Tag: Triduum

For you alone and all of you

Today is Good Friday. Today at 3pm we commemorate Our Lord Jesus’ passion and death for us on the cross.

It is more than a commemoration. As we pray, as we venerate the cross, as we approach the altar and receive Jesus, Body and Blood given for us, we take part in the sacrifice He makes for us and the redemption that flows from His Sacred Heart.

On a Good Friday several years ago, the Priest gave the briefest and possibly most powerful sermon I have ever heard. After the reading of the narrative of Christ’s Passion he simply said: Jesus did this for you, and He would have done it for only you. That very simple amazing truth about the cross lifted me right into the arms of Our Lord.

At the Cross, if I only stop there and look at my Jesus, there is no hiding and no pride. None of my sin, need, failure, weakness, pain, despair, is bigger than what He did on the Cross. And none of my pain, longing or grief is too small or stupid for Jesus to care about either, even the things I try to hide from everyone because I feel they are so childish or bad. Jesus did this for me and for all of me.

It is really hard for me to comprehend a love that wants all of me. So often I set myself apart, sure that this love cannot be for me really because I am too bad inside, sure of an angry God and that I deserve punishment. As a child my abusers convinced me utterly of my evil, the awful things I did and would do and the awful intentions and desires that were inside me. They set up a world where I believed they were the only ones who knew the terrible person I really was and the only ones who could stop the terrible consequences if I did what they demanded. They proclaimed their love for me but looking back I don’t know how I understood this love or how the supposed love was shown. In a way might it have been simpler if they just outright hated me?!

The understanding of me and of love that this left me with is so far from the love of God. He created us in His image. When we messed up, He sent His Son Jesus, right into our dark and confused world, drawing us back to follow Him to God the Father. He didn’t demand our perfection. Rather the opposite. He takes on all our imperfection, suffers and dies for us, and rises again, so that weak as we are we can do the same and follow Him to His Father’s house. The fact Jesus wants me, only me, all of me, is something it will take me a long long time to truly understand. The Cross is a good place to start and ask Jesus for the grace for His truth to replace the lies and confusion in my heart, so that I can lay down all of me and let Him love me, even though for all the years I have so wanted to believe, I don’t know yet what this kind of love is.

My prayer for you today is that Jesus show you tenderly how He loves all of you.

Ginny xxx

With thanks:

Image 1 from Mount Carmel Edmonton

Image 2 from Slideshare.net

Image 3 with thanks to Bertha Chelemu from Sermon quotes.com

My cell phone is depressed (and Catholic) – on walking through cognitive dissonance

My cell phone is depressed (and Catholic) – on walking through cognitive dissonance

Just now I was typing a text message to my friend to say thank you for a good catch up that we had a couple of days ago. Like most Android phones now (I think – dodo alert!) it not only has predictive text in terms of suggesting the word you are currently typing, it also predicts the following words (so for example, if I type “hello how” it will prompt “are” then “you” “?” and so on). Sometimes it is rather over zealous in that function and inserts words you don’t want. Or, as I said, possibly dodo alert again.

So there I am starting to write “It really was good to see you” and my phone changes it to “it really hurts”. Then tries to do it again the next time, too.

It’s not just me you see – now it’s official, my cell phone is depressed too. It’s going for all the sad options!

This made me laugh and also realise that I must whinge a lot more than I realise if it has learnt that word combination. Then it reminded me of the time a while back when I had to send numerous messages about the choir arrangements over  Holy Week* and Easter at my church, so frequently that come Easter Sunday my phone’s predictive text learnt how to spell “Triduum”* and  “Attende Domine”*. So I’ve got a Catholic phone too 😉 .

On a more serious note, this got me thinking that my cell phone mirrors what the cells in our brains – y’all see what I did there 😉 – what the cells in our brains do as we have our life’s range of emotional and interpersonal experiences. Like my phone literally expecting “hurt”, the more hurts and pains we experience, the more we can readily expect this, the more we feel it and the harder it may be to feel anything else. Perhaps the longer we’ve suffered in an abusive or otherwise harmful relationship, the more we are only able to see ourselves and others only in the light of how our reality and our identity and our relationships were in that abusive trap. It’s somehow sadly a lot easier to continue to believe a very painful belief about ourselves that we’ve always held, than to be able to dare to adopt a new belief and to tolerate the cognitive dissonance we need to go through in order to begin to switch our beliefs. It’s easier to continue to believe rubbish about ourselves that our abuser(s) indoctrinated to us, than to accept any good. We long for care and help but we may be unable to receive it. Which sounds bizarre and I hope that it does not sound offensive.

To give an example, in therapy this week I identified that I have lots of rigid and entrenched beliefs along the lines of: “if N. wanted to be my friend, s/he would do xyz” “if N. cared about me, s/he would have [replied straight away to this message because I said abc in it] and because s/he didn’t it shows s/he doesn’t care and doesn’t want to be in touch and couldn’t stand me anyway, what an idiot I was to think s/he’d want me around anyway” or “if you’re someone’s friend and they are upset you do xyz, it’s just obvious, and N. didn’t so it just shows they really think abc [negative thing / opinion that I’m evil] about me”. The thoughts that spiral from these beliefs mean that if they aren’t fulfilled and someone doesn’t do one of these things that I have set as absolutes in my mind (and which, incidentally, I would hold myself to in relationships as well, as rules I must follow as a friend) then very quickly I use them to confirm an even deeper-seated view of myself which stems from things my abuser told me. Such as that I’m evil really, I manipulate people, everyone will think it isn’t my fault but she and I will always know it’s because of how evil I am, xyz person I care about will die or be taken away because of the harm I’ve caused, I’m disgusting and ugly, etc, etc. It’s impossible for me to get past these beliefs and they are a big block in therapy and in everyday life. It’s impossible to believe that my beliefs and motivations are what I think they are and impossible to believe anyone could really want me. My cell’s predictive text is set to “hurt”.

I’m not sure how to get around this at all. I’m not sure if my psychiatrist is either. I met with her yesterday. It was a very helpful meeting and was about a lot of things other than this as well. However, I think to this there isn’t a short answer. How do I go through this? How do I learn a new setting, a setting in my mind that is open to a different belief? How do I dare to actually feel differently? I can try to explore other possibilities cognitively, but I cannot link it up to the emotions and what I really feel and believe about myself and others. I just cannot reach that. What the psychiatrist did help me identify is that only with repetition can we learn something new (as with my cell phone’s expanding Catholic vocabulary). I need to try to continue in relationships long enough to get past the point at which my default beliefs about myself as evil are (or so it seems) absolutely confirmed. Currently I don’t. Like my cell phone I go into “predictive” mode and I pull away from the interaction or even end the relationship at that point.

That’s the one thing I can change, though with a great deal of help from what I think would have to be incredibly supportive and understanding friends. That’s almost too much to ask. This is going to be a long road.

Ginny xx

*Quick (hopefully simple) explanation of Catholic terms: Holy Week is the week leading up to Easter Sunday. The Triduum is a term which refers to the Thursday, Friday and Saturday immediately before Easter Sunday: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. “Attende Domine” is a piece of chant music often used during Lent at one of the churches I attend – “Attende Domine et miserere” or “Hear, O Lord, and have mercy”. I find it quite beautiful and relaxing to listen to.

https://youtu.be/t7Glyu7tEWU – Attende Domine – with thanks to Petrus Josephus for the video

Image from Gilmore Girls (sorry I am not sure which Season) – Lauren Graham and Scott Patterson – Gilmore Girls produced by Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino. All rights belong to respective artists.