Saturday, October 12, 2013

More exciting thoughts and reflections on Saturday morning while the cat is out in the backyard hunting for chipmunks and mouses and rabbits.

I love the following quote I posted earlier in the week:
"When you finally discover that you are just one of the little people, don’t conclude that this makes you special." - Madeleine Delbrel
I'm so not special - what a relief.  But I am so one of the little people - one of many - and not special.

I'm often wrong about stuff too.

That said... If loving you is wrong, I don't want to be right... remember that song?  (Percy Sledge and Luther Ingram did it best.)  The premise of the song involves adultery - so in that respect it isn't a good message of course, but it occurred to me that just the title speaks to something I discovered about righteous people online.

Righteous Catholics really seem to value being right over everything else.  They have the truth - they know the truth - they own the truth, and they know they are right.  Being right determines who won the debate.  Being right means knowing who goes to hell.  Being right means knowing who is in heaven.  being right means you can go online and call people liars and hypocrites and sodomites and fake Catholics and heretics and cowards and whatever else you deem them to be.  It dawned on me when someone claimed to have won some sort of contest in my combox the other day.  He was happy because some 'point' had been 'conceded' to him, after he insulted another commenter to the post.  It was obvious that being right was far more important to this guy than being civil - and more importantly, being charitable.  An anonymous righteous person thought it important to insult another person he deemed wrong about something the righteous person disagreed with.

Maybe you don't understand what I'm trying to say here...

But if loving a brother or sister is wrong, I don't want to be right.

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So many fears are, in fact, hidden: for example, the fear of our own violence. When another person does not comply with my desires, I am faced with my own powerlessness. Much of our violence is a reaction to our powerlessness. We cannot control everything. We are rendered vulnerable by all that which reveals our mortality and our frailty. And I think our greatest difficulty is admitting that the essence of our identity is that of being loved by God. Such abandonment to His love can only come at the hour of our death. Martin Luther King said that we can only stop despising others when we have come to terms with that which we despise of ourselves. That is definitely a challenging journey, and it only ends when, faced with death, we can say, "I am ready." - Jean Vanier



  1. Oh Terry - these latest posts of yours are great nourishment - thank you. Really it Is only through abandonment - surrender ( I Surrender God !) that we can find the peace Christ Promises to give take up that 'yoke' does indeed require humility. But what a great grace humility is, when we come to it again, and again, having failed over & over.
    and re: Fatima - I must now have...a dozen books on this and the debacle of the consecration, it is like crack for me. we will all await in suspence...
    and re: "if lovin' you is wrong, I don't wanna be right": I have friends who are evangelical christians: they help many people in need, including me - and yet - and yet - their sanctimonious belief of having the inside track, and knowing who is "goin' Down !" is stunning in its deadliness. they are, of course, Very Anti-Catholic - and, being stunned, I am unfortunately speechless to defend: anyway: it is not "just" Catholics who fall into this trap, who put off others, who end up playing this competitive game.
    I don't know what to say to them, or how to respond to the Catholics who behave this way, as well. It is very discouraging.
    You say it very well.

  2. Obviously the People Who Want To Be Right haven't read, understood or meditated on 2 Corinthians 5:21

    "For our sake he made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God." [RSV]

  3. Along the same lines, I've always thought one of the best mottos to live marriage by is, "I'd rather be happy than right." I've seen too many people be "right" all the way to divorce court.

    Not that I'm a hundred percent on this, of course, but I try to use it as my guide. Far better to be happy and at peace than to be right, in many situations in life.

  4. Someone in your combox referred to another commenter as a 'Nazi'. The response you refer to above merely suggested that the ad hominem attack by the individual was due to his proposition being objectively shot to pieces. For mine, the response was too charitable!

  5. A couple of years ago, Jean Vanier came to speak at a local Catholic school and our own non-denominational school (where I teach) sent along some 20 students who were taking a course in ethics.

    Afterwards, our kids gathered to share what they thought. At the end of a couple of uneasy minutes of silence, I pushed as to why no one had anything to share, saying "Was it that uninteresting?" One of the guys (an atheist) responded by saying something like "No. It's just that I feel - we all feel - that we've been in the presence of someone who is truly humble, someone whose life is about serving the weakest people in our society. I'm gobsmacked!" - to be greeted with nods from the rest.

    As Mother Teresa supposedly said, "If you spend time judging people there's no time to love them".

  6. Parepidemos - thanks for that story - it's beautiful - you are beautiful too. Thank you.

  7. Thanks Terry for the thoughts on "righteous" Catholics . It is really disturbing to read some of the things folks are writing and speaking about this pope. The judgment calls they are making, and the language they use makes me wonder if they long for the bygone days of the of the pyres of the Inquisition! And for what, his radical departure from the superfluous trappings of the Papal Office in favor of a dynamic witness to Gospel values? Pope Francis inspires me and fills me with hope that maybe the Holy Spirit is still at work within the Church.

    Parepidemos reminded me of something with the Mother Teresa quote. When Princess Diana died, Catholic TV pioneer Mother Angelica was greatly disturbed by all the grief being expressed for this public sinner and she spoke quite freely about it on EWTN. I know Mother Angelica is greatly esteemed by many, but I always found her exceedingly judgmental of those who did not fit within the parameters of her religious beliefs. So much so that she herself condemned people to hell - something that only God can do. Some folks found that quality endearing. I did not. In contrast, when Blessed Teresa of Calcutta met Diana she held her hand, gave her a rosary. She didn't treat her with judgment, but with love. And who knows how grace-filled that encounter was for Diana? We know now that she had some very painful things with which to deal during her life. The truly righteous Catholic Teresa, didn't condemn, but treated her with dignity, love and respect. I read that Diana treasured that rosary and was buried with it.


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