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


  1. Fr Jack,

    I've never been able to express the "mask" sentiment as well as this. You should never be required to live a lie, and that is exactly what the Legion wanted. Thank you.

  2. TruthisstrangerthanfictionJune 15, 2010 at 10:34 AM

    Beautiful, Father.

    Deceit of any kind is not of God.

    God bless you as you walk out of darkness of falsehood and into the light of truth.

  3. Father, I left RC because I couldn't get the Legionaries around me to be real. It was very frustrating. The one Legionary I could trust to be as real with me as he could (given LC obedience), is in the process of leaving the legion also. I pray for him and will keep you in my prayers too. God bless.

  4. Father,

    Welcome to humanity. We all have faults we need to work on. What I see in your blog is a sincere heart searching for the truth and seeking to help others. That is what the Lord is asking of you....to follow Him, be a good shepherd to His flock.

    I love that song by the way. :) It's true, when we fall, we have the gift of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The falls will become less and less when we practice...but sometimes Our Lord permits our weaknesses to keep us dependent upon Him and not ourselves. By the way, I think many people have some sort of dyfunction from the past. I had it too. Alcoholic parents - you name it. I thank God for my grandmother teaching me everything and passing on the truth - she never wavered in her prayers...always solid. You love your family - hate the sin, but keep moving forward. God heals all wounds...forgiveness is the ointment....not that we become a doormat - but real forgiveness of the heart is a healing balm and helps us to clearly see the errors and to move in the right direction.

    I was in rc, so I understand the methodology. I think being in lc teaches more pride and no true humility, so it sets itself up as perfection - but it's a manipulation and an exploitation of the truth - so it has a hard time bearing real fruit, because it tends to produce pride and self righteousness. That's why people are leaving - because deep in the heart, they know it's wrong...and there comes a point where one has to honestly ask himself "What am I doing here?" It's a blessing - a grace from God to be able to see everything for what it is.

    Thank you for your transparency. I believe that your work will be very fruitful because you are speaking from the heart. Sometimes when the enemy draws near and we experience problems even though we know we're on the right track, we just have to put our blinders and earmuffs on and keep plodding along that narrow path. Have courage....as Christ said we will have many troubles in this life but He has overcome the world. Prayers for you dear Father.

  5. The fact that your being real with souls has been met with resistance, jealousy, etc is so very sad.

    I think the sickest thing anyone could do to a person is command obedience to an institution, a director, its norms, its talking points over allowing that person to be real and to follow what the HS is saying in their soul - even if it means leaving or "hurting" the institution.

    Every LC priest should have been given and been able to share all truth to every seminarian and RC person and told them to re-evaluate their calling to LC/RC and make sure the Lord wants them to continue this path in light of the revelations. I was waiting to get that kind of letter from Fr Alvaro in the beginning and than I saw the depth of the methodology come out this past year and my blinders dropped. The saving of the institution was more important than being real with people.

    One of the priests I admire the most in dealing with this scandal(besides Fr. Berg and Fr Richard Gill) told RC members the night the news broke that some of us may feel called to leave RC. He literally looked sick when he spoke and I was so drawn to that “realness”. His comment and demeanor was real and honest and he told us what we really needed to hear instead of the talking points. He also said to ladies in direction to expect the worst of Maciel and make your decision keeping that in mind instead of he was a flawed instrument. He left the LC several months after the news broke. It just seems that anyone who has gotten real with themselves (like the priest on the Changobeer blog http://changobeer.blogspot.com/) could not be real within the structure Maciel set up and had to leave LC. Those who stayed bound to Maciel’s methodology, kept giving out the kool-aid by saying things like those that are praying are docile and at peace, Maciel was a flawed instrument - have gratitude, we are under a “low” visitation instead of a high one, don’t go on the internet – it will make you negative or you are too sensitive to handle it, the LC/RC just needs a few tweaks. I heard all those comments. Those comments tighten the mask, bind people to the institution more and drop on a layer of guilt that makes the decision to leave even harder.

    God Bless you Fr. Jack as you continue your journey, drop the mask and share with us your true self.

  6. Finally visited Changobeer, and although I have no idea if this LC priest has ever disclosed his true name, I am greatly encouraged by his honesty. He writes (in part):

    "It was our ignorance that held the Legion together. The LC is founded, not on the supposed sanctity and inspiration and charism of its Founder, but on the gullible and impressionable idealism of his hapless followers.

    "We should be the first to decry the smoke and mirrors. We should be the most outraged by the falsehood and programmed ignorance that keep the LCs and 3GF subject to an illusory vocation. We should be the voices that the visitation hears and that make the hard changes possible."

    He is right. The only way that the ship that is LC can be righted is if those within come to realize that the hard changes need to come from within. Not from the delegate.

    Accepting the continued spin from the leaders only further traps the soul of those who prefer ignorance over the hard task of cleansing.

    I pray for you, Fr. Jack, and for the mission you have set out for yourself. The truth WILL set you free and I pray this blog will help set others free, also.

    ATL Granny

  7. Fr Jack,

    I don't know if you have access to Youtube, but if so, check out Damien Rice's song Rootless Tree (the Abey Road version is the best). It's helped me get past the confused feelings and anger. I apologize ahead of time for some of the lyrics, but I don't think it's meant for kids.


  8. Father Jack,
    First of all, I do not believe the Legion will survive. Sooner or later, it will either be closed down or will die a slow death. That said, I'm also convinced that the healthiest survivors of the Legion will be the priests who had the courage, faith, strength, and conscience to discern their way out on their own, while there is still a choice.

    I also believe the priests like you, who have made this brave choice, are a gift to other LCs and RCs. People need your example, they need to know that it is okay to leave.

    I think your blog is a marvellous place for you to dialog about your experience, and for others to benefit from your honest and wise self-reflection. Thank you dear Father!!


  9. Thank you, Anonymous, for Rootless Tree. Powerful.
    No better way to express yourself than the written (sung) word. I'm glad I remained anonymous. It lets me express myself better. It so happens I'm working on a new post named "Good Mask - Bad Mask"

  10. "We went blind when we needed to see, and this leans on me like a rootless tree."

    I believe that some day this will pass, but for now I can only wonder as to why God allowed it to have such a hold on my life. The truth will set you free.

  11. There's nothing new under the sun, right Jack?

    Ever since 1997. And I was vilified for it.

    Glenn Favreau


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