Oblate Program at Belmont Abbey, NC

My Bickering Spirit

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I need to admit that I struggle with the ‘Spirit of Bickering’. I try not to. However, in my pride, I think I am above it, which is based on a deep-seated arrogance that I see deeper than others, or that I am better than they are. That is a sin since it is based on unreality and me lying to myself. It is based on the fact that I do not want to see how I myself can lend to the very problem that I may complain about, or judge harshly those who partake in ‘bickering’.

Yet, in failure, even in the most grievous, there is the possibility of being unmasked by the Holy Spirit. In that wounding of the fire of God’s love for me (and for all of us), is healing amidst the pain. I see ever more clearly how I fail to see the pain and suffering in others when they seem to be harsh. I want to react with my own brand of defense by either being condescending or dismissive. Both of which are offenses against charity, and in the end, it lessens my ability to listen to others in a loving manner. I often fail in this, for my heart is still conflicted, and fearful, and will be manifested in how I respond.

Good Catholic people, who often shame me by the depth of their faith and love of the Lord Jesus and the Church, are in deep pain. I try to protect myself from this pain by again, boxing them in and closing off the top and then shelving them. I take away from their humanity, which like mine is often chaotic, confused yet in good will as well. They are good sincere people, who pray, love others, and only want the best for those around them.

This morning when I was doing my Lectio, it was on the blind man who kept crying out to Jesus to restore his sight. Even though others tried to quiet him; he still cried out. As I read this I was filled with sorrow over my own blindness and my deep inability to truly love and have compassion on others. So I prayed: “Lord, please help me to see with your eyes”. My spiritual vision is often very shortsighted by my own brand of fear, anxiety, and anger. They can act as blinders when dealing with others.

Today in the political sphere, now more than ever, the “Spirit of Bickering” is in control. The same goes for the inner conflict in the Church today. There will always be conflict. However, today it seems especially strong, though this is because of the media today, we simply see more, perhaps. I am powerless over others. Just as others are powerless when it comes to changing me in what I believe and how I live my life. Change, growth, and conversion, come from within each heart as it opens to the influence of grace. Yet how I treat others can slow down their movement to deeper and more profound conversion and make me colder and cut off from others as well.

I have no answers on how to deal with the seeming cultural surrender to endless bickering. I do know that when this happens, those on both sides, in the end, only wound themselves and destroy their inner peace. As I look back on my life, I am beginning to see how I have actually hurt others deeply by my arrogant and condescending attitudes. Even if unconscious in some cases, it was still a self wounding and a cause of my heart being incapable to love, and to listen, in a more profound manner, to the unique human being before me, who simply wants to be heard, seen and listened to.

When I read the 13th chapter of 1st Corinthians I do not see ‘Bickering’ listed, in fact it is the opposite of any gifts that the Holy Spirit seeks to give us. The death to self that Jesus is asking of me is to let go of this spirit and allow his ‘Mind’, the ‘Mind of Christ’ to cover me. Without the love of God and his deep healing, love and mercy, I am just an empty drum spouting nonsense that helps no one.

Bickering is not an act of love, nor is it seeking to grow in understanding of the other, but an actual ‘Will-to-Power’ play. This tendency can be seen in just about every area of live, infecting our structures as well as our relationships with others.

I want the Lord to break my heart, to crack it open like an egg so that my sorrow, anger, pain, and distrust of others, as well as of God, will be healed. Without my heart breaking, there can be no complete conversion…..so with my heart of stone, slowly being healed I stumble on. I long to be free, yet I suffocate myself. The Holy Spirit has Infinite patience with humanity, with my humanity.

I do sense the Lord’s compassion for me; hence I believe it is the same for all. I will pray for this pope whom I love, as well as for those who struggle with him. Knowing that they are truly distressed and need to be respected for their passion and love of the Church….even if I don’t agree with much of what they say, they have a great deal to educated me on what it means to truly love the church.

Psalm 86
Hear me, Lord, and answer me,
for I am poor and needy.
Guard my life, for I am faithful to you;
save your servant who trusts in you.
You are my God;
have mercy on me, Lord,
for I call to you all day long.
Bring joy to your servant, Lord,
for I put my trust in you.
You, Lord, are forgiving and good,
abounding in love to all who call to you.
Hear my prayer, Lord;
listen to my cry for mercy.
When I am in distress, I call to you,
because you answer me.

Br. Mark Dohle, OCSO
Holy Spirit Monastery

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