in the Church, people have always made fun of me for the same reasons.

In the world, I struggle through trying to get by, with few offers of help or compassion.
In the Church, I struggle through, trying to get by, with few offers of help or compassion.

Yes, i have some great stories, but those are the *rare* exceptions.

Think about it, there are 52 Sundays in a year. I don’t know how many of those Sundays I’m even able to make it to Mass.

They used to say to my parents, “but he goes to school.” Now, they might say, “But you work.”
Yeah, and you know what I do when I work? Half the time, I have to beg my students’ forgiveness when I get worn out, or breathless, or just totally forget what I’m talking about. I’ve had pin strokes in front of my students. I’ve screamed in pain in front of my students.

If I were to start screaming in pain at Mass, they’d probably have me arrested.

Out of all those Sundays I never made it to Mass, I have a handful of stories of people bringing me Communion.

On the whole, strangers “in the world” have been more genuinely compassionate to me than my alleged “brothers and sisters in Christ.”

At the same time, the liturgy itself has been my sole consolation: the sacraments, knowing that I’m in a tradition that goes back to Christ, that I’m worshipping with the saints.

My traditionalism springs from my disability. It keeps me grounded in a worldview that gives my life meaning.

My moral crusade, of course, springs from my disability. Contraception, abortion, and euthanasia all send the message from the world, “You’re not worthwhile. You don’t deserve to exist.”

My conservatism grows from anger at the liberals who hypocritically claim to care. Conservatives say, “You’re on your own,” and life has repeatedly told me, “You’re on your own.”

From first grade, when I’d stumble and fall in the mob of students running out of school, I have known I was on my own.

I’m tired of Mass being nothing but stress.

I want to know if God actually wants me.

I have no doubt that God exists. I have no doubt that God loves me. I have no doubt of every truth the Catholic Church believes and teaches.

I just don’t know why Mass has to be so hard. If it were “hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our Death,” then that would be one thing. Mass, at its best, is sacrificial agony for me.

There is no better mass then when I’m in complete pain, yet I can make it through, completely offering myself.

But the hardness I’m talking about is that which just creates unnecessary stress and worry.

Why does God spurn me? Why doesn’t He want me?

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Part 1: I Hate Lent

Let is always a difficult time for me.

I always come in with some grandiose plans for spiritual growth. It usually ends up being a time of great spiritual assault.

This year, I’m doing well with my devotions. I’ve commited to say certain devotions every day, and I’ve been doing them. If I’ve missed something one day, i’ve caught up the next.

I’ve been more active in maintaining this blog, and it’s shown some fruit.

But I’ve also been under deep spiritual assault, and I’m about at my last straw, as i will discuss in a separate post.

I think that, almost every Lent, I become overwhelmed with the problem of Scandal.

Now, I’ve long since become adjusted to the fact that many priests have very serious sin problems. What bugs me is the attitude of people sticking their heads in the sand about this. When a priest is engaging in scandalous behavior, he doesn’t need us to look the other way and feel sorry for him. He needs us to pray for him and fast for him. He needs us to stand up to him and say, “What you’re doing is wrong.”

Fr. Corapi is the only one I’ve heard give a reasonable position on this subject. Many priests, he warns us, have serious problems with sin. It goes with the territory. Being a priest is very psychologically stressful and spiritually strenuous. Priests are prime targets of the enemy. To deny that priests have addictions and serious sins is to deny them the grace they’d get if we were praying for them.

OK.

Then there are the many “good priests” who are strongly orthodox but seemingly lacking in what we might call “evangelical fervor,” the kind of fire for the Gospel that Fundamentalists condemn Catholics for lacking.

I’ve known very few priests who seem to have the right combination of doctrinal orthodoxy, liturgical and disicplinary rectitude, spiritual asceticism, and evangelical fervor.

One of those was Fr. James Haley, and he now sits in canonical limbo.

Most of the others I might list were sent off at some point for extensive “psychiatric treatment.”

*That* is what scandalizes me. The bad priests get promoted, or retire comfortably, or receive no disciplinary action whatsoever. But the really devout, prophetic priests end up being sent away for “nervous breakdowns” because they make the laity uncomfortable.

So, that has been weighing on me.

And then there’s the problem I will post more extensively on in a separate post.