Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Tigers Eat Their Young

I am privileged to be sober and to be Catholic.

Like many people, I chose to pursue my sobriety through a 12 Step program.  I have been in the middle of that life boat for over a ¼ or a century and I am grateful for every aspect of it, every step and tradition and concept.  I am grateful to those who walked the path before me and I am grateful to those who stay put in the rooms, sharing their experience, their strength and their hope with me and others so that I can stay the course.

Like so many people I know, I returned to the Catholic Church once I had been sober for a short period of time.  The joke among so many of us for whom this has been the path, we became sober and suddenly we wanted the Truth...and dang it if that did not lead us right back to the Catholic Church.

I stay close to both these groups despite the antics and behavior of myself and other members.  Seriously, if I stayed in my home group only if every person who shows up there is honest and friendly and pursuing God I would be home by myself a lot.....and if I went to Mass only if everyone in the pew was  practicing our beautiful and misunderstood religion with perfection I would never leave the house.

Because my country is so polarized today, and because both sides of the aisle seem to believe in clever name calling and horrific characterizations, this insistance on behaving like 11 year old girls on meth has crept into both the organizations that give me life.  I see it every day on the internet.

"This priest so-and-so is a grifter who calls me names and hates the Holy Father."

"This so-called Catholic Spokesperson is not really Catholic because they don't like Father So-and-So."

"That meeting is a REAL meeting - they only read from one pamphlet and do it exactly like the first 100 did it."

"Those people are not really sober - they control everyone around them and want to be the leader of everything."

What I see in this type of behavior is concupiscence.

All of us, due to our fallen nature, have a tendency to sin.  Pride is one of the seven deadly sins and this pops up in the thinking and behavior I am seeing among my people right now.  It always disguises itself - rationalization is amazing - and both sides are absolutely convinced they are right.  The inability to step back and say, "Wait, what are they hearing me say that makes them think such and such" never occurs to us because, well, that means we have to entertain the possibility that we are the problem.

Every time there is a disturbance in my life, I have to consider the possibility that I am the cause.  I am the reason my mother is mad at me or my sister won't talk to me.  What have I done to set the ball rolling in whatever uproar is happening in my life?

Now, is it possible to be completely innocent in a situation?  Maybe.  I can't say because that has never been my experience with the exception of when I was assaulted.  And while I will never take responsibility for another person's criminal behavior I do acknowledge that the lifestyle I was leading at that time put me in far greater danger than the average woman.  I was the victim of an assault.  If I had not lived the way I lived, there is a really good chance what happened to me would not have occurred.

So, is it possible to be completely innocent?  I don't know...what I do know is that watching grown people act like children on social media is just embarrassing.  The fact that none of them seem to want to knock it off is humiliating.

I have no power over the antics I am seeing play out on FaceBook right now.  It is so sad....so very, very sad....because people do not care about the group or the fellowship or the Church.   They only care about being right.

My heart hurts.  I feel so very sad.

The most I can hope for is that someone comes to their senses and stops the madness.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Sometimes all you can do is wait

The hip replacement went well.  I am still healing an will be for awhile.  The acute pain is gone replaced by the dull, manageable ache that is to be expected when one has had a body part replaced.

Little victories:

I walk over 1000 steps a day now and can walk without assistance for short distances.

I can step up and over the little 'edge' (about 6 inches) into the shower.

I only have to take a pain pill once in awhile, usually at night after a day of walking, exercising and pushing myself to do a little more.

Little set backs:

Sitting in the shower and crying because I can't drive yet and still have to depend upon other people.

Finishing Game of Thrones and wanting them to have come up with a better ending or just say you are going to do a movie already and get ON WITH IT.

Not being able to hose water the backyard because I can't walk back their yet.  Too dangerous.

I have been reading and watching television and catching up on movies I missed.  I even watched a rerun of SNL with Jason Mamoa and finally got the Dothraki jokes I did not get the first time I watched it.

People have been kind, supportive and lovely - ready to help with all those little things I cannot do.  I cannot clean the litter box.  I cannot change the sheets on my bed.  I cannot drive.  Did I mention that already?

My dog refuses to leave my side.  He will not sleep in his kennel.  Instead he sleeps on the bed next to me.  I believe he has found his calling:  He is Rob Roy MacDuff, first of his name, Ruler of the Copper Creek Kingdom, Protector of the Realm and Hand of the Queen....the Dire Scottie of House Shaw....

Yeah, I did just watch all of Game of Thrones...how could you tell?

Recovering is boring, there is no way around the fact that I still have to take it easy and not undo all the hard work of my surgeon by not letting the tendons anchor and the muscles activate.  I have to practice patience, which is a virtue and really would be easier to display if I could drive myself to meetings or the store....but I cannot drive yet....in case I forgot to mention that to you.

Please keep me in prayer.  Pray that I do what I counsel others to do - listen and follow directions.

At least until I can drive again.

Friday, June 14, 2019

The Spirituality and Political Aspects of Replacing a Body Part

On Monday, June 17th, I will have a hip replaced.  You have no idea how much I am looking forward to this as the pain I have endured for the past 8 months has made me into a monster on bad days and a pale imitator of saints on good days.  I just want to stop hurting, to be able to stand up and put on my make up, stand at the stove and cook dinner for my mom -  and I want to take my dog for a walk.  I miss being able to sit, stand, lay down and otherwise exist without hurting.

I am blessed in that last year we purchased a one story home so I get to recover without having to go up and down the stairs anymore.  I am blessed with amazing friends and neighbors who have done things like taken Robbie out every morning and cleaned my cat's litter box as well as put my garbage cans out.  I am also blessed because my mom is still alive and in very good shape.  I am not going to be alone in my home while I recover and that makes me a lot better off than other people my age.

Which brings me to a point someone in my political group, the American Solidarity Party, made recently about supporting and encouraging multi-generational family living.

I am going to go out on a limb here and declare that I am all for it.

There was a time when families occupying one home, or one building or living close by each other was not seen as an indication of poor relationships.  They weren't called co-dependent and therapy was not recommended.  Instead, Grandma and Grandpa lived up the street, or above them in the flat on the second floor or in the in law apartment above the garage.  Aunts and Uncles were close by - people attended the same church or parish and interactions were considered natural.  Nobody was looked down on living with their mom or dad until they finished school or got married and, in fact, sharing homes even when one HAD gotten married was not such a horrific idea either - young mothers had help, young fathers had someone they could have a beer with after work and people had each other's backs.

After WW2 the family began to evolve.  It also began to disintegrate.  People were so damaged by the unrelenting stress of combat experienced during the 1900's and now that our own morals began to fall apart.  Drugs, alcohol, the sexualization of society, everything seemed to help us fall apart.  Women got tired of being left holding the bag.  The idea emerged that the ability to prevent and terminate their pregnancies would result in having the same 'freedom' of men.  Instead, the wide use of artificial birth control and abortion on demand lead to women and children being devalued by all men, not just the immoral ones, and suddenly today we are struggling to say, "You do not get to treat us like trash and then say its okay because we want to dress, speak and act like trash.  Instead, you have to treat us with respect and don't you DARE tell us we have to behave in any way that might garner that respect.  If you do?  You are oppressing us".

If that message sounds garbled?  It is garbled.

As the family fell apart, so did the idea of depending upon each other.  In fact, dependence itself became a kind of pathology.  Asking for help is ok as long as it is not asking for help from someone you are related to - go to a therapist, go to a home health agency.  For God's sake, don't ask your brother or uncle or mom or sister for help. You might be considered co-dependent and have to go to another meeting.


I think we need to rebuild the family.  Maybe one way to do that is to let people know it is okay to ask each other for help.

I am asking you all for prayers.  My recovery will be a long one but I am not worried.  I have my Mom at home, my brother taking me to the surgery and I have friends and neighbors nearby to help.

Look around and see what you can do for your immediate circle.

Talk to you all later!

Thursday, May 30, 2019

The Price of Being Different

I recently spoke with a young man who had decided, after decades of being away from The Eucharist, to return to the practice of The Catholic Faith.  His story is not unusual.  He lived outside the teachings of the Faith for many years despite being brought up 'in Church'.  He lapsed into alcoholism and drug addiction and found relief through a 12 step program which emphasized a personal relationship with a God of his own understanding.  That lead him back to the Truth of Jesus being Yahweh Moving Among Us which, in turn, lead him back to The Church.

When this man began his journey Home, he contacted me because I am very open from the podium that I am a practicing Catholic today and not 'recovering' from that - which always gets a laugh from the gang in the meeting rooms.  He shared with me his worries and his fears and I shared with him my own journey.  I also predicted that he would be purged in a very painful way but that if he would stand fast and walk through the fire it would be okay.  I referred him to 1st Corinthians 3:15 and told him to hang tight because it was going to be a bumpy ride.

He thanked me but assured me that he had such wonderful friends in the program and outside in the 'real' world and they were so supportive of him that he was not in the least bit worried.

Last night he contacted me in tears.  Every single friend he had inside the program was not just distancing themselves from him, but outright laughing and verbally abusing him for reverting to the Catholic Faith.  He was experiencing the type of ostracism he had not experienced since grade school when it was decided by the pack of wolves called children he was forced to be around that he was a 'fag' and too weird to hang around with - something that lead him to find acceptance in the bottle and the pipe.   He was also being made fun of by family members - he was a fanatic now, they say, and what about all those horrible pedophile priests and that stupid Pope that loves Moslems more than his own people?

SO....welcome to my world...the world of the revert.

Now comes the hard part, I told him.  You have got to look at your behavior and see where you have set the ball rolling.

Inevitably it comes out that he did what I did when I first returned Home - he tried to shove it down the throat of everyone he came in contact with and call it evangelizing.  He made some real tactical errors in that regard, nothing that cannot be repaired and learned from but definitively errors of the type normally made by an enthusiastic newcomer to anything.   He admitted to me that he has been a bit overeager in presenting his case for being a Catholic and we came up with a plan for him to make amends to those he had offended and find himself a solid spiritual director, OUTSIDE the rooms of his 12 step group, that can aid him in ways a sponsor cannot.

We also looked at those who are rejecting him because he has chosen The Eucharist and the service of Christ over the life he was living.  Not all of those people are rejecting him because he is over zealous; rather, many are rejecting him because he has made a lifestyle choice that is not only unpopular but flies in the face of today's societal norms.  It is not politically correct to chose a life of celibacy unless one is married, to try to suffer in silence and good cheer (something I am really horrible at, by the way) and to forgive an enemy while still wanting justice for crimes committed.  It is contradictory to say a vow means more than a feeling especially in today's world and the idea of being obedient for the sake of obedience and humility is so off the charts in terms of weird that no one can wrap their heads around the concept.  It is completely subversive in America today to acknowledge that ALL human persons, no matter their age or how small or their abilities, have an inherent dignity that needs to be acknowledged and respected regardless of their behavior.  The 'love the sinner/hate the sin' slogan is unpopular for one reason - nothing is a sin anymore unless it is supporting a political party you don't like.

I told him what had happened for me.  I lost a lot - friends, family members, acquaintances - and it hurt.  I lost them because I made mistakes and because they could not hang around me anymore and handle my love for my Faith.  I told him that proclaiming my love for Christ and the Church He founded means I am watched like a hawk and if I fail to be perfect that is used as a sword against me and I am not forgiven.  It is what it is....but it is not the whole story.

In the book I use in my 12 step program it speaks to a fellowship growing up around me that will be loving, supportive and real.  It will take time, because we are people who normally do not mix, but it will happen.   That has proven to be true and it is true in 'the real world' as well.

People call me Mother, Sister and Daughter who are not related to me by blood.  Members of my family who ARE believers embrace me and the others go their own way.  No one expects me to be something I am not, and I extend that to them as well though my prayer is that they will return to The Church before my mother dies.  She is 97....and this prayer may keep her alive forever.

My friend left one lifestyle behind for a new one.  He is sober, he is walking the path of Truth and he is finding out that the Pearl really does have a great price.  It is a price that must be paid, however, because if we are not willing to pay it, we will miss out on the biggest Treasure of all.

Please keep all the travelers in prayer.

Friday, May 17, 2019

The Question of Abortion

It is normal for people to assume I am anti-abortion because I am a Catholic.  That is a dangerous assumption nowadays as many people proclaiming the Creed at Sunday Mass are actually pro-abortion.  However, I can understand why the assumption is made and to be honest I applaud them for making it because it means I have been clear and concise that I am Catholic.  A real Catholic.  A Catholic Out Loud.

The road to my present life has not been an easy one, however, and that is why it is important for me to tell my story over and over again.  I endure much for being honest with you.  The latest term is, I believe, 'slut-shaming'.  It usually comes from the direction of the Left but is not exclusive to that political stripe. It works like this:  a person who has turned their life around admits publicly to have sinned against the lifestyle they now have chosen to live.  Therefore, they cannot be believed or honored for their experience; rather, it must be pointed out how horrible they are to have ever lived that way and it, furthermore, it must be suggested that this lack of moral behavior renders their thoughts on morality moot.

If I was a member of the Chesterton Society I might shout, "BALDERDASH".

Today, because of the recent actions in different states on legal abortion - some states enshrining it to the point of making it legal to kill a child moments before its birth and others making it virtually impossible to get a legal abortion - people are up in arms over the issue.  The Left is screaming in pain, because it is obvious to them that more of the country is pro-life than they would like to see.   The Right is shrieking because of threatened boycotts and sex strikes.  All in all it is one big Yell Fest and lost in all the noise is the real question no one wants to address:

Why would a woman opt to have an abortion?

The reason we do not want to address this question is because the short answer is 'none of your business'.  It is a private decision, people say, between a woman and her doctor or health care provider but the reality is that unless we address this question the underlying wounds will never be dressed and allowed to heal.

We choose abortion because we do not think we have any other choice.

Whether it is because the baby is diagnosed as ill and we think they are going to suffer in life, or we live in poverty, or we are drug addicts or alcoholics, or we are sex trafficked victims, victims of violent crimes like rape or incest, we choose abortion because we do not think any other option is really okay.

We think we won't be able to care for a sick child and so we do not think to ask about palliative care for those children facing life with a genetic illness.

We think we won't be able to look at a child who was created through a sexual crime and love them and so we do not think that someone may want to raise that child, we don't ask for the therapy and help we need to heal from the crime.  We are told, sometimes by people who love us,  that killing the child will put us at ease.

We are told that an abortion will make it easier on us in the long run, and then we spend the rest of our live defending that choice any time someone brings up abortion.  This only ends up proving that we have not forgotten, that it did not make life easier but rather it left a hole in our hearts we cannot fill.

We are marched into clinics at the point of a gun or a knife or a fist and no one in that clinic asks about our bruises or why we, at age 14 or 16, have a 26 year old 'boyfriend' waiting in the parking lot for 'it' to be over.

In the case of Abby Johnson, we honestly believe we are doing our Christian Duty by helping women through a difficult time - until we see what an abortion actually is and how the child is trying to escape the vacuum.

No one really asks us - instead they say things like, "Once I can see, but four?  What the hell is wrong with you and how dare you be pro life now?".

Woman currently shrieking about this issue are doing so because they see being able to kill their child as freedom - the freedom afforded to men that is not, by virtue of biology, afforded to women.  Men can walk away from a pregnancy.  Women cannot.  If we can, then we can be like them - free.

Yet their walking away from pregnancy is NOT freedom - it is sin, it is ugly, it is wrong and it is immoral.  Our being able to do the same (we can't - we still have to undergo a medical procedure and then heal from it) is NOT FREEDOM.  It is sin, it is ugly, it is wrong and it is immoral.

I do not believe women need to be shamed for being post abortive. I am not ashamed of being post abortive.  I do think, however, that we have got to have the willingness to ask women why they want an abortion, to see how we can help them, to put an end to the cycle of abuse that hides behind a banner of Reproductive Rights.

This means, therefore, that we have to be more than anti-abortion if we want to call ourselves Pro Life.  Pro Life should mean wanting to make living meaningful, attractive, affordable, healthy and possible for all people regardless of where they live, what they look like, what their 'issues' are and how they were created.  A child of rape cannot be less valuable than the child of a stable home.  Both must be allowed to be born and to thrive in the world.  We have to be a community, to come together to protect our most vulnerable - from Womb to Tomb, Sperm to Worm as the Jets in West Side Story would say.

This means we can start with restrictions - reasonable ones - on abortion but we cannot stop there.  We have got to stop making our educational system a battle ground and get back to solid basics so our children can read, write and do math.  We have to make housing affordable so that, while not everyone will get a house or a chicken in their pot, they can live in a clean place without worrying about bullets flying through the window on a summer night.  We have to allow people to adopt children and support that adoption process with tax incentives.  Medical coverage, basic medical coverage, must be made a reality so that children can be healthy and strong, and develop in such a way as to want to make the next generation healthy and strong.  Religious Freedom and Tolerance must be promoted - and that means that we give children information about their Faith Tradition in the proper way, either through parochial schools or homeschooling options, and not label people bigots or haters if their Tradition rejects the latest politically correct cause.

Easy, right?

I would challenge people to look at their own backyards right now.  Show up at City Council meetings or those meet and greets put on by the Washington Politician and start asking questions.  When you have a community event, go...make yourself available to your city or your county and reach out to help when you can.  Let women and men struggling in this world see that they are not alone.  Volunteer.

Currently, I work in a field that allows me to help shape the minds and hearts of the smallest members of the Catholic Church.  I see children from broken homes, with serious physical problems, with anxieties, with language barriers and what I know I can do is suit up and show up every day outside that building and greet them with smile and hug and encouragement.  I can see them at Mass and acknowledge them.  I can accept their gifts at the end of the year with a big smile and a thank you.  I can make sure they behave, that they learn how to pray, that they are prepared for their Sacraments.

And I can ask the children I aborted to pray with me for them...because I know my children have forgiven me...and for that, I am forever grateful.

As for the rest of us, let's not stop with 'having that abortion is her business'.  Make it your business.  Ask her if you can help.  Give her information. Stand her wrath, her fear, her tears and her rejection.  Believe it or not, it matters to her...and she will remember it, no matter what her decision...and she will remember that someone asked her and someone told her, "If you need help, I am here for you....and for your child".