Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Contemplating the Mass

One Commenter gave some really good advice:
“Father, I know it must be frustrating to have nothing to do... BUT... Take walks. Long walks. All day walks where you bring some food and water and explore places you've never been. Wander in cemeteries and read tombstones. Visit parks, and fields, and churches and malls. Walk, observe, ponder, and meet God where you find him.”

I cannot deny I am enjoying this period a bit. It has been a chance to get in some reading, reflection and personal time. One very positive aspect is liturgical: a chance to live the Mass in a more contemplative way.

The hurried pace of starting and finishing Mass on time often takes away some of the most enjoyable aspects for the priest who celebrates. Celebrating for a community denies a priest important aspects. Take for instance Communion. Just moments after he receives communion, the priest is set before the innumerable surprises that he sees in the communion line: do you place the Body of Christ on the palm of the girl who wrote her boyfriends phone number there some days ago, and doesn’t want to wash it off? Another who walks away with the Host in his hand, the many close calls of Hosts almost dropped, not to mention how people dress for Mass and Communion. Distractions abound and it is hard to give thanks for the gift of Communion.

The chance to celebrate the Mass on my own, with no set schedule, to pause when the Holy Spirit speaks to me during the Liturgy of the Word, to pray the Mass giving meaning to the words, to kneel in adoration after the Consecration, etc., are an immeasurable grace that most priests don’t get.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Let the Dead Bury their Dead

I was praying the Liturgy of the Hours this morning, and as most days, certain phrases jump out at me, confirming I am on the right path. Today it was the Gospel Antiphon: “Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:60)

I am tired. I have been fighting now for years, and I’m not saying I am tired of fighting. I am tired of “fighting against”. I have been fighting against the current of a Legion that is ill. All I want now is to “fight for” something, to have a clear objective, to know what I am fighting for, to experience that freedom of knowing I am no longer submitted to a yoke of slavery and I have been set free to “serve my brothers and sisters through love”.

From today on my only contact with my legionary superiors will be to insist and encourage them to do their part in the canonical process needed to be gain the dissolution of my vows and incardination in my new diocese.

“Brothers and sisters:
For freedom Christ set us free;
so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.”
(Gal 4:30, 5:1)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

It all comes down to Relativity

Imagine you are standing in your driveway dribbling a basketball. It’s a fairly simple act that doesn’t require much thinking. Now take that ball with you on a 747 cruising at 600 mph through smooth skies. Would you have to do anything differently? Not really. You could dribble it just as mindlessly as if you were on your driveway. As long as your frame of reference doesn’t change, you act and interact in pretty much the same way, even though the world is zipping by at a faster speed. Try to dribble the ball on the wing of the plane. Well that wouldn’t be so much fun.

When DT responded to me yesterday with these words, “Sorry to see you are interpreting things this way”, it dawned on me how much Einstein could have learned from the Legion. It all comes down to relativity. When you are entrenched in the Legion, even if you have outside information, as surely DT has, you can’t help but to see those who are leaving as “interpreting things” in a subjective way. It’s all my interpretation; my suffering has warped my objectivity. Well, there goes the Vatican Communiqué down the tubes. It must be an interpretation by outsiders who don’t really understand the Legion. The visitors were standing on the wing, bombarded by outside winds and maybe a bird or two.

It's only when you step out the door and take the blast of the real world head on that you realize, the truth will make you free.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

48 hours

I try to remain positive. It’s good for my health. But every once in a while I am forced to face the facts and let it all out. Today I am going to vent.

As I said in another post, one of my all time favorite movies is Crash. Here are the opening lines that set the tone of the drama.

“It’s the sense of touch”.
“Any real city, you walk, you’re bumped, brush past people.
In LA, no one touches you.
We’re always behind metal and glass.
Think we miss that touch so much,
we crash into each other just to feel something.”

Read that again, but this time where it says LA, put LC. I call that a mask.

As you know I received a very positive response from my local bishop. That was Monday. Today is Thursday. I let the news sink in, and simply spent the rest of that day in bliss. On Tuesday morning, at 10:00, I fired off an email to my superiors (DG, DT, local, and one other). Four recipients. It basically had two parts. First, I related what had happened in my meeting and asked them to cooperate in expediating things. Second, I sounded off at how things are coming to an end for me in the legion, and as time runs out, there really is no way to show me, not in word, but deeds, that they are truly sorry for having treated me badly, especially in the past weeks. I was harsh, I admit. Probably didn’t make things any better. Probably foolish to vent my feelings at this stage of the game.

I fired it off at 10:00 on Tuesday.
It is now 10:00 on Thursday. A full 48 hours has past. Silence.

During the day on Tuesday, I kept my eyes glued to the screen, waiting for a response. I went to bed disappointed.

Yesterday I did the same. And as the hours went by and my inbox remained empty, a word began to form on my lips. At first I didn’t want to say it out loud. By dusk, every time I glanced at my inbox, I muttered under my breath, “Cowards!”

What was I waiting for? Anything!

And here is my point. I have tried for years to get through to them. I have tried longsuffering. I have tried dialogue with charitable words. I have tried crashing head on just to provoke a response, but it is all just so useless. “Cowards!”

They may think there is valor in their way of dealing with the situation of the Legion. They may think there is valor in treating individuals with silence. I call it cowardice.

What kind of response was I waiting for? Let me answer that with a translation of the email I sent to them this morning.

Dear Frs.
“It has been a full 48 hours since I sent this email and I am truly saddened that no one has responded in any way.
“I had expected, and eagerly waited for something like, “What great news! You have my support. Or course I’ll help you.” Or even, “I don’t think _______ will be a good place for you. I think your email was too harsh.” Anything would have been good.
“But I am saddened by the silence.
“I have done my best to be open. I have tried to provoke dialogue. But the only thing I have gotten in response is silence, and when you do speak to me, they are just cliché, well thought out responses that only serve to protect the image of the legion and the image of the superiors.
“I am truly saddened that there is no sincerity on your part. I, for my part, have tried to be open and sincere, even at this late hour hoping to rescue some kind of human relationship and not part ways as enemies, even if it means crashing head on to make it happen.
“I am truly saddened by your silence. I am resigned to the fact: I am never going to find out what lay behind these shadows in black cassocks.”

==== UPDATE ====
12:00 PM - 50 hours. Silence.
How long do you think it will take till I get a response? Any wagers?
==== UPDATE ====
2:00 PM - 52 hours. Silence.
==== UPDATE ====
4:00 PM - 54 hours and counting. This is getting fun.
==== UPDATE ====
10:00 PM - 60 hours and I'm getting sleepy. See you tomorrow.
==== UPDATE 6/25/2010 ====
8:00 AM - What is it now? 70 hours and no response?
==== UPDATE 6/25/2010 ====
9:35 AM - Local superior said, "I didn't respond because it is out of my hands." One down, three to go.
==== UPDATE 6/25/2010 ====
11:09 AM - DT responded: I was in cursillo, no PC or cell allowed, yesterday had meetings all day. I'm not excusing myself. Really sad you are suffering. Sorry to see you are interpreting things this way.I respect your decision, especially since you suffered so much. If I can help with anything just let me know.
==== UPDATE 6/26/2010 ====
11:26 AM DG responded, pretty much a standard response, void of content, not responding to specifics I had written. Case closed. Don't beat a dead horse.

Door #1, or door #2, or door #3

I think Patrick Madrid got the order of things right?

Three scenarios seem possible, either of the first two being far more likely, it seems to me:
1) The Legion may be radically reformed and reoriented and thus salvaged;
2) It may be drastically reduced in size (i.e., personnel), scope of activities, and influence, due to continuing defections of its priests, a drying up of new vocations, and the vigorous pruning by the pope and his collaborators;
3) It may go away altogether.

While Patrick goes into detail on number 3, number 1, according the Communiqué, seems to be what B16 is aiming for, and number 2 is a likely side effect for two reasons. Those who are too entrenched in “the Legion that was” will not like the changes to come and will bail. Those who seek more radical changes will be disappointed by the resistance of the entrenched and bail. If things get really sticky, option number 3 may be needed.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Fiddler on the Roof

In one of the most heart-rending scenes from Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye meets his daughter Chava in the field and battles with whether to accept her elopement with a Christian boy or remain faithful to his tradition. When Chava asks him to accept her marriage, Tevye ponders the coices.

“Accept them? How can I accept them? Can I deny everything I believe in? On the other hand, can I deny my own daughter? On the other hand, how can I turn my back on my faith, my people? If I try and bend that far, I’ll break. On the other hand… No! There is no other hand.” And Tevye walked away from Chava in a rage, leaving her crying in the field.

At one point in my legionary life, I too was disinherited.

Dirty snow still lined the drive of the house where it had been plowed into mounds after a winter of frequent storms. I walked in what seemed like a very normal spiritual direction, except that this time he called it a conversation. Something strange was happening. Spiritual direction, or the conversation, ended abruptly and without the conclusions that you would normally expect. I was not to continue in the Legion, and I was not given a reason why. I walked away making it clear I was not willing to accept this decision.

At the time I was a religious, having made my perpetual profession, but was not yet a priest. I would need to write a letter to the Holy Father asking to be released from the vows. I would not be expelled. The weight of responsibility rested sparely on my shoulders. And yet, I had no basis to grapple with this responsibility. Surely if I had received a sound reason, I would gladly leave. But faced with silence I responded with silence.

I began to realize the Legion was ill, and like so many, faced with a terminal disease, I was in denial. I had gambled my life on following Christ. I had stepped up to the table, and having been dealt the first hand, wagered it all – all in. I had left everything behind, and unlike Judas who separated himself and betrayed his Master, I was being separated from the disciples in the name of the master.

From that spring day until the day I resolved to leave the Legion, my life became as shaky as a Fiddler on the Roof.

Monday, June 21, 2010


I am going to meet today at 4:00 PM with my Bishop.


==== UPDATE ====

Thank you, thank you, thank you for your prayers.
I just got back from my visit to Bishop "J". We had a heart to heart, open conversation. He was at times visibly affected by what I had to say and what I have gone through, and truly received me like a father.

Even before I was able to ask, he suggested the possibility of putting me in a parish with another priest as a solution to helping me deal with what has become a very uncomfortable situation. I told him that is what I was most hoping for. It would not be the best situation, because juridically I would still be a religious. But he understood that, even for my psychological health, something has to be done.

It may take a little time, ten days to two weeks, but what is that compared to years of hoping for clarity from my superiors.

Again, 1000 thanks. I will remember you when I celebrate Mass this evening.

My Adoptive Father

Every young man looks up to male role models. A boy learns to be a man from other men. As dad fixes a broken chair out in the tool shed, his son works diligently with his plastic hammer and screwdriver. Jesus learned to be a man from Joseph, his father.

But since my father was absent from my life, I sought others who could fill the void. A very holy priest in a parish I frequented filled it and inspired me to emulate him and to imitate Christ. Through him Jesus called me, and that priest guided me to make the best decision of my life: to follow Christ in a congregation of men who too were role models of a manly imitation of the One I wanted to be like.

You tend to bond to the one who inspires you, and I bonded to Christ. I also bonded to my brothers in Christ who were an inspiration and an encouragement to persevere in my vocation.

That bond snapped in a dramatic way one spring day, and my adoptive father began to die a slow death, a death that would lead to a funeral and burial on May 1, 2010.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

My Father Died Twice

“The Greatest” is a multi-layered drama about the grieving process of a family who loses a teenage boy in a car accident, and the pregnant girl he leaves behind. For those who have seen it, the characters I most relate to are Ryan, the son who cannot remember his brother’s funeral because he was F’d up, and Allen, the dad, who couldn’t grieve because he had to be strong for the rest of the family. Two ways of dealing with the grief of loss, because I lost my father twice.

On a hot summer’s day in July of 1980, I returned from my route in the vending company I worked for only to have my supervisor call me aside and tell me my father had died. I didn’t go home from work that day, but stuck it out. One of my buddies told me months later how that hurt him; how he couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t want to go to my family to grieve.

I, like Ryan, only wanted to escape. The day of my father’s funeral, I came home and got high with my friend in the back yard.

Some fifteen years later my father died again. My father, this time, hadn’t given me my family name, but the LC is sign at the end of my name. My father, this time, didn’t die a week after a massive stroke left him half paralyzed and unable to speak; this time he died a slow and agonizing death. He could have died a quick death, but because I was so like Allen in The Greatest, I had to be strong, not deal with it, and the grieving process was long and drawn out.

I hope to share some personal reflections in the coming days about how I dealt with the loss of my father and my loss in the Legion. But for now, a happy Father's day to all dads. And for all of us, love your dads for all they have done for us.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Greatest

I went to the movies yesterday. Yes, I broke the rules and went to a theater. After all, I haven’t been treated much like a member of the congregation for a long time, I sometimes act like I am not.

A priest friend invited me out to lunch and a flick. We saw “The Greatest”. This movie made it into my top ten list. It is a multi-layered family drama that shoves life in your face and makes you deal with it head on.

It inspired me to write a personal family experience that ties in tightly with my life in the legion. I’ll post it as the next parts of Why I’m leaving, or maybe under a new title.

I highly recommend “The Greatest”. But be warned – bring Kleenex.

Friday, June 18, 2010

I am waiting for two things to happen

No one is exempt from the anxiety that waiting brings. We are all waiting. I am waiting for two things to happen.

First of all, we all know that Fr Alvaro had a private audience with Pope Benedict yesterday. It was short. That says a lot. Speculation has already gone around that a Papal Delegate has been named and will be made public very soon. I hope so. Then we will find out what comes next.

The second thing I am waiting for is tor the bishop of the diocese I am residing in to come back from his trip to Rome (end of the Year for Priests) and the Holy Land. I have already asked to speak with him personally, and am just waiting for the chance. I will ask him to accept me in a parish here while waiting for the process of dissolution from the vows. I know it is not the best solution, but I cannot stay in this community without any apostolate whatsoever. I need to be active. I need to be giving my priesthood to others.

Pray, please, that my bishop will help me as soon as possible.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Good Mask – Bad Mask

The desire to reveal my identity was strong. The reasons behind remaining anonymous were better. In the long run, I made the right choice.

Writing my experience has been therapy beyond measure. Comments have put me in contact with a reality I didn’t know existed: others like me who have gone through the same ordeal. The connect is healing and encouraging. The positive results are an emotional high.

I hide behind a new mask. It lets me express who I am more freely. Taking it off, I would be afraid to say what I really want to. For me, for now, it’s a good mask. It helps me be who I am.

This theme of “Masks ” has been a recurring thought ever since I learned of Fr Maciel’s daughter. Hiding behind a mask you can be someone you’re not, or be who you really are. There are good masks and bad masks.

No need to illustrate bad masks. We have all seen, no, we have experienced what that means. When bad masks fall they shatter hard. They shatter us. Bad masks are good masks hiding bad things. Bad masks mean scandal.

All masks hide something.

Shortly after sending my open letter, I talked with the coworker in our community. He went home the other day. He had a very good year, because he is a very good person. We spoke about masks, and he said, “Is there anyone who doesn’t wear a mask? I mean, we are all sinners, but we just can’t blurt out our sins to everyone. What I mean is, if anyone really knew what we were on the inside, they would see how we are all hypocrites.”

There is a divide between who we are and what we show. It’s a mask, but it’s needed. It’s called prudence or self-restraint. If one acts on the impulse of fallen human nature (that thing we hide behind the mask) the consequence is devastating. That’s called sin. But we need to take off the mask and reveal the thing. There’s a time and a place for that: conscience exam and confession.

I was doing spiritual exercises in Cheshire one year. During that week a seminarian who had been a novice with me came to visit with a friend. His friend said to me afterwards, “I was watching you during exercises. Man, you are so holy!” Nothing could be further from the truth.

Holiness is a journey, a spiritual battle, a becoming on the inside what we portray on the outside, striving to no longer wear a mask. We will all get there when our clock stops ticking. Some reach it sooner. We call them saints.

What is a good mask? A mask you hide behind while you work to take it off.

What is a bad mask? A mask you work on to hide who you really are.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Why I'm Leaving the Legion of Christ (Part 3)

I love to write, and normally follow a careful process to make it work: rough draft, revision, sentence structure and flow. I didn’t do that here. I just sat down and let it flow, letting Bill Gates take care of the spelling errors. Sorry if it’s sticky reading. Fr Jack.

Read “Why I’m Leaving” Part 1 and Part 2

I have mentioned the frustration that I experience in the legion and how it has been an obstacle to my fulfillment. Everyone needs to feel fulfilled.

Every once in a while, I hit the “Next Blog>>” button on the top of my blog, and most times it brings me to family blogs, photos of babies, husbands and wives. You don’t find blogs extolling the joys of a dysfunctional family, how great it is to be separated or divorced, and what a joy that my child doesn’t have a father. No one willingly wants that – that brings unhappiness.

No one feels happy in something that’s not right. But when the family is working well, where there is true love, you can see how fulfilled they are. Family makes us love. If we don’t love we are miserable. And to love properly you have to be able to express love, affection, kindness, mercy and being forgiven. The dynamic of the family is the dynamic of the Church.

My family for the past 24 years (not my natural family, of course) has been dysfunctional. And that brings frustration. I haven’t been able to express in a healthy way all God has given me and all that he has been asking me to be. There has been a constant wanting to live behind a mask, to be false, to put on a way of being that is not me. I don’t want to live behind a mask anymore. I want to be free and come out into the light of truth.

I can tell you from experience that in my homilies (I do a lot of parish work) I have experimented with different methods: doctrinal homilies, catechetical homilies and others. What works best is to express the doctrine or the catechism through my experience. The more personal, the more it hits home, and the more people come to me and say, “Father, I felt you were talking to me today.” I wasn’t. I was talking to myself, preaching to myself, correcting myself, evangelizing myself.

The mask has to fall. It doesn’t help me. It isn’t who I am.

One of the things that has really gotten my goat lately (which means for many years) is falsehood, telling lies to protect personal dignity. We all do it. Our pride makes us say things to protect our image. I have done it, and I’m not proud of it. But I have been letting that mask fall. It doesn’t once and for all – you have to do it every day. Pride creeps like grass taking over the sidewalk. You have to keep trimming it.

That falsehood is what has been the main source of my frustration, a constant “Not like that, you can’t do it that way, conform, conform, conform.” Who says that only one way of doing things is right? Where is the richness of personality? Where is my ability to give to God in religious life what he has given me?

Over the past few years I have been bringing “maskless” sincerity into my dealings with souls, seeking what is best for them, or what God is trying to do in them. It means seeking the good of each soul and not what profit I or the Legion can get out of it. I cannot express how successful this is. But this has met resistance, or jealousy, or who knows what else, and in the end frustration.

A popular song repeats, “I get knocked down, but I get up again”, but if I had been the artist who wrote the song, it would go, “I get back up, but get knocked down again.” Over the years, everywhere I go, I go with the hope of starting over, getting back on my feet. It all starts off well, but within six to eight months I notice a change in attitude in my new superior, a shift, and little by little I see what I am doing slip away, replaced by someone else. Frustration.

That frustration has been the main obstacle to my personal and spiritual fulfillment. This is the main reason I am leaving the Legion.

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart - Nelson Mandela

Read “Why I’m Leaving” Part 1 and Part 2

Friday, June 11, 2010

Meek and humble of heart

“People who fly into a rage always make a bad landing.” – Will Rogers

“Never go to bed mad. Stay up and fight.” – Phyllis Diller

Repressing anger is probably the worst thing we can do. But expressing it badly is worse. Attitude makes all the difference.

The source of anger can be varied. But the quality of the source matters also. In a previous post , I dealt with what we can consider unjustified anger, what I perceive as an intentional aggression but is not. The question now arises; what do you do if your anger is justified, if you are the victim of an objective aggression?

First of all, it is necessary to separate anger from justice. We tend to consider justice as jurisprudence, where strict sets of laws dictate compensation for crimes committed; one must be punished to compensate for damages caused.

We forget that justice is also a cardinal virtue, “a moral quality or habit which perfects the will and inclines it to render to each and to all what belongs to them” (Catholic Encyclopedia ).

Whether seen as virtue or compensation, justice as an expression of anger is not good. Does that mean we have to repress anger? No. We need to get it out. It’s healthy. To give a generic solution of how may not be helpful to all. I can say what works for me.

I am the type of person that tends to hold things in, not out of virtue, but temperament. The bad side is, I eventually explode, and many times the recipient is not the aggressor. Therefore, the sooner I get it out, the better. And the way I get it out also matters.

Confession is the best venue, because if forces me to face the situation objectively; I have to examine my conscience to discover any complicity or fault that might have provoked the situation. A useful meditation to help me do that is to meditate on the Heart of Christ, or the love of God.

God loves, regardless of the sin. There is no sinner he does not forgive. This person who has hurt me has not fallen from God’s love, and never will. Even the gravest sinner is loved by God. Humanly speaking, that is hard to accept. But it doesn’t change the fact – God is love. God forgives that person even before I do.

When I try to forgive like God forgives me, it doesn’t mean justice is no longer necessary. Even after confession, I must do penance. Whether justice is done to my aggressor or not, should not keep me from seeking forgiveness and forgiving. Otherwise, as I said before, I only harm myself and possibly harm others.

Seek justice, but if justice takes a long time, don’t wait to forgive and be forgiven. Learn from Jesus who is meek and humble of heart.

Identity Crisis

My Dearest "Leaving the Legion" - your anonymous status is what lets you and others be free to comment and post their feelings and thoughts on this whole situation. Please do not jeopardize your safety or ability to leave by revealing who you are. All of us in your "state of origin" feel the same - wait until you truly are free. I love you - the "Oldest".

The Oldest is, of course, Mom. My siblings have also expressed a lot of fear and anxiety. My biggest concern is for them. I fear for their privacy. All you have to do is Google my last name, and you find the names and addresses of my entire family. Could I possibly put them through that?

I need to make one thing very clear; I do not fear for myself. Nor do I think it could jeopardize my leaving the legion. It could jeopardize the relationship with my future bishop. Here are my thoughts on that. After years of second-guessing and half-truths, I want my relationship with him to be as clear and open as possible. If I were to enter a diocese where suspicions abound, I would live the same hell I have lived for the past fifteen years. The truth shall make your free, and I am determined to live in truth.

I’m getting ready for the barrage of comments this is going to cause. For those of you who will say, don’t let your superiors dupe you, they have not had a word in this. Furthermore, they know about the blog. For those who think I am wavering, believe me, my resolve is firm. I feel no sentiments or desire to turn back. For those who will say I deceived you, yes, that is true, and I am sorry. It was a rash decision on my part to want to reveal my identity, not taking into account the sensibilities of my family. If it weren’t for them I would do it.

One last word. Thank you for the many prayer intentions you sent. I literally placed them on the altar and celebrated my mass for all of you.

If it helps, you can use my pen name: Fr Jack

Thursday, June 10, 2010

14,000 priests on their knees in silent adoration

More than 14,000 priests on their knees in silent adoration of the source of their priesthood. Silence fell over St Peter’s Square as priests, united their prayer to Christ the Priest, praying silently for their own vocations, the perseverance of all priests, their flocks throughout the world, and for the Holy Father.
Truly it was a special and powerful moment.

Digging up the past

I had a long conversation with mom last night. She is of course concerned, as any mom would be. I told her not to worry about me. I’m fine. My resolve has not, and will not waver, no matter what happens.
Basically it’s because I am not afraid. I’m not afraid of the future, and I’m not afraid of the past. The past is over and done with. I can’t change it, but at the same time I can’t let it cripple me.
Mother Angelica told a story once about two men living in Alaska. One day one of the men died and his friend buried him. The next day when he woke up, he found his dead friend sitting in a chair in his room. He went out and buried him, but the next morning he was there again. This went on for weeks. Finally, the man went crazy and committed suicide. But before he died he left a note. It said he had been sleepwalking the night before and dug up his friend. Every night he had been digging up his friend.
What do we dig up the past for? Just to find out how much it stinks? At some point we have to move on. It’s dead! I don’t like what happened to me, but I’m grateful for who I am.
I am living one of the most peaceful moments of my life, because I have faced the truth, dealt with it, and am looking toward the future with hope.

Sacred Heart Novena Day 9

Today I pray for your intentions. When I celebrate Mass this evening, I will bring them all to the altar and offer them to the Father through Christ, with Him and in Him.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

We're lost in a masquerade

“Anon out of RC” sent a thoughtful comment that merits special recognition for it brings up a point I had not yet been able to put into words. I have edited it slightly (sorry Anon) and highlighted the salient point.

“I have prayed and pondered this thought over the past year. Is it not fair to say the Legion “owed” us the whole truth about Maciel from the beginning, without holding anything back? Isn't that just plain human love, decency, respect and the right thing to do no matter the cost, even if it meant the whole thing would fall apart?

“The analogy that comes to mind is from the business world. When you buy a product and you find there is something seriously wrong that could hurt your safety, you are told immediately, the product is recalled, the company loses money and possibly its reputation – but your safety comes first. Toyota had the safety issue and actually failed in the honesty department and lost me as a future customer.

If I was told the truth upfront, I would respect the leadership more and possibly come back.”

Anon gives more examples, but the point is, how much grief could have been avoided by an upfront approach to the problem, not just the deceitful and immoral life of the founder, but of so many other aspects.

For me it has been a 15 year struggle with the truth. But if only one year ago, when I started putting the nails in the coffin of my life in the legion, someone had been straightforward and answered the questions I had so loudly asked for, maybe I wouldn’t be writing this blog.

I’ve been humming this tune for the past few days. You can change the words to suit your mood. It’s good therapy.

Are we really happy with this lonely game we play
Looking for words to say
Searching but not finding understanding anyway
We're lost in this masquerade

Both afraid to say we're just too far away
From being close together from the start
We tried to talk it over but the words got in the way
We're lost inside this lonely game we play

Thoughts of leaving disappear
every time I see your eyes
No matter how hard I try
To understand the reason why
we carry on this way
We're lost in a masquerade

We could just start over
but it's oh so hard to do
When you're lost in a masquerade

Sacred Heart Novena Day 8

I pray today for the families of Legionaries and Consecrated members who struggle with the enigma of their children’s vocation. May the Heart of Christ console their hearts and dry their tears, and guide families to the truth of his infinite Love.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Forefront of Truth

In a recent post I stated; “We spoke about Fr Alvaro and Fr Luiz and how they are going about telling the truth about what they saw and what they know.” Many have commented on this.

Before I begin, keep in mind that my intention is to express what is pertinent to my personal journey – not to make myself a press secretary or informant. None of what I say here is a direct quote from any source, but my personal reflection.

That being said, I feel moved at this time to come forward in defense of Fr Luiz Garza for two reasons. First of all, on a personal level, I have come to realize he was directly involved in promoting me to the priesthood. This I will discuss in later posts, after the Feast of the Sacred Heart.

In more general terms, Fr Luiz has been giving conferences dealing directly with aspects of the double life of Fr Maciel, and this at the bidding of Fr Alvaro. I listened to a two and a half hour discussion he had with a group of Consecrated Women in Mexico. He spoke in detail and candidly. This has been, for me, tremendously encouraging.

Two things impressed me

First of all, Fr Luiz was at the forefront of no longer considering Fr Maciel as an example for Legionaries and Movement member. This was (and unfortunately still is) met with resistance. He also calls into question the charism, not so much its existence, but its definition. Ask a random group of Legionaries what the charism is, and you will get varying answers. Is it leaders? Is it Christ-centeredness? Is it Charity? Hence the need to redefine the charism.

Next, I was struck by his referral to the time frame between discovering Fr Maciel’s improprieties and their public announcement. How do you deal with an extreme situation of historic proportions for the Church and the world? Decisions of this sort aren’t taken from one moment to the next – that would be reckless gossip. Who among us has never had a moment when we just fall on our knees and ask, “Lord, what should I do?”

Maybe I don’t agree with how it was handled, maybe it could have been done differently. It is easy to judge in hindsight. I cannot lay the blame on one man’s shoulders. It’s far too complicated for that. But the solution is ever clearer to me: get the truth out as soon as possible so a healthy discussion can occur.


For the sake of objectivity, these links are worth reading:
Fr. Garza is part of the solution, not the problem.
Magister vs. Garza, Berg & Gill vs. Alvaro .
Put out into the deep.

Sacred Heart Novena Day 7

I pray today for the Legionaries who have not yet come to grips with the truth, are in denial or haven’t been courageous enough to seek the truth. I pray for a sincere and open discussion, enlightened by the Holy Spirit and the love of Christ's Heart, that will bring about healing and peace.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Sacred Heart Novena Day 6

Today I pray for former LC’s or RC’s who feel hatred, anger or a desire for vengeance because of the deceit or abuse they experienced. I pray that those responsible for their grief will have the courage to seek out the victims, speak the truth and ask for forgiveness.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sacred Heart Novena Day 5

Today I pray for young men discerning the priestly vocation and seminarians in formation. May the Holy Spirit enlighten their consciences to recognize in sincerity anything that is not compatible with the priestly life, and to have the courage to seek another path rather than injure the Heart of Jesus and the sensibility of souls.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Sacred Heart Novena Day 4

Today I pray for those who have lost the faith because they were abused or because they were neglected by priests. May God send someone into their lives who can witness to the faith, be a shoulder to cry on and an instrument of healing.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Friday, June 4, 2010

I am revealing my identity

On Friday, June 11, 2010, the Solemnity of Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, I am going to reveal my identity.

Let me explain why.

An extraordinary thing happened today. It has been ten hours and I am still numb. It is eight o’clock in the evening as I begin to write, and I don’t know how long it will take me to put down all I want to say.

My open letter sent a shockwave unlike anything I had expected. It penetrated walls that seemed higher and more elusive that Berlin. It brought light, shattered fear, opened tear ducts and...

Everyone responded. Some responded coldly – business as usual. Some revolted and others opened their arms in support. I felt freer than ever. I talked, listened, suggested, accepted, and above all just wanted to help anyone and everyone. All responded except one. He just wouldn’t come to me: my superior.

I began to lose heart. Then I began seeing what I most feared. One by one he was talking to the members of the community – spiritual direction. Damage Control. No! Please no!

I spent yet another sleepless night turning everything over in my mind. Why won’t he come to me? Why can’t he ask forgiveness so I too can be free?

This morning after mass he was walking outside with yet another father. My heart dropped. He was the one I most trusted; my confessor and my friend.

I ate breakfast. I straightened up my room, prayed Lauds, and returned to my room to check my email. I found consolation in readers respones and those still trickling in from my open letter. Then came a knock on the door.

I had been expecting a call from the Bishops secretary confirming a meeting with him. I had expected so many other things. I didn’t expect Fr Superior at my door saying, “Can we talk?” I responded coldly, I admit, “If you want to.”

“I really want to.”

The shadow of a man hidden behind a black legionary cassock came out into the light before my eyes. These eyes wept and so did his.

He told me everything, and I did the same. There was so much to tell and so much to understand, so much to admire and so much to grieve over, so much to be thankful for and so much to forgive. How we talked and gave each other support. And I realized we are so alike, share the same concerns and desire the same end. He doesn’t want to leave the Legion but to be a part of its transformaton. I want another experiece but am willing to do anything to bring about change.

We spoke freely about Fr Maciel, the damage done, the victims – we as victims. How we have been used and abused. We spoke about Fr Alvaro and Fr Luiz and how they are going about telling the truth about what they saw and what they know.

I didn’t hold anything back and neither did he. I told him how I am able to get around the Internet filter and about this blog, and he has read it. I told him about my weaknesses, the things I have without permission, the hidden things I have done, and it was alright.

I experienced God.

I asked him if I should take the blog down, if I should reveal my identity, if I should do it in another language. No, Yes and Yes.

My friends, my dear brothers and sister. I have seen and felt how much you suffer from Fr Maciel, the Legion and the Movement. Everything you justifiably think about the Legion is crumbling to the ground. A plate glass window is being shattered and you can hear the fragments clinking on bare ground. What will happen next and how it will come about, I don’t know. But one thing is sure...


Sacred Heart Novena Day 3

Today I pray for all of us, victims of Fr Maciel.
We are all victims.
We all have been abused one way or another.
We all need to ask forgivenes of each other.
We all need to forgive each other.
Some have done it.
Some are on the way.
Some are resisting.
Some will fall away.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sacred Heart Novena Day 2

Today I prayed for the priests who have been accused of sexual abuse and removed from pastoral work. Finding myself in a similar situation, though not accused of anything myself, I pray for the innocent priests who only want to serve souls and are unable to exercise their priestly ministry while awaiting closure.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Sacred Heart Novena Day 1

Yesterday, day 1 of the Sacred Heart Novena, I prayed and offered sacrifices for my local superior, asking the Holy Spirit to use me as an instrument to help him see his error, repent, and change. I am sincerely concerned for the good of his soul.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

I sent an open letter

Today I sent an open letter to all RC members and other people I know. It was something I had wanted to do for a long time. I greatly appreciate the affection I have received from everyone since I have been here. (I know you don’t know where I am and it’s driving you crazy. If you haven’t received my letter, I am nowhere nearby)

I have to admit, I was provoked. My local superior has been taking away all my responsibilities little by little. Today he asked me (and in turn I offered freely) not to continue with what I was doing.

As I couldn’t just disappear off the radar screen without explanation, I decided to give everyone an explanation. I have seen others get transferred or just disappear, and I have seen what it does to the people they leave behind. Out of respect for them and real charity, I couldn’t do that.

The emails and phone calls haven’t stopped. So many expressions of support, gratitude and love! A few tears too. Many have invited me to dinner. Since I no longer have any more responsibilities, I think I’ll live it up a bit.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Bishop Ricardo Watty Urquidi speaks about the Communiqué

Bishop Ricardo Watty Urquidi, one of the Apostolic Visitors, gave a press conference on May 18 regarding his part in the Visit and the Communiqué. I found it very enlightening and helpful. It helps cut through a lot of the speculation of what will come next.

Here is the article. You will need to scroll down past the spanish.

Luke 23:34

Over the years of counseling and confessing, a priest finds certain trends, common threads of experience. For some it is a pattern of sinful habits. For others it is difficulty dealing with others. One of the patterns that I most encounter is anger.

I don’t intend to infringe upon the intimacy of confession or counseling for the sake of giving examples, so I will use a transcript from the Academy Award winning film “Crash”. (Pardon me if I use a film that has some morally offensive scenes and language, but nowadays it’s hard to avoid). Toward the end of the film, Jean, played by Sandra Bullock, is talking on the phone with a friend:
“Carol, I just thought that I would wake up today and I would feel better, you know? But I was still mad. And I realized... I realized that it had nothing to do with my car being stolen. I wake up like this every morning! I am angry all the time, and I don't know why.”

Feeling “angry all the time” is reflected in everything we say and do, and because of that we end up offending those around us, especially our families. Anger, after all, is one of the seven deadly sins. At the same time it is one of our very human passions.

Consider what the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about passions:
The passions are the feelings, the emotions or the movements of the sensible appetite - natural components of human psychology - which incline a person to act or not to act in view of what is perceived as good or evil. The principal passions are love and hatred, desire and fear, joy, sadness, and anger. The chief passion is love which is drawn by the attraction of the good. One can only love what is good, real or apparent. (Compendium 370)

Stop! Read that again. We are drawn to and act upon what we perceive as good. Hatred, fear and anger are adverse reactions to what we perceive as evil. Now here’s the rub: how much of what we perceive as evil really is. Hold on! Don’t jump to conclusions. I haven’t made my point yet.

Often in confession I ask the penitent who feels anger to take a deep breath and think back: how many times in your life have you acted out of a real desire to do harm to another person. It can happen. But the fact is we often end up offending others, not out of a desire to do harm, but because we let things slip, or are not aware of their sensitivities.

Then I ask, think of the person who most offends you. Do you really think that person wakes up every morning scheming of how to make your life miserable? To date, I have not had one person answer “yes” to that question. Nevertheless, we perceive ill intentions in others acts, and that makes us angry.

How profound are Jesus’ words from the Cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) The Pharisees acted according to what they perceived what true. Was their perception correct? Of course not. Did some truly act out of a desire to do evil? Maybe so. Can I know who and why? Never. Therefore, am I in a position to judge them?

As I look back at events, acts and persons entwined in my journey since I entered the Legion, I cannot pinpoint any intentionally aimed at doing me harm. Most were caught up in a system perceived to be good.

But if I act on any of the sentiments of anger, I only do harm to myself, and may end up doing harm to others. I need to recognize the sentiments of anger and frustration and act on them in a way that is healthy for me personally and edifying for the souls under my care.

I cannot resent or hold a grudge against anyone, not even Fr Maciel. It does me no good. That doesn’t mean I accept or approve of his actions. Nor does it mean I accept or approve of the errors engrained into the methods of the Legion. That will be dealt with when the Holy Father sends his delegate and indicates how the Legion is to be purified.

For my part, I have spoken openly and freely with the apostolic Visitor, and I have written extensively to Fr Alvaro and my territorial director about what I see needs to be done.

Looking toward the future I am excited about starting over. I await anxiously the decision of the bishops I have contacted, and I am getting ready spiritually and psychologically to make that transition.