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?

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New Year Thoughts

I’m really awful about keeping up with the blog, here. It has occurred to me that blogging, fun as it is, and useful as it can be, is not only a place where we can share good things and participate in the great Warfare waging all around us –

It’s also, sadly, one more, much larger place where one can make a complete and utter ass of oneself.

A quick update before I tackle some housekeeping chores, then go to work:

In November I was installed as a Benedictine oblate novice. An oblate is a lay person who seeks to live a fuller, more balanced life for Christ in the world, using Benedictine spirituality, particularly the Rule of Benedict, as a guide. I’m also serving as Lay Leader for our newly-formed local deanery.

In October, I gave the program for the oblate group. I shared some ideas I’ve been developing for the past couple of years – I don’t even know where they came from … oh, yes I do! I just remembered! (the joys of middle age!) … ANYWAY, the talk was about the multi-dimensional life of the Church, and how we’re called to live it as a microcosm of the Church, or “Living epistles written on the hearts of men.” The talk went over far better than I had any reason to expect it to, and now I’m writing up the talk in hopes of having it published. – Please pray for me, because I’ve hit quite a snag of a block. I procrastinated on writing it, then decided the only way to get it written was to pretend I was informally showing someone, conversationally, as I’ve done several times with a variety of people. Problem is, now it’s time to edit, and changing all that conversational informality into proper writing is more daunting than it ought to be for me.

Several other projects are presenting themselves, also, and I’m making notes and putting them on a back burner to simmer and take shape while I work on the first, pressing project. One, a friend recommended/urged a year ago; it’s taking this long to get my mind around it and gather up my strength to look at it. It’s needful, I agree with him, but hard to anticipate.

In home news, a new cat has joined the family in residence at the Funny Farm. Sugar’s former person died on December 23 of cancer, and a mutual friend took it on herself to catch Sugar (she had to obtain a humane trap in order to do it, in the end) and to bring him to me from Raleigh, just before the New Year. Sugar still doesn’t trust Simon, but there has been no “Mexican standoff” and after almost two weeks probably won’t be. Simon is surprisingly disinterested in the newcomer – did he understand what I told him about why Sugar was coming to live with us?

The latest interlude of the Mouse Saga is a simple one: two mice have been caught in my new and sturdier humane traps. I was alerted to their capture by Simon, who seemed to think they’d gotten there for him to play with. Both have been carried to the far side of Drowning Creek, where they were released, and last seen scurrying off into the woods for cover.

I’m not promising, but I may post snippets of the working manuscript here in order to get some sort of feedback. Don’t hold your breath.

It’s quite precious, really, how loyal and devoted blog friends can be. I appreciate you all so very much.