Tag Archives: rejection

2 February 2018: Good Grief!

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Simeon

Today we recall the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple.

Around Easter time in 2017 Princes William and Harry spoke about the time when their mother died. For Harry, just twelve at the time, it was a traumatic period, and had repercussions for many years to come.

The princes rightly called for less fear around mental illness; I’ve known plenty of young and older people who perceived themselves as rejected by friends and family on account of their mental illness.

Yet, talking this over with my daughter and son-in-law, we felt a bit uneasy. Emotions such as grief or anger or remorse may be totally appropriate reactions to events or the consequences of our own actions. They are not in themselves medical conditions. Simeon told Mary to expect a sword of sorrow through her heart (Luke 2:34); we would ask what was wrong if a mother did not feel great hurt when her child was killed.

She loved; she was hurt.

That is not mental illness, it is a question to ask of God and oneself, ‘Why?’

Mary’s ‘Fiat’ – ‘Let it be done according to your word’ – at least begins to answer it. Her words, of course, are echoed by her son at his life’s end: indeed at the Presentation she is like the parents and godparents of an infant at the baptismal font. We make the promises to believe in God and reject all sin, whatever the consequences, knowing the baby may be hurt on the way through life. And here is Jesus: Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. (Luke 22:42) It must all have felt meaningless: ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ (Matthew 27:46).

Grief happens because we love and because we are human.

MMB.

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September 27, Fortitude IV: Fortitude and Mortality.

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At Manchester City War Memorial, MMB.

The ultimate danger is death. But most of us are not required to die for a good cause. Yet, there are other forms of death. We are apt to say, with feeling, “Oh, I would die if such and such happened.” Most of the time, when we use that expression, we know we would not actually die if that thing happened – but the expression bears some truth after all. We would not physically die, but whenever we feel threatened emotionally, we feel that some important part of us would receive a mortal wound if that thing happened. To be rejected by someone we love, for example, does not cause physical death, but the emotional hurt is very deep. If the relationship with the loved one comes to an end, then the part of us that was brought to life through that relationship feels like it is coming to an end. A death of sorts does occur. And so, fortitude is about coping with these kinds of very painful human experiences. It may be that in fact, the relationship in question should change, or even come to an end. Clinging to a relationship out of fear of the loneliness and hurt that will follow once the person is no longer in our life can sometimes perpetuate a relationship that is causing greater harm to oneself that the loneliness we fear. Fortitude would counsel a person in this situation to bring the harmful relationship to an end, and to bear the pain that will ensue for the sake of a deeper level of healing and growth.

For further study:

The Catechism of the Catholic Church ,Geoffrey Chapman, London, 1994

The Four Cardinal Virtues, Joseph Pieper, University of Notre Dame Press

http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/aquinas/summa/

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September 2: L’Arche and Care VII -The roots of L’Arche.

Larmes de silence: Jean Vanier

Jean Vanier’s Tears of Silence (DLT, 1973) is the earliest book about L’Arche that I know, As an appendix he has a speech given at Church House in 1972, from which this is an extract.

This is the problem. We have created a society that rejects the weak. This is a terrible indictment of any society. It is a wonderful thing when you put your arms out in a welcoming attitude to a handicapped person; then something happens: his eyes begin to believe and his heart begins to dance and he begins in some way to become our teacher. . .

I begin to discover something: that this wounded person, a distorted face, a crippled hand, that the way the handicapped person looks at me, approaches me – all this does something to me, the wounded person calls me forth. And being called forth, I discover that I can bring him up some tiny little way.

The vocabulary has changed over forty years, but the message is clear. And although big subnormality hospitals are largely consigned to history, our society still rejects the weak, to the extent that parents will be put under tremendous pressure to abort a baby known to have Down’s syndrome.

We need to return, not so much to the 2oth century roots of L’Arche, but to the 1st Century roots of L’Arche, the Joyful Good News we are sent to proclaim to all nations.

(Tears of Silence is on sale in French and English through Abe Books.)

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April 4 Station I: Leaving Jerusalem

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Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened [13]

Luke begins with two disciples walking away from Jerusalem. The sudden collapse of their world, of all their hopes and dreams, is just too much to bear. They had been sure that God’s Promised One, the Messiah, had come. Jesus had shown in so many ways that the Power of God was in him, and yet he had been shown to be powerless when ‘the powers of the land’—religious and secular—had taken charge of him, put him on trial as a blasphemer and impostor, and had him crucified as a common criminal. And now he is dead, and disgraced. Their own highest religious authorities had rejected him—in God’s name—and it seems they had been proved right: God had done nothing to save Jesus, to rescue him from death, to prove to the religious authorities that they were in the wrong.

It was too much to bear and they simply had to get away from Jerusalem, put distance between themselves and these terrible memories… and yet they are still talking about it, torn by a whole Babel of feelings—totally confused and close to despair, yet also filled alternately with fear and anger, and of course grief, tinged probably with guilt.

What is this like for us today?

I’m sure we can all remember times when we went through something similar: discouraged, down-hearted, confused, angry, feeling let down by God, by the Church. We just want to get away from it, and put distance between ourselves and the Church or God. But we can’t get it out of our head (or heart), and we keep coming back to it: complaining, blaming, arguing, disagreeing…but still needing to talk, because ‘it won’t go away’.

Perhaps it will help to take stock now of where we find ourselves on ‘the Road to Emmaus’, a road initially ‘away from Jerusalem’ that is actually a searching for ‘the way back to Jerusalem’?

Only when we let ourselves, and each other, know what our hopes had been‘, and how we think we’ve been ‘let down’, will we be able to explore these in the light of ‘what the Gospel is actually calling us to’.

We may well feel that we’ve talked about this ad nauseam, and it’s time to do something about it. But it will be good to hold ourselves in check at this 1st Station, stay in the company of these two disciples and spell out what we are angry or discouraged or confused about.

JMcC

 

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