Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Prophecy of St. Nilus and the Present Crisis in the Church

There is a crisis in the Catholic Church, which has withstood the gates of hell for 2,000 years and will continue to do so until the end of time. But there's no doubt things are not right, in the Church and in the world. There is spiritual darkness, which many of us see at the parish level all too clearly. It's a time of upheaval, and many souls are getting caught in the chaos.

Some of us have seen unbelievable things happening. If you tried to explain, it would sound implausible, unless the person you're speaking with has witnessed something similar. Great disorder is now seen in some parishes, schools and home school groups. Although this blog is written from a Catholic perspective, I've also run into evangelicals who've been run out of their place of worship or youth group by a person who appears to suffer from narcissistic personality disorder.

(Even though this site is maintained by a Catholic, anyone is free to comment on the problem of difficult people in church, many of whom have narcissistic traits and have a penchant for malicious gossip and sowing discord.)

Anyway, it's my personal opinion that all of this is a sign of the times. We need to forgive these people, even though it's unlikely they're going to apologize. We need to pray for them. And we need to stay close to God during this storm.

Saint Nilus the Elder, who lived in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, was a 5th-century mystic and prophet. He was able to predict many of the things we seem to be living through now. He foresaw many of the changes that would happen around the dawn of the 20th-century. He said that "lawlessness" would grow and "people will be cruel."

He said love would become extinguished and people would become greedy. Here is the part of his prophecy that you can probably really relate to. He said that many would lose their faith, but those trying to cling to it would seek out "holy refuges." However, even there, they would find "obstacles and constraints."

Some of his prophecy also speaks of apocalyptic events.

If you are currently having difficulty in a parish setting, remain strong in your faith. Change parishes if you have to. Lose the bullies, but don't lose God.

For a discussion on female malignant narcissists, please visit my Female Bullies blog.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Saint Raymond Nonnatus - Patron of Those Falsely Accused

Saint Raymond Nonnatus is pictured above being fed by angels. That's because his mother died just before he was born, and someone cut him from her womb in order to save his life. That is why the name "Nonnatus" stayed with him throughout his time on earth. In Latin, it means "not born."

Born in Catalonia, Spain in 1204, Saint Raymond joined the Mercedarian religious order and was ordained to the priesthood in 1222. At that time, Moorish invaders to Spain often took Christians as captives. The order, which still exists, was founded specifically to raise money to ransom these people. In addition to taking the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, Saint Raymond, as a Mercedarian, had a fourth vow. That was to offer his life if another person was in danger of losing their eternal salvation through weakness of faith.

Living out his vocation, Saint Raymond set out for North Africa with enough money to purchase the freedom for hundreds of Christians. However, he ran out of funds. So he offered himself as ransom to release a couple dozen more. Unfortunately, he suffered greatly at the hands of his captors. He was scalded with a hot iron. A padlock was put on his mouth to prevent him from talking about God and converting others. Eventually, he was released and died in his native Spain in 1240.

Because of the time he spent in captivity, with his mouth padlocked, he is considered the patron of those falsely accused. The mouth is capable of so much destruction.

It is now a pious belief that Saint Raymond will intercede for those who are the target of nasty and malicious rumors. (Please ask him to help your enemies, by securing a spiritual padlock on their mouths, so they will no longer sin with their tongues.) For this reason, people often leave padlocks upon the altars of the various parishes in the world now named after him.

I realize some of my readers are probably not Catholic, so I wanted to explain why Catholics turn to Canonized saints in times of need. We don't worship the saints, but we do consider them our friends. We ask them to pray for us just like we do with our friends here on earth. We've noticed that this is very effective, as the souls of these saints in Heaven are perfected, and God always hears the prayers of the just.

For additional reading on personality disorders, please read my Female Bullies blog.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Persecution Now Comes from Within the Church

Christians have always been persecuted. In the early years of the Church, they were beheaded, thrown to the lions, drawn and quartered, stabbed through the heart and boiled in oil. There is a Catholic saying that "the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church." Following the first centuries of persecution, the faith became stronger and Christianity spread.

Now, we are in very different times. At least in the Western world, faithful followers of Christ are not in any physical danger. However, we face very grave spiritual dangers. Living in a world that's entirely secular, God is put aside in favor of sporting events held on Sunday mornings, in addition to a multitude of other distractions. Trying to remain faithful in this world is not easy. Oftentimes, it seems as if we're the only ones in our entire extended families doing so. Also, we may have young children and we want to pass along our beliefs. In order to do this, we seek out a holy refuge, or at least we try.

Unfortunately, there are very of these around. So we hunker down in what seems like a prayerful, peaceful place, only to find that in some ways, it is even more disorderly than the outside world.

Right now, persecution of the faithful is coming from within the Church, and from the inside, rather than the outside of various religious settings. This is a very difficult situation, because we desperately need a familiar and comfortable place to pray. What happens when we get driven out of a parish? Where do we go? There aren't many alternatives.

Do we return to the world? No, that's not something we can't do. We still have to persevere, in spite of everything. We have to pick up our cross and follow Christ. He'll lead us to safety.

For a discussion on female malignant narcissists, please read my Female Bullies blog.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Returning Kindness with Evil

A sister site called Female Bullies examines the epidemic of malignant narcissism among women. These morally disordered women release their wrath upon other women (as well as on their children and romantic partners.) This is about failed female relationships, since there seems to be more information on narcissism/sociopathy as it pertains to love relationships gone wrong.

This blog, however, is specifically about adult bullies that you might find in church. Morally disordered people gravitate toward religious settings, for a number of reasons. One of the biggest is that Christians are tolerant and forgiving, so these folks can get away with a lot as they try to undermine legitimate authority in parish. (Sometimes, though, the pastor himself has narcissistic traits. If that's the case, pray for him and decide if you need to worship elsewhere.) My own first-hand experience with malignant narcissism unfolded in a church setting.

Anyway, the most recent entry on Female Bullies is about how malignant narcissist will attempt to trip you up, even as you are helping them. That's because deceit and treachery are the hallmarks of this condition.

However, you can rest assured God is watching everything. Although we can't hold a narcissist accountable, He certainly can and He will, both in this life and in the next. We have His word on that. Proverbs 17:13 states that, "Disaster will never be far from the house of one who returns evil for good."

As Christians we are called to pray for those whom harm us. Part of our prayer must be for God to have mercy on them.

For a discussion of female malignant narcissism, please visit my Female Bullies blog.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Reading the Bible Can Help You Forgive a Church Bully

Church bullying, I'm convinced, is one of the worst types of abuse because it hits you on a spiritual level. That's because church is supposed to be a refuge from the problems of the world. However, when church bullies rule the roost, your biggest problem becomes your place of worship.

Living through this type of abuse was something I don't wish to repeat. However, I learned a lot and, in the process, hopefully drew closer to God. Through it all, I realized that my salvation, and the salvation of my family members, are not dependent upon anyone but Him. We can still get to Heaven if we follow Him, follow all His commandments and eventually die in a State of Grace, with no mortal sin on our souls. (We're Catholic.) Even though my children were systematically excluded from various youth-related activities, which I felt they needed for their faith formation, I have to still trust in God, because He wants them in Heaven even more than I do. None of this would He have happened if a greater good couldn't be brought from it.

In the midst of the worst of our struggles, I read a lot of Scripture. It was very comforting. It strengthened my belief that God is in control and that bullies will be accountable for their behavior. We need to pray for them and they so desperately need our prayers.

At the same time, for the sake of our own souls, and theirs as well, we need to keep our distance from morally disordered people. Again and again, in different ways, the Word of God reminds us not to walk with evil doers.

The Second Letter to Timothy sums up the bad behavior we are seeing today. Chapter 3, on The Dangers of the Last Days, refers to those weak brethren, "as they make a pretense of religion but deny its power. Reject them."

In other words, pray for church bullies, but do not associate with them.

These can be very difficult times in the Church, right now. You can almost expect problems, especially if you get involved in parish projects. Just because you're in a place of worship, don't expect help from the pastor or from anyone else.

Adult bullies are sneaky and clever, and, in these times of moral darkness and confusion, they get away with a lot.