Saturday, February 19, 2011

No honor among thieves.



Salvation so uncertain.
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Something is wrong with me.  I suppose it could be called a case of 'no honor among thieves' - I never got that proverb - so I may have it wrong here as well.  What I'm getting at is my tendency towards denial - making excuses for other people's bad behavior - pretending it doesn't exist or it isn't as bad as people think.  I'm not sure it is authentic charity at work in that either - you know how St. Paul writes that 'charity hopes all things, believes all things', etc..  I could be more or less unconsciously protecting and defending another sinner's reputation simply because in my past I too was promiscuous and hypocritical.  Obviously the hypocrite part remains active - the promiscuous part not.
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"If somebody up there likes me somebody up there cares
Deliver me from evil save me from these wicked snares." - Sting
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That said, I know how easy it is to fall into sin, even repeated mortal sin.  I recall Teresa of Avila writing something on mortal sin and how surprised she was regarding how far a person can go in committing them, but a confessor contradicted her saying he was surprised that they didn't do worse.  The mystery and horror of mortal sin!  Perhaps it can only be realized and understood through the awful things we see and witness today - even those sins committed by priests and religious people.
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I offer my apologies to those offended by my defense of Chris Wenthe - the latest local priest to fall.  Actually his crimes were more or less past him, occurring about 5 years ago, but the law caught up with him this past week.  As one reader noted, "I don't know the entire story" - hence any defense or comment on the story is not mine to give.  I was looking at the guy not only as another sinful human being would, but as a Catholic, trained to never say anything bad about a priest, and whose habit it is to usually look up to a priest, and I based my comments upon externals and idealized expectations.  True I'm critical of priests in other instances - so yeah, suddenly being so compassionate when they sin is pretty inconsistent.
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I did the same thing with Fr. Euteneuer - at first.  Last fall I did it with another local priest arrested for cruising in a public park where gay men meet for anonymous sex.  Come to find out later the man had something of a gay history.  Didn't matter - I still defended him, calling his crime a sin of weakness.  I won't go into that here except to make this observation:  Isn't it curious our double standard of excusing the sexual infidelities of heterosexual priests - as well as our 'relief' it was heterosexual - contrasted with our tendency to condemn and vilify - without mercy - the infidelities of homosexual priests?    Although there are degrees of sin.  But I digress.
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What is wrong with me.
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I can't believe I am as old as I am and somehow remain as naive as a kid.  Arrested development I suppose - seriously.  I have always - deep own - blamed myself for the times I was sexually abused as a kid.  Sexualized early, I was 'out' right after high school and in a long term relationship shortly after.  I was promiscuous as well - I slept around a lot.  There was no real expectation of fidelity in those days.  So it went.  Drugs came later - then my amazing conversion.
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After I left monastic life, I eventually fell into the same pattern.  I was spiritually immature and after disappointments with a few mentors who left monastic life and were found 'wanting' - I succumbed to temptation.  I was worse than I had been in my first fall from grace - mainly because I had come to know  the truth and I still believed - yet I chose to act out.  It got to be a living hell - until the 'second' conversion.  The second conversion did not mean the addictions disappeared - the spiritual battle actually intensified - but this time I was engaged, knowing I was absolutely no good, a sinner who can't be trusted - yet passionately loved by Christ.  I make no excuses for myself.  I'm still that sinner - loved by Christ.  I continually break the Heart of the only Man who ever loved me for who I am, with all of my flaws and sins and creepiness.  Therefore when I see better men than I am fall, it is very sad.  Sin is sad.
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Yet truth be told, I'm no better and much worse than these fallen priests.  I have no right to condemn and no right to defend these priests - much less myself.  Therefore, I have to take my place with the priests who abused and sodomized and exploited vulnerable men and women.  I have to take my place with their victims - because I have been there.  I have to take my place with the enablers and the hypocrites who covered up their crimes - because I have been doing just that.  I share their shame.  There really is no honor among thieves.
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I'm sorry.
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Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.  Amen. 
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Art:  Retablo - no other information available.
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Relax, have a cigar, make yourself at home. Hell is full of high court

Judges, failed saints. We've got Cardinals, Archbishops, barristers,

Certified accountants, music critics, they're all here. You're not alone.

You're never alone, not here you're not. OK break's over.

-St. Augustine In Hell, Sting







25 comments:

  1. You are absolutely not at fault for being abused. The abuser is the one at fault. It doesn't matter what you think you could or should have done differently because it is not your fault. It doesn't matter if someone told you that it was your fault; it was not your fault.

    I can't imagine how I would feel if a priest I knew or thought was a good example was suddenly in the news for...not being such a good example. It's always appropriate to pray for sinners.

    I pray for priests, and sometimes wonder what I'm doing when I pray for priests who have a seemingly endless supply of holiness, but then realize that maybe it's only endless because of the prayers; I think that when people get complacent about priests it's a bigger shock to their systems to realize that it's actually a human being wearing that collar.

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  2. Heaven is filled with sinners.
    God is Love. :)

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  3. You should not beat yourself up like this! It's only human nature to want to defend those we know and admire. Denial is nearly always the first reaction to any loss. When we hear about a priest who violated another person and broke his own vows in the process, we, too, suffer a loss of innocence. Very few people leave this earth without having fallen into mortal sin at one time or another. That "creepiness" you think you have is something all of us inherited from our first parents. As I pointed out on my own blog the other day, Adam and Eve scarcely got started before one of their sons killed the other. That's a pretty inauspicious start to the human race, don't you think? It's not an excuse, but it is a reason to realize how difficult it is to carry our own cross without banging another nail in to Our Lord's.

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  4. SF - that is beautiful!

    The Little Way - your words are amazing. Thank you!

    Terry - I wanted to write something beautiful....but "The Little Way" summed it up perfectly. :) Pray for the victim. She needs our prayers and fasting. Pray for ALL who were victims of wenthe's sick sins.

    I also want to say that I am fully aware of my sinfulness. I have fallen -- fast and hard so many times. Just as Jesus would have died on the cross if I was the only person on earth; I would have been the one to hammer the nails into his hands and feet and crucify him.

    However, it is not prideful or being hypocritical or denying our own sins to call a spade a spade. Our society tries to tell us "to each his own". "My business is none of your business!" etc. Well, if I love you -- it is my business. And "to each his own" is basically loving someone into hell and a life of misery here on earth.

    Some people experience conversion through our gentle love (I would say most people), but some need their world shaken up by strong words of disdain for sin. We all need others to love us enough to admonish us for our sins and push us toward holiness. We all need a kick in the butt sometimes; I happen to need it a lot times!

    What is particularly disturbing to me about wenthe is that if he were truly repentant, truly sorrow for offending Our Savior, committing scandal and desecrating the priesthood, he would be on his knees begging for forgiveness. Instead, he stands before a court of law -- a law which is NOT the high court of moral law before which we stand -- and makes the plea that he acted as this woman's friend. He is trying to cover up his sin, by sinning even more. He is lying and trying to "cheat" the system so he won't have to pay the price for his actions. It would be like me standing before Jesus and saying, "I didn't hurt you as a Christian. I hurt you as an atheist so it's not as bad." Ridiculous.

    Let us applaud the REAL MEN of the Church. Let us hand our heads in sorrow and shame at the men who behave like little boys.

    Lord Jesus, hold this woman close to Your Heart. Work a miracle and bring her healing. Mother Mary, crush the head of Satan and take this daughter of yours into your gentle embrace. Dry her tears. Console her as she moans and wails in pain by the grief and deep sorrow this man's actions has caused her. Angels of God surround her. Keep her strong as she fights for justice and journeys down the long, painful road of healing and freedom. Lord Jesus we claim your victory for her. We claim your promises of freedom for her. Amen.

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  5. Terry - it is human nature to defend someone we have held in high esteem. To do otherwise would necessitate admitting wewere wrong in our judgment of another. The "what the hell is wrong with me that I thought this guy was so cool" syndrome.

    All it really means is we don't ever really know another person. What you encountered in your dealing with him was good so you're not responsible for bad judgment - just a blistering case of disappointment.

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  6. Terry..I will still love you tomorrow!

    http://spreadthyfragrance.blogspot.com/2011/02/bryan-ferry-will-you-still-love-me.html

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  7. This is a great post. Of course, as the others said, you shouldn't have to apologize.

    But it made me think about something that bothers me. I feel so weird praying for people to come to Christ when I myself am barely there. I mean, the people I love are for the most part living in the same sins and complacency that I was when I decided that Faith was something to be taken seriously. I feel like a hypocrite all the time. I get so scared for the people I know, but I also have a hard time praying for them - like who am I to pray for this? It makes me feel like I am judging their souls, yet I am no worse than they are.

    Maybe it's because although I know intellectually what's right and wrong, and I know that the Faith is true - I have a hard time loving and trusting Christ, knowing what a wretch I've been, and knowing how far, far, far from holy I am.

    Anyway, I hope that makes sense.

    What you wrote though - it says a lot for humility.

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  8. Predators like wenthe fool nearly everybody. They have the classic profile of being loved by nearly every one. They have no remorse for their actions so show no signs of guilt or shame. They compartmentalize the various aspects of their life and can live in multiple "realities" at once. They convince themselves of lies and actually believe them. He is a classic predator -- a sick man.

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  9. @Mercury
    You know the way that geese fly, where they take turns flying in the draft of those in front of them so that the work is shared? That's why we have to pray not only for priests, but for each other, so when one of us is lacking the energy to go on, we carry that brother or sister in our own draft until we grow weary, and then they do the same for us. In Our Lord's own words, He told us that those who are well have no need of a physician. Our of own misery and sinfulness there is that spark that compels us to think of and do for others, even while we ourselves are lacking. It's not hypocrisy to want to rescue others from falling into Hell. It's a trick of the devil to make us think this way so we feel we should do nothing.

    Let's continue to pray for each other.

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  10. In my Protestant church growing up we had several pastors who "fell" in one way or another..hard to see as a young person as these were the people we were supposed to respect, admire, emulate. I especially remember one of the "holier than thou" old biddies who snarkily said "Told ya so..he was just too handsome to be a pastor...by the way Sara that red lip gloss is rather slutty-looking.."

    We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,,my sins are no better nor worse than anyone else's..what is so conforting is that no matter how many times I fall face first in the mud or horse manure, Jesus picks me up, wipes my face, and forgives me "It is forgotten." And he will do it forever, without tire...even the fallen priests and pastors..If Jesus can forgive so can I...

    God Bless you Terry,...how painful.

    Sara

    P.S. I had a couple abuser boyfriends myself...oh yeah it was ALWAYS my fault, my fault that I made them do what they did..it is NEVER NEVER NEVER your fault. I know much better now.

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  11. Anonymous2:33 PM

    I am not sure about your observation about a double standard of acceptance of hetero and homosexuals.

    Perhaps what you experience among some is balanced out by the reverse among the hierarchy. Homosexual sins are hidden, coddled and forgiven, while heterosexual sins leave you hanging in the wind.

    (And financial indisgressions? Fugheddaboutit. They don't waste time getting rid of those guys!)

    Both sides are equivalent though in that they both treat a man leaving the priesthood, with no criminality or exploitation involved, to marry and engage in normal manly family life as the worst criminal, as the most deeply scandalous of all.


    It's a sick, sick Catholic culture.

    JD

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  12. Thanks, Little Way, good points. I guess sometimes my question is HOW do I pray and WHAT do I say. I assume that when all else fails, when I'm at a loss, a Hail Mary or two for someone can do a lot of good.

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  13. Terry, you said, "I can't believe I am as old as I am and somehow remain as naive as a kid." Me, too. We want to give people the benefit of the doubt, to believe well of them; that's not a bad thing. There are a lot of good comments in this thread, a lot of food for thought. Don't beat yourself up too badly.

    Little Way, that's a beautiful analogy about the geese.

    JD, there is unfortunately a lot of truth to your last paragraph; we are pretty messed up about sex, in a lot of ways.

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  14. Anonymous5:39 PM

    "I am as old as I am and somehow remain as naive as a kid"

    I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. Please don't ever lose it. Otherwise you'll become like the many in the world - cynical and bitter

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  15. I should take this entire thing down - just ignore what I say.

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  16. Thanks for posting this..it gave me the courage to write what I needed to say today.
    I don't have any great words of wisdom except that the wounds caused by the sins of others and ourselves are beyond description.
    "Having done all ...stand." (Eph6:13b)
    We're all thieves..but Jesus loves us still and in this we can rest our weary hearts. God bless you Terri.

    +PAX

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  17. All we can do is keep trying and keep praying. God is in charge, He will sort it out.

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  18. +JMJ+

    To tell you the truth, Terry, I'm a little surprised you haven't taken it down yet. When I went to bed last night, I assumed I wouldn't see this post this morning.

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  19. Enbrethiliel - It's in Google forever now anyway. It doesn't matter.

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  20. +JMJ+

    Naive me: I never thought to look for your old posts that way. Sometimes I can't get online for a day, see a post of yours on my Dashboard, and then pop over to see that it's no longer here. And of course, I assume it's gone forever. =P

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  21. Terry and Caroline,

    I am so sorry about the abuse you both suffered. You are both a great witness to Christ's healing power.

    I collect sea glass because they testify how something broken and sharp can be tossed about by the ocean and come out of the experience a thing of beauty. You both have.

    The controversy over how to react to abuse allegations of priests remind me of the current controversy in blogosphere about what constitutes a sinful lie.

    There's no equation that fits every situation. Some situations, like Fr. Euteneuer's there are some yellow flags. Like his disappearance and the refusal of the diocese to pony up the reasons. There was also information that was confidentially circulated and credible people, who were previously staunch supporters of Fr. E's were signaling they had seen enough to come to a conclusion that was no in favor of Fr. E's innocence. Finally, his ridiculous statement riddled with holes and toxic rage against those who blew the charade he was being martyred for his orthodoxy.

    In other situations, somebody suddenly remembers, coincidently right after the statute of limitations runs out and they're on the verge of bankruptcy, that they were abused as children. They know the defendant can't reconstruct events because witnesses have died or getting people to remember that Father wasn't even in the state on the day and time of the allegations is simply impossible. These people know there will be no trial and the diocese will gladly hand them money to shut them up. This is BS.

    The reason why it is important to engage in discussion is because the wizards in Chanceries are not known for being lovers of justice and truth and our brothers and sisters on both sides suffer at their hands. It isn't about the sins, it's about justice for everyone. Something the Bishops' goons are incapable of carrying out. We have a duty to keep their feet to the fire.

    Peace.

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  22. Christ turned water into wine.

    He turned water into the best of wine.

    The water represented Marriage, clean, and pure.

    Christ placed His hands into the water of marriage, and changed it into something that, as it ages, gets even better.

    Marriage for marriage sake without Christ in it becomes stale, and bitter, as water does when left to stand alone.

    The same thing with conversion.

    If you convert and do not have Christ with you, in the Blessed Sacrament, you will be standing alone, and become stale, and bitter.

    “Noli Me Tangere”

    Become as your patron Saint, the sinner, who was told by Christ, “Do not touch Me” then was touched on the forehead by Christ.

    Go to Christ crucified.

    Go to a Tridentine Mass and tell the Blessed Sacrament “I am here”.

    Milk and honey should be your joy, yet you are still remorseful.

    You are like the water before Christ placed His hands into it.

    The Holy Mother had the stewards bring the jars of water to Christ; your Sheppard should bring you to Christ. Ask the Holy Mother to help take you to Christ.

    At the Tridentine Mass, your Sheppard there will bring you to Christ.(lets fight politics later).

    Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Saint Paul is recommended. 651-224-5944.

    While there, please remember those in my attentions.

    God be with you.

    I entrust this whole matter in the hands of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, “Mother of the Priest par excellence, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and through Him, of all priests in whom she forms her Son”.

    *

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  23. Terry, and Mercury-
    With everything I have experienced in my life, I still am naive. I've been harmed and I've done harm. I live with many of the consequences. It is good to have proper humility about our own sinfulness, but it is not so good to continue to judge ourselves harshly going forward. Remember, humility is not putting ourselves down, it is telling the truth. And the truth is, we were once "x" but now the Lord had made us "y." We are new creations in Christ. And that can be our testimony. Remember Paul.
    Since my conversion, I know I am still me, but now I rely on Christ in me. My naivety is that part that is Childlike before Him. I trust Him and so doing-I trust His priests. My heart is broken over our situation here in Philadelphia, and have some of that bereft feeling. I know these men are human beings, but I think it is He that we are seeing in our priests, that is causing us to have faith in them.

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  24. Terry - you're a gift.

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