Drifting by the Sloth of Disobedience

From the Prologue of the Rule of Benedict:

. . . The labor of obedience will bring you back to him from whom you had drifted through the sloth of disobedience. (v. 2)

It’s a funny thing about drifting:  you’re just there, and you get distracted by new ideas, new distractions, new activities . . . and you finally look up and — Whoa! where am I?  I was over there, but now I’m over here! How did that happen?

It’s particularly easy to do in our walk with the Lord.  A day of skipping prayer makes it easy to skip again, and before you know it, weeks and even months have gone by . . . and you’ve lost your bearings and you aren’t really even sure when or how it happened.

Sloth. Laziness. Slack off in the habits of discipleship and before you know it you’ve been carried way on downstream and not in the direction you’d intended to go.

So stick with it.  If you’ve been lazy, if you’ve been careless, renew your resolve and turn the “ear of your heart” to sound instruction.

Fall Reflections

The huge arctic blast that everyobraadfordpearne has been talking about has reached my area.  Lows last night hit nearly 20F, and today’s highs will be in the low 40s.  These are temperatures we normally see in January, not November!

I admit I don’t care for the shorter days of winter, but the quality of sunlight this time of year is so golden and so magical, it almost makes up for the brevity of days.

The leaves have been beautiful.  It seemed to take a long time for them to turn, but I don’t know when I’ve ever seen a more beautiful display. The peak never lasts long enough to suit, so I’ve tried to absorb every moment of the splendor that I possibly can. Driving late in the afternoon, earlier this week, along a stretch of country road, it seemed the red-leafed Bradford pears, the dogwoods, the crepe myrtles were ablaze!  And the golden maples, sycamores, and ash were lit from within themselves.

So often people give only a cursory bit of attention to such details, but this beauty has really fed my soul.  I pray I may never be too busy, or too low in spirits, or too distracted, to be able to appreciate such generous, even extravagant, indications of God’s Love.

 

 

Writing update

So. An editor friend of mine (from a technical journal, so don’t get excited, here) took a look at my very drafty ms (manuscript, for the uninitiated) of Pray, Study, Work last week, and she had a few things to say about my efforts so far.

I haven’t worked on it in a while. I’d reached a point where I was not only at a brick wall, I was paralyzed with fear from the impact with that brick wall. It didn’t help – in fact, it may have reached a critical point – when the university professor I wrote to for research recommendations wrote back: you’ve got a corner on the market.

This is not a responsibility I want to own. I don’t care of Dr. M. did call it “a quandry to be grateful for.” What if I’m wrong? What if I misunderstand? What if I misrepresent…????? and so on, and on, and on…

But it helps that my editor friend writes back and says, “I want to see more! Finish this!”

So – back to work on my book.

Mortal v. Venial

Mortal sin is like a bomb blast: the damage to one’s soul is immediate and catastrophic.

Venial sin is like a termite infestation. It may not seem like much at first, but if you don’t deal with it quickly and decisively, that one or two wee little bugs you almost don’t even notice are going to multiply, and become a colony; and that colony has the capability of doing some serious long-term damage to the structure it inhabits: your soul.

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?

I think I’m amused –

I was just dumped a few minutes ago by a Facebook “friend.”

Recently I have noticed a disappointing trend among certain conservatives of my acquaintance, on Facebook and in an email chain, of resorting to really snide insults and profanity when speaking of our President and other liberals.

We were so indignant over the immature and disrespectful behavior toward President Bush, yet these people think it’s okay to show graphics of obscene gestures or to resort to insulting names of our opponents?

I called two of these people on this behavior. One woman sent out a poll among her email list. My opinion was not the majority view. The woman on Facebook has deleted me as a “friend” – which is okay, because she was an indirect contact via some of our blogger friends.

Look. We’re supposed to be salt and light in the world. We’re supposed to be more mature, more responsible – we’re supposed to be CLASSIER.

You want to call the President names? You want to make obscene gestures? Hey, the First Amendment says you can be a jackass and an embarrassment. But it also allows me to tell you you’re an embarrassment and a disgrace to the name of Christ.