Friday, February 25, 2011

Forgiveness, Catholicism and the Holocaust

Okay, I haven't written lately.  I'm afraid my small cadre of loyal readers may be fading away.  I keep on waiting to get inspired to write but nothing seems to be happening.  I'm trying to avoid blame (retirement, tough winter, seasonal affective disorder, moving, aging, buying a house, cabin fever, no golf) and guilt (laziness, self-indulgence, lack of discipline, general worthlessness, superficiality, self absorption, indecent thoughts)   Okay maybe I can live with indecent thoughts once in awhile.  I will continue to type to see what might surface. Stream of gibberish? Brilliant blithering? What difference does it make?  It's fun trying to make something happen.

When I was a child Catholic I had to go to confession and tell the priest my sins.(I think the indecent thoughts comment kicked this stuff up)  I remember once confessing masturbation and the priest sitting behind the black curtain asking me for details.  When did I masturbate? What did I think of?  (I didn't remember this until just now) I remember wondering why he needed those details before he could forgive my transgressions and keep me from going to Hell.

My ongoing struggle with trying to accept myself is deeply tied to the twisted reality I passed through as a Catholic child.  Always guilty, always sinning, me being me was being bad.  I never, ever was good enough.  I was always praying to be forgiven for being me.  Sick, sick twisted shit.

I want to feel that I've somehow been able to rise above and beyond that early conditioning but I know I will never be able to completely leave it behind.  When I read about priests abusing children it becomes symbolic of the deep abuse of the soul I and countless others suffered.

Recently a local court convicted a priest of raping young boys.  As he was being led from the court he broke into I wide grin.  I can find no compassion for this man. I find myself unable to forgive him and the deep system of abuse of body and soul he symbolizes to me.

I just finished watching the epic BBC documentary World at War.  Many of the later episodes focused on film footage of death camps and interviews with death camp survivors.  Seeing the horror and hearing the survivors detail their suffering left me feeling like I was surrounded by a black, ominous cloud I didn't know how to escape from.  I'm saying this now because it's almost the same feeling that surfaced, and lingers, as I was just writing about Catholic abuse.  I'm not trying to equate the two.  I'm trying to understand how to somehow free myself from the darkness that both breed in my soul.

How do I forgive but still honor truth, suffering and justice. Is forgiving the right thing to do or is it a selfish desire to be free myself from pain at the expense of forgetting the deep injustice and the need to work to prevent it from being repeated?

 I want to age and die happy and at peace.  What price am I willing to pay?  Can I forgive but not forget? Work for justice but not be consumed by the responsibility? How do you look evil in the face without letting it seep into your bones and twist you into a reflection of blackness?

I know it's wrong to let go of these questions completely but I also know there is a very strong force pulling me towards a place where they will be in the background or maybe not there at all. Hermit or hobbit? Progress or regression? I'm still not sure.