Should I Write This Letter?


#1

Part I

Hi Everyone,

This is my first post and I'm not sure if I am putting it in the right category, so forgive me if it is the wrong spot. I need some advice, I will lay all of the facts before you:

As the cliche goes, "Love can make you do some crazy things." While I was in college in the 1990s I fell in love with a Jewish girl. I had been discerning a vocation to the priesthood, but found myself completely smitten by this girl. She was bright, very spiritual, very moral, very pure, beautiful, humble and so sweet. We had a pure relationship, we finally made it to a kiss at one point. I began telling her about the Catholic Church, I was attending daily Mass and she would come with me sometimes. She really started to consider converting and this seemed wonderful at the time because she would have made a great Catholic mother and wife. However, her rabbi suggested she spend a year in Israel learning and she came back and said she could not convert and she had become an Orthodox Jew.

I really admired her and began learning a lot from her spiritually. I went through a crisis and made the horrible decision to stop attending Mass for several months. I began considering converting to Judaism which is a very long process. I spoke with her rabbi and one of their tactics is to turn people away. I am glad he did because I ended up realizing I could not leave Jesus or the Church. I truly believed my salvation came from Christ and that the Catholic Church is the church he founded.

During the period of not going to Mass and my mini-spiritual crisis, I spoke to some of my good Catholic friends and asked them to pray for me. Deeply concerned, they told others to pray for me as well. After 6 months, I went to confession and resumed attending Mass daily and have tried to do much penance since.

A couple of years later, I went to a special Mass where a priest from Rome was celebrating and then giving a talk. After the talk and lunch, I was heading out and a woman I knew stopped me and said, "Oh, I see you're making the St Louis de Monfort 33 day consecration to Mary." I said that I was renewing my consecration and said what a great practice it was. She then told me she didn't think I should do that because I am not one of Mary's chosen ones. I asked her what she meant and she went round and round telling me she just didn't think I was. An older lady approached and said, "Oh who is this young man? Are you going to be a priest?" And the other lady said to her, "Oh no he couldn't!" "Why," the other lady asked. And she responded, "Because he got a Jewish girl pregnant and then forced her to have an abortion." You can imagine the gasps and howls.

My mouth dropped, my heart sunk, I couldn't even respond. In the most heartfelt way possible I denied it and told them that was absolutely false and asked who told her that. She wouldn't tell me, other women started coming around and they formed a semi-circle around me and the whole thing spiraled out of control. Most knew the story and they believed it. I had wondered why so many of them had avoided me at various masses and special events over the past couple of years. They demanded to know what the truth was and I told them the story and mentioned I had missed Mass, insert gasps, and said, yes, I know it was wrong and said that I had sinned. They were saying things like, "I should say so! Oh my goodness, dear Jesus, how could you, how could you?" Some weren't convinced and continued saying they believed that I had knocked this girl up and forced her to have an abortion. I was being eaten alive and all I could do was deny it in a quiet voice.

While I was defending myself, I happened to overhear two ladies off to the side. One said, "Do you believe all that?" The other replied, "Well...that's what x x told me." I finally left and went up to the chapel and cried to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. I just offered it, tried to forgive them and move on.

As I was heading to my car, one of the ladies pulled up and rolled her window down and said, "I am sorry about that. I don't think those things are true and it was Mrs X who told me that." A week or so went by and a very devout lady slipped and told me that the woman who was saying those things called people and told them that she saw me at the cathedral one Sunday and that I was wearing crazy sunglasses and a wild jacket. It all started making sense. It was all the same lady.


#2

Part II

One Sunday morning, after I had started going back to church regularly, I woke up late and saw that I had 15 minutes to get to Mass. It was a bitterly cold morning and I didn't have much time, so I threw on a heavy sweater and a down ski jacket, which was a bright royal blue. The sun was very bright that morning and there was a harsh glare coming off of the snow. I put on my sunglasses and rushed over to the cathedral for noon Mass one block away. As I was walking in, this particular lady, who is very affluent, very respected in that city and highly thought of as a very devout, holy woman. She also runs an organization that promotes a particular religious devotion and it is very well respected. I tried saying hello to her and she turned her nose up and rushed out. I had worked with this lady to help promote this particular devotion amongst inner city kids and when I taught CCD. We saw each other over the years at many different prayer groups and events. She had always been very kind to me. Apparently she was so disgusted by my sunglasses and the color of my jacket, she called everyone she knew to tell them what a weirdo I was and exaggerated the whole story about me dating a Jewish girl. After, she must have found out that I knew because I used to see her at early morning Mass and she started running out to her car very fast after Mass. And then suddenly, after years of going to that Mass, she stopped coming.

I have forgiven this woman, but it caused deep pain. It caused me to lose a number of good friends and my reputation. Yes, I sinned by what I did, but this woman either heard a fictionalized tale and repeated it or made it up herself. She did a lot of damage and it was incredibly uncharitable. It is 10 years later and it still haunts me, plus I may be moving back to that city.

I am considering writing a letter to her to let her know how that felt. Not demanding an apology, just reminding her that she, more than a lot of other people, should know the power of words, thoughts and intentions and that it might be something she should pray about. I want her to know the results of her actions. My only concerns are that one, it could stir up more trouble than it is worth and two, her husband is a high power attorney and might mistake my letter as a threat for extortion or something.

Advice?

Please excuse me. I typed this all very quickly, so if you have any questions, please let me know. Thank you.


#3

Go ahead and write your letter. But don’t plan on sending it anytime soon. Chances are you need to write this letter A LOT more than she ought to read it.

My personal opinion is that if you must send a letter that you would be better off avoiding telling her what SHE did to hurt you and instead asking if there is a way to make peace.

I’m not sure you have entirely forgiven her. You seem to want her to understand your pain. And that means you want her to feel some of it. I would not send a letter unless the goal is to reconcile with this woman.

I don’t mean to discount what your experienced. But I’m not sure you know what you want out of this letter writing business.


#4

It is a free country.

What that lady did was terrible; and it is good that you have forgiven her; however we are commanded in the Bible to admonish sinners; to Cite James 5;20 "He must know that he who causeth a sinner to be converted from the error of his way, shall save his soul from death, and shall cover a multitude of sins. "

She committed a grave sin against the eigth commandment; now we cannot know if it is mortal as we do not know if she had full knowlege or consent. What we do know is that she needs to be told her behaviour is unnacceptable; both for her spiritual growth; and to help avoid future tragedies like this in the future.

Secondly -- any "friend" who would leave you over gossip is not a true friend; such tragedies are one way to sift the wheat from the chaff; so to speak.


#5

I second that. It doesn't appear that you've forgiven her, but rather than you're trying to suppress your pain for the sake of forgiveness. I'd pray for her. It might help to write out the letter for yourself, but I don't see any potential fruit in giving it to her.


#6

Well we are only hearing one side of the story (yours) so we can only comment on that. Maybe someone else told this woman, or it was some kind of misunderstanding?

Based on what you say though, I'd say that what this woman did was wrong, and she should know. It's possible she doesn't know, and she should.


#7

I understand that you are moving back to that city, but will you still be in that same parish? If you are going to be in a situation in which you will be running into her, I would call the priest and explain all this to him, and see what it going on with her. Maybe she has been put into a mental institution and now everyone knows what she was up to. Maybe she has moved away or died. Anything might have happened, no?

And in the meantime, every time you find yourself fretting about this situation, pray for her. I have had similar things happen to me, and it is all around horribly weird to be around someone who is at best completely crazy and at worst very malicious.


#8

Thank you for the responses. Yes, I have forgiven this lady, we all sin, we all make mistakes. However, no, I haven't forgotten what happened, that isn't a matter of lack of forgiveness, it is the effects of someone's sin against me. What I didn't mention were the phone calls I began receiving after the initial hysteria around the priest scandals. At this point I had moved to another city, in part because of this whole mess. Priests I had known, loved, received the sacraments from had been convicted and sentenced as molesters and rapists. People began calling me and screaming at me that if I could make a girl have an abortion, I was probably molesting kids at CCD and at the Catholic school I taught at for a year. This has had horrifying, long ranging effects on my life. I don't think this woman thought another thing about what she did.

My reasons for writing, one because I think she needs to own up to it. Not necessarily to me, I don't expect or desire her apology, it is forgiven, but to herself, to God and the community. Also, to stop her from doing this kind of thing again.

The city where I am from has one of the largest, if not the largest Catholic demographics in the country. All the devout Catholics know each other, either by name or face or through someone else. The "devout" community is very close knit. I was never in the same parish as this woman, but it is inevitable there that I would run into her all the time.

One night, right before I moved, I ordered dinner out, from a restaurant in an area where I didn't think I'd see any of these people. I went to pick up my food, but it wasn't ready, so, since I was moving, took one last walk around the block to have a look. BIG MISTAKE! I ran right into a lady waiting outside of another restaurant for her husband to pick her up. I had known her and her family very well. She took her wrap and threw it around her shoulders and head and ran back in the restaurant to avoid me.

I am now considering moving back to the city for a number of reasons. I plan on attending one specific parish and avoiding all the prayer groups, adoration groups, special events as much as possible, but I will run into these people again.

Part of my hope, in contacting this lady is that perhaps she can undo the damage she caused. As I said, she is very well thought of and highly connected. Perhaps it will give me an opportunity to set the story straight. After all, as I said, she might not be the one who started the story, but perhaps the one who spread it, as everything pointed to her as the source.


#9

I can only think of one response to all this - offer it all up in silence to God, and trust Him.

Do not attempt to justify yourself to this woman, or anyone else, and keep forgiving her, and praying for her, and pray that Jesus will help you to forgive "from the heart".

And, yes, I know that it is impossible - I've been there too, and still am. This is, as we say these days, "where the rubber meets the road".

Have you ever read St Francis, on Perfect Joy?

[Oh, don't feel bad about posting here though, or writing that letter, for your own comfort and understanding - offering it up to God comes at the end, but not necessarily every step of the way :) ]


#10

Forget the letter- go do the program - at the end of the - talk to her - it could be that God is calling you to be a beacon of light in this woman's life and not the other way around.


#11

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