Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Having a Healthy Detachment at Church

Part of surviving as a Christian today, I believe, means lowering our expectations of what a church is supposed to be. Yes, in an ideal world, it's meant to be a place of peace, love and refreshment. However, in reality, that's not the experience many people have today.

With the Church in crisis and the world in flux, the healthiest response, I believe, is to maintain a certain detachment with your place of worship. By all means, settle in as best you can and don't go looking for trouble. But don't view it as a near-perfect haven on earth, because that will inevitably lead to disappointment.

Since the world and the Church are in disarray, we can expect to encounter difficulties in a church setting, especially if we get too involved. That's because domineering personalities have taken over many parishes, something especially noticeable if there's a change in leadership. If the new pastor is has weaknesses himself, this can mean difficulty.

Remember, nothing on earth is permanent and nothing is perfect. Heaven will be. However, we just have to persevere until we get there.

For a discussion of female narcissism, please read by Female Bullies blog.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Suffering Can be Redemptive

I once heard a homily in which the priest said, "There is no such thing as cheap grace." He then went on to talk about suffering, and how suffering can help save your own soul, as well as the souls of others. Sometimes we need to be purged of our faults, and suffering is a way in which that happens. Or, we may undergo tribulations for the sake of others. When we encounter trials, and we unite our suffering to Christ on the Cross, we can gain great merit.

Being the target of a church bully involves a unique kind of suffering. It means your spiritual home is no longer a refuge, and you need to view it in a new light by lowering your expectations. Or, perhaps, it's time move on and find a new place to worship. This means leaving old friends behind and striking out on your own in a new setting. Or, the bully may have turned enough people against you so that you have very few friends left at church, and the situation becomes akin to a workplace mobbing, only it's playing out at church.

When this happens, usually God is calling you to a new place.

Never forget that suffering can be redemptive. God is very pleased when accept our cross and we give Him our sufferings as an offering. Living on earth, we have the free will to make this offering. The Holy Souls in Purgatory do not have this choice, and they can no longer gain merit for their trials.

(Purgatory is a place of purification, because only souls that are perfect may enter the Kingdom of Heaven.)

Pixabay photo top by PublicDomainPictures

Monday, August 11, 2014

God Will Send Trials

It's now been several years since I was the target of a church mobbing, most likely started by a woman I considered to be a friend. God is good. Since then, He has filled my life with peace and happiness. Yes, I needed to uproot my children and leave our spiritual home. Fears and concerns about what this would do to their faith prevented me from acting sooner. However, looking back, I believe cutting our losses and heading to another parish was the best thing I could have done for them.

Now, from the perspective of hindsight, I know that God watched this all play out and He didn't stop it as soon as I would have liked. That's because He allowed it to happen, for a reason, because He knew of a way to bring a greater good of out this whole mess.

If you're reading this blog, perhaps you too are dealing with a church bully. They are certainly out there. Every parish probably has one or more, kept in check if there's a strong leader. However, if this isn't the case, or the poor pastor is outnumbered, these narcissists in sheep's clothing will seize the moment.

Sometimes, they even gain the power to spiritually abuse other members of the congregation. Or, unfortunately, the pastor has a disordered personality and he is very difficult to deal with. Unfortunately, it seems as if we're living in a time and an age in which malignant narcissism is hard to escape, even in church.

But anyway, regardless of the times we're living in, we do know that God to test our faith. These too shall pass. If you're a target of a church bully, you have my utmost sympathy as well as my prayers. Keep the faith.

Pixabay image top by geralt

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

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Finding Well-Adjusted Friends at Church

The Church is a hospital for sinners, something all of us are guilty of. Really, no one is better than anyone else. The only difference between us is that we sin differently. We are all in need of repentance and mercy.

However, our parish should also be our refuge. We should be free to pray there without any distractions. No mind games should be played in God's house, and no young children should ever be marginalized or excluded because someone doesn't like their parents.

Unfortunately, we are living in the world. We are also living in very sinful times. Sometimes, in a parish without strong shepherd, or a pastor greatly outnumbered by wolves, a very unhealthy form of lay leadership evolves. Since the parish is a community, it becomes difficult to isolate ourselves. Isolation may also not be good for your soul, because it can shut you off from the various devotions and practices that help you grow in your faith.

The trick is to stay involved, but not too involved, and to limit your dealings with highly disordered people, who may have their own agendas. Our Lord tells us to be both wise as serpents (discerning) and gentle as doves (trusting). This is a balancing act. On the one hand, we must assume the best possible motives of everyone we meet. On the other, we need to be realistic. Not everyone we meet at church can be trusted.

I've found that the holiest people are the ones who appear the most normal, and not overly pious, which may be a smokescreen for deeper issues.