I read this guest post on Simcha Fisher’s blog. It’s addressed to the synod15 bishops, but I wonder how many of them will actually read it. The author describes a spouse burdened by the “cancer” of anger. But what is really suffered here is an addict in the household and co-dependent wife and children.
That would be an interesting theology to explore for the synod: addiction and its effects. Millstone material, if you ask me. But nobody’s asking me these days.
Illustrative of today’s Catholic mindset is this administrative comment at the end of the essay:
I have closed comments on this post. It was only up for a few minutes before people started criticizing this woman for her behavior. Please pray for her family instead of telling her what to do.
Doesn’t surprise me.
It’s not unique to Catholicism, but it is a phenomenon often attributed to men: the drive to fix things. One person has a problem at work; a companion tells how to fix it. One person writes to an advice columnist; there’s a whole journalism sub-industry that deals with relationships, cars, etiquette, etc.. People don’t know as much as they “should” about Catholicism; looks like catechesis needs fixing.
Sometimes we don’t want or need help to fix things. To cite one example, my premise would be that Catholic catechesis improved after Vatican II and never suffered a dip in quality, coloring projects notwithstanding. Something else needs fixing, perhaps–but I’m not going to tell you what it is.
I had a recent experience at choir practice where a song was clearly going off the rails. I let it go. I watched as people got more and more bothered. When it was over, mercifully, about a half-dozen voices piped up to try to fix the problem. Most of them might have been right. But it was illustrative to me that a lot of people cared enough to try to step in and fix it.
But sometimes it is enough–it is even proper–to simply listen. And accompany. And do no more. Surely a man who goes to confession regularly and Mass every Sunday wouldn’t be an addict, a “cancer” sufferer, or an angry husband. But behold: it seems true. What would Saint Fix-It counsel? Should a battered spouse take the children and abandon Mr. Angry? What if that advice were a sin and damaged somebody’s chances of getting into heaven directly? On the other hand, where is feminism when you need it?
“Please pray for her family instead of telling her what to do.” Now that is some good advice. And maybe when done praying, one can sit and experience the powerlessness of many of our sisters and brothers on this planet who suffer so unjustly against the sins of others. And then reflect whether we need more rigor, or more mercy. Especially in the face of broken things that cannot be fixed.