Sunday, June 25, 2006

Out of the Swamp of Darkness: 2

“Your presence Father!”

As mentioned in the previous post the two crashes and all the other stress had slammed into me with such impact I was lost and sinking ever deeper in the mire of the swamp of darkness.

Those simple words: “Your presence Father!”, called me out of myself, reminding me of the luminous truth of who I am and they shook me up.

Not in a negatively disturbing way but rather as if being urgently shaken awake.

Thus, as part of the baby steps towards the path, if not yet quite stepping onto the path out of the swamp, I began seriously to -  through silent listening, meditation in Sacred Scripture, spiritual reading on the priesthood by various authors such as Pope John Paul and the Servant of God Catherine Doherty, and most important of all spending  time with my face on the ground before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament - seeking the grace to embrace my powerlessness and trust Him!

I confess that, in the depths of the swamp of darkness, I had begun to question the point of keeping on, keeping on!

Thankfully, by the grace of God, I was protected from that desperate pit of grief wherein the pain is so complete, the hopelessness so absolute, that increasingly appears to be the hopelessness which leads priests who so suffer to commit suicide.

Certainly the multi-year stress, humiliation, frustration, impediment to public ministry, to even dress according to my consecrated state in life; the persistent refusal of my own bishop even to speak with me; the snail’s pace of the appeal process to Rome by which the Holy See compounds the suffering of priests – all of this had me seething with frustration and bent over with discouragement, to the point of seriously considering walking away from the priesthood and turning to the civil courts to attack my accuser, my bishop, my diocese and sue the lot of them into oblivion in the glare of the media, in hopes this would face slap the institutional church into rendering Gospel charity and true justice to priests.

Of course the soul-corrosive sub-text of such disordered thinking, of such writhing in frustration and fury, becomes questioning the very point of any form of loyalty to Christ, the Gospel, the Church, priesthood, vows.

Thus the mire sinking accelerates to the point where the question can indeed become that which leads some priests to take their own lives: Why bother living? Why not end the pain now?

By the lavishness of Divine Mercy I was granted not so much effective personal prayer but grace surely the result of the prayers of others – life’s breath must be asked of the Holy Spirit, along with the grace to open the doors of our being in receptive willingness to cooperate with grace.

Hope is needed, hope indeed is necessary for every human being – hope encourages awakening in the morning, risking asking a beloved’s hand in marriage and with them risking conceiving a child with no guarantees as to how that child’s life will unfold.

Hope enables men to enter the seminary, accept ordination.

Hope allows us, at the time chosen by God, to accept the great step of faith: death.

{ Now here is something which just came to my heart: I don’t doubt that the millions of Catholics who had faithfully pray the “Fatima Prayer” after each decade of the Rosary, with simplicity of heart, do two things: 1] truly trust that the prayer is always answered and 2] assume it is especially for souls at the point of death.

Well I have always understood the prayer as primarily for each of us, for  everyone is “most” in need of mercy – sometimes perhaps more urgently than we realize.

At any rate I believe much grace was given me because others were praying the prayer with such generosity: O my Jesus forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those most in need of Your Mercy.

It is a simple prayer but one – given the immense suffering in our world – we should all pray.}

Next post I will share some about the next step in the struggle: taking in the wisdom of friends and spiritual writers.

1 comment:

~pen~ said...

your presence, indeed!!

i have been reading here, quietly. i know you have been away and i have emailed on occasion, but had no idea you were in darkness. i should have prayed harder for you.

regardless, i am praying now. i've been in the dark and it is cold. and very quiet, but not the same type of silence you have when you are with God -- sometimes the whispers of the devil are too loud and you cannot hear the voice of God. i am glad you are emerging from your swamp.

but i am going to pray, anyway.

peace, father.