Drifting by the Sloth of Disobedience

From the Prologue of the Rule of Benedict:

. . . The labor of obedience will bring you back to him from whom you had drifted through the sloth of disobedience. (v. 2)

It’s a funny thing about drifting:  you’re just there, and you get distracted by new ideas, new distractions, new activities . . . and you finally look up and — Whoa! where am I?  I was over there, but now I’m over here! How did that happen?

It’s particularly easy to do in our walk with the Lord.  A day of skipping prayer makes it easy to skip again, and before you know it, weeks and even months have gone by . . . and you’ve lost your bearings and you aren’t really even sure when or how it happened.

Sloth. Laziness. Slack off in the habits of discipleship and before you know it you’ve been carried way on downstream and not in the direction you’d intended to go.

So stick with it.  If you’ve been lazy, if you’ve been careless, renew your resolve and turn the “ear of your heart” to sound instruction.

Fall Reflections

The huge arctic blast that everyobraadfordpearne has been talking about has reached my area.  Lows last night hit nearly 20F, and today’s highs will be in the low 40s.  These are temperatures we normally see in January, not November!

I admit I don’t care for the shorter days of winter, but the quality of sunlight this time of year is so golden and so magical, it almost makes up for the brevity of days.

The leaves have been beautiful.  It seemed to take a long time for them to turn, but I don’t know when I’ve ever seen a more beautiful display. The peak never lasts long enough to suit, so I’ve tried to absorb every moment of the splendor that I possibly can. Driving late in the afternoon, earlier this week, along a stretch of country road, it seemed the red-leafed Bradford pears, the dogwoods, the crepe myrtles were ablaze!  And the golden maples, sycamores, and ash were lit from within themselves.

So often people give only a cursory bit of attention to such details, but this beauty has really fed my soul.  I pray I may never be too busy, or too low in spirits, or too distracted, to be able to appreciate such generous, even extravagant, indications of God’s Love.



Writing update

So. An editor friend of mine (from a technical journal, so don’t get excited, here) took a look at my very drafty ms (manuscript, for the uninitiated) of Pray, Study, Work last week, and she had a few things to say about my efforts so far.

I haven’t worked on it in a while. I’d reached a point where I was not only at a brick wall, I was paralyzed with fear from the impact with that brick wall. It didn’t help – in fact, it may have reached a critical point – when the university professor I wrote to for research recommendations wrote back: you’ve got a corner on the market.

This is not a responsibility I want to own. I don’t care of Dr. M. did call it “a quandry to be grateful for.” What if I’m wrong? What if I misunderstand? What if I misrepresent…????? and so on, and on, and on…

But it helps that my editor friend writes back and says, “I want to see more! Finish this!”

So – back to work on my book.

Mortal v. Venial

Mortal sin is like a bomb blast: the damage to one’s soul is immediate and catastrophic.

Venial sin is like a termite infestation. It may not seem like much at first, but if you don’t deal with it quickly and decisively, that one or two wee little bugs you almost don’t even notice are going to multiply, and become a colony; and that colony has the capability of doing some serious long-term damage to the structure it inhabits: your soul.

Once falsely accused –

I’m home from Mass today because of knee and back pain. I had to call Fr N to let him know of my absence, and he had some shocking and very distressing news for me: one of my dear priest friends has had his priestly faculties suspended in the wake of accusations that he behaved inappropriately toward a then-minor girl, back in the early ’80s.

I’ve known Fr K for more than ten years. He heard my first Confession, and numerous subsequent ones, and he has always given me solid, sane, spiritual counsel. He’s been a good friend, and a great support during a particular difficulty he happened to walk in the door to face… and I’m having a very hard time believing this accusation.

I’ve been falsely accused. When the ex- and I separated, he told his parents (and who knows who else) that I was having an affair with one of my professors (I was in college at the time). I suppose I can see how he found it easy to foster this idea: after being treated like an idiot unworthy of simple conversation in the privacy of our own home, I was deliriously enthusiastic about being in an academic setting where brilliant people, and this professor in particular (who had a reputation for being difficult to get along with) treated me as if I were someone special, possessing brilliance, even. I thought the world of this professor who opened the world for me, and he seemed rather partial to me – within the confines of the classroom.

HOWEVER, a mutual admiration society is not adultery, and the closest we came to even a social relationship was a brief exchange we had by the milk case of the local grocery store, that July –
Laura: Hey, Dr. B – how’s summer school going?
Professor: Laura, I swear, the incoming freshmen are getting dumber every year. I can’t wait for the regular term to begin so I can be with my upperclassmen again!

I really thought adultery was supposed to have a bit more to it than that? be a bit more exciting? a bit more wicked?

But somehow quite a lot more was added to the story during the translation, it appears. And, of course, there are those foolish people who will always love a scandal more than the truth. We just have to live with that.

There are a lot of factors that motivate people to lie – on both sides of the fence, let me add. The guilty are almost always going to vehemently deny culpability, even when caught in the act (just ask anyone who’s been married to a drunk caught in any one of a thousand lies), and for some reason I simply cannot fathom, sometimes people lie about the innocent.

It’s terribly hard to be a priest these days. It’s never easy – the self-abnegation required is unimaginable for folks like me. Folks just don’t have an idea what priests go through, day to day, in solitude, often without adequate fraternal support and comaraderie. And it’s open season on Catholic priests anyway.  Hardly a week goes by that a preacher or youth minister in some Protestant group or other isn’t reported by our local news outlets to be arrested and charged with some form of abuse or misconduct, but none of those denominations, seminaries, or camps go through the scrutiny or public insults that our good Catholic priests suffer.

Pray for our priests. Pray for the accused, and the accusers. Pray for Truth and justice.

* * * *

On another, but not unrelated note:

A well-known pro-life activist reports that another well-known pro-life activist suffered a bit of public humiliation over the weekend of the National March for Life. Names don’t matter for the point I want to make.

That point is this: that we who call ourselves by the name of Christ have a greater obligation to conduct ourselves appropriately in public, not to glory or wallow in gossip, not to rejoice in a fellow Christian’s downfall.

Akin to this situation is the uproar that occurred when Pat Robertson made his perhaps-indiscreet remarks about voodoo having something to do with Haiti’s current misery in the wake of the horrible earthquakes it has suffered this past week and a half. Mr. Robertson was called a number of immature and offensive names in Facebook and around the internet media. I rebuked one young man for using an offensive word as a predicate nominative –

We have to be above such behavior, if we’re going to make a difference in the world. Okay?

I think I’m amused –

I was just dumped a few minutes ago by a Facebook “friend.”

Recently I have noticed a disappointing trend among certain conservatives of my acquaintance, on Facebook and in an email chain, of resorting to really snide insults and profanity when speaking of our President and other liberals.

We were so indignant over the immature and disrespectful behavior toward President Bush, yet these people think it’s okay to show graphics of obscene gestures or to resort to insulting names of our opponents?

I called two of these people on this behavior. One woman sent out a poll among her email list. My opinion was not the majority view. The woman on Facebook has deleted me as a “friend” – which is okay, because she was an indirect contact via some of our blogger friends.

Look. We’re supposed to be salt and light in the world. We’re supposed to be more mature, more responsible – we’re supposed to be CLASSIER.

You want to call the President names? You want to make obscene gestures? Hey, the First Amendment says you can be a jackass and an embarrassment. But it also allows me to tell you you’re an embarrassment and a disgrace to the name of Christ.


I haven’t been blogging much of late – in part because of work on Deliberate Engagement. But I also have not been blogging much because it’s been that time of year when energy is depleted. Short days, grey weather, several anniversaries and a heavy personal challenge have left me without a lot to blog from.

I don’t want this blog to deteriorate into political rants. It would be easy to do, and in fact has occurred in anticipation of the November election. Others are doing a better job of that, though (although I’d like to see some of the rudeness curtailed – we need to be better than our opponents).

I think I want the blog to be like a step into a living room in a home, where we can talk about unpleasant things – but in a constructive, hopeful way. It’s not enough to complain about the horrendous decisions being made in Washington right now, if we can’t also discuss ways to counter them – and confirm to one another that we’ll help each other through the hard times coming.

It’s so easy, especially during short grey days, to just not try. “I told you so,” “Why couldn’t they see this was on the horizon when they voted in November?” and the like.

Yet this is where we watch the opposition, make our strategy, shore up our resources, and generally get dug in.

My recommendations, for what they are worth (and this is a note to myself, I admit):

1. Do not give in to the sarcastic appelations floating around in emails right now. Calling our new president “the gangsta” is as low-class and insulting as the insults of the left who made rude comments and gestures to our President Bush. Do we really want to be like them? I thought not.

2. This is the season to draw closer to the Source – in additional prayer and Bible study, study of the Catechism, of the lives and writings of the Saints. This is the time to spend weekly time before the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament (Perpetual Adoration if you have a nearby parish participating in that Devotion).

3. Practical preparation is also prudent. If we are in for a tough time, economically, begin now making plans and investing in what you need in order to become more self-sufficient. Stock up on staples (there are several threads in the FlyLady discussion forum on this topic). Simplify now so you can be more serene later.

4. Draw near to like-minded people for comfort and consolation. So the new president deleted the online prayer meeting from the White House website and replaced faith-based policies with outrageous liberal agendas. Does that stop us from praying? May this be the beginning of a groundswell of prayer such as has never been seen before in this nation! May the unity of God’s people be stronger than ever.

We got lazy during the Bush administration. The warnings were there but they were too easy to ignore.

Now we have had a wake-up call. Open your home to dinners with others who support life and sanity in the culture. Discuss how you can make a difference on the local level. Discuss your relationships with your elected officials in Washington and in your state capital – and encourage one another to contact those representatives with your desires for your state and this Nation.

Treat even our opponents with courtesy and dignity. This isn’t easy, but it’s necessary. The means we use are every bit as important as the ends we hope to achieve.

We’ll help one another get through this.

Why all the hullabaloo?

Pastor Rick Warren, chosen by President-elect Barack Obama to pray at his inauguration, said in a video message to his church that he doesn’t equate homosexual relationships with incest or pedophilia, but opposes redefining marriage just as any conservative Christian would…

“I have in no way ever taught that homosexuality is the same thing as a forced relationship between an adult and a child, or between siblings,” Warren said. “I was trying to point out I’m not opposed to gays having their partnership. I’m opposed to gays using the term marriage for their relationship.” – according to an article in OneNewsNow.

Well, that’s just hunky-dory, but it seems to me that Pastor Warren is missing a couple of points, here. First of all, he’s trying to be nice to the gay community by implying that he’s always believed that homosexuality isn’t really such a serious offense against Christian sexual rules. Then he’s just translating it as if it were a sort of adultery – sad, but not really serious.

However, homosexuality is one of the behaviors that dominates pagan culture. Those Greek myths we read in school – you remember, Zeus becoming an animal in order to seduce beautiful women (swans and bulls, for starters) – weren’t just bizarre symbolic stories. They reflected a culture where all manner of licentiousness was the norm.

Moreover, the ancient Greeks had a culture that glorified homosexuality. “The love of a man is better than the love of a woman,” is a commonly-known hallmark of that culture. And when Plato discusses beauty, in his Republic, he doesn’t use women’s beauty as the standard, but boys’.

Also, when God hands down the complex Law to Moses, with all the varied restrictions and prohbitions on sexual behaviors – which actually elevate heterosexual monogamous marriage to a point of dignity and meaning unprecedented in the otherwise pagan world! – homosexuality is the one sin that is identified as an abomination.

That is one mighty strong word – and the only time it appears is in conjunction with homosexuality.

So Pastor Warren is missing the deep theological layers that informed Christians – and especially Christian leaders! – need to have in mind, if they’re going to adequately teach their congregations.

He is also missing out on the fact that the make-up of the gay orientation and identity are complex and multi-layered. There are serious disorders that attend the simpler, more obvious one of Same-Sex Attraction acted out.

So – if they’re really smart, the gay lobby would sit down and shut up, because Pastor Warren is, in fact, paving the way, through his fairly sentimental approach to the issue, for greater acceptance – unquestioning acceptance – of homosexuality among the evangelical community.

I say, it’s a darn shame.

Venturing forth…

Y’know, sometimes it’s just darned hard to be so talented and brilliant – so many choices, so many opportunities, so many things pulling in so many different directions…

I’ve talked to two professionals – one a clinical psychologist, the other a psychiatrist – who’ve been very positive and affirming about the writing I’m wanting to do about being the ex-wife of a homosexual. There’s precious little literature on the subject anywhere, and most of what I’m discovering via online search is very liberal –

as in “Let’s support gay marriage, because after all, we want this person we love(d) to be happy…”

uh, No. Not at all. No way, no how. I do NOT want my ex- to be superficially, artificially “happy.” I want him to be converted. I want him to be redeemed. I want him to be the good man I loved and wanted to spend my life with – energetic, cheerful, intelligent, and fervent in his beliefs – so that he can know bone-deep and abiding JOY, and peace.

No. None of this shellacking of worldly postmodern relativism that says whatever blows your skirt up is your entitlted path to some kind of saccharine emotive experience we call “happiness.”

There are rules to follow. When we violate the rules, the principles under which God created us, we forfeit happiness. When we follow the rules, we know great peace and genuine joy, regardless of our superficial circumstances.

Being married to a homosexual was hard. It was painful. It was bleak enough I used to go to bed at night, begging God not to make me wake up the next morning. Now I know why He kept making me wake up: so I could know what it’s like to pass through a Purgatorial fire and to come out the other side, soul not only intact but stronger and clearer-sighted than ever, heart capable of even more, and more fervent, love.

Discovering that the man you loved is homosexual is like finding yourself in the epicenter of an earthquake. The ground of your married life, and that is pretty much the whole of our life as women, just opens wide; something suddenly, violently shakes and threatens to swallow you up whole. You knew something was badly wrong, but you never expected – !

But there is joy to be found. I thought I stood at the brink of Hell; it turned out to be Purgatory.

I’ve discovered that there is a lot of common ground shared by women formerly married to homosexuals.

So I’m going to tell the story.

If you, or anyone you know, has shared this experience, I’d like to talk to you/her. You can email me at the address at the top of the right-hand column bar, or leave me a message in the message box, below my info.