09 December 2008

Has the fat friar sung yet...?

In response to a heart-felt and motherly admonition from a faithful reader, I am writing this follow-up to my recent request for prayer. . .

In the last week, I have been hit with several small "attacks" and one big one. Taken separately, these are really nothing all that serious. However, taken together, on top of feeling overwhelmed with the task of "catching up" on my philosophy reading and struggling with Italian, I have allowed the stress to become an excuse for me to grow a bit lax in my observance.

Laxity in observance leads to less immunity from attack. . .and so on.

A lot of what hit this week has come from my past. Old faces and personalities popping up in odd places. . .renewing long-lost friendships. . .some less healthy than others. . .getting myself stupidly embroiled in a conflict with another religious over a petty thing. . .having difficulty getting some of my meds through customs in Milan. . .having more difficulty getting one of my RX's rewritten in the States. . .continuing difficulty sleeping more than a few hours a night. . .all kinds of temptations against obedience. . .as I said, taken separately, none of these alone would be dangerous. . .but they all hit simultaneously! And when one tends to melancholy, introspection, cynicism, and crankiness already. . .watch out!!!

So, where I am now? Well, pretty much all of this is still on-going. I was told yesterday that I won a scholarship from the university! WooHoo! And I think there's some movement on the teaching front that looks good. I am excited about my writing project. . .though the thought writing another dissertation is somewhat intimidating.

Regardless, I am feeling stronger spiritually and more prepared to tackle the demons. No doubt this development is the direct result of the generous response I have received to my plea for prayer. For this I am very, very grateful. I didn't intend to worry any of you with my request. Being a gregarious introvert, sometimes my internal struggles sort of spring out sideways and tend to look more dramatic than they really are. I don't mean to downplay the stress I'm feeling. That would be counterproductive. However, I don't want to exaggerate either.

Last night, I took a break from reading and did two things that helped me tremendously. First, I watched an hour long documentary on the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Talk about having your problems put in proper perspective! Then, after this hour of depression, I watched about twenty minutes of Babies Laughing vids on youtube. The combo of genocide and babies proved therapeutic.

Again, sorry for the drama! And grazie mille for the prayers. . .

Fr. Philip, OP


18 comments:

  1. Father,

    Thank you so much for this post. I really commiserated with you in the last post and am experiencing something of the same problems myself, though obviously not identical. And then in this post you really struck a knife to my heart with this:

    Laxity in observance leads to less immunity from attack. . .and so on.

    That is exactly it. I get overwhelmed, I become less observant, less dedicated to prayer, and next thing you know my soul is a mess and everything is in chaos. The cause-effect relationship here is one I have noticed so often in my life, and yet I continue to let it happen.

    What's more, I find myself under particular attack from the Enemy these days because he is very angry with me. For the past three years Satan has been attempting to dissuade me from my desire to join the Augustinian order and pursue my vocation to the priesthood. He almost succeeded, and I suppose he is making his last gasp attempt right now, because I have just informed them finally of my desire to begin the application process, which will start in January. After a brief repose of peace in the days after informing my vocations director of that decision, the attacks have grown significantly, and temptation is literally throwing itself at me like spears. And all of this happens as I am wrapped up in finals and papers and whatnot, and thus I've found myself less and less attentive to prayer. Yesterday, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, and I did not even pray the Office once, not until 2 in the morning or so when I finally got myself to pray the Office of the Readings. No Rosary, I went to Mass, obviously, but still. I can't afford this sort of inattentiveness to prayer, not now.

    Sorry, I am rambling in your blog, but you just really struck a chord with me. If you can spare some time, please pray for me, Father, as I battle my own attacks and temptations. Thank you.

    In Christ,
    Michael

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  2. Ah, the babies laughing therapy. Works every time!

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  3. thanks for the update Father. we'll keep you in our prayers. Prayers for Michael also as it sounds like he's going through a hard time too.

    God Bless.

    Sarah

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  4. Sorry Father, this is off topic.

    But I just got word from a friend that a girl (13) has been kidnapped and prayers have been requested on her behalf.

    If you see fit to publish this comment, more info can be found here

    http://jungle-hut.blogspot.com/

    Thanks
    Sarah.

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  5. A sincere thank you for posting the prayer request, the girl has been found. No details have been released.

    Praise God.

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  6. Michael,
    Have you considered the Dominicans?
    Ernie

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  7. "When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions."

    This OPL has a hard time sticking to the Rule at any time, stressful or otherwise. It means devoting more of my otherwise free time to doing things I am supposed to do, rather than things I feel like doing; and too often, I just go ahead and do what I feel like doing. So the underlying problem is self-will.

    Shall we pray for each other?

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  8. Fr.,
    Perhaps you could share with us the difference, if any, between the OP and Augustinians perspective on following the Rule.
    Ernie

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  9. I'll keep praying for you.

    No offense, but the title of this post reminded me of this post on the Shrine of the Holy Whapping.

    http://holywhapping.blogspot.com/2008_11_01_archive.html#8613269710079446441

    "Hugh Laurie is too skinny to be a Dominican". Good stuff.

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  10. Anonymous10:15 PM

    you're mean a lot. i've seen you chase five or so people from the fold, growl and go merrily on.

    i thought it unbecoming a biped much less a cleric.

    maybe the people being critical of you have something important to reveal to you.

    when i'm depressed i have no one to go to and cry. just God. not a mommy or a reader.

    you don't need to publish this. or pitch a tantrum.

    maybe you can mature. you are frankly like an adolescent.

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  11. Ernie,

    My guess is that both groups follow it rather poorly! I know, not your question; unfortunately, I don't know that much about the OSA. The OP's adopted the Rule of St Augustine as our primitive constitution and then Dominic tinkered with it using the constitution and canons of the Norbetines. How the rule is followed on a daily basis in the OSA...I simply don't know.

    BenF,

    NEVER trust a skinny Dominican!

    Anon,

    IOW, I'm human. Just like the rest of you, and I will resist with every fiber of my being the tendency of some in the Church and outside it to turn me and my fellow religious and clergy into supermen/women. My crankiness and immaturity would be a serious, serious problem if I were the only person on the planet ministering "in the person of Christ." Thank GOD! that ain't so.

    Fr. Philip, OP

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  12. YOU'RE HUMAN???!!!

    oh well, ok, I prefer to talk to Martian priests actually...


    maybe if I send you a set of anntenae for Christmas it will be ok...........maybe.

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  13. by the way, do you have pics on your walls? or a desktop to set something on? just wondering.

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  14. Mom, believe it or not...I'm human. Sorry to disappoint. I get sick. I get cranky. I tend to overeat sometimes. I laugh out loud at youtube prank videos. My mom and I exchange email jokes. My room is bomb crater. And so on...

    Pics? I have boxes full of pics, diplomas, etc. back in TX. I tend not to decorate my room b/c I know eventually that I will have to pack it up.

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  15. Michael,
    Regarding prayer,
    I would suggest a set time and place, with a group or at least one other dedicated person
    Althought the unexpected does come up you would have your routine.
    That has worked best for me.
    Peace be with you,
    Ernie

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  16. Ernie,

    I did for a short while, and spoke over the phone with their vocations director. But then I met the Augustinians - well, first I met Augustine (via Confessions), then I met the Augustinians. If I do enter the priesthood, it will most definitely be with them. I have a great love for the Dominicans, but my heart is with the Augustinians. I actually chose to come to Villanova specifically because of them.

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  17. Fr. P and Ernie,

    As far as how well the OSA follow the Rule, it's hard to say. Like any order it varies. They do treasure the rule a great deal, and unlike Benedict's Rule it is very short. I suppose the Augustinians follow the Rule about as well as most Christians follow the two greatest commandment - as best they can, but never well enough :-)

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  18. Very glad you are feeling slightly better Father. No fun! Hope the tooth is on the mend or gone.

    I was going to say pray more rosaries. I'm trying to, but I start and fall asleep or get back on the computer... where I am again Arghh!

    God bless,
    Adele

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