View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The debris that haunts me

It happened again this morning.

I was in our parish chapel before the tabernacle, trying to fit in a half hour of prayer before Mass. I was saying a rosary, when I realized my mind had strayed into remembering an inappropriate comedy skit I'd seen on television 30 years ago.

It happens all too often. I'll be at Mass, praying, driving, reading, watching television, and suddenly I'll remember an image, a line of dialogue or from a song, a joke, a skit that taints what I am doing.

When I realize what is happening, I quickly say the Jesus Prayer, or ask God to help me stay focused on what I'm doing or to drive that thought out of my mind.

But there is so much in there. When I was younger I was not always careful about what I read, viewed, listened to. I rationalized it all by saying it wasn't that bad - though, sadly, there are some things I allowed to enter my mind that were bad. I'd say it was just funny, or entertaining, and that it wouldn't lead me astray. I'd say that the sisters, the priests, the parents, the older folks who were trying to warn me were prudes, or were being ridiculous.

And some of it was small, not evil in and of itself.

But the accumulated weight of so much moral debris can desensitize you, can weaken you, can make you less resistant. I know that it helped to pull me down to more evil things at times - as I'm sure it has other people. I have used those things that haunt my subconscious to help excuse my greater lapses. As a parent, I'm ashamed to say I let my children have contact with some of those things, too.

I wish now that I had been more careful back then. I wish I had not allowed all that to stain my mind and my soul.

I wish I could convince others to be careful - but they would probably view me with the disdain or condescension with which I viewed those who tried to warn me. I'm sure there are some people who think of me as a fanatic or too scrupulous.

But here I am dealing with the consequences of not living the kind of life I should have been living, of not being careful and wise in what I allowed to enter my heart and mind. That is very real.

And here I am now knowing the pain that I have caused God, who suffered on the Cross for my choices back then.

I have confessed the things I did that were wrong. I have been forgiven by my loving God. With God's healing grace, I have even forgiven myself (though there are still some pangs of regret).

But the debris will be with me until the day I die.


Blogger In the choir loft said...

Lee - Every word that you have written is so true for me too. You are not alone; not at all. You have the God-giving gift to be honest with God and yourself about your past.

I, too, am sometimes haunted by my past. The lost opportunities. The wrong choices of friends. What I filled my mind and stomach with. I regret so many of my decisions.

Now I can see, how God is leading me out of a former way of living to a living that is more Christ-like.

Please be assured of my prayers.

7:56 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

I suspect there are many of us who came of age in the 60s, 70s, 80s, even the 90s, who have moral debris cluttering our spiritual lives. Sadly, I'm not alone.

Thank you for your prayers.

8:56 PM  
Anonymous Carol said...

It's true for women as well.

And yet, this is the same lament of the saints. Iris by iris, the eyes of our souls open and focus clearly on much, more and more.. and then we come to know and breathe and preach His compassion for sinners. Thus, debris itself is changed into redeeming Voice.

12:12 AM  
Blogger Mr. B said...

There's not an adult alive who shouldn't feel this remorse. It's The Holy Spirit who open our eyes to aid us in becoming more pious.

Look upon these moments as opportunities for pennance - I do.

I feel that if spent the next 40 years on my knees, it wouldn't make up for 1/40 my past sins.

Thank God for the virtue of hope.

God Bless.

1:30 PM  

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