Monday, March 20, 2006

No Hugs for Harold; No (Particular) Harolds

A victim soul is a permanent employee of God but is placed in temporary positions.

Only God is forever.

I have learned over the years that a victim soul must be a loner. This does not preclude people--people-souls of this realm and past-people-now-souls of the other. We consider them all people and souls, all the same.

A victim soul is on permanent work status, on the payroll with a host of other victim souls mostly unknown and unseen. It is a singular job for singular people. To arrange the proper venue, God has to do some stripping and eliminating, and the victim soul, if agreeable to these conditions, acquiesces to the necessary job requirements.

I have learned over earth time and through awkward, potentially hurtful situations, that a victim soul cannot have particular friendships. A victim soul may desire to be outwardly loving and affectionate to one and all; a victim soul may think he or she can handle specific relationships equally between genders and age ranges. This is not the case.

A victim soul must remain one for all and all for one. No matter how the other might try to convince that the friendship is spiritual only, no matter age differentials which might seem to assure spiritual specificity, it doesn't work. A simple hug for one person might be just that; for another it might mean attachment or preference.

Now, I'm not suggesting no hugs for anyone. Just no hugs for those who might become attached or possessive or needy for more and more hugs.

Making sure that one does not develop friendships of this realm with one person more than with any other is a ground rule for victim souls. And what of the other realm? The same is true with one exception: God in Three Persons. One can have particular friendship and all the hugs in the world and eternity for God. As for the Mother of God--all the saints--and angels, one can hug them all, love them to intangible pieces! But know that a victim soul, even with the saints and angels, needs them all inclusive and separately, at one and the same time and at specific, particular times and situations. And, it is true that everyone in life has a particular Guradian Angel. All these friends suffice from eternity and into this earthly life.

A victim soul must not have particular friendships in the earthly journey. A victim soul needs to remain free to be placed on assignment for any length of time, with any persons, without any binding restrictions or niggling complications. A victim soul is a temp employee with a permanent function for and by God alone.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

A Victim Soul Must Be Humble

It goes without saying that humility undergirds the victim soul. But I'll say more about it, anyway.

Many might secretly (or openly) harbor thoughts of envy or curiosity about the life of a victim soul. Oh, wow! Wouldn't it be special? One v.s. heard a recent comment from a priest, "So you are one of the chosen elect." Whether or not the priest said this in sarcasm or as a statement of fact (which may or not be fact, as victim souls are chosen, yes, but not necessarily "elect"--not like the chosen elect of those called to Holy Orders)--is beside the point. Any victim soul worth his or her salt-in-the-wounds should know that the job is perhaps "specialized" but not a choice hunk of cake.

[An aside here: If the victim soul is bothered by the above such statement, which may be an attempt on the part of the priest to humble the v.s. or to humiliate the v.s. (there is a difference in these terms), an examination must be instituted immediately. If a cause of upset, know that all roads lead to self: self-pride, self-concern, self-embarrassment, self-frustration, self-hurt, self-belittlement. Desire to be grated, broiled and eaten dead or alive, o half-baked, little crumb of cheese lying alone at the base of the cross of the Big Cheese Who stands alone! (See "The Cheese Stands Alone" at]

Let's say something about the difference in terms. Humble means to take a modest or low view of one's own importance. The word derives from Old French, and further from the Latin humilis, meaning "low, lowly" and from humus, meaning "ground". Humiliation, however, and from the mid-18th century on, means to make someone feel ashamed and foolish by injuring their dignity and self-respect, especially publicly.

Either and both terms, and above all the experience of them, are desirous and worthy of embrace for any humble, humiliated victim soul.

Sure, a victim soul might be tempted to pride in thinking how special is this vocation. But those who are any depth into the job probably don't have too much pride. Jesus and His Mother make sure a victim soul has plenty of work and not so much time to entertain vainglory. Besides, there are three antidotes given a victim soul to ward off pride.

1) Pain. 2) Pain. 3) Pain. Oh yesSirree: Suffering of all types, and the worst can be spiritual suffering. Love promotes the suffering like a fan helping the spark erupt into glorious flame. Remember how Jesus said He came to this earth to set it on fire, and O, how He wished it were burning already?

A victim soul is kindling for Jesus' fire. A victim soul is to help light the earth, and maybe more so to help burn the crud out of it.

In the process, though, it might not be so much pride in having this job as much as not being able to cope with the suffering. Not being equipped with handling the "hits." Humility helps here.

For example, maybe a victim soul is trying to get help in some aspect of a suffering or insight. The victim soul should not discuss these interior matters with others; this seems to be the rule passed down from victim soul to victim soul through example and writings left for the next generations. So the victim soul expresses interior life to the confessor, and the confessor might feel great duty to make sure the victim soul is not boasting or proud of the various experiences that can accompany such a vocation. It is humbling for the victim soul to be chastised when all he or she wanted was assistance in discernment or to simply get the manifestations out of the mind (so as to not harbor them and be tempted to pride). Get it?

For example, perhaps a victim soul has been given an assignment to suffer for some soul in need, and the soul doesn't respond as the v.s. had hoped and prayed. It is humbling to accept this turn of events.

For example, perhaps a victim soul has to take a tough stand on some issue, and others in authority do not approve--or maybe some approve and some don't, and the v.s. is kindly (or not so kindly) lectured, or judged, and the v.s. cannot defend himself, or should not. This is another one of those victim soul rules: do not defend or try to be appreciated.

These examples provide a glimpse of the humility required of a victim soul. The Litany of Humility, penned via inspiration by Cardinal Merry del Valles, is worthy of memorization. Consider this litany the bullet-proof vest that every victim soul should wear on his chest (or breast). Consider, also, adding personalized lines for whatever occasion presents.

I have today added in my mind, "From the fear of weeping and not knowing the motivation of the tears, deliver me, Jesus" and "From the fear of opening up completely to whatever work God wants of me, deliver me, Jesus." But really, the lines set forth by the Cardinal encompass any occasion or situation.

Also, today, I am going to memorize another three lines. Since I have not established any great self-abnegations or holy soul acquisitions for Lent, yet, I write the key words on my wrist in order to instill these guidelines for humility. So far I read "esteemed, loved, extolled, honored, praised, preferred to others" as in, "from the desire of...deliver me, Jesus." A victim soul enacts what will help, no matter the humiliation.

Litany of Humility

Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val (1865-1930),
Secretary of State for Pope Saint Pius X

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,

Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being loved...
From the desire of being extolled ...
From the desire of being honored ...
From the desire of being praised ...
From the desire of being preferred to others...
From the desire of being consulted ...
From the desire of being approved ...
From the fear of being humiliated ...
From the fear of being despised...
From the fear of suffering rebukes ...
From the fear of being calumniated ...
From the fear of being forgotten ...
From the fear of being ridiculed ...
From the fear of being wronged ...
From the fear of being suspected ...

That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I ...
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease ...
That others may be chosen and I set aside ...
That others may be praised and I unnoticed ...
That others may be preferred to me in everything...
That others may become holier than I,
provided that I may become as holy as I should…

Monday, March 13, 2006

A Victim Soul Must Be Without Guile

Who will climb the holy mountain? Who shall be admitted to the Lord's tent?

He who walks without guile.
And other things, too. He who acts justly, speaks truth from his heart, does not slander, does not wrong to his brother nor casts slur upon neighbor. He who holds the godless in disdain (yes, think on this one)--but honors those who fear the Lord. He who keeps his pledge come what may, who takes no interest on a loan (oh yea...), and accepts no bribes against the innocent.

Such a victim soul will stand firm forever.

Today's gospel talks about God's mercy and that we should have that kind of mercy. What we measure out will be measured out against us. The first homily I heard got to my gut. It upset me. I am sure I am filled with pride, guile, and all kinds of bad stuff--wrong-doing, slander. Who knows what the truth is about my heart? It is so hard to tell.

A second confession within 18 hours left me with the advice to ask God for wisdom to see my heart clearly, to ask for this in the quiet of prayer.

What is guile? It is "sly or cunning intelligence." The definition refers also to the word "wile." What is wile? It is "devious or cunning strategems employed in manipulating or persuading someone to do what one wants."

The second confessor suggested that what we perceive in others is what we perceive in ourselves. Yes, I am aware of this. We hit upon this in the doctoral psychology classes and in clinical hypnotherapy classes.

The confessor last night told me that if another uses guile (or wile) in dealings with others, the only concern one should have is to deal with it appropriately if it is being done to oneself. In other words, do not allow oneself to be manipulated.

Of course, guile affects more than the person who practices it upon another. The guile kicks back on others secondarily involved. The reaction of the secondary recipients is critical. The secondary recipients must not complain or try to defend themselves. It is hopeless really.

If one person is upset, and upsets another, then that other expresses the upset with yet another; then the third other can blame the first for upsetting the second, regardless of if the second is that upset or not. Who knows? Maybe at the moment there was upset. Or maybe there is guile involved. Or maybe not. But the results go 'round and 'round.

A victim soul must be without guile because all must be very directly hit upon. There can be no cunning, no manipulations of a negative consequence. Truth, unabashed honesty, sincerity--as best one can. It is so hard to know.

I began to weep this morning. It was quite humbling last night, too. I deserve it all. I deserve being misunderstood, doubted, my sincerity questioned, my pride brought into question, my humility brought into question, my motives brought into question, my prudence and actions brought into question. There is no use in trying to explain or defend why one does what one does, for what reasons.

It can appear all kinds of ways, and if one approaches another with any hint of guile, and emotions can hide guile, the mix is messy. Sympathy is evoked where sympathy was culled. It is so difficult to know that one is doing this. Even if I say I am not asking for sympathy, even if I say that I am not weeping for sympathy--the deep recesses might be gilt with a layer of guile. It is so hard to know for sure, or to recognize guile.

If one says up front that one does not want sympathy, and if to the best of one's knowledge no sympathy is wanted, then this is at least an effort against guile. Humility is best in burning off layers of guile.

I am going to try to memorize the Litany of Humility. Additional lines may be added for individual circumstances. For example, I added one about doing more difficult prep work so that others may enjoy the more fun finishing work; Jesus grant me the grace to desire it. Even that can become confused if one begins to love the more difficult prep work.

My daughter pointed out to me that crying isn't bad. No, it isn't the crying, the weeping that is a problem. It is just the reasons for or against weeping, and motives are integral to determining guile's presence or absence.

A victim soul is called to suffer. Being wrongly thought of, being concerned for the presence of guile, knowing that one doesn't know for sure if one is filled with pride and layered in guile, and setting up roadblocks against it which may seem extreme: these are considerations for a victim soul.

One must think it through, pray it through, and develop personalized guards against guile.

Someone asked me if I was saying thoughts about this topic in more general terms was for that person or for me. I thought it was for me. Maybe it wasn't. Or maybe for both. Maybe I was perceiving something in myself that I didn't want to be a trap for the other, or maybe I was perceiving guile that was a reflection of my own. Or, at minimum, a fear that I was acting with guile.

A victim soul must pay close attention to what is within, what are the interior motives of self and address those. The lecture must be given to oneself, as this is the way of a victim soul. A victim soul must embrace criticism, misunderstanding, and rid out guile with veracity and violence. Yes, do violence against guile.

Monday, March 06, 2006

A Victim Soul Must Be a Failure

A victim soul is nothing.
A victim soul must be useless.
A victim soul is helpless.
A victim soul must be a failure.

The abject failure of a recent assignment has dented my frontal lobes and shattered my heart.
Yes, I am a failure. A big, fat failure. The other day I moodied on this fact, to the point but not into self-pity.

No, I didn't go into feeling sorry for myself, but it was close. Quite seriously, the past assignment was critically examined: what I did and what the assignee did. How I have reacted and how the assignee reacted.

I prayed, I suffered, I spoke and confronted the assignee, I read about the affliction. I hung in through thick and thin, although there were several occasions in which I attempted to flee. I remained beyond what an emotionally healthy individual should--veering close to being a co-dependent protector. No, I did not enter that wrong door, but I had to flay back the facts in order to keep the assignment very much in clear focus. I did not abandon ship until the captain threw me overboard. Prior I had remained like a pirhana on the attack, my big smiley mouth full of teeth clamped down relentlessly upon the one to whom I was assigned.

The assignee prayed, suffered (goes with the affliction whether or not recognized by the afflicted), spoke about the affliction, and kept going as if not a thing in the world in upset. As the assignment continued, the assignee began resenting my presence to the point of rudeness, meanness--and dare I suggest cruelty? Yes, words and actions can be cruel. But the assignee remained willing to try; this was the key for my remaining steadfast in faith and hope. The assignee prayed more, read some holy books and adopted at least exteriorly a life of increased penance and mortification.

Even after I was thrown overboard and left to die in the tumultous ocean like a pirhana with all its teeth knocked out and its school of fellow pirhanas to be found only in books and the spiritual realm of other-worldly waters, I kept praying. Admittedly, I prayed in abbreviated fashion but perhaps more pointedly fervant. "O Lord, vindicate me, your worthless servant!" "Our Lady of Good Remedy, help [the assignee]!" "Father, forgive them all for they know not what they do!" "Jesus and Mother, do whatever You need to do to help [the assignee]." Then, finally, in desperation, "O Lord, do whatever is best for Holy Mother Church!"

Before I had prayed for a complete and total healing. I prayed for the assignee to be a saint, to be fully and wholly holy. I actively supported and encouraged the assignee in any and all thoughts and actions toward this supernal end.

I failed.

Any way I look at it, I failed my assignment.

The other day at the Cathedral Mass the priest spoke of how Mother Teresa for years felt her life a failure. Yes, yes! This is just how I was feeling! Then the priest said that her life was far from a failure. Look at all the good she did for the poor! Listen to what she told someone who asked how she could keep going even in her frail years: "I begin each day knowing I begin with Jesus, and I end each day knowing it ends with Jesus." After Mass I shake the priest's hand and mumble something about how I appreciate his comments on failure. He stares back and shakes the next person's hand. Dear God, I didn't even express myself successfully; I realize he thought I said his comments a failure.

But I have not done any good for anyone, not the poor or the rich. The only thing I've done recently is be a snitch and snitch on the one for whom I'd spent two years praying, suffering, loving, hoping for, studying and encouraging.

Then I happened to read a chapter in Dom Hubert Van Zeller's Approach to Calvary. The chapter read was on failure. He writes about Jeremiah's laments and frustrations--that the frustrations of this prophet can be explained by love and thus does not destroy but perfects.

Van Zeller's one sentence takes a suction tool to my dented frontal lobe and pulls out a big crease: ...If we are to resemble Christ we should expect to resembe Him in failure.

I finish the chapter on failure. It makes sense. Either the follower of Christ "takes the way of the world or the way of faith." If a person views the defeats from the material realm, they lump into categories of bad luck, unappreciated talents, lack of control, not enough resources, and other people's wrongs. If a person views the defeats from the cross with Christ (and from the tomb, and with the resurrected Christ), they float into clouds of possibilities, of united strength, of hopeful mystery and answers incomprehensible but answers all the same.

Jesus--that strong, young man Who people said was the Messiah--fell many times carrying the cross to His own death. He wept pitiably in the Garden of Gethsemene and remained pathetically mute when grilled with questions as to His mission. He gasped and died like any criminal of that time period.

From all views he was a failure. From all views, that is, except God's view: from God's view (which is His own view, too, as He agreed to this suffering and death) Jesus was a success.
Yes, Jesus was and is a successful failure in His victimhood. Even today many people consider Him a failure, if they consider Him much at all. But Christians must see and know Him as a successful "failure" and unite our own failures to His success.

Last evening I mentioned to the parish priest my deep sense of having failed in the recent assignment. He asked, "How do you know? Do you not suffer for souls?"

"Well, yes," I responded, "but I seem to always fail for these souls in every assignment. I am either taken off the assignment because the soul does not come around, or else the soul refuses to try, or the soul wants me off the assignment. So I am a failure."

The priest reminds me that this does not mean it is a failure. I begin to argue and insist that I am a failure, but we both speak at once that I must not "argue" with him. So I listen. We build upon the fact that a victim soul be good useless, that a victim soul is helpless, that a victim soul is--well, is a good failure.

The priest insists that I view the failures as "successful failures", for I do not know the end of the story. I do not know how God considers the assignment and whether or not I have applied myself as He desired.

[This morning a man teaching an intro theology class at a local university comments that one of his students will fail because he has missed 14 out of the 20 classes thus far. The priest is in on this conversation, and I announce that this is an example of one who is an "unsuccessful failure." There is laughter, but of course we recognize that there would be ought else worse than being an unsuccessful failure except in being oppressed or possessed of sheer evil.]

There is something I would tell the priest except I'm uncertain if I ought. It has to do with something that happened shortly after I received the full import and impact of this past assignment, in all its heartbreaking horror and yet in all the hope held out for that soul. Something happened that very much explained that in order to suffer one must love, and in order to love all the more, one must suffer.

Indeed I did that. God knows I suffered and I loved. Whether or not I was prudent, wise, helpful, kind, generous, selfless or undeceived is undeterminable in my poor, weak mind. I cannot begin to know my own soul well enough. But if the loving and the suffering and the praying counts for something, then at least I can offer God these attempts and hope that I united myself with Jesus in being a successful failure.

Maybe this is the most a victim soul can hope for: to be a successful failure.