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Ink Slingers Patty

Shame…what happened to it?

SHAME
Definitions:
1.) a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety
b : the susceptibility to such emotion
2.) condition of humiliating disgrace or disrepute : ignominy
3.) something that brings censure or reproach; also : something to be regretted.

He felt shame for his lies.
How could you be so rude? Have you no shame?
Her crimes brought shame upon her family.
He had to endure the shame of being fired.

I have heard and read as the emotion of shame has been belittled, mocked and derided as though no person should lower his or herself to the level of feeling guilt for their actions. When did this happen? Why is it that a person can take the life of an unborn child or be complicit in that act and yet deny they should feel the least amount of shame?

Why is it that very young teenagers on up to the elderly engage in sexual promiscuity and won’t even blush when their behavior comes to light? When did it become appropriate for men and women to expose so much of their bodies that the imagination is not needed in the least to fill in the (very small-as in minuscule) blanks? Pornography, masturbation and the open lusting over both sexes on television, movies and in print is accepted as ‘normal and healthy’? Students from high school on up to college don’t think twice about cheating on tests; employees steal from their employers and boast about it afterwards while employers have no qualms about cheating both their employees out of their just wages and the government out of taxes. As for the government…well, the government is the prime example of an organization with no shame and precious little moral compass but it is also a post for another time.

Within the last few months I have read about a toddler in China who ended up out in a street and was run over twice. She laid dying in the street as dozens walked past her, unmoved by the child’s suffering. In the last year I cried as I read about a sick doctor in Philadelphia who severed the spinal cords of dozens if not hundreds of infants born alive in his abortion mill. In that same year I have watched a wildly popular teen-aged musical sitcom popularize pre-marital sex, drunkenness with a huge dose of homosexual lifestyle promotion thrown in for good measure. The show was clever about it, gradually introducing these reprehensible behaviors in small doses until present when the immorality is full force ‘in your face’.

Our Lady of Fatima said the following:
‘More souls go to hell for sins of the flesh than for any other reason.’

This is very easy to believe in our society. No vice is as promoted or exalted as the vice of impurity. Homosexuality, fornication, adultery…you can find all of these sins and more as the glorified centerpiece in sitcoms, movies and television show.

‘Certain fashions will be introduced which will offend Our Divine Lord very much. Those who serve God ought not to follow these fashions. The Church has no fashions. Our Lord is always the same.’

Women are dressed in the scantiest of clothing and at the same time loudly condemn those who would objectify them when they are busy doing everything in their power to draw attention to their bodies. I certainly do hold ‘Hollywood’ responsible for slowly but surely desensitizing young and old to sexual sins. I am reminded of the story (albeit false) of the frog that is put into a pot of tepid water and never bothering to jump out as the water is heated to boiling with the frog eventually dying. That IS our society and that of so many others in the world. Morality, and ethics and a sense of right and wrong based on the ten commandments have been watered down bit by bit over the last four decades until the evidence of morality and a sense of right and wrong comes as a surprise when it is evident.

I worry for my children and your children in a society that has lost shame about issues such as killing, impurity and the respect and honor due to all life from conception to natural death. I worry about a society that doesn’t feel shame when it should and tries to force shame on those who are strong enough to point this out. I worry that any person who does not have a strong foundation in faith and morals will too easily swept away in an avalanche of socially acceptable sinful behavior.

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Ink Slingers Patty Testimonials

Self-Forgiveness

When I was 19 I made the mistake of seeking love from a man I dated in the wrong way and I started down a path of impurity that lasted, on and off, until I was 29 years old. I won’t say that I didn’t know better, I was completely aware of the gravity of the sins I was committing and I was mortified that I allowed my desire to be loved become more important than the salvation of my soul. There truly was no excuse for my taking a long ride down the slippery slope of immorality and I won’t offer one. I will offer this insight though:

I remember hearing James Dobson say that women give sex when looking for love and men give love when looking for sex. That was the mistake I made and how I wished I had been taught that bit of knowledge when I was in my early teens, it would have saved me from SO much heartache and sin.

During the years I lived in sin, there were dozens, if not hundreds of times when my shame would envelope me in a dark and ominous cloud of fear and regret. I would shut my eyes and visualize my soul, blackened, twisted and damaged as a result of my sins. At times I would hang my head and weep with the knowledge that for each mortal sin I had committed, my Lord and Savior had to endure yet another stinging lash of the whip as it ripped off one more piece of skin from His already aching and bleeding body; or perhaps it caused the centurion’s hammer to come pounding down again on the nail in Jesus’ hand, sending waves of pain so excruciating through His arm and body that words alone can not adequately describe the depth of His agony. MY sins caused this. I could not escape from this fact and in the end, it was this knowledge that gave me the strength to finally choose to once again live a life of sanctifying grace and leave sin behind.

My guilt for my former actions haunted me, even after I had gone to confession and began to practice my faith in earnest . I did not volunteer information on the mistakes I had made in my past to others, nor did I hide them when asked. I especially recall the reaction of one Catholic man who wanted to date me, ‘Wow, you were so much worse than me!’ Those words rang through my mind and heart for months afterwards and caused my self-loathing to increase by leaps and bounds.

I could not erase the pages I had written in the book of my life, as much as I desired to, and I wasted precious time repeatedly leafing back through them, berating myself for my weakness, foolishness, gullibility and general lack of appreciation for God’s love. I began to think I would never find peace in my soul due to my past. Perhaps, I thought, this was part of the punishment for my sins-to scald my soul in a bath of remorse at frequent intervals.

I began dating a very intelligent, kind Catholic teacher named Eric about three years after I returned to practicing the faith. Inevitably, after a few weeks, the time for my, ‘this is my past’ monologue arrived. Eyes cast down, face burning, I once again reopened the wound in my soul that my actions had created. When I finished speaking I reluctantly raised my eyes to meet his, completely expecting derision and shock. Instead, kindness and compassion were reflected in the depths of his eyes and he uttered these words.

‘My opinion of you is not based on who you were in the past, but who you are now.’

This may not seem significant to others, but for me, it was as though I had been handed a key to my self-imposed prison of shame. Never had I heard or even thought that I, God, or anyone else could see past the mess I had formerly created in my soul and life. Those words changed all of that. Over the following days and weeks I turned his words over and over again in my heart. I allowed them to open my eyes to the realization that when I had received forgiveness for my sins in confession I was also given the gift of forgiving myself. However, I had hidden this gift away and forgot about it for years, not retrieving and opening it until I heard the words Eric spoke. Eric and I ended up taking different directions in life but he remained my friend and my debt to him can never be paid. He allowed me to see that although I had scuffed, damaged and tarnished my soul for years, I had also spent years repairing that damage, polishing and shining it with the sacraments, prayer, Eucharistic adoration and a life of morality.

I know that there are some out there who have not experienced falling so far from God’s grace and I truly hope you thank Him for the strength and grace He gave you to preserve your souls. I direct this piece at those who have fallen repeatedly, those who have, as I did, fallen into sin, struggled to get up and to confession, only to fall again. I also address this to those who have done something in their past they deeply regret and yet, despite going to confession, they continue to harbor pain and self-loathing over this past indiscretion. I say this to you: It is not who you were, or what you have done in the past I see, but the person you are now, the one who struggles to live a life that brings them closer to God, the valiant soul that attempts to die to self on a daily basis, or the parent who begs the Lord for the strength to model the virtues of a good Catholic parent and give those children the tools to save their souls. THAT is who you are, take your gift of self-forgiveness out, dust it off and open it up. It will enable your soul to soar and bring you that much closer to God.