Friday, November 19, 2010

Confiteor

One would think that the final stretch of the year would tend to bring in a little more peace to one's life, but instead, I find myself stressed--at times, needlessly so-- by too many things. In the three years since I have restarted this blog, I find that I have written a lot about my opinions on things, but not too much about me. Granted, most of these thoughts really spring from my own history, but at this point, I think a little more transparency from me is in order.

First, an admission: yours truly finds it increasingly difficult to practice his faith. This is not due to any intellectual rancor on my part with the Church's positions, but rather, a sense of these teachings being muddled, obscured, perhaps even made irrelevant, by own experiences. When I turned twenty one in February, I promised myself that I would be a more responsible student, a kinder brother, and a better son. Nine months later, I find it hard to believe that I have made any progress in these areas. I remain just as hot-headed, boorish, arrogant, and distrustful as ever. I am pretty much ruled by my loins  nowadays, a disposition which I acquired in high school at the same time that I was learning how to chant the Salve Regina. When I finally confessed, after the longest time, last Friday, the normally smiling Jesuit told me that I obviously had a lot of issues in as grave a tone of voice he could muster. But the most agonizing thing, I think, is how numb I have become to these criticisms. Perhaps it comes with my age, but I find myself, lately, juggling a multitude of internal inconsistencies, trying to find a semblance of an equilibrium by which I could live my life and remain, at least in theory, a good Catholic.

I find, too, that my heart seems increasingly weighed down by an all-consuming, fiery bitterness. My greatest fault, say my parents, is that I say things too quickly without thinking about their effects on people. And I guess I have to concede that I am quite a hurtful person. There is much anger and malice festering in me that I just can't extricate from my system, as if it were almost a part of my physiology. My judgmental tendencies have grown stronger and more malicious with each passing year, and continue to do so, at a rapidly increasing pace (most significantly in the last few months). And finally, my perennial bane of lust has all but made a complete slave of me. I am subservient to the whims of my loins and have practically given up trying to rectify the situation.

Why am I saying these things?

I guess it has to do, primarily, with being honest. Anyone who has ever met me knows that  I have a tendency to put up a facade: it is the clean-cut, intelligent, articulate, and fully, psycho-socially integrated me that I want to project. In reality, this facade is very thin, only slightly masking the raging turmoil inside. And ninety nine percent of the time, it is the Devil who wins, and not God. If honesty is the best policy, as the old adage goes, the first step I could do is to really face these problems. Creating a facade deflects the light from shining in on the rottenness of my internal processes, rendering it impossible to be diagnosed and rectified.

But the greater obligation here is not to me, but to Our Lord. I cannot beg him for graces I do not need for symptoms that I just make up, just as I could not beg him to give me a better body or a better family. It would simply be ludicrous.  I guess one just has to realize, at one point in his life, what one is being saved from exactly. At 21, my heart is still clouded by so much confusion and noise; but how long before these things become the norm? How long before they define the rhythms of my heart and the determination of my will?

In 1997, I became a godfather. I was only eight, and my cousin, who had borne a son, was only 17. The news of course brought the entire clan together but also polarized it to a suffocating degree. On the one hand, the birth of the boy was welcomed with much delight, especially by my doting grandparents. But on the other, was the practical extirpation of my cousin from family life. Like a cursed vitendi, he was branded a black sheep, disinherited, and generally dismissed by my grandparents and other relatives for his irresponsibility. He would later on sire eight more children, from at least four different women. When my grandmother died in 2004, his sudden arrival at the wake again polarized the family. He was with a woman, one whom I hadn't seen before, and we all concluded that he had left No. 4 and had now moved on to No. 5. I never did get to know, with any certainty, if such indeed was the case; I was too embarrassed, too polite to talk to him ever since.

If my own family had known of my thoughts and struggles, would they treat me the same way? There is a rigidity in Filipino (and, I guess, SE Asian in general) family dynamics that, when fractured, seems almost impossible to piece together again. And yet Catholicism demands the humbling of my ego in order to attain forgiveness. As of yet, I don't think I can tell my family, especially my parents, the sheer extent of the struggles I am having. I am simply too embarrassed, too ashamed to do so. At the same time, I can't stomach living a double life and trying to keep up the illusion of my projected facade all the time. God knows my parents would go ballistic on me the moment they see how much porn I actually have stashed away. And yet there's simply no other alternative.

Please say a prayer for me. I could use one of them right now.

4 comments:

Rita said...

A priest told me that for men, lust was the easiest vice to corrupt the soul. Whilst you remain humble enough to admit your difficulties, Satan is far from winning the war. If at any stage you become proud, too proud to admit your feelings/emptiness before God, then you will be making your journey far more difficult. Pride is the most damaging of all sins.

I pray for you often, and will continue to do so.

If you do want someone to talk to about this, heavens knows, I've helped wean other men off porn simply by being someone they could talk to about it, please e-mail.

kuaimei[at]yahoo[dot]com

Ben said...

I know exactly what you mean. Just keep praying, make a very easy-to-keep rule of prayer and just keep doing it.

Catholic Boy said...

Hi buddy!

Sorry to hear you're finding it tough going at the moment.

My normal advice would be to sack the Jesuit confessor for one who's a bit more spiritual and sympatico, but I don't know the guy and I don't know how you get on with him.

My real, genuine advice would be to go to Confession more often - indeed, to go as much as you need to go, which may be as much as you can go.

You say that you're ruled by your loins, though you don't really explain what you mean. If this just means masturbation, then all I would recommend you do is to make a an Act of Contrition as soon as you are able to each time and to try to keep up a daily - preferably twice daily - prayer schedule. Again, don't let anyone else tell you how to pray. Only you can find that out for yourself for certain. My way though is simply to look at a crucifix, or at the Blessed Sacrament exposed, and just to try to explain to Our Lord what is going on in my life. It may seem pointless, because He knows everything already, and it may seem narcissistic. But what really happens when one starts to open up to Jesus spiritually is that he actually starts to tell us things rather than the other way around. The unconscious becomes conscious, the abstract becomes incarnate.

God bless, mate, and don't give up Hope!

And, perhaps even more importantly, keep the Faith.

frds said...

Keep faithful, don't lose faith.
I will remember you in the memento at my Mass tomorrow