Comfort in a Catholic Church?

(You have no idea how hard I work to keep my mouth shut on this site.)

In this experience we call human life, which is a misinterpretation of what is still essentially animal life; I believe that each of us has the inalienable right to find comfort where he/she can find it. In part, that’s part of the mission of this site; to be a Sacred Space where participants can find comfort from childhoods of great pain.

“Life is suffering” sayeth the Buddha.

What Buddha missed was, “and the avoidance thereof”. But then again, since such avoidance is but another form of suffering, he explained life perfectly. Only fools like me would think he may have missed something!

There is no greater truth about life and there are such incredible varieties of sufferings to choose from that what you consider the deepest of agonies could be eternal orgasmic ecstasy to another. Go figure!

But life is also transcending suffering by thought or deed or intent. And yes, for far too many, life means enduring it like a Purgatory that never ends and legions succumb to the suffering by manufacturing more of it for themselves, without getting help from circumstances or anyone else. They become suffering. In that way, do they embody life?

Let’s leave that debate to those with the patience of Mother Teresa.

We’re here to look at the varieties of experience that have been helpful to our participants. My way of contributing is to just play with ideas and concepts as they come up, and share a little of what I’m learning about myself as I do. So let’s explore the idea of comfort a bit further.

Someone on this site mentioned a number of times that attending Sunday Catholic Mass had become routine. Now the suffering avoided (in my opinion) had more to do with relationship with spouse. On this site, can you imagine ANYONE turning to the very Church that abused them for comfort from those wounds for any reason?

I don’t care about why, where or how the comfort was derived; it made life a little more endurable for that person until it was time to abandon the practice.

Who amongst us has not paid for a dollop of comfort with a dash of hypocrisy?

Look at me. This is my first announcement of this but guess what amigos? I moved out of the United States to a Catholic country. I’ve chosen to move my life to a place where the center of most of the populace’s week revolves around Catholicism.

Every morn at 6:00 a.m., sometimes earlier, I’m awakened by the pealing of Church bells from each side of town (we have two churches), and that’s just the first time for each day. I don’t really tune them out, they are a part of my life; a part of the order and consistency of things without my really paying much mind to them. But my guess is they call the people to prayer here as often in a day as Muslims bow to Mecca.

In fact, one of the most important grounding things I did upon moving here was to make sure my first Sunday here I went to Mass; to share my prayers of thanks with the people who are hosting this grand adventure. Naturally, you go to where they go to pray.

The Catholic Church is something I haven’t done since I don’t remember when, maybe 1990.

Talk about suffering! This is Old School Catholicism. The benches to kneel on were slabs of wood, and the people attending, 90% indigenous, were dirt poor and really didn’t need any reminders of servitude. But I wasn’t there to judge or even examine, I was there to pray my prayers and let them bounce off all the 19th Century walls with everyone else’s.

And, naturally, I took my place center pew with the best view of the gold-gilded altar I could find and within minutes, a bunch of nuns came in and surrounded me.

I had a choice; the nuns could have been gifts or scourges from God (or Jesus for that matter). I’ve come a long road and my choice was to see the wink of God in the whole deal, acknowledge it and even get much joy from the encounter because what I was told was “You’re free to do whatever you want with this experience.”

In 1990 I might have tried to trip one of them up and knock the others about like penguin bowling pins but this day, I chose to feel deep gratitude to be in that moment of time, exactly where I was. Amidst the nuns, I felt comfort.

And now, I’m paying attention to how the Catholic Church expresses itself down here and you know what I’m hearing? A surprising number of stories of clergy going to bat for the poor and sacrificing; can you imagine that? But I’m not here to investigate the Church, or even to think of it much beyond this piece.

I find comfort in knowing any time I want (literally as many times in a week as I want), I can be in the presence of local people who seek comfort and guidance from Spirit. Let’s put it this way, there are two centers of town and both are churches, NOT banks. Just being around people with that intent and focus, no matter the form, enriches my own ability to connect with my  own Source. I only care about one denomination; mine and there are many vehicles that help me to know it better!

Underneath all our horror stories lay wonderful stories of hope and guidance. They take on so many personally powerful shapes and forms that you can’t help but sense that many forms of custom-designed support are available from other than the physical realm if you just seek them.

What’s important here? What’s most important is to grow to understand (yes, no matter how painful) the difference between the abuse, the abuser, the system that supported the abuser, the core values that were violated, what you caused and what you were victim of. Only then can you attain a sense of self in relation to your past traumas that will allow you to move more fluidly through your present-day life.

Essentially, we’re not responsible for the abuse, but we ARE responsible for our recovery. And by extension, what we do with the lessons learned and never forget; how we can choose to help others lessen their own burdens.

Of course, there’s another aspect of our personal responsibility in the matter. If we were not at all responsible for the abuse itself as it originated, we are certainly responsible for what we do with it to harm ourselves and others. To even realize that this happens is a major part of the recovery process.

In general terms…regarding this site…I really don’t mind people sharing what gives them comfort, almost no matter what it is and as long as that comfort does not harm others or involve the conversion of others to that way of thinking. My job is to make sure there are limits and boundaries. Much to everyone’s credit, I’ve rarely had to exercise my authority.

My point is it’s important for us here to be able to see ALL SORTS of options to aid in our own recovery; maybe ESPECIALLY if it means reading of someone’s way of coping and declaring “NO! That WON’T work for me.”

We have come from childhoods where our options were severely limited. We have come here to witness how our peers have unburied themselves so that maybe we can find such shovels and pickaxes and helpful workers in our own lives.

Welcome to the storeroom. Rummage through what you see and take what works for you and, please, allow your peers to find the comfort they can from what works best for them, regardless of your ability to approve or understand it.


3 Responses to “Comfort in a Catholic Church?”

  1. B. Robertson Says:

    Wow. You really should be an author. Beautifully written. And you are right. We have to take the horror of what happened to us and turn it around.

  2. djc12345 Says:

    Your thoughts are well taken and nicely expressed, thank you.I left the Church for about one year and joined a Methodist congregation, then came back. Not long after I returned, the molestation scandal began. I could have walked. I did not. I strongly believe we grow in spite of some things, because of others – and the Church fits both categories. No question of that. It is an imperfect institution. While I may have been raised to believe Church is God on earth, it is really not. It is a travel agent for God made up of men, who screw up. I am active in a lot of parish ministries, including outreach, St. Vincent de Paul – and the most important thing is how you carry Christ in your heart. I cannot deny I don’t want to knock some people on their ass in the Church that I get so spitting mad over once in a great while, but there is an old expression that the Catholic Church is big enough for everyone. (I like Pope Francis. He is humble and inspires people toward simplicity, a breath of fresh air in an ever complex world. And I hope he will usher in some other good things. There was so much hurt with B16.)

  3. Joe Ribaudo Says:

    Religion in itself is a joke. Religion wants you to believe in a invisible man in the sky . You must follow ten rules or you will be condemned to fire ,damnation,for the rest of eternity but he loves you ! He always needs money too

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