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Banned from Church

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Peacemaker

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I didn't know where to put this so I decided here because my situation is testing my faith.

I've been banned from both orthodox churches in town.  :-\

It's a long story and for the sake of everyone I won't get into the major details. I'm just hurting right now because I want to be able to go to God's house and experience the liturgy and receive the sacraments but I can't. I am trying to be humble,  I'm sure everything is my fault. I don't know if it is but to stay humble I need to remember that I am a sinner and most likely the worst one.

At the first church (this is the one I was made orthodox in) I was asked to leave because a girl became close to me,  without the details she wanted to date me and I told her I wasn't attracted to her. She tried to commit suicide after that (failed thank goodness). But the head priest asked me to find a different parish to attend. That way she could go to church and get the help she needs.  That was over a year ago,  she stopped being a Christian and is a transgender now.  She doesn't go to that church anymore or any church for that matter.    However  sadly the priest doesn't talk to me anymore.  The other priest that serves there told me he doesn't agree and he wishes he had the power to let me come back.  He said he sees no forgiveness in how the head priest is acting.  I have no hard feelings,  I'm sure he is doing what he thinks is right.

The other church in town I wasn't even attending and was banned via email.  I was just asking the priest questions.  I've visited it in the past and I had concerns that I wasn't  going to be welcomed there and I felt like I was being treated as if it was a club I wasn't a member of by the people there.  I've been to many other parishes and monasteries,  but I've never been treated like I did at this place. I heard stories from people saying to stay away from this parish and even that the bishop was being contacted because of the  lack of pastoral care.  I didn't want to listen to hearsay.  I believe in forming an opinion based on first hand experience.  It never got that far.  I asked the priest his thoughts on the subject and mentioned that several people in his parish suddenly stopped talking to me when I had only spoken with them a few times (I'm sure they had their reasons) the priest wrote this to me,  "It has become apparent to me that I am in no way qualified to deal with you.  I do not have the skill set, training, or spiritual giftedness to reach you and help you on your journey. Thus, please do not contact me anymore. And, although I hope that you remain in the Church, it can not be at (name of parish removed for privacy)."

There is nothing I can do to change their mind and I understand that.  I just feel like a lost cause and given up on. I wish I could go to church so I can worship and receive the Holy Gifts. At first I was angry,  I wanted to leave orthodoxy. I could never bring myself to do that. I have to trust in God. He knows what's best for me.

Am I the only one this has happened to? Are there others out there that would like to share?

Please pray for me. 
 

wgw

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I thought you wished to pursue a monastic vocation.  That door is still open and would solve this problem.

To clarify, there are lots of monasteries.  Show up at one, and don't pick fights with the abbot over e-mail, and it should be a success.

But you have one other recourse: appeal to the bishop.  He can overrule the ban.  Be honest about your history in terms of mental health, anger management issues and other problems.  The bishop is your supreme pastor in your diocese.  So if a priest denies you the sacraments you can appeal to him.
 

Mor Ephrem

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Hi Peacemaker,

Peacemaker said:
I didn't know where to put this so I decided here because my situation is testing my faith.

I've been banned from both orthodox churches in town.  :-\

It's a long story and for the sake of everyone I won't get into the major details. I'm just hurting right now because I want to be able to go to God's house and experience the liturgy and receive the sacraments but I can't. I am trying to be humble,  I'm sure everything is my fault. I don't know if it is but to stay humble I need to remember that I am a sinner and most likely the worst one.
I'm sorry that you're going through this.  Having read your post twice, I confess I'm not sure what's going on here, but in any case, it sounds like it sucks and is causing you a lot of pain.  I've never been "banned", but I have been in situations where it was not possible to go to a particular church due to circumstances beyond my control, and it hurts. 

At the first church (this is the one I was made orthodox in) I was asked to leave because a girl became close to me,  without the details she wanted to date me and I told her I wasn't attracted to her. She tried to commit suicide after that (failed thank goodness). But the head priest asked me to find a different parish to attend. That way she could go to church and get the help she needs.  That was over a year ago,  she stopped being a Christian and is a transgender now.  She doesn't go to that church anymore or any church for that matter.    However  sadly the priest doesn't talk to me anymore.  The other priest that serves there told me he doesn't agree and he wishes he had the power to let me come back.  He said he sees no forgiveness in how the head priest is acting.  I have no hard feelings,  I'm sure he is doing what he thinks is right.
Assuming this is all there is to this particular case, I'm not sure this makes sense.  If this is your parish, you have the right to receive pastoral care just as much as any other member.  Have you considered speaking with the bishop? 

The other church in town I wasn't even attending and was banned via email.  I was just asking the priest questions.  I've visited it in the past and I had concerns that I wasn't  going to be welcomed there and I felt like I was being treated as if it was a club I wasn't a member of by the people there.  I've been to many other parishes and monasteries,  but I've never been treated like I did at this place. I heard stories from people saying to stay away from this parish and even that the bishop was being contacted because of the  lack of pastoral care.  I didn't want to listen to hearsay.  I believe in forming an opinion based on first hand experience.  It never got that far.  I asked the priest his thoughts on the subject and mentioned that several people in his parish suddenly stopped talking to me when I had only spoken with them a few times (I'm sure they had their reasons) the priest wrote this to me,  "It has become apparent to me that I am in no way qualified to deal with you.  I do not have the skill set, training, or spiritual giftedness to reach you and help you on your journey. Thus, please do not contact me anymore. And, although I hope that you remain in the Church, it can not be at (name of parish removed for privacy)."
That's weird. 

There is nothing I can do to change their mind and I understand that.  I just feel like a lost cause and given up on. I wish I could go to church so I can worship and receive the Holy Gifts. At first I was angry,  I wanted to leave orthodoxy. I could never bring myself to do that. I have to trust in God. He knows what's best for me.

Am I the only one this has happened to? Are there others out there that would like to share?

Please pray for me.
Certainly we will pray for you.  This is all very troubling. 
 

Peacemaker

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Without going into detail I have to wait an entire year before I can join the monastery I've been wanting to join (they are sort space/cells).

I've thought about writing the bishop but a particular abbot and also a priest said it might not be a good idea.  The priest might hate me for it or it could cause problems.  I don't know.  I wouldn't even know how to contract a bishop.

Thanks for the prayers,  it means a lot!
 

Mor Ephrem

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Peacemaker said:
I've thought about writing the bishop but a particular abbot and also a priest said it might not be a good idea.  The priest might hate me for it or it could cause problems.  I don't know.  I wouldn't even know how to contract a bishop.
Well, if you ever wanted to contact your bishop, there are probably a few of us that could help you figure out how to do that, but if you are being advised not to do it, I'm curious what "a particular abbot and also a priest" have in mind as a plan B. 
 

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Lord have mercy Lord have mercy Lord have mercy. Your continued love for them is heartwarming, and your patience with your faith is humbling. Don't lose hope, Christ is always with us through our sufferings :)
 

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I still don't get why you have been banned because you're being honest to a girl. I see that being a transgender and leaving Christianity is her own choice. Not your fault at all. I think there's an extra story that caused your ban.
 

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Speculating as to what caused this will not help.  Peacemaker needs our support and prayers, and might ideally reach out to a qualified member such as a priest or Mor for guidance in rectifying the situation.
 

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I meant maybe there was that bad gossip. The priest must be able to listen the story from him and not just taking side of that girl. It's very weird for a priest to ban anyone. But talking directly to the bishop may offend the priest :(
 

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Whatever errors Peacemaker may have made that contributed to the situation, it is not our place to speculate on them.  Peacemaker needs to be straight up with the bishop or whoever he talks to.  But we should pray for him rather than speculating about what great and terrible sins we have comitted, given that we ourselves are covered in sinful filth and have titanic beams in our respective eyes.  Peacemaker may have a splinter in his eye, but he's young and has cried out to us for prayer and support.

So please, brethren, I beseech you, join me in praying for him:
Kyrie eleison.

Note that this is a private exhortation; I am begging all of you to be nice to peacemaker and pray for him.  If you want to pick on someone, make fun of me; I'll provide a thread full of liturgical wackiness elsewhere on the forums  to aid you if neccessary.  But please let's just help Peacemaker and pray for him and show how Christian we are.

Please forgive me a sinner and join me in praying for our younger brother Peacemaker, that he might find in the Church the Peace that he is in search of, which can be found in the love of God.
 

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Yes, of course. But he has come here, presumably asking for help and advice. While it is certainly not necessary to know all the details, when offering advice or counsel, it may often help to know the whole situation - in general, if not in detail, in order to offer better advice.
 

wgw

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katherineofdixie said:
Yes, of course. But he has come here, presumably asking for help and advice. While it is certainly not necessary to know all the details, when offering advice or counsel, it may often help to know the whole situation - in general, if not in detail, in order to offer better advice.
I can agree with that.  I assumed we would leave the counseling to the elder members of the forum and just pray for him.  But I see now what I feared was schadenfreude was an attempt to help by getting more info.

What I just really hope not to see, and I don't think I will, would be the grotesque spectacle of people trying to guess what peacemaker wasn't telling us or enjoying speculating about whatever he did to get "busted."

But I myself am a bit fearful of people in general and I was afraid I was seeing that for a minute, so my apologies to anyone I may have offended in that manner.  But if anyone does feel the need to make fun of someone, do it to me.  I've been worried about peacemaker since his monastic vocation didn't happen and I want to see him get into a good, healthy experience of Orthodoxy.
 

podkarpatska

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A good lawyer is taught before giving advice to KNOW the adversary's case as best as possible and later, if a trial is necessary, to understand their theories, facts etc... at least as well as you know your own.  Absent that approach, giving anything more than basic, general advice would be like shooting into a dark tunnel or cave from the outside bright light in the hope of hitting a target. So, I fail to see the purpose of offering what can only be gratuitous advice in a case like this. One might do more damage than good.

In a balanced, properly run Orthodox environment one would need an endorsement of good standing in the Faith from a priest before one could enter a monastery unless one is not Orthodox in the first place and sincerely is interested in becoming Orthodox or the monastery itself is on questionable grounds. So it seems to me that you need to find an open minded spiritual father who can steer you through the figurative rapids you appear to be caught up in at the present time.

Lord have mercy and prayers to you on your journey.
 

IXOYE

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katherineofdixie said:
Yes, of course. But he has come here, presumably asking for help and advice. While it is certainly not necessary to know all the details, when offering advice or counsel, it may often help to know the whole situation - in general, if not in detail, in order to offer better advice.
I agree, Katherine of Dixie.
 

wgw

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podkarpatska said:
A good lawyer is taught before giving advice to KNOW the adversary's case as best as possible and later, if a trial is necessary, to understand their theories, facts etc... at least as well as you know your own.  Absent that approach, giving anything more than basic, general advice would be like shooting into a dark tunnel or cave from the outside bright light in the hope of hitting a target. So, I fail to see the purpose of offering what can only be gratuitous advice in a case like this. One might do more damage than good.

In a balanced, properly run Orthodox environment one would need an endorsement of good standing in the Faith from a priest before one could enter a monastery unless one is not Orthodox in the first place and sincerely is interested in becoming Orthodox or the monastery itself is on questionable grounds. So it seems to me that you need to find an open minded spiritual father who can steer you through the figurative rapids you appear to be caught up in at the present time.

Lord have mercy and prayers to you on your journey.
I am not sure on this point.  Monasteries have historically been places of refuge for the distraught.  A blessing is proper form, but I think some monasteries are in a place where they can rescue the lost sheep as it were.  Others are at capacity or at an advanced spiritual state where that would not work.
 

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wgw said:
I am not sure on this point.  Monasteries have historically been places of refuge for the distraught.  A blessing is proper form, but I think some monasteries are in a place where they can rescue the lost sheep as it were.  Others are at capacity or at an advanced spiritual state where that would not work.
There are people who have visited monasteries for lengthy stays, helping out the monks, making donations where possible. It can be soul healing. Maybe it's a good decision for Peacemaker to stay there as a helpful guest for a week or so without him joining. He can continue to visit on and off throughout the year to deal with any issues he may have.

This would be my best guess.
 

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Betting $100 the girl is a tumblrina now. Pray for her but don't waste your breath especially if she starts ranting about social justice.
 

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The woman who cried rape? ...
 

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rakovsky said:
wgw said:
I am not sure on this point.  Monasteries have historically been places of refuge for the distraught.  A blessing is proper form, but I think some monasteries are in a place where they can rescue the lost sheep as it were.  Others are at capacity or at an advanced spiritual state where that would not work.
There are people who have visited monasteries for lengthy stays, helping out the monks, making donations where possible. It can be soul healing. Maybe it's a good decision for Peacemaker to stay there as a helpful guest for a week or so without him joining. He can continue to visit on and off throughout the year to deal with any issues he may have.

This would be my best guess.
Indeed, and the monks typically grant a wide berth to such guests knowing many are in pain, providing help as needed.  This is what I think Peacemaker might consider while he waits for a cell at his preferred monastery to open up.

Holy Trinity in Jordanville, Vashon Island, St. Anthonys in Florence, the Greek Orthodox monasteries whose names I forget, and Fr. Seraphim Rose's monasteries have good reputations, and while I can't stand their approach to liturgics I can't imagine the monks at New Skete being anything but caring; there zI should mainly worry about accidental dog bites.  And then the Coptic monasteries are very welcoming.  That is what we have in the US, in addition to an intriguing array of smaller monasteries.  I think there is a Russian monastery that runs as its main obedience a fantastic Russian restaurant, which thrills me as I love good Russian food.  I think any of these would be safe places for the time while peacemaker contemplates his possible vocation at the other monastery with the cell shortage.
 

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WPM said:
The woman who cried rape? ...
The girl who thinks she's a man now and stopped going to church entirely.

The final red flag is if she dyes her hair an unnatural color and starts wearing hipster glasses. Well that's more nail-in-the-coffin.
 

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I actually went to a priest several times to see if I could become a Monk but it never worked out.
 

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WPM said:
I actually went to a priest several times to see if I could become a Monk but it never worked out.
If the priest was married then I think you approached the wrong guy.
 

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Amatorus said:
Betting $100 the girl is a tumblrina now. Pray for her but don't waste your breath especially if she starts ranting about social justice.
Was that really necessary?
 

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biro said:
Amatorus said:
Betting $100 the girl is a tumblrina now. Pray for her but don't waste your breath especially if she starts ranting about social justice.
Was that really necessary?
no....sorry
 

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I cannot believe that any priest would be this willing to give up on anyone who was sick and desired the mercy that the Church gives through the mysteries.  If the person were unrepentant and wanted to be at the church because he thinks he is entitled to, then he should be banned.  But from the OP (and this is the only angle I have at my disposal to judge this matter), it appears he is repentant and desires to be united to the Church.  If the priests are coming up with this B.S. excuse that they are trained or capable to help, then maybe they should find a new line of work.  I agree that you should go to the bishop.  Too many priests, in my opinion, think that they are infallible.  They are not.  They are under authority, too.  Though they have authority by virtue of their office, they are not exempt from being wrong and the need to repent. 

I do not see how a priest can tell you with a straight (email) face that he hopes you stay in the church when you are barred from both of them.
 

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podkarpatska said:
A good lawyer is taught before giving advice to KNOW the adversary's case as best as possible and later, if a trial is necessary, to understand their theories, facts etc... at least as well as you know your own.  Absent that approach, giving anything more than basic, general advice would be like shooting into a dark tunnel or cave from the outside bright light in the hope of hitting a target. So, I fail to see the purpose of offering what can only be gratuitous advice in a case like this. One might do more damage than good.

In a balanced, properly run Orthodox environment one would need an endorsement of good standing in the Faith from a priest before one could enter a monastery unless one is not Orthodox in the first place and sincerely is interested in becoming Orthodox or the monastery itself is on questionable grounds. So it seems to me that you need to find an open minded spiritual father who can steer you through the figurative rapids you appear to be caught up in at the present time.

Lord have mercy and prayers to you on your journey.
+100
 

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scamandrius said:
I do not see how a priest can tell you with a straight (email) face that he hopes you stay in the church when you are barred from both of them.
You would have to see the whole email conversation to get the whole idea for sure. Don't forget that you are only hearing one person's half of the story.
 

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rakovsky said:
scamandrius said:
I do not see how a priest can tell you with a straight (email) face that he hopes you stay in the church when you are barred from both of them.
You would have to see the whole email conversation to get the whole idea for sure. Don't forget that you are only hearing one person's half of the story.
I said as much in my post.  Cf.
scamandrius said:
  But from the OP (and this is the only angle I have at my disposal to judge this matter),
 

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But either way there is a solution for Oeacemaker that will provide him with access to what he needs from the Church.

Worst case he might try an alternate jurisdiction.  I do admit the uncanonical aspects of our overlapping dioceses and indeed our overlapping communions, but it is a bit nice to think if something goes catastrophically wrong you can switch jurisdiction or even communion while still belonging to what is widely regarded as an Orthodox Church.  Now of course many of us disagree on which communion is valid, and the division harms us more than it helps us.  But it does provide an escape route for someone who makes a mistake, or gets unjustly persecuted for unwittingly offending someone high up in the  parish council, especially if one cannot get any help from the Bishop.

But changes of jurisdiction are traumatic and unnatural; for clergy, they are illicit without letters dismissory from what I understand.  However that is another course of option.

I can understand if peacemaker doesn't want to tell all of us the whole story.  We are talking about profoundly private matters.  Which is why he might well reach out to Mor, who offered to help, or another priest on the site, for assistance.  Because lamentably there are those amongst us who would rub salt into his wounds.  I might run salt into his wounds.  I might casually forget to be considerate and hurt him horribly, even making his misfortune an object of amusement.  Pray brethren that I don't do that again, but I've done it before on this forum at least a couple of times, forgetting the holiness of this forum compared to the more jocular environemnt of a secular IT / computer science forum or IRC channel.
 

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scamandrius said:
rakovsky said:
scamandrius said:
I do not see how a priest can tell you with a straight (email) face that he hopes you stay in the church when you are barred from both of them.
You would have to see the whole email conversation to get the whole idea for sure. Don't forget that you are only hearing one person's half of the story.
I said as much in my post.  Cf.
scamandrius said:
  But from the OP (and this is the only angle I have at my disposal to judge this matter),
Personally my reading of the information from Peacemaker and one of the comments on this thread led me to make a guess in a different direction than you did. But since I don't have enough information I can't make a strong judgment.
 

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Forgive me for not responding very much to this thread. I am only writing from a cell phone and don't have the energy to explain things in great detail.  I can assure you I am as shocked as you are. I couldn't make this stuff up.  I don't want to cause judgement on these priests.  I'm sure they are doing what they think is right. If that is the case,  there is no reasoning with them.  I am going to write a letter to both bishops (two different jurisdictions) because I want to go to church andwworship God,  but I am being denied. Maybe I'm being selfish?  I don't know,  I just don't understand how a person can be kept from God's house,  even if it is or was my fault in anyway, God wants us to come to Him! I'm knocking Lord. Please let me in! I am a sinner,  worst than everyone. I need pastoral care and the church! 
 

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scamandrius said:
I cannot believe that any priest would be this willing to give up on anyone who was sick and desired the mercy that the Church gives through the mysteries. 
I promise you such priests not only exist but are more numerous than anyone wants to admit.  There are many and complex reasons for that, some less noble than others, and I don't entirely blame them for it, but there it is.
 

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All,

Stop gossiping.  Limit yourself to what Peacemaker has written and, if you have questions, go ahead and ask them.  But speculating on what he didn't write, musing on "tumblrinas", etc. will no longer be tolerated. 
 

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Peacemaker, there are lots of thoughts going round my head about this thread. I can't help wondering whether what has happened at the two churches is something that God will use to keep you from settling there, so that you will not be satisfied anywhere other than the monastic life.

At the first church, you don't know what the girl in question told the priest, and maybe others in the congregation, about what happened. It may be that he has formed an opinion of you based on incorrect information. Of course, when there is a break down in relationship within a congregation, the priest is in a difficult situation, wanting to help both parties, but also aware of the danger of people in the congregation starting to take sides so that the division spreads. In that general situation, I could understand why a priest might ask one of the parties to leave, and in this case when one party is suicidal, then regardless of who is at fault he would be very foolish to dismiss someone in that emotional state. Hence why it may be that you got the short straw.

At the second church, a part of me actual admires the priest for being honest about his own shortcomings. Don't take that as a rejection of you, but rather consider it as a reflection of his weakness. All priests are human after all. I'm obviously not a priest, but there have been times when I have had to put up a bit of distance between myself and someone, knowing that either my wife, or I, or both of us, wouldn't have the emotional resources to cope. The way the priest phrased his letter sounds polite to me, and by saying he wants you to remain in the Church, ISTM he wants the best for you, but is realistic enough to acknowledge he is unable to provide that. In those circumstances, I don't think it would be worth writing to his bishop. Even if the bishop were to force him to accept you, the relationship between you and the priest would potentially be very strained for both of you, and hence not a help to either of you.

Back to the first church, and it might be worth writing to the bishop, but only in a way that explains your side of what happened, and not criticising the priest. You could tactfully express an opinion that the priest may have been given false information (if you think that is the case) which may have affected his decision, and that if he understood your positon more clearly he might allow you back. If there are aspects of what happened that were your fault, or which with hindsight you could have handled better, acknowledge these - it might give the priest more confidence that a repeat occurrence won't happen. I would strongly recommend that, whatever you do write, you run it past someone you trust before you send it.

Finally, if there are areas where you need specialist help (did someone mention anger management somewhere? forgive me if I've got you mixed up with someone else) then in the meantime you would do well to seek that help. That would also show the bishop / priest that you are serious about putting things right.

Feel free to ignore any of the above if it's of no use. I am aware that the best intentioned advice can sometimes be way off the mark. You're in my prayers.

 
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