Archive for December, 2008

Two posts ago, I wrote about a young woman named Emilie.  I didn’t want to be specific about her condition, but since the link I used apparently didn’t work, I will say that I read about her on her blog, “lemmondrops” (http://lemmondrops.blogspot.com), and rather than writing about her, I provided the link because she herself was such a good writer.

The latest post was dated this morning, December 25, and noted that Emilie had reposed “last night” — presumably, December 24.  Her situation was atrocious on several levels:

1)  she had two very young sons, one three years and one just nine months old

2)  she was married just five years

3)  her cancer, a soft-tissue sarcoma, was found while she was pregnant with her second child

4)  it was as big as a melon, and

5)  it had been growing, according to her oncologist, for about five years.

It is this last that shakes me up particularly.  If it was growing for five years, why wasn’t it detected sooner?!  Pregnant women have ultrasounds all the time.  I’m hoping it was obscured by her growing uterus, but still — shouldn’t something abnormal have shown up in a blood test, or something?!  Instead, she has a second child, and now, not only will her older child go through life feeling abandoned by his mother, but also, her younger child will never really be fully aware why he has this huge empty place inside him — and that will stay with him his entire life.  It has with me.

So I ask your prayers, not only for Emilie’s soul, but for her husband and her young sons.  And for her priest, who, if my own experience is anything to go by, will offer a few words of condolence to the grieving father and get back to the “real” business of social activism, or whatever his pet project is.  Oh, not to mention the funeral — Catholic funerals these days are all about Joy and Celebration, and completely ignore the realities of life, such as feeling cut in half by the death of your spouse.

Or having your heart carved out of you by the death of your mother.

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Some weeks ago, I wrote about an unsettling encounter I had with my priest.  Time to report back that although we didn’t exactly “have it out” — that’s not Fr. Count’s style — he did note that ecumenical activity is “economia, pushed to its very limit.”  So at least he’s aware that this isn’t something we should be leaping into without first taking a long, hard look.

I have problems with ecumenism on two levels.  One is knowing the Protestant point of view on the subject, that “no one church possesses all the truth, but we possess the entire truth when we come together.”  Since the Orthodox Church does possess all the truth, it makes no sense to get together with people whose idea of “worship” comes dangerously close to worshipping themselves, since they continually “create” God in their own image and likeness.  Why would any Orthodox person want to go there?!

The second is on the Catholic level.  Those who know me know that I tend to become a little irrational when the topic of Catholicism is introduced, and in case you didn’t know that, just look at my last post.  I sincerely hope that what I wrote isn’t true, but in my experience, I stated my case mildly.  Anyway, having been raised Catholic and educated in the Catholic-school system, I am very well aware of the goal of Catholic “ecumenism” — bringing everyone “home to Rome,” including — maybe even especially — the Orthodox.  And having experienced what “home in Rome” is like, that is not anyplace I ever want to go again.  I mean, what possible common ground can an Orthodox have with people who seriously posit the Theotokos as a “feminist”?!?!  Or who agitate for female priests?!  Not to mention the ubiquitous Peace & Justice campaign — I mean, when you see Peace & Justice statements on the walls of a nursing home, for crying out loud, I think the issue has gotten out of hand.  (I call it PBJ — Peace, Brotherhood, & Justice.  Makes it sound as silly as it is.)

So when I hear about Orthodox Christians participating in ecumenical activities with heterodox Christians, this is where I’m coming from.  I don’t think Fr. Count quite realizes that yet, and I’m not sure I want to flip out completely on the subject — I do respect his office as a priest, and greatly appreciate the seriousness with which he approaches his calling.  But at least, for the time being, he has defused a very volatile issue with his awareness of “economia — to the extreme.”

And extremism elicits extreme reactions.

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One of the blogs I read regularly posted a link to Emilie’s blog.  I don’t often ask “Why?!” but this post has me shocked to the core.

I think that for me, the worst aspect of this young woman’s situation is that she’s Catholic.  I suppose that’s better than being nothing, but all I can think is, when it’s all over, her husband, her toddler, and her baby will have no real support for their ordeal.  In my experience — and apparently in hers — Catholicism has become all about “Hippie Happiness,” and she wrote, in a column she writes for an online Catholic zine, about feeling like an outsider in her own church.

All I can think is that if this were to happen to anyone in my family, even to my own daughter (whose kids are just a little older), the priests I know would all be sure to keep in touch with my family, and be there for them when they needed to talk.  That is not anything I ever remember happening in my Catholic experience, and that was back when the Catholic Church still had priests who ministered, however inadequately, to their parishes — Lord alone knows if anybody does that nowadays.  When I left that worship tradition, they were all out ministering to the homeless and other “important” people, as if the people in their own congregations could look after themselves.

I am wondering if I should send her a link to a copy of the Sitka Theotokos.  Probably not — probably it would be better for me to ask the Theotokos to do something for her.  Like what — well, as always, that’s up to the Almighty.  But one of the best things about being Orthodox is that, when life sucks, you don’t have to fake Joy.  You can say, “Lord, have mercy,” and know that it is the one prayer that never, ever fails, because there are all kinds of mercy.  And all kinds of crosses.  And all kinds of consolation.

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I Am an Ingrid

Got this interesting quiz — it’s only two questions — from Mimi’s site, who’s a Katherine (Hepburn).  For me, it’s completely on target!

Now I’ll have to go out and watch a whole lot of Ingrid Bergman movies…

Your result for Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz

You Are an Ingrid!


You are an Ingrid — “I am unique”

Ingrids have sensitive feelings and are warm and perceptive.

How to Get Along with Me

  • * Give me plenty of compliments. They mean a lot to me.
  • * Be a supportive friend or partner. Help me to learn to love and value myself.
  • * Respect me for my special gifts of intuition and vision.
  • * Though I don’t always want to be cheered up when I’m feeling melancholy, I sometimes like to have someone lighten me up a little.
  • * Don’t tell me I’m too sensitive or that I’m overreacting!

What I Like About Being an Ingrid

  • * my ability to find meaning in life and to experience feeling at a deep level
  • * my ability to establish warm connections with people
  • * admiring what is noble, truthful, and beautiful in life
  • * my creativity, intuition, and sense of humor
  • * being unique and being seen as unique by others
  • * having aesthetic sensibilities
  • * being able to easily pick up the feelings of people around me

What’s Hard About Being an Ingrid

  • * experiencing dark moods of emptiness and despair
  • * feelings of self-hatred and shame; believing I don’t deserve to be loved
  • * feeling guilty when I disappoint people
  • * feeling hurt or attacked when someone misundertands me
  • * expecting too much from myself and life
  • * fearing being abandoned
  • * obsessing over resentments
  • * longing for what I don’t have

Ingrids as Children Often

  • * have active imaginations: play creatively alone or organize playmates in original games
  • * are very sensitive
  • * feel that they don’t fit in
  • * believe they are missing something that other people have
  • * attach themselves to idealized teachers, heroes, artists, etc.
  • * become antiauthoritarian or rebellious when criticized or not understood
  • * feel lonely or abandoned (perhaps as a result of a death or their parents’ divorce)

Ingrids as Parents

  • * help their children become who they really are
  • * support their children’s creativity and originality
  • * are good at helping their children get in touch with their feelings
  • * are sometimes overly critical or overly protective
  • * are usually very good with children if not too self-absorbed


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