Monthly Archives: March 2018

I don’t understand the crucifix

One thing I’ve heard, over and over and over, since I’ve been studying Catholicism, is the importance of the crucifix. Well, and Christ’s Passion inclusive. Fr. Serpa, lately from Catholic Answers, used to say that we should meditate on the crucifix in order to understand God’s love. But I don’t see how looking at a crucifix makes you understand love; for me all it has ever done is fill me with condemnation and guilt.

Basically, when I see a crucifix, this is the message I receive: “You are so terrible, that even without your knowledge and consent, your actions caused an innocent man to experience unimaginable suffering. If it wasn’t for you, he wouldn’t have had to undergo this. All of this is your fault. And it’s not like you were given a choice. Just by existing, your evilness is so extreme that it reached back through time and caused the ultimate innocent suffering.”

There’s also the “in case you didn’t realize how awful you were, here’s an image of how much God hates sin, which is the primary constituent element of your being.”

I’ve never understood how anyone could glean love and hope from a crucifix. I know that I should, as a Catholic, display one more prominently in my home, or spend more time meditating on one in church, but I just cannot endure the crushing despair that it causes.

Maybe someday I’ll have the chance to take the red pill and find out why so many people are so enthusiastic about the contemplation of the Passion. But until then, I’m just going to leave them to it.

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Holy Thursday

I had a job interview today for a job that I’d really, really like to get. (Like, “I’d be able to pay my bills,” like to get.) I just hope I’m one of the seven they pick out of the at least 40 that showed up…

So as the anxiety began to mount, it occurred to me that today is the perfect day to pray, “Lord, if you are willing… nevertheless, let not my will but Thine be done.”

Which is much, much, MUCH harder than it seems. Truthfully, almost physically hard. To let go of desire, and fear, and anxiety, when they are such a part of you that they find physical expression, is almost painful. It’s not just an intellectual exercise; you actually have to relax your body, and release the tension when you consider that you might not get what you want. And you have to do it again, and again, and again.

That, of course, reminded me of Jesus sweating blood as He prayed those words. I had never really considered why that anxiety produced a such a physical result; I just pictured Him knowing the inevitable result, and just play-acting the trauma so that we would have a good example, you know? And then something occurred to me: for Jesus, choosing to suffer would have been particularly stress-inducing because He could have prevented it. 

We can afford to be fatalistic, and accept suffering in a passive way, because very often there’s nothing we can do about it. We suffer, and we don’t have the power to change it. All we have to do is accept it. But what if we COULD change it? How much harder would it be to really voluntarily undergo suffering — not just endure something over which we have no control? And that would go not just for our suffering, but for others — imagine Jesus’s pain when He saw other people suffering, and knew that He had the ability to stop it, but for greater reasons had to let it be? When you have the almighty power of God at your immediate disposal, how much self-control would it take to say, “Not my will, by thine be done”?

There ought to be a word for the action that is not only saying something, but physically acting it out as well. Like, the difference between saying, “I love you,” and actually doing something about it. When you say to God, “I trust you,” there’s a physical component that can be just as exhausting as the mental part. This weird fusion of the spirit and body, where they must both agree, otherwise one puts the lie to the other.

So for the next week, every time my over-active brain reminds me of the job that I might be getting, I have to say, and act out, “Lord, not my will, but thine be done.”

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Mother Angelica

shrine of the most blessed sacrament

I will always remember Mother Angelica’s date of death (March 27, 2016), because I joined the Church the day before. Also, that year was one in which the Annunciation fell on Good Friday.

I believe Mother Angelica is a saint, and am waiting impatiently for the five-year minimum to elapse before a cause can be opened… She is a wonderful example of what God can do with someone who is willing to give everything to Him, and of heroic acceptance of suffering.

I had read descriptions of what saints were like, but she was the first I actually saw. Her lack of fear, devotion to the truth, and the fact that she was the most… like herself person I had ever seen made a deep impression on me. I know now why people wanted to be around the saints, and emulate them. They didn’t terrorize people, or make them feel inferior, or hopeless… It was like they had found the most desirable thing in the universe, and it constantly oozed from them. When you saw them, you saw what you wanted to be more than anything else. It truly did seem like they had found the pearl that was worth giving up everything else they had and not even feel the loss.

Mother Angelica, pray for us!

 

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Catholicism: 2 years and counting…

I really ought to have done this yesterday, since that was my two-year anniversary of entering the Church, but I got busy. It’s close, right?

I don’t really have a lot of deep insights right now, but I feel like I should put something down for the historical record… Being a Catholic is like life, you know? Some things good, some things bad, most things just running in the background.

I guess the main thing that I didn’t anticipate was that my (now soon-to-be-ex) husband would follow me into the Church within a few months. Almost as soon as I joined, he suddenly became much more interested, received personalized, expedited instruction from the chaplain at his command, and was confirmed that October.

On one hand, that’s good. Obviously, I believe that the Church is true, and that to align oneself with Her is the correct thing to do. On the other hand, given my personal situation, the Church suddenly became much less safe for me. Previously, the Church had been a safe haven; I knew that I could always go there to be safe — mentally AND physically, since it was once place my husband wasn’t. But things like the Rosary, Adoration, and Catholic radio became things that brought me nearer to my husband’s orbit, instead of farther away.

Of course, if we had a healthy relationship, this would have been great news. Many converts’ journeys into the Church are burdened by their spouse NOT agreeing with what they’re doing. As with so many things, my problems are the mirror-image of normal… As it is, my entry into the Church was followed by a swift cooling of interest and decline in practice (although not below the required minimum), because my attempts to stay as far away from my husband as possible led me in the opposite direction.

I believe that one’s journey toward Truth is necessarily paved with difficulties. It’s like you have to prove you want it, you know? In my case, before I entered the Church, I had to accept that I may have to endure a sacramental marriage until death, despite abuse and civil divorce. After I entered the Church, I had to force myself to continue to be faithful, despite wanting to flee in the opposite direction to avoid my husband. The timing is important: had he shown interest beforehand, I may have thrown over the whole thing to get away from him. But since I had been confirmed, I was committed…

The greatest benefit to being a one-religion family is that our daughter will be raised in agreement. She attends Catholic school, and I have every reason to expect that we both will do our best to raise her in the faith. We may live in different houses, and attend different parishes, but there’s consistency.

The other challenge to my young Catholicism has been the normal strains of everyday life. Attending college, moving, trying to find a job and support myself, illness… I no longer have the time available to spend researching and studying the Faith. And truthfully, that’s something that I have always appreciated about Catholicism: it’s for the merely human! You don’t have to study, read, and devote all your spare time to trying to determine what the truth is. The Church has done that for you, and She gives you a very, very light minimum weight to carry to continue to be in good standing. The Church understands the difficulties of life, and constantly makes allowances for them. It doesn’t take much to be a Catholic, fortunately. Or it takes everything, whichever. Depends on which day I’m looking at it…

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