If you’ve been reading my posts and following my blog, you must know by now that I’m more of an empath … that is, that I really feel for others and sometimes take their burden upon myself … and that I tend to be very sensitive to everyday events and conversations.
After my last post, so many things happened… I mean, how can so many things occur in just a few days? Welcome to my life! LOL. Far from being boring, I always end up in these crazy situations/encounters/conversations.
Before I tell you more about it, I think it’s important to mention something that is also linked to this post: I truly feel empathy towards the people I blocked (read my last post). I don’t have any resentment and probably have more pity than anything else. You know why? Cause I believe too many are lacking empathy!
Is Empathy Optional?
With my experience as a Catholic priest, I’ve met more people than I can even recall. Many I’ve met privately for counselling or confessions and others simply in mass or in prayer groups. Obviously, I would never make any references that could allow people to be identified … nor would I go into specific examples. I still believe in the sacredness of these encounters and hold great respect towards all these people.
However, with time, I came to notice something really strange. I will not nuance this … but please, make sure you do! The ones who go to daily mass, those who come to confession more frequently, those who never miss a prayer group meeting, etc., are your worst enemies as a parish priest. I’m not the only one to say this. Any honest priest around the world would probably say the same. They are the most demanding, most intolerant of any form of non-conformity and often the most wounded.
No wonder Pope Francis said the Church is a hospital for the sick and not a hotel for the wealthy! You know what’s the worst? It’s that I think these people lack empathy. That is a big problem … They are the pharisees of the Gospel, “They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them.” (Mt 23, 4).
I’ve seen it repeatedly… How many times was I helped by complete atheists while being in need and never by those who should have been so close to me. When I went through depression, these same people were more preoccupied by who would say mass than for my mental health. Some even tried calling me to convince me to come and say mass and never asked how I was doing.
You know why? Cause they hide the deepest darkness and are not unified people… what they do and say in prayer, does not affect even one atom of their body and mind. That being said, I still loved them and still do.
Are Empaths a Thing?
Weirdly enough, I truly believe I’m an empath and no matter the encounters, although I never ask any questions, people often will end up confiding in me and telling me about their stories. It happened again.
I couldn’t concentrate on my work and decided to go out and simply breath in some fresh air and glance at the sea. A man suddenly came right next to me and also started looking in the same direction. I looked at him and saw in his eyes, and could feel through his body, that he was hurting. While looking at him, he suddenly looked back at me. After nodding at each other, we started talking.
You know what? He is a priest from another town I won’t mention. He opened up and told me the same thing I was saying here above in my post. The sufferings endured from those who should be there to help you. They often seem super nice and will reverence you like a demigod, but don’t cancel the rosary or say something that is not doctrinal; they will shoot you.
So the question is: isn’t spirituality supposed to make you a better person? Aren’t you supposed to grow from it? I’d say more … if spirituality prevents you from questioning reality and your convictions, it is useless. Did Jesus not question everything? He continually questioned the religious authority of his time! What did we do? We created the same old systems with convictions that are based on tradition and/or Gospels that have been written centuries after Jesus’s passing! I still believe they are filled with wisdom … but they need interpretation.
Empathy Is Learning to Listen!
All of the above being said, since I’ve been posting regularly, I’ve told you about some insults I’ve received. I don’t particularly care about the insults. They roll over my back like water on a duck’s feathers. What is more problematic is how people will invalidate my experience or not care about my wounds to save their pride and convictions about the Catholic Church. Some will even come after me for being a liar because I hid my identity out of fear yet will not consider what I’ve been through.
You see, I still consider myself to be a Christian and a Catholic for that matter. However, I don’t recognize myself in any of the ultra conservatives, nor in the ultra progressives! Why? Because they are walled visions which hold no space for novelty… Both in their way, have settled in their convictions.
It’s important to learn to listen … listen to nature, listen to others, to their sufferings, to their stories, to their spirituality. Don’t underestimate what they’ve been through … learn to be in contact with yourself, find security not in your convictions, but in what you are aiming for! Don’t settle for any certainties … remember, the Church got Galileo sentenced because he was contradicting their beliefs … well, who’s wrong now?
Empathy is learning to listen and holding no pre-conceptualize understandings. If you listen to someone and you’re convinced he is lying, you will only hear lies. If you listen to someone thinking he’s a sinner, you will only see sin. What about truth? What about soul? What about love?
The example that comes to mind is a daughter that comes back home crying because she’s been raped and her parents punish her because she did not go where she said she would. Did she not need comfort and understanding? Well, seems like in some of the most difficult moments in life, some people are meant to be on their own.
Empathy … the Basis for True Love.
I don’t think I will ever settle. You know why? Because I can’t picture a life without true love and empathy! I don’t want to believe what others believe for the sake of it! I want to seek, understand, explore, discover.
I used to see God only inside Churches and would unconsciously fear all that was non-Catholic. I never truly listened to those who believed differently. I secretly judged them and often would despise their experience and deny them any sort of empathy. Only when I opened the doors to love did I start noticing how God awaited me outside these churches. Through my many daily encounters, I have often met him and have been moved by his presence in the Hindu or the Muslim and have gone back home with incomparable life lessons.
Any form of church should never become a prison … because God will never fit in our prison cells. The only prisoner will always and only be those who are inside. So, am I a heretic? Be it so… you know why? Cause I’ve never been so much at peace! Peace that comes from love of myself and of others, Peace that comes from knowing that wherever I go and whomever I meet, God is waiting for me.
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