June 6, 2013 by lucieromarin
New topics can be added almost endlessly; it seems worthwhile, then, to pause for a moment to summarise the discussions thus far most closely related to Catholic roadkill. You’ll find the fuller discussions under ‘Anger,’ ‘Bullying,’ ‘Celebrity’, ‘Healing,’ and ‘Roadkill.’ These are the bullet-points.
1. What do we mean by ‘roadkill?’
By this we mean those orthodox Catholics who are in some way casualties of the culture wars, but whose wounds have been inflicted by their experiences with orthodox (or supposedly orthodox) communities, apostolates, or formation. At its mildest, it is experienced as physical or emotional burnout. At its most intense, it leads to apostasy.
2. What are its main causes?
The main causes of this burnout are:
i) Exhaustion, caused by constant and strenuous physical activity, often coupled with intense psychological or emotional investment in that activity;
ii) Disappointment, either about the material or spiritual results of that activity (or the lack of said results!) or about persons, communities, or institutions in which one has put a high degree of trust;
iii) Neglect, either in that the person has neglected his own needs for the sake of an apostolate or group, or in that the person has been neglected at a moment of great need, such as during a time of illness or convalescence;
v) The absence of any acknowledgement of this phenomenon between orthodox communities, and the absence of any practical form of outreach to these casualties.
3. Is it necessarily a disaster?
No. Not at all.
4. Is recovery possible?
Yes. Suggestions as follows, in no particular order:
i) Brooding, vengefulness, bitterness or in-fighting, which are all unhelpful. Casualties must avoid these responses…
ii) …but they must also be allowed to describe experiences and to mourn the time, health, or hope that has been lost;
ii) Holiday! This is not frivolity; this is refreshment, perspective, and new discovery;
iii) Make a list of the good things that have been part of the experience of apostolate or community. The good is as real as the bad. It is both a necessary part of perspective on one’s past and an guide for decisions still to be made;
iv) Make a list of good deeds and worthwhile moments in your life, and remember that God sees them;
v) Identify the real causes of negative thoughts or feelings. Would you hate your state-in-life so much if someone hadn’t patronised you earlier that day? Or if the sermon had been on a different topic? Chances are, something other than truth and reality is making you feel that way.
vi) Discipline anger. Yes, I said discipline – especially if your anger is fed by brooding. Make sure the thing you’re angry about has actually happened!
viii) Learn to resist gyrovagues and cholerics. Remember that young cholerics have themselves been bullied into bullying you; resisting them is good training for them. Remember that choleric bullying feeds on intense emotion; the longer you smile and remain calm, the faster the choleric will go limp and walk away. Do not tell anyone why you cannot attend his talk/Mass/function/conference/anything. The correct response is, “Darn it! I can’t make it! Give me some flyers, though; I can advertise it to a few people.” Put the flyers in the bin later if you need to. It’s not a sin.
viv) Learn the difference between education and marketing, and ask yourself how much of what you received was faith or vocation education, and how much of it was marketing.
v) Read up on those saints whose vocations bore absolutely no relation to vocation as it was marketed to you. It might be a bit much to suggest you let them inspire you (their lives were pretty awful!) but you can ask them to help you.
vi) Ask the Holy Souls to help you with the sensation of having been left behind (if that’s something you experience apropos vocation). But don’t ask them about it on your holiday! Your holiday is a time for fun!
viii) Don’t be too quick to judge the persons responsible for running you down and leaving you by the side of the highway. It’s easy to attribute this particular Cross to the mere fact of being religious or of being orthodox. This is overly-simplistic; at best, it can make you whiny and judgmental; at worst, it can make you an apostate. The former is not classy; the latter leaves you without the Blessed Sacrament.
5. So then, how did it happen? I mean, if orthodoxy is the true faith, how can it create casualties?
Excellent question. I’m too tired to answer it now, and will answer it in the next post. I will say, though, that this question can be asked in order to destroy faith, and it can be asked in order to save it. Mine is the latter intention.