On Friday night I attended the beginning of a wonderful retreat with my Dominican family. The retreat master, Father Propst, spoke to us about evangelizing and how we, as members of the Order of Preachers, can be effective in the world by using our own experiences and our own encounters with God as the basis for our evangelizing others.
Saturday night I spoke at a large gathering of members of my 12 Step program and put into practical application that which Father had preached to me on Friday night and Saturday morning. I was struck, once again, with the power of shared experience and how my telling you what happened to ME is how YOU become convinced that you can have the same kind of life.
What so many people do not understand is that my life, while second to none, is not my own. I still struggle with wanting to be understood rather than understanding. I think it is a vestige of earthly attachments, of wanting to be loved rather than just loving God and loving others. There is still a part of me that wants to be the head of the class, the bell of the ball and the best at whatever I am doing. I have not yet rid myself of the selfishness and self centeredness that is the root cause of all my problems.
So when the following text was forwarded to me on Sunday, rather than simply ignoring it I reacted and asked for understanding.
Here is what was shared:
"Do you really think Leslie is your friend? You are her "project." She has already told you that you scare her. She doesn't like you, but she gets "Dominican" brownie points if she converts a godless Protestant such as yourself".
I felt as though I had been stabbed in the chest. My response in writing was "WOW".
The saddest part of this entire text is the misrepresentation of conversion, the obvious ignorance of basic Christian doctrine let alone Catholic Theology and the fact that this verbally abusive, anti Catholic person claims to be studying at Fuller Theological Seminary.
I spoke to the person who sent it to me and later I suggested that his comments about me, about the Catholic Church and about my character no longer be shared. He is a sad, sad man...a broken man...a man who lost his marriage, who has to parent his child every other weekend and who finds it intolerable that he is no longer the personal religious guru of the person in question. Yet when confronted by the writings of someone like Dr Scott Hahn or Dr Michael Barber he can only resort to the type of verbiage you read above, the grown up version of "You are ugly and your mother dresses you funny".
Many people do not believe me when I tell them anti-Catholicism is alive and well in this country. Like most of the world, they have a tendency to blame the victim (if you would only allow birth control, homosexual marriage and women priests everything would be fine). They do not look at the anger our teachings generate in their own bosom and ask, "What is wrong with ME that I react in this manner?".
I will continue to pray for this person. I will also continue to work towards a life when someone else's hatred, misrepresentation or failure to think about me no longer matters. I am not there yet, but I have been handed another really good example of why my walk towards total dependence upon God is not only right, it is good for me.
Thank you for letting me share.