Love thyne enemy.
She writes a book and he condemns her
How are you? I have a personal concern which I am seeking your advice on. I am a writer and my first book was just published. A book deals with the paranormal and is the first in what I hope will be a series. This particular one deals with vampires. In the book, which is fiction, the main character is a Catholic who at first worked on orders from the Church, but now from the govt. Anyways, some of my (Catholic) husband's (protestant) 'if-you-dont-do-it-my-way-you-are-wrong' cousins have been calling me a witch and a Satanist. (They already believe that Catholics are a step beneath them).
Well, it took me a while to be unangry enough to compose a decent response to their letters, but I did so with dignity and grace. My mother-in-law (which is the cousin's aunt) also sent a letter to them, telling them that there was nothing wrong with my writing and that they were wrong, etc., etc. They wrote to her and said that she was dishonoring the family and God by trying to protect a witch like me and that deep down she knew I was evil. I am so filled with rage that I can not see straight.
For the first time in a very long time I wanted to hurt a person so badly they couldn’t recover. Thankfully, that passed quickly, but I am still angry. He hasn’t received my letter yet, and I believe he will call me when he does. If that happens, I know that I will say things that I wont be sorry for and that I will never be able to take back. I know that our relationship is nothing now, but it will effect my husband’s relationship with his cousin also, which is something I wanted to avoid.
My priest has a copy of my book and is reading it. Obviously, if it were so terrible he wouldn’t be reading it. I will give the links to my webpage for the book. Peter's cousin has never read the book and has only met me once. They are basing this on vague snippets of talk and the webpage, which has nothing about denouncing Christ (which they accuse me of too) or anything else on it.
Father, most of all I need some advice. I feel hurt and angry, and I felt that maybe you could help me.
May this time of Lent help to strengthen our hope that conversion by the grace of the Lord is possible.
I read your letter three times and I went to your WebPages(s). But I'm a little confused. You see I'm a bit slow in the uptake. I tell my entourage that they please, please spell out what they want because I've caused in my lifetime some real havoc addressing points that weren't really to the point.
Your sample passage seems to point in the direction of a whodunit with some gory esoteric over- and undertones. Some people like Friday night movies of that kind. However, from the little cues I have, I can't say any more. I would pass into the sphere of phantasms too.
Regarding the cousin's judgment it would be illuminating to know what kind of denomination he's member of. You know, some of them condemn you because you drink coffee. If he professes those tenets, you really shouldn't get mad at him. You can't be mad at a blind man because he can't see. Put yourself into his shoes or sing his kind of hymns you'll go only in one direction and hear only one kind of tune.
Now I tread slivery ground. I would like you to take a deep breath and look quietly at the questions that occurred to me. Perhaps this way you can advice yourself quite cogently.
Why are you so mad? Is it because you feel threatened and because you think that your image is in jeopardy especially on the in-laws side of your family?
Why are you so mad? Is it because in your book you use symbolic language that may perfectly interpreted in your cousin's sense? I'm not talking about text in the reverse or some number mumbo-jumbo. I'm referring to the fact that fantasy can easily go beyond limits and you are not accountable because it's only implied, suggested or hinted. But his strong reaction has touched a raw nerve. Perhaps there is some extra limitation?
Why are you so mad? Is it just the artist's high-strung sensitivity in relation to the firstborn brainchild, or should I say fantasy child? Surely, you have observed the overanxious reactions of primal motherhood. Moreover, writing a book bares in some way the inner world of the writer and puts it at the public's disposition to analyze and to react at their pleasure. You should know that the most popular books are those that offer some cure, escape from the normal humdrum life, or because the reader sees himself reflected. If it's well written he projects himself easily into it even be it only as compensation or escape. Therefore, your cousin should look at your book as a kind of mirror and describe what he sees in it.
Why are you so mad? People aren't violent because they chose to be so after cold reflection but because they hurt somewhere previously. The fierce reaction comes from the deepest guts. The question is for you both: What hurts haven't you healed yet in your interior?
Publishing a book exposes you to all those things I mentioned and much more. I hope you look at my inquiries as a kind of microscope that focus on some very limited spot and augments it hugely. But all this is the realm of speculation really. Only you can answer.
Now let us talk about something that is not part of speculation. You know that the Lord loves you. You know that nothing happens without Him permitting it for your best. Even from sin and violence, He knows how to distill blessings for all involved if they let him.
If the Lord loves you, why did he permit this hurt? He wants you to acquire something you don't have now precisely through this experience. What is it? Only you can discover the particular thrust of His providence. However, in a general perspective I think I can show you something that He wants you to have: love of the enemy. He wants you to turn the other cheek; He wants you to bless whoso insults you. He wants you to pray for persecutor.
This kind of love is not at the disposition of our will or intent. It is a gift of divine grace. It means that the Holy Ghost loves through you. How to acquire it?
First of all you should pray for it. Secondly, you could use the Lenten help the Lord described in the Gospel at Ash Wednesday: prayer, almsgiving and fasting. I'm sure the Lord will give you His grace and His inspiration.
and thank you for your quick response. I’m angry because of this. Judge my book: that’s fine-read it first. Judge me: that’s wrong, but fine--know me first. But you have no right to judge my relationship with God. My in laws are wonderful people. My rep isn’t on the line w/ them. They know me and love me for me. Their son loves me. I have been blessed much in that.
This cousin (Baptist from FL) is the black sheep so to speak. I am angry b/c he has gone farther than insulting me: last night he insulted my mom-in-law for defending me and told her she wasn’t a Christian b/c she did. Yes, I am a bit upset b/c this is my first book, but as a writer I expected criticism. This goes beyond that in my opinion, and it isn’t just criticism from anyone. This was degrading and hurtful words from someone who said they "loved" me.
I am trying to let go of the hurt and I hear you when you say God is trying to teach me something. Especially during Lent, I want to forgive and let go, but it is so hard right now. Please pray for me.
The hope of the Lord be in your heart.
Do you believe in coincidences? I don't because I experience almost on a daily basis that the Lord is arranging situations, arranging apparent hap stance, all in order to make His children grow up and be happy.
It's His way of doing things that is so disconcerting. But He knows what helps us best.
Growing up is painful because we have to break the established routines that are so comforting and give us a sense of security. However, if we stay there we will become like stagnant water: putrefaction. Therefore, He has to stir up things and get us moving.
There happened this afternoon an apparent coincidence. However, I believe the Lord willed it in order to remind me that I haven't told you everything you should take under consideration. I surmise that He wants me to take you one step further at least in reflection if not in action.
Around 5 p.m. I met a Catholic that hasn't gone to confession for years because bishops and priests have disillusioned him intensely. He protested at first that he didn't feel any hate but understood quite quickly that indifference and disdain are nothing more than an educated, refined way to hate someone.
At the same time, he understood that he loved the Church and grieved because of the sinners that represent and govern her. He found himself looking at his own life and found out that he couldn't really love, that he wasn't a Christian either.
Do you want to know what I suggested to him? I told him: "Please, select one of your pet hates, the most ornery one and write him a letter begging forgiveness for murmuring and judging him. It's the best way to get hate and hurt out of your system. And then go to confession".
That's not reasonable, you might say.
Christian love isn't reasonable. The cross isn't reasonable. It moves in the dimensions of God. You could and should be moving in these divine dimensions too. And the Lord forgives seventy times seven. That's why you will find the word that says (Mt 5): "23 "If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your offering there before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering". The New American Standard Bible, (La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation) 1977.
It's not about letting go. It's even more than forgiving. You haven't done anything wrong but the brother has something against you. Enough reason to try to be reconciled.
Besides all the hate and all those not very pretty thoughts regarding this cousin are reason enough to ask for forgiveness don't you think?
Therefore, I suggest that you write a letter to this cousin and ask him to forgive you your inner and outer reactions, even for the letter bulging of righteous arguments you wrote him. Don't comment his errors. You could tell me: But it's he who has done wrong! That's between him and the Lord. Your call is to reconcile yourself. Your vocation is to love the way the Lord loves.
You don't feel like it? Do it just the same and you will have acquired what the Lord wanted to give you. There was no better way to open up your life and your heart to this kind of divine love. Besides loving the enemy has nothing sweet or easy to it. But you won't regret it. Go to confession and you will be a very different Christian from the one of two weeks ago.
Just think. At a distance of half a continent we met and had some exchange. Why did you bother to write to one who had hurt you in some way at least initially? Generally, you look for people who are sympathetic when you are hurt. You see it's a chain of "coincidences" brought about by the Lord. Therefore, pay attention to Him. Take the plunge into his mercy. Some day you will praise Him for all what happened.
PD. The Baptist cousin is grieving because according to his tenet you are offending God. That's why he has had those reactions. He's aghast because he thinks you are going to hell. Therefore, he tells you and yours that you aren't Christians. That's his way of loving you! You haven't thought about that. He's doubtlessly praying for you too!
Thank you Father. It is true, what you say about writing you. I haven’t even told my own priest the extent of this issue. I just felt drawn to write and ask for your advice. It seems you are very level headed, sincere, and honest. I have no doubt that your work for the Lord and the Church has helped many and will continue to do so.
I think that your advice is correct and is what I must do. Unfortunately, I can not do it right now. I feel like I am just too angry to do it and that it would all be fake or hypocritical or something along those lines. Wouldn’t that be worse? I don’t feel like I have judged him. I am angry b/c he hurt me. When I wrote him, I only told him that he could judge me all he wanted, but not my relationship with God b/c it is none of his business. I feel like I tried and he did nothing but intentionally hurt.
I have reread the paragraph that you wrote that began "don’t feel like it?". I really don’t. However, it has been my experience that priests are more wise than I and that their advice is the advice I should follow, so I will try, although Rome wasn’t built in a day, and I doubt this letter will come to me within a day. I will send my rough draft to you when it finally does come, if you’d like. I agree that I must go to confession, however, I feel I must resolve my anger before or I am doing it half heartedly. I will see my priest at Mass this weekend and plan on speaking with him, since he will have finished the novella and will have some thoughts on it.
I don’t understand how I have offended this cousin, though. He talks about how evil and terrible my book is. The Bible has treason, adultery, murder, vengeance, love, and peace in it. The Bible appeals to the masses because it has so much of everything in it. You have deceit and lying, anger, hurt, and confusion. It is a chronicle of everyday life, no matter who or where you are. There is evil in it. There is good in it. The good triumphs over evil and that is what gives us hope. That is why so many are drawn to Christianity. How do we recognize what evil to fight if we don’t know what it is? Good triumphs over evil in After Dark. If anything, it a metaphoric Christian journey. He hasn’t read the book to be offended. I don’t understand how simply by reading my webpage he was offended. He signed my guestbook and said he was proud and pleased to know me. Then I get an email saying that the paranormal is evil and they will not promote evil. Then this stuff. The paranormal is evil?
The Bible was written by men whom God presented Himself too. Christ rose from the dead. We partake of the Body and Blood at communion. Mary was taken to heaven. How much more paranormal can you get! These things are documented in the Bible, so how can the paranormal be evil. Yes, my books deal with vampires, witches, etc. They are the "demonic" qualities. They represent the evil. They also acknowledge the light. They acknowledge that faith and faith in God is more powerful than they are. At least, that is the way I & those who have read the first one feel.
I have rambled on again. I deeply appreciate your help. You are so kind to answer my plea. Perhaps it was not a sympathizer that I sought because it was a person honest enough to be blunt with me that I needed. Thank you again.
The Lord is doing His work with you. He's like the sculptor whom they asked how he did such wonderful statues. He said: "I take the block of marble and chip off everything that is the superfluous". The "chipping" hurts.
Regarding your laudatory expressions I would like you to understand something. The best adviser for alcoholic is an ex-alcoholic, for the drug addict an ex-addict and so on. The best adviser regarding sins and righting wrongs is an ex-wrongdoer (hopefully), someone who has been very much there. I'm not what you think, quite the contrary. However, I can offer witness that the Lord is wonderfully merciful and provides remedy for all our problems. Everything is a gift of His grace. If there is any wisdom, it's from the Word of God. And the Lord has special care to use instruments that can't rob Him of His glory.
Regarding your reasons why not yet write the letter and why not just yet go to confession because it could be a hypocritical act I beg to differ. Sure, it's very difficult to manage our feelings. Antiquity compares them to blind horses on the run. You must take the reins firmly in hand and steer them resolutely in the right direction. They continue running but the direction has changed. When God wills it, He will give us inner acquiescence too. But we are not anymore prey of our inner turmoil. Our conscience dictates the moves and not our feelings. Do you know that the inner heart is beyond the feelings? It's where the Spirit of God has His reign. Once you let yourself guide by Him generally your feelings react accordingly to His inspiration.
Besides waiting until your anger simmers down is like waiting for the fever to abide before you go to the hospital.
I think I shouldn't comment your argumentation regarding your book because I haven't read it. But it's not a Bible yet is it? :)
The cousin has found out that "you drink coffee" and that changed his attitude. Perhaps he consulted his pastor.
Finally, please don't elaborate drafts nor make revisions of the love-thine-enemy-letter. Just write it with the blood of your heart and send it even if you write it with gnashing teeth and clenched fingers and contrary feelings. Those letters are better written by hand without syntax and grammar revision. Just write it and send it and the angels in heaven will rejoice!
God bless you