There Is No Reason To Fear: An Autobiographical Reflection on Fighting Against Superstition and Living Life With God [2/2]   2 comments

Introduction

I am writing this essay and sharing it with you the reader exactly because I feel that it is something that Organized Religion gets a bad rap for namely that, “Organized Religion makes you feel guilty and shameful, holding no positivity or life in it.” Well I am here today to tell you that upon Reverting back to the Faith I too suffer from this problem as well, however unlike most people I have not given up on Organized Religion for the expressed purpose that God is Good and that what He wills for us is Good as well, through this belief I have done some asking around and investigating and wish to share with you today my official response.

Day of Wrath - Judgment Day

Centre panel from Memling’s triptych Last Judgment (c. 1467–1471)

Upon Reverting back to the Faith of My Childhood, I have come at a necessary crossroads of Reconciliation between the Faith of my Childhood as it was experienced as a Child and as it is understood today. Briefly and without getting into too much detail, my childhood was one marked by a sense of Fear and Shyness, both through the understanding of God but also because of my somewhat sheltered upbringing but also because of my own personality development growing up with peers. The effect of these factors lead me to Fear being Assertive both over myself, with others, and with circumstances, I felt like as if I need to be a lifeless hunk of meat who needed to accept what was given him and not try to change anything, even if I was crying out on the inside that I wanted to change.

Because of this fear of change and fear of assertion which was rooted in fear of punishment I inevitably found myself at an impasse, do I either (1) do nothing and stay with this or (2) give up on God. Since I was a teenager at this time it is pretty easy to imagine which choice I made. First I just became Agnostic then became an Apatheist, but as time went on I came back to God but tried to force Him into my own ideas and agenda, rather than conform to Him. Again, I thought I tried “conforming to His Will” when I was younger, so why would I want to do that? Upon coming back to Catholicism I learned that Teenagers are really bad at reasoning. I fell away from God for a time and allowed God into my life again with the condition that I be in charge that I may “live my life” as I saw fit so that I might assert my will and grow in confidence.

For a time my life was “good” in a worldly way, my confidence shot up and I asserted my will in my own little corner of the world, of course at the price of some suffering no doubt between me and others as well as me and myself. Now I contend that God allowed me to have these things and do these things, and I do not believe in my mind that God would hold an improved psychological health to my being only to take it away upon coming back to His Church. This essay is written to address the need to reconcile my erroneous childhood understanding and misguided teen years and my more adult reversion back into the Catholic fold. It is my hope that this paper will satisfy the yearning within myself but also help heal the damaged incurred upon those who also dealt with similar experience. This paper intends to be intellectually honest and hopefully with God’s Help may find a place to settle within our hearts, at no point should this paper be misconstrued to merely grant license to do whatever we want however.

Help of the Community

I posed my problem also with other individuals in 2 online forums regarding this particular problem as well. I want to share with you the fruits of the brief discussion. From Forums.Catholic.Com the overall message was what I was hoping for, according to those who have replied on this forum we are encouraged the following:

(1) Assertiveness over goals and desires and just your general non-specific actions is not the problem, rather Pride is the problem and Pride needs to be differentiated again Assertiveness, which ought to be understood as trying to minimize an existing problem or prevention of a new problem manifesting. (2) Never Second Guess Yourself, do what is natural, sinning is obvious in what you do while trying to manifest your desire.

As I read this reply I recalled what Jesus said to the people during His Sermon on the Mount, “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” According to the commentary from Blessed Rabanus a Benedictine Monk,

“Having forbidden swearing, He instructs us how we ought to speak, ‘Let your speech be yea, yea; nay, nay.’ That is, to affirm anything it is sufficient to say, ‘It is so;’ to deny, to say, ‘It is not so.’ Or, “yea, yea; nay, nay,” are therefore twice repeated, that what you affirm with the mouth you should prove in deed, and what you deny in word, you should not establish by your conduct.”

In a word, a person who second guesses themselves is acting in a manner wherein they want to do something but they do not do it, the first “yea” or “nay” serves as the intention and the second “yea” or “nay” serves as the action that follows it up. Christ warns against duplicity here and in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The worst thing to do is not do anything because of fear, you will not grow spiritually if you do not experience things and if need be, make mistakes and repent along the way.

Now from the other forum called, CathInfo.com I was given the grace of having someone reply who shared my struggle, this person replies saying, “Ignore these feelings (of feeling guilty of being assertive)” and “The Image of God you held in your mind as a child is incorrect.” Both these statements are certainly good news to me and for the reader too. There is no need to feel guilty for being assertive and having confidence and (if discerned honestly and properly that God is behind you in your endeavor) likewise no reason for feeling like you sinned against God for seeking to fulfill your aspirations and desires.

Conclusion and Reconciliation

When I went to confession to tell the Priest of my problem he had told me that God wants you to be Productive in your life. As I was walking home after receiving said guidance I became inspired by a realization that came to me namely that, Jesus Christ I believe offers those who suffer this problem a Parable, specifically the Parable of the Talent. As I was walking home I realized that these thoughts and feelings about being passive, docile, weak, and fearful of punishment were not of God but a mix between the vice of my own laziness and the adversary trying to make it look like holiness.

What I realized specifically was the fact that I was acting like the man given 1 Talent in the Parable, for my thoughts corresponded most to his thoughts when he said to the Master upon the Masters return, “I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.” God gave me Talents, God gave me Skills, God gave me a Mind that can plan and be entrepreneurial with all these things and planning implies something to plan for namely ambition, desires, goals and aspirations, He expects me to use them for Good and To Glorify Him in all I do.

But how was I acting? I saw God to be a “Hard Man” in the Judgmental and Condemning Image I had of Him as a Child and Teenager, and so I was “Afraid” to the point of feeling paralyzed by fear of using what I had been given. But the Truth is God is not like that, for those who did not fear and did not see Him as a Hard Man, went out and succeeded and look what the Master/God says for those who try, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” Such a realization as this ought to give an abundant consolation for those who feel paralyzed by such an imaginary/false fear of punishment.

Now consider this with what St. Augustine said in his 7th Homily on First John,

“Once for all, then, a short precept is given you: Love, and do what you will: whether you hold your peace, through love hold your peace; whether you cry out, through love cry out; whether you correct, through love correct; whether you spare, through love do you spare: let the root of love be within, of this root can nothing spring but what is good.”

The men who were rewarded in the Parable Loved their Master, and so everything they did was out of Love for the Master. What made them take risk, what made them work while the lazy servant did nothing, what made them double what they had been given? Nothing else truly but Love can make these things possible, since Love is expressive and Love is willing to go so far into darkness to bring people out of it. So it is for those who Love God, even when God seems far away as the Master in the Parable, this Love is truly the Presence and Motivation for all that we do. Love multiplies what we have been given, Fear reduces and makes smaller what we have been given, do not be caught up in Fear and Obsessive Solemnity, be Joyous and Loving in all you do. If you still feel unsure, then let every action have the intention of Love behind it and a Willingness to try and try again, that way God can see what you have done and help you along the way, rather than feeling paralyzed and fearing making the first step. If you still feel unsure than learn to embody this word well, Stewardship, for I believe that people who go through this problem are being called to become great stewards of this creation.

In light of the questions asked in the First Part of this Paper, you should feel liberated or aware of a need to change, but should not allow yourself to become a rug that people or life just walks all over. While we are called to accept what we have been given and apply it for the sake of cultivating Love of God and neighbor and achieving The Kingdom of Heaven, we ought not to think that suffering and negativity is intrinsically good, it isn’t and we would be lying to ourselves if we thought that it was. Therefore, come to peace with suffering and eventually the Suffering ends.

Remember God is a Spirit, not A Supreme Being; we are embodied Spirits. We See God’s Effects indirectly in this world, but we are called to both thought and action and we should never allow ourselves to be paralyzed by thought and never commit ourselves to act. If we honestly discerned well and thought God was with us and we find ourselves in difficult straights that does not mean we revert back to a weak-willed and second guessing position, instead it means we endure the Judgment of the Lord, Trust in God’s Mercy and Renew Our Minds through Reflection and Prayer going forward, no one renews their mind by going back to the original state they came from, they learn and are forever changed by those experiences.

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2 responses to “There Is No Reason To Fear: An Autobiographical Reflection on Fighting Against Superstition and Living Life With God [2/2]

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  1. Pingback: Update: Site Alterations 1 « Reality and Illusions

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