Thursday, July 19, 2012

I thank God every morning

From time to time I go to lunch or dinner with a priest friend who has left one of the new movements in the Church, and we inevitably start to talk about our experiences. When he asks me, jokingly, when I am going back to the legion, I always answer, quite truthfully, “There is not a morning that goes by, while praying my breviary, that I don’t thank God that I am no longer in the Legion.”

I am truly grateful that I am out.

At present I am the pastor of a small, parish, living alone in a small apartment that I have fixed up to my own likes. The pastoral work in the parish needs more work. Structurally, I have renovated some, but there is a lot more to do. In all, I set my pace and am getting things done. I have told this priest and anyone else who asks me, “I have done more in one and a half years in the parish than 24 in the legion. And I am grateful to God for that.

When I left the legion I was a bit worried about my prayer life. And I admit there was a gap where I became a little neglectful. But I have a conviction that I can no sooner get along without a good prayer life as any good Christian or person of faith for that matter. It’s like going for my morning walk: I literally have to force myself out the door every morning. But I don’t start shoving until I have prayed. I do it because I want to, not out of fear, but because I need it. When I get my exercise in, I feel better the rest of the day. When I pray, well you can imagine what God does.

So I am not motivated by fear, but out of desire and love.

The legion preached conviction, but so much of what I was doing in the legion was motivated by fear. I’m sure so many others experienced the same thing. It was not that gut fight or flee type of fear, but a gnawing anxiety that maybe I wouldn’t make the grade or be seen as faithful. Sometimes it was that desire to be one of the favored ones that motivated me to be faithful. Sometimes it was just my pride wanting to show them I was not worthless. Mostly it was the fear of failure.

But in the end I overcame the fear. I accepted my failure. I failed to be the model legionary. I failed to accept the methodology. I failed to walk the walk and talk the talk. I failed, and I am happy I failed, because in failing I have found the truth and overcome the fear. I am so grateful for being a failure. 

3 comments:

  1. I am sooo very thankful that you finally, finally failed in the perversion of faith I call macielism. I am sooo very grateful that you renewed your vocation of Catholicism! Of Christianity.
    Now you walk in the Holy Love of your calling. Not in fear. Not in desire, not in stubbornness to survive a false god telling you that you didn't quite fit the bill.
    Neither did you reject God, nor did Love reject you!
    Instead, you, dear Father, rejected a perversion of faith. You, dear Father said YES to God, and NO to macielism!
    Praise God!
    The truth shall set you FREE!
    In freedom, you shall find the Truth, the Light, and the Salvation!
    Pray.

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  2. "... a gnawing anxiety that maybe I wouldn’t make the grade or be seen as faithful... Sometimes it was just my pride wanting to show them I was not worthless. Mostly it was the fear of failure."
    That rings true with me too, Fr John. I lived a kind of stoicism that looked down on others who violated aspects of the rule (silence, official language, etc), but with no other motivation than 'I don't want to screw up.' Holding myself (and others) to unrealistic standards were one of the things distracting me from the real work of discerning my true vocation.
    Maybe you do not get many comments here, but don't think your reflections aren't helping anyone.

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    Replies
    1. Dave, my intention is not to get comments but to get the word out. I want my story, as other also do, to be a voice that, hopefully, will be heard and bring about change.

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