Friday, November 07, 2014

Steppin' out of the Ghetto

Just recently I had one of those interesting experiences that made me realize how much time I spend in the "Catholic ghetto." I met someone whose family had experienced something difficult, and I said, sincerely but without a bunch of self-conscious thought, "I am praying for your family."

Now, I don't personally know the person I said this to at all, but his response to me was interesting. Subtly, he communicated I don't need you to pray for me. Somehow, it was simply an uncomfortable thought to him, or so it seemed. And stood in contrast to me to how this exchange usually goes among Christians, whether any of the words are genuinely meant, or not:

I'm praying for you.

Oh, thank you so much.

Somehow, instead of this ritual exchange, there registered some sort of sense that I was telling this person he was a mess, and seriously in need of help.

Come to think of it, I once heard a similar conversation between a religious order priest and a man I knew actually had some significant issues and who was not practicing his faith in the slightest. In that case, the mere fact that this man was talking to the priest made him assert how righteous he was and how untroubled his life.

So really, in both cases, it probably was a case of the person feeling subconsciously very aware of his misery, but feeling the need to duck behind something quickly to avoid it.

And now it occurs to me that this response to "I'm praying for your family" might have been the most genuine thing I experienced that whole day.

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