Something over at Bettnet.....

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......has been rattling around in my head, reinforced by one of the meditations I have been reading in my Lenten program. The discussion was actually about priests wearing their clericals on their days off/during recreation/etc. But that isn't what I've been thinking about.

Apparently, a few years ago, Crisis magazine had an article that dealt with the "gay priest" issue, giving "warning signs" that there might be a problem with a priest. Mr. Bettinelli expanded those "warning signs" to include heterosexual priests as well, since they seemed equally valid in that situation.

And I thought he was right, and it was a good discussion.

But it was one of those "warning signs" that has stuck in my head--because it seems to me that it really applies to all of us, not just to priests. Here's the point from the magazine:

Restore simplicity to priestly life. Physical comfort is the oxygen that feeds the fires of homosexual indulgence. Cut it off. When you enter a rectory, take a look at the liquor cabinet, the videos, the wardrobe, the slick magazines, and ask yourself, Do I get the impression that the man who lives here is in the habit of saying no to himself? If the answer is negative, the chances are that his life of chastity is in disorder as well. It goes without saying that reforming bishops should lead by example in this department and not simply exhort.

I think it is just as easy to say "Physical comfort is the oxygen that feeds the fires of indulgence" period. And I think the question asked is appropriate to all of us. If someone walked into MY house would they have the impression that I ever said NO to myself?????

I know I'm not a nun. (Oh really, what was my first clue?) And I know I'm not called to live with one change of clothes and 3 books as my total list of possessions. But isn't there somewhere along the way that enough is enough and that even though we could buy more, have more, do more, it is important that we don't?

I don't think this is about the external sign--I know as well as the next that we are called to wash our faces and dress well when we fast--not making a public display of it. That's not what I'm talking about.

When I walk into my house, is there any evidence at least (at the LEAST) to ME that I have denied myself?

I think that this is one of the most important questions in a country rich beyond most of the world's imaginings. We are in the "don't deny yourself" mindset big time. And it dovetails into the things that the Pope has said about giving: If we only give what we never miss, giving only of our excess, then we probably aren't giving enough. If we can have the giant SUV, every pair of shoes we ever loved, dinners out as many nights as we would like, and still give to the Church or to the poor, are we really giving ENOUGH? Our tendency is to look at dollars given: "Well, that's more than most in my parish" and be satisfied. But did that giving, ever, even ONCE, cause us to have to skip a meal out?

Hmmmm.

This is a hard thing. The pleasures I am talking about are licit pleasures--it's not wrong to have pretty dresses or nice dishes. But isn't there a place that we seriously consider what we're doing and think, "I could do that, but I'm not going to."

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11 Comments

Wow. What wonderful brain food. Thanks MamaT!

Wow. That's something to hit us with this early in the morning.

You're absolutely right, is the problem. CS Lewis said in one of his books that if you're not giving until it hurts, then you're not giving enough. I know I don't say no to myself very often.

Great reflection!

Well posted... and timely for me.

Very well said. I loved this post. And it is so true for so many of us, not just priests.

Very timely for me too MamaT. Just got a $2,000 bonus and the temptation is to spend it on me, myself and/or I.

i hate it when you're soooooooo right it hurts! course, that's prolly why i love you so much, too. thank you.

Thank you for posting that. I've seen, praise God, some movement in that direction, giving things away, buying less, simplifying my choices, dialing channels off my cable system, tithing on every dollar I make. It's been a great source of serenity.

But I also see that sometimes I go for those things because they're "easier" than addressing some of my bigger sins.

Our whole life has to be in balance. I may have only eight pairs of shoes (2 black, 2 brown, 2 navy, 2 other!) and few kitchen appliances, but am I being less lazy, less gluttonous or picky, less entranced with my own outspoken contribution to every discussion? Nope, sadly.

Great Lenten fare! Thanks!

Wow. again I say, wow. I used to live a fairly simple life mostly because we had no choice - and I still think that we are simple compared to lots of our daughter's friends families. No gamebos, no PS2 or other video games. But we do have two recent model cars (1999 and 2003), most of the standard household appliances, and gadgets galore. We have cable (mostly for EWTN and the Weather channel), high speed internet, a computer for every family member, and tons of books.
I have been reading flylady lately and I know that I really need to declutter my life even further and to bless other people with some of my possessions so they don't possess me.
Still, it is hard to give more from the income. I am always afraid that an emergency will come along and we won't be able to cope. Scarred, I guess, from incidents earlier in my life. I don't ever want to be in the position to have to euthanize a pet because I can't afford a hundred dollar vet bill (been there before). I don't ever want to be fired by a doctor because we are behind making payments (this happened with the peds my older two kids saw in SoCal when we didn't have insurance). I need to remember Matthew 6:19-21, 25-34.
sufficient unto the day is the evil therof...

Point well taken! I can answer that question quite positively in regard to the priests that I work for. But what about myself? Am I a woman who says "no" to myself?

Dear Mama T,

Can't tell you how close this hits to home. Thank you.

shalom,

Steven

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This page contains a single entry by MamaT published on March 2, 2005 7:25 AM.

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