Sunday, September 20, 2009
Dear Sister Abby
I wouldn't be here if the Catholic Church was not so confusing. I say that with all the love in my heart. I wouldn't change anything, mind you. But there are just things that we find ourselves explaining over and over again, like the fact that we do not pray to saints and that the Immaculate Conception is not the same thing as the Virgin Birth. Nor is it the same thing as an Immaculate Reception, which as far as I can tell from the lame jokes I have been told, is some sort of football miracle.
It certainly muddies the waters.
On top of that, people are continually struggling with what they are supposed to do, or not do. I don't want to take up any more space rambling on about all the confusion, as you will see for yourself how confusing it can get as I attempt to answer two questions, one of which is perhaps better left to Dear Abby. Nonetheless, I'm going to go for it.
Sister, thank you for this post (on offering up suffering). There is something I just cannot get through my thick head though, and it drives me crazy. I got out of a physically abusive marriage in November, and since then there has been no end to the drama, my husband is in jail, etc. Part of me knows it was right to escape esp. for the safety of the children, but the other part of me feels like I should have been stronger, turned the other cheek one more time, offered it up, leaned more heavily on the Lord, something. I also feel guilty for not visiting him in jail since it is one of the works of mercy. Basically I feel guilty for giving up and I don't know if I did the right thing. Help!!
There should be no part of you that believes that you should have subjected your children to one more minute of any type of abuse, even if they were only witnesses to that abuse. Every second of a child subjected to that horror, made all the worse when it is happening in the home, which should be a place of love and safety, damages the child. Each second. This goes for parents who bicker in front of their children as well.
You may indeed lean more heavily on the Lord, NOW. Someone else can take up the corporal work of mercy of visiting him in jail. The Lord doesn't ask you not to be safe. The Lord wants you whole, in body and spirit.
Let me tell you something, and please listen carefully:
You did the right thing.
You are still doing the right thing.
Your husband is mentally ill and you can't fix him.
Jesus loves you.
You and your children should be seeking counseling. Even if you think you don't need it, I can assure you that they do.
For the rest of you readers, please don't ever confuse torture with 'offering up' your suffering. And never inflict any type of suffering on children.
And now, before I forward this next question on to Dear Abby:
Sister Mary Martha, I have a saint request for you. Recently, I have started to fall in love with one of my best friends. The other night, he told me that he also feels the same way about me. Which sounds great, at first, until you realize that he's engaged. Now I never intended to cause any strain on his engagement--I never planned to say anything to him--but he brought up how he felt about me first and eventually I couldn't avoid the subject any longer. I am struggling very much with this. I feel as though I am culpable for what has happened. I struggle very much with my faith and only recently have been granted the grace to begin a slow return to the church after years of absence. So I am attempting to get my life back on track with the will of God. In a situation like this, while I know it is not my fault for feeling for him as I do, I worry that perhaps I have committed some indiscretion (I believe the term is called an "emotional affair"--point being an affair, which makes me ill,) along with the fear that I might not have the strength to confront what needs to be confronted and do the moral thing in the future. (Whatever might happen between the two of us, since it is still undecided and he is still engaged.)
So, to get to the saint part of this very verbose request, I would love for you to suggest a saint who might understand my situation. Either a saint who struggled with loving a person they were not allowed to have (even involved with an affair,) or one who struggled to do the morally right thing despite their desires. Or, I suppose, any other saint you might suggest. Thank you for your patience!
If you checked back in the comments section when you left your question, dear reader, you may have noticed that someone suggested St. Margaret of Corona as a patron saint for you. St. Margaret was a person who spent most of her life trying to get over a lost love.
I have a different suggestion: St. Maria Goretti, the patron saint of teens and chastity.
Here's why: to begin with you are going to have to "man up" as they say, to get through this situation. I believe that phrase really means "act maturely". What you have to do is actually very easy to explain. It won't be that easy to accomplish.
Your friend is in a committed relationship. The operative word here is "committed". He has made a promise to someone. It is entirely up to him as to whether or not he is going to keep that promise. He has not yet made a vow.
It isn't fair to him or to you or to her (I'm sure she is a lovely person) for you to hang around this whole situation hoping he'll choose you.
You need to bow out. Step back. Get away from the whole thing.
I know...very difficult. Offer it up.
He will then be free to choose and you'll have your answer. If the answer is not in your favor, please do not slash her tires.
And remember little Maria Goretti, who was stabbed 14 times while saying no. The thought of that should help you man up.
Abby? What say you?