Back from my Mission trip and visit to the seminary where I used to teach.
Just in time for the beautiful Triduum at my new parish Church in Corpus Christi where formal liturgies mingled with hispanic songs in a way that appealed both to my soul and my heart.
Some insights during my trip:
“My home is my castle.” I could see this in the homes of widows with empty nests. All the objects in the home, especially photos from years back on the walls, are memorials to the graces of family life.
I realized that this was different for me for various reasons. Because I worked full time teaching Catholic philosophy to support the family with my husband semi-disabled most of our marriage, and also because of the dramatic nature of my conversion from atheism at 21 years old, I think of the Church as my castle.
For years we shared a home with my daughter Carla and her husband and children, so it was not exactly my castle.
In Nazi Germany the newspapers didn't tell the people how the extermination camps really were. They pretended they were work camps or convalescent camps.
In pro-abortion USA the newspapers and mainline TV never show what abortion really is. They pretend it is the removal of cells.
Here are new episodes and insights from before and throughout and after my trip. Keep up the prayers. My guess is also, that some of you readers could benefit from the advice attached to some of these episodes:
I made a trip during Lent to lead a Mission and to visit the seminary where I worked before retiring. Here are parts of my journal for eventual use in the book:
A big example took place during the night. The evening before I got the idea that someone could reject me because of a plan I had for an event that might upset this person.
Waking up in the night, not able to sleep well, I became convinced that I would be rejected and started into the first big anxiety attack since a few weeks ago when I have been doing better.
It took me an hour, where I tried to distract myself through reading a novel, to recognize that I needed to rebuke the spirit of excessive anxiety and lay it at the feet of Jesus to take it away.
In the morning, I felt a little more rational but still overly concerned, I would say, that I would be rejected soon with big consequences for my present life-style.
Happily, I calmed down through silent prayer. I did make an act of surrender that if this rejection was allowed in God’s permissive will, I would surrender to that possibility and realize that if God alone is enough, it doesn’t matter what happens to me on this earth.
Then I seemed to feel Jesus prompting me to call a third party and ask about the whole matter. This party thought that the person I fear could reject me will never do so in the manner I fear and almost guaranteed that she would see that didn’t happen.
I felt much relieved.
I don’t think this example reveals much progress, but it is probably better than what I would have done without the advice of my director: that is, I would have needed to clear the matter up by talking to several friends, describing everything with maximum drama queen style!
I also forced myself to write a nice little note to the person I thought would reject me concerning another matter.
(My twin sister, one of my daughters, and a friend, are coming to Texas the weekend of April 21-24 to celebrate the 80th birthday of myself and my twin.)
I noticed that I was excessively anxious about the birthday visit. I am obsessing over whether plans for it I would like, but my twin wouldn’t necessarily like. It is normal, as the hostess, to have a few concerns and work to make things good, but not this fear of catastrophe about lesser details.
Thinking about this today: I rebuke the spirit of anxiety and lay it at your feet, dear Jesus, take it away.
Then I had the sense that the joy of seeing each other should predominate vs. exterior plans.
The next day I fell into scheming of utopias around a friend in another State. This concerns my wish for 20 years since my husband died, that I could live in a Catholic retirement colony suited to me with other literary, intellectual, fervent, retired Catholics.
Talking to one of my retired friends who I hoped would organize such a venture, he suggested that the community is not in a building but could be, instead, in my heart, with God making me an instrument of His love to all my friends. Some of these are in my present locale and others I encounter through e-mails, phone conversations, and Skype.
Ronda: At the last Way of Love meeting with a woman’s group, during prayer Jesus seemed to say: “Stop reacting out of the past and respond to everyone you meet with My love.”
March 23, 2017
I had sent a file of changes to my web-master, Steve. I told him no rush. Now 2 weeks later I hadn’t heard, and wrote back and he said I never sent it! In the past I would have gotten very desperate over this sign of senility and the thought of having to redo an hour of previous work on this, but, instead I spent about 10 minutes looking for it all over and finally found it in trash and could sent it “again.” I didn’t get excessively anxious but just did what was good to do to remedy the problem.
I called a friend who set up my new desktop computer because my extra drive wouldn’t open. He told me that it was because I didn’t do what he told me before pulling out the cord. He said I probably lost everything on it. But he could look at it tonight.
Instead of getting anxious at I just laughed and say “Maybe God wants me to forget about all the past files of old projects saved on that drive and just live in the present projects.
Al thought I did well to stop myself showing the usual anger I would have exhibited over excessive anxiety at losing some of my work.
From Al in the night:
(The following journal entry refers to Enneagram types. This is a controversial subject. Some Catholics think this typology coming out of a Sufi/Islamic tradition is from the devil. Others, such as I think that the typology can be easily separated from any religious use. Instead, I think that the truth in it comes from it being a kind of phenomenological analysis of different ways human beings respond to the problems of life.)
Al: I have spent the last two hours reading the Enneagram re: number 1 (the Crusader). Fits you to a T! You compulsively value perfection in yourself, demand it in others in a not so perfect world. You strike out at others that seem imperfect to you. As authors put it, God's world is process toward, not reached perfection. There is no perfection (your compulsive goal) outside of God and you are demanding perfection in yourself and in others Now!, at all times - resenting imperfection in yourself and others. The cure is to move toward Type 7 who takes pride in being "nice" to others.
Oddly enough, your tendency is to avoid anger in others and in yourself. You paradoxically try to suppress anger which sooner or later (sooner?) erupts.
I wrote back to Al this morning: Absolutely right on. I was so exhausted by the 2 eruptions plus another conflict that happened just before I got in the car that didn't involve an eruption but could soon, and the shame after my outburst at you, my dear, dear, friend and mentor that when I woke up in the night I didn't answer.
But I woke up this morning instead of thinking I have totally lost it and I need to get out of all ministries and just become a penitent for the rest of my life, that this outburst is the awaited nadir in our process from which Jesus, through you, will drag me up bloody and all into the healing process.
Lots of healing from the abundant forgiveness of Al.
March 28, 2017
Less excessive anxiety about air trip of 14 hours from my house to Marti’s for the Mission I am giving in her city. Feeling of just facing everything with good precautions such as less hand luggage and the cane if the wheel chairs don’t come, etc.
A big test of our work on excessive anxiety on the road to spiritual joy. I was in a situation where someone in authority over me seemed to be rejecting me in a surprising way, concerning an area where I am much acclaimed.
I was rehearsing angry, sarcastic retorts. But there was a charismatic spiritual warrior at the same event. She prayed over me immediately and suggested that I ask the Holy Spirit how to respond and offer the pain of the encounter for the person who seemed to be rejecting me.
Instead of doing a drama-queen scenario, I went sort of numb and at the next encounter with the same person allowed the Holy Spirit to take over with very positive results all around.
I believe that being more aware of my fear of rejection helped me to see that my anger was a compensation for that fear. I was able to deal better with this situation than I would have before.
Smother love and fear of rejection? I become extremely irritated when anyone tries to make sure everything is okay about every detail of my life. I felt contrite about this since the people trying to help me are always doing it out of great love for me – the desire to make sure I don’t suffer in any small or big way!
I am thinking, in terms of this excessive anxiety journal, maybe there is a connection here with fear of rejection coming from memories of parental and older sibling telling me what to do so much when I was a child?
If every tiny thing matters so much, then one expects to be rejected, mildly, for anything that is not “perfect”?
So anger that someone is trying to make suggestions about trivia, is a desperate attempt to reject fear of rejection???
She was talking about femininity and receptivity. Very gently she said, “You, Ronda, could have more of that.”
Receptivity could be very good for me vs. pushy, anxious project-i-tis!
A friend says “I am imperfect in my defects and God loves me just the way I am.” She doesn’t mean God loves my sins, but that He doesn’t despise me for being a sinner.
Visit of Albanian followers of Mother Teresa. I ate a piece of the bread baked by Marjeta over which she says a prayer for healing Mother Teresa gave her years ago. Many miracles come from people eating this bread.
I was skeptical. But after the Albanians left I took a nap and woke up with absolute ecstatic bliss going through my body that lasted for an hour!
It seemed like an encouragement from Jesus amidst all my struggles.
April 9, 2017
I had a good conversation with a previous crisis counselor of mine about the excessive anxiety issue. Here are some things he said:
“It is easier to deal with negatives than positives because parents and authorities said don’t do that, don’t do this. We are waiting for ‘the shoe to drop.’ This leads to anticipating rejection.
“Doesn’t your feeling of fragility, Ronda, mirror your childhood fragility?”
“Of course, it is also true that being in a new place could lead to greater fear of dementia.”
Jesus seemed to tell me that being more befuddled in mind may help me move better into the heart!
I made an act of accepting God’s permissive will for the rest of my life no matter whether the pain be physical in small or large ways, or emotional, as in rejections and loneliness, or spiritual. When I mentioned this to Al he said that I must be sure this is not just in my head but also in my heart.
At dinner with friends of Al I was talking about my symptom of nail picking. I told them that I am much worse when I am sitting near Al. Why would that be? One of them said “It is the white coat syndrome. It is proven that our blood pressure goes up as soon as we see the doctor!”
I was up in the night overly anxious about the birthday weekend coming up.
Jesus seemed to tell me: “Holy Saturday was terrible for the Apostles. They only had the faintest hope and much horror from the crucifixion. So, since you want to be a disciple vs. a customer, I allowed you a taste of uncertainty about the visit for the birthday. But expect big joys and graces on this 80th birthday coming not from you but from the others to you.”
I thought also that I should constantly accept any permitted daily sufferings in union with Jesus and offering it for the family.
Right after that came good things in the family.