Monday, July 28, 2014

God Made us For These Times

No doubt about it, these are very difficult times. There have been a number of Catholic prophecies that have mentioned that the present age is a very challenging one. For instance, our Lady of Fatima appeared in 1917 to tell us that God was very much offended by how we were living, and that the fashions we were wearing were not to His likinig. Things since then have only gotten worse.

I realize that not everyone who reads this blog is Catholic. However, what happened at Fatima was a public miracle witnessed by about 70,000, and reported in newspapers throughout the world. On October 13, 1917, a crowd of people had gathered in Portugal because three children had been receiving visits from Mary, the Mother of God. She had promised that something spectacular would happen, which is why so many people had gathered in a particular field. Much to their horror, the sun seemed to break away from it's regular orbit, and appeared to move in a zig-zag motion in the sky. They could see a trail of rainbows left by the "dancing" sun. (If you want to read more about it, just Google "Fatima Miracle of the Sun.")

Anyway, we are living in times in which all social order has broken down. There is no peace anywhere in the world, and we don't always find it at church either. Given the crisis in the Church and in the world as well, this isn't too surprising.

One thing to remember is that God created us to live in these times. We have to stay faithful, no matter what.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Ignoring the Wolves

Jesus told us we'd encounter wolves. At one point, there were many more than I ever imagined I'd meet, at church of all places. Our family was literally driven from our place of worship when a mobbing ensued. While this was going on, we stuck around longer than we should of, hoping everything would change. When it didn't, we made the fortunate decision to leave for good.

One of the priests seemed to know what was going on, but he was rather limited in his capacity to put an end to it. He was always very nice to us, and I'll always appreciate the fact he tried to do something. One of his homilies sticks in my mind. He told us that he was disappointed in some of the things he was seeing, and if anyone was confronted by wolves, to just ignore these beasts. "You don't even see them," he said. "Don't even look at them."

This advice was so right on because difficult people with malignant personalities were acting out. They were like unruly children, who needed to be ignored.

Although, back then, these individuals were larger than life, they are so insignificant now. So if you find yourself having to deal with church bullies, the best thing you can do is to carry on and not pay any attention to them. However, if the toxic environment is affecting your faith, or the faith of your family members, you probably need to think about leaving. In this case, don't try to fight it. You'll be much happier anywhere else.

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

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Heaven is Our True Home

No matter what happens in your parish, just keep telling yourself that "this too shall pass." Those were the very words I distinctly remember a priest talking about while immersed in a church mobbing. For those who are unfamiliar with this concept, it seems very strange that something like this could happen, in a house of God, of all placed. But with all the disorder in the Church, and in the world, it shouldn't be too surprising. Even in Biblical times, there were disputes in the early Christian Church. They continue today.

One new twist, though, is that much of the commotion seems to be driven by women. In the years following Vatican Council II, lay women have assumed a greater role in parish life. This can be a decidedly mixed blessing if one of them happens to have strong narcissistic traits, and she chooses you as her target. (This is what happened to me.)

Looking back on my experience, I now realize that God was trying to teach me a few lessons. One is not to become overly attached to any parish or faith community. That's because everything can change in an instant. Another is that God is with you no matter what. He is watching everything and your time of trial will be short lived, although it seems like an eternity while you're waiting for things to improve. There was another lesson I think God wanted to reinforce as well. Heaven is our true home, which is why things don't seem quite right here on earth.

When the trial is over, you are happier and, hopefully, strengthened in your faith. God was brought you out of the darkness once again.

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

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Mary, Undoer of Knots Devotion

Catholics have great love and affection for Mary, the Mother of God. She was chosen from among all women to bear the Son of God, and she did so at great personal sacrifice. It's for this reason that we try to give her the honor and respect she deserves. We also believe her Son cannot refuse her requests, as evidenced by His first public miracle at the Wedding Feast of Cana, when He turned water into wine. Now that Mary in Heaven, she continually presents our petitions to Jesus. From personal experience, this is a very effective way to have your prayers answered.

We call upon Our Blessed Mother in our times of need, under a variety of titles, often associated with a Church-approved Marian apparition. One particular devotion known as Mary Undoer of Knots is favored by Pope Francis. Originally a German devotion, it is also popular in his native Argentina.

If you targeted by a malignant narcissist, especially at church, life can get very complicated. Many, many knots will be tied up, so numerous that only God can straighten out this mess. This is the devotion I turned to when things became very tangled in my own life. I am amazed at the miraculous ways they've been untied.

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

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Dealing with Clerical Narcissism

The Catholic Church has been rocked by sexual abuse scandals. But another very sinister problem has been brewing as well. This is the issue of clerical narcissism. It's a terrible thing, because it has driven many people out of the pews. I'm convinced it's a contributing factor in the plummeting Mass attendance and shuttered churches.

A priest who suffers from narcissism, or any type of personality disorder, is not a good shepherd. Instead of focusing on his flock, he is wrapped up in himself. Prone to mood swings, he may angrily lash out at parishioners over trivial things. Unfortunately, this type of treatment is something many Catholics in the United States have gotten used to.

The majority of priests are kindly souls who love their flocks. But a significant minority are difficult to deal with. They act extremely bothered by the very fact that we show up for confession, as if it's putting them out to absolve our sins during the scheduled time slot. In most parishes, confession is scheduled on Saturday, about an hour before the Sunday vigil Mass.

They don't do well with sick calls. They aren't good at comforting the sorrowful. For instance, right after my grandmother died, I realized someone from another state had called a certain priest to see if he would anoint her. The caller was unaware she had already passed.

I telephoned Father to tell him not to come. (My grandmother, fortunately, had already received her Sacraments.) However, the priest was unhappy with the request. The caller meant well, but she'd made a couple of odd, but innocuous, statements. So, immediately after losing my grandmother, I had to calm this priest down. I was only somewhat successful. Apparently, he was so perturbed, and put out, that he neglected to tell me he was sorry my grandmother had just died.

When a priest has a personality disorder, the entire parish suffers. People tiptoe around him, living in fear of setting him off.

The crisis in the Church, seen mostly in First World countries, has only exacerbated the problem. Faced with a dwindling number of priests, bishops may keep an ill-tempered priest in his current assignment, instead of removing him from active ministry and making sure he gets help.

The problem may bot be as acute in parts of the world, where the faith is stronger. The men called to the priesthood there may have better formation, and a more sincere desire to serve God.

Psychologists describe narcissistic personality disorder as a fixed condition that can never change. I believe it can, but only with God's help. The problem is driven by pride, and, as we know, pride goes before the fall. Disordered personalities also tend to have substance abuse problems. This is something that can be treated. By one estimate, about 10 percent of the American Catholic clergy have a drinking problem, a figure seen among the rest of the adult population.

If a member of the clergy has narcissism, we have to hope it's not the malignant variety. Otherwise, he will likely find one parishioner (at a time) to single out for emotional abuse.

Don't get me wrong. I have no plans to leave the Catholic Church and I hope by writing this I am encouraging others to stay as well. We need to stick with the Church and receive the Sacraments in order to get to Heaven. This is the Church founded by Christ himself in the year 33 AD, so leaving is not an option. And, where would we go, anyway?

Although we need to stick with Christ, and his Church, nothing prevents us from seeking spiritual nourishment in a healthier setting. We may want to join a prayer group or a Bible study, led by a different priest. Perhaps we could go to confession at a monastery, or with a religious order priest. We may have to drive a bit, but it's a small price to pay for good spiritual direction.

The overriding message I want to leave is that clerical narcissism is not acceptable. Emotionally abusive priests are not acceptable. If you run into one, I suggest you give him lots of space, so his aberrant behavior does not harm your soul.

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

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Holiness and Being Nice to People

Years ago, a priest said something that opened my eyes. He mentioned that people who aren't nice to others are not holy. Of course, he's right, but I had never looked at it that way. We can do all kinds of devotions and even rigorous fasting and penance. However, all of this means very little if we aren't kind to our neighbor. This same message is also found in the Bible and in the Ten Commandments. The first three Commandments concern our relationship with God. The other Commandments deal with how we relate to the people that move in and out of our lives. In other words, if we love God, we will love the other people he created. And, if we don't love our neighbors, we don't really love God, despite the fact we may say we do.

This same priest also opened my eyes to another fact, which is that some people who look holy are not. Inside, they are filled with hate and rage. They take offense very easily, and they are unable to forgive. But we don't see this side right away, because it's covered with a cloak of piety.

I write about malignant narcissism on this blog and another, and I refer to it as a personality disorder or a moral disorder, a term I prefer because it brings the element of free will into the mix. Adults who commit evil deeds make the choice to harm others, even though they know it's wrong. As a Catholic, who realizes the actions of a malignant narcissist are very sinful, I firmly believe that what we're seeing is a spiritual disorder.

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

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Overcoming Narcissistic Abuse With Prayer

Prayer is your best recourse when you become the target of a church mobbing. You need to pray both for yourself and for the people who are so spiritually blind that they see no problem with acting out in God's house. Anyone who willingly and knowingly doles out emotional abuse in a religious setting does not have their heart and mind set on God or on Heavenly things. They are still very much fixed to this passing world. They are also in very great need of conversion, probably even more so than most of the folks who never set foot in church.

It's now been a few years since I've removed myself, my husband and my children from a toxic place of worship. Even after things turned ugly, I had convinced myself that this setting offered some sort of advantage, in terms of eternal salvation. Now I know the opposite is true. Staying in a poisonous atmosphere would have harmed our souls. Church bullies are very frustrating and distracting.

Leaving this setting was the best decision we ever made. I had prayed hard for things to improve where we were, but God answered my prayer in a different way that turned out to be miraculous. Living through a church mobbing can bring many blessings, although these are typically apparent only when you look back upon the situation.

So, when you're under fire, in church of all places, turn go God. He's listening and He's walking closely with you during this trial.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

God's Plan in All of This

When a church mobbing begins to unfold, it's hard to understand why this is happening and what good could possibly come from it. But God would never allow such a bad thing to happen without bringing a greater good from the whole experience. It might be for your benefit, as He'll use this situation to draw you closer to Him. Your prayers for the difficult personalities involved may be what gives them enough graces for them to convert. Anyone who abuses others is in great need of conversion, despite any displays of outward piety. They may look holy , but their bad behavior gives them away. If they can treat just one person with contempt, this can and will extend to others. If they don't love their neighbor, then they don't really love God either.

A big part of God's plan might be to lead you to another spiritual home where the environment is not toxic. Once a mobbing ensues, it means the atmosphere is irrevocably poisoned, at least until the chief troublemaker or troublemakers either convert or depart. Usually, it's their departure that brings peace. Conversion may take much longer.

Although you may be reluctant to leave a familiar parish, you may not find peace and happiness until you do so. Making the decision to change parishes is extremely difficult. Your new place of worship won't feel like home until you've been there for awhile. It almost reminds me of dying and going to Heaven. We fight hard to stay alive because life here on earth is all we know. But once we get to Heaven, our true home, I don't think we'd ever want to leave, and relive the pain and suffering we can't avoid in this life.

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