What I Meant to Say

Wendy Babiak's Visions and Revisions


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The Way of Divine Love

sacred heart stained glass

I’ve got a deadline approaching for a book review in the parish newsletter (that’s a quarterly gig I’m happy to have), and I’ve been waffling about which book to recommend. I had in mind one book, but for reasons I’m not willing to go into, I thought better of it. I didn’t have time to finish Cardinal Sarah’s book after I thought of it (definitely not one to rush through). The Proustian narrative of our Holy Mother’s life, the Ven. Mary of Agreda’s Mystical City of God, which I’m always reading, while something I long to share with people, exceeds most modern readers’ capacity for complex sentence structure (not to mention its rigorous theology). I thought of St. Louis de Montfort’s Secret of the Rosary, and reread half of it, before admitting that it’s style is simply too arch for today’s literary palette (I value it for its content, not its literary qualities), as much as I do long to promote that most important devotion.

But there’s another devotion, one even more important than the Holy Rosary, and that’s devotion to Our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament, and His Most Sacred Heart. After all, we meditate on the Mysteries in order to come to a deeper understanding of Christ’s love, as signified by His Heart, and of the Eucharist as a means for seeking refuge there. And seeing as June is the month devoted to that Heart inflamed with love for us, that fire of charity that burned so strongly that it enabled Him to suffer so for us, and even to imprison Himself in our tabernacles under the veil of bread. Oh magnificent and magnanimous condescension! It was just such condescension that caused Him to incarnate, to take on flesh from the Blessed Virgin and become human. How much more magnanimous to deign to come when our priests summon Him to the altar, enacting the sacrifice again and offering Himself to us to consume and adore, so that we can become more and more like Him, taking in His flesh so that He can become our flesh. Inflaming our own hearts with the charity of His.

And so I thought of a book I read several months back, and which so deepened my reverence for Our Sacramental Lord that I had to start taking communion not just on my tongue, but on my knees (which would be so much nicer with an altar rail, which our church actually still has, though the Eucharist is distributed several feet in front of it). And which also impacted me in another way: it added five prayers to my daily devotions. I’m going to share them here, but first let me tell you a little about to the book.

It’s a narrative, arranged and edited by her Mother Superior, and taken from her diaries kept under obedience, of the visions and experiences of a shy Spanish nun in France, at a convent of the Society of The Sacred Heart, at the beginning of the last century, Sr. Josefa Mendendez. Her extraordinary encounters with the Holy Mother, Our Lord Jesus, saints and demons, and her intense sufferings (wearing His crown of thorns, carrying His cross, spending time in Hell), make a gripping and moving tale. And one gets a picture not only of the reality of Christ’s presence in the Eucharist, but also of how hard both Christ and His Holy Mother continue to work for the sanctification and salvation of souls. How sin matters, as do penance and sacrifice. How precious and loved by God is each and every eternal human soul.

So these prayers are scattered throughout the book. The one to the Holy Mother was given to Sr. Josefa by Christ. It’s a joy to praise her in the words of her Divine Son. Some of the other prayers are given by Mother Mary, some by Christ. The first two exist as prayers outside of the book but were included in it. I hope you find them of value. I know I do.

 

Act of Conformity with the Divine Will

 

My Lord and my God, behold me here

in company with Thy Divine Son,

who in spite of my unworthiness

is also my Bridegroom.

 

I submit my will to Thine

and I deliver myself over to do and to suffer

whatsoever Thou wilt ask of me,

with the one intent of giving glory to Thy infinite Majesty

and cooperating in the salvation and sanctification of souls.

 

Receive then for this intention

the merits of the Heart of Jesus Christ Thy Son

who is my Saviour, my Father and my Beloved.

Amen.

 

Prayer of St. Madeleine Sophie to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

 

O Sacred Heart of Jesus,

I hasten, I come to Thee,

throwing myself into the arms of Thy tender mercy!

 

Thou art my sure refuge,

my unfailing and only hope.

Thou hast a remedy for all my evils,

relief for all my miseries,

reparation for all my faults.

Thou canst supply for what is wanting to me

in order to obtain fully the graces that I ask

for myself and others. Thou art for me

the infallible, inexhaustible Source of light,

of strength, of perseverance, peace

and consolation. I am certain, too,

that Thou wilt never cease to aid, to protect,

to love me, because Thy love for me,

O Divine Heart, is infinite.

Have mercy on me then, O Heart of Jesus,

and on all that I recommend to Thee,

according to Thine own mercy;

and do with me, in me and for me, whatsoever Thou wilt,

for I abandon myself to Thee

with the full, entire confidence and conviction

that Thou wilt never abandon me either in time or eternity.

Amen.

 

 

Prayer to Our Holy Mother from The Way of Divine Love

 

O tender and loving Mother,

most prudent Virgin,

Mother of my Redeemer,

I come to salute you today

with all the love that a child can feel for its mother.

 

Yes, I am indeed your child,

and because I am so helpless

I will take the fervor of the Heart of your Divine Son;

with Him I will salute you as the purest of creatures,

for you were framed according to the wishes and desires

of the thrice-holy God.

 

Conceived without sin, exempt from all corruption,

you were ever faithful to the impulses of grace,

and so your soul accumulated such merit

that it was raised above all other creatures.

Chosen to be the Mother of Jesus Christ,

you kept Him as in a most pure sanctuary,

and He who came to give life to souls,

Himself took life from you,

and received nourishment from you.

 

O incomparable Virgin! Immaculate Virgin!

Delight of the Blessed Trinity,

admiration of all angels and saints,

you are the joy of Heaven.

Morning Star, Rose blossoming in springtime,

Immaculate Lily, tall and graceful Iris,

Sweet-smelling Violet.

 

Garden enclosed kept for the delight of the King of Heaven . . .

 

you are my Mother, Virgin most prudent,

Ark most precious containing every virtue!

you are my Mother, most powerful Virgin,

Virgin clement and faithful!

you are my Mother, O Refuge of sinners!

 

I salute you and rejoice at the sight of the gifts

bestowed on you by the Almighty,

and of the prerogatives with which He has crowned you!

 

Be blessed and praised, Mother of my Redeemer,

Mother of poor sinners! Have pity on us

and cover us with your motherly protection.

I salute you in the name of all men, of all saints and all angels.

 

Would that I could love you with the love and fire of the Seraphim,

and this is too little to satisfy my desires . . .

and to render you filial homage constant and pure for all eternity.

 

O incomparable Virgin, bless me, since I am your child.

Bless all men! Protect them and pray for them

to Him who is almighty and can refuse you nothing.

 

Adieu, tender and sweet Mother;

day and night I salute you,

in time and for eternity.

Amen.

 

 

Prayers to Jesus Christ from The Way of Divine Love

 

I.

 

O Thou who knewest all my misery

before Thine eyes were fixed on me—

Thou didst not turn away from my wretchedness . . .

but because of it Thou didst love me

with a love more sweet and tender.

 

I beg pardon for having corresponded so little to Thy love. . .

I beg of Thee to forgive me, and to purify my actions in Thy Divine Blood.

I am deeply grieved at having offended Thee,

because Thou art infinitely Holy.

I repent with heartfelt sorrow

and I promise to do all in my power

to avoid these faults in the future.

Amen.

 

 

II.

 

O sweet and dearly loved Jesus,

wert Thou not my Saviour,

I should not dare to come to Thee,

but Thou art both my Saviour and my Bridegroom,

and Thy Heart loves me with the most tender and burning love,

as no other Heart can love.

Would that I could correspond with this love of Thine for me.

Would that I had for Thee, who art my only love,

all the ardor of the Seraphim,

the purity of the angels and virgins,

the holiness of the Blessed

who possess Thee and glorify Thee in Heaven.

 

Were I able to offer Thee all this,

it would still be too little to honor Thy goodness and mercy.

That is why I offer Thee my poor heart such as it is,

with all its miseries, its weakness and good desires.

Deign to purify it in the blood of Thy Heart,

to transform and inflame it Thyself

with an ardent and pure love.

Thus the poor creature that I am,

who can do no good but is capable of every evil,

will love and glorify Thee as do the Seraphim

who in Heaven are consumed with adoring love.

 

Lastly, I ask of Thee, O gentle Jesus,

to give my heart the very sanctity of Thy Heart,

or rather to plunge it in Thy Divine Heart,

that in It I may love and serve and glorify Thee,

and lose myself in Thee for all eternity.

 

I beg this same grace for all those whom I love.

May they render Thee for me

the glory and honor of which my sins have deprived Thee.

Amen.

 

 

III.

 

O my Beloved, who art also my God,

make my heart a flame of pure love for Thee.

Amen.

 

 

Prayers to the Almighty Father from The Way of Divine Love

 

I.

 

Eternal Father, who out of love for mankind

gavest Thy Beloved Son up to death,

by His Blood, by His merits and by His Heart,

have pity on the whole world, and forgive

all the sins that are there committed.

 

Receive the humble reparation

offered Thee by Thy chosen souls.

Unite it to the merits of Thy Divine Son,

so that all they do may be very effective.

O Eternal Father, have pity on souls,

and remember that the time has not yet come

for strict justice, but for mercy.

 

O Heavenly Father!

look upon the wounds of Thy Son and deign to accept them,

that souls may accept Thy grace.

 

May the nails which pierced His hands and feet

pierce those hardened hearts,

and His blood touch them and lead them to repentance.

 

May the weight of the Cross

on the shoulders of Jesus Thy Divine Son

obtain for them the grace

to unload themselves of their sins in the confessional.

 

I offer Thee, O Heavenly Father, the Crown of Thorns of Thy beloved Son.

By the agony it caused Him, grant true contrition to souls for all their sins.

O Father! O God of mercies,

I offer Thee the abandonment of Thy Son on the Cross,

His thirst and all His pain,

that sinners may recover peace and consolation in sorrow for their sins.

Lastly, O God of all compassion,

in the name of the persevering prayer of Jesus Christ Thy Son

for the very men who were crucifying Him,

I beg and implore Thee to grant to souls

love of God and perseverance in well-doing.

And just as the torments of Thy beloved Son

ended gloriously in eternal bliss,

so may the sufferings of penitent souls

be crowned by the everlasting reward of your glory.

Amen.

 

II.

 

O most loving Father! God, infinitely good, look upon Thy Son Jesus Christ,

who placing Himself between Thy divine justice and sinners implores Thy pardon.

O God of Mercy, pity human frailty.

 

Send Thy light upon wandering souls that they may not be seduced and entrapped. . .

Strengthen souls that they may avoid the snares laid for them by the enemy of their salvation,

and with fresh fervor return once more to the paths of virtue.

 

O Eternal Father, look on the sufferings which Jesus Christ

Thy divine Son endured in His Passion.

Behold Him as a victim offered up to obtain for souls

light and vigor, pardon and mercy.

Amen.

 

 

III.

 

O all-holy God, in whose presence

the angels and saints are not worthy to stand,

forgive all the sins committed by thought and desire.

 

Receive in expiation of these sins the thorn-crowned Head of Thy Son.

Accept the blood that flows so copiously from His wounds.

Purify minds that are sullied . . . enlighten and illumine

the darkness of their understanding, and may this blood

be their strength, their light, and their life.

 

Receive, O Holy Father, the sufferings and the merits of all who,

united to the sufferings and merits of Jesus Christ,

offer themselves to Thee, with Him and by Him,

that Thou mayest extend Thy pardon to all mankind.

 

O God of mercy and love,

be the strength of the feeble,

the light of the blind,

and may all men love Thee.

Amen.

 

That last short prayer to Christ can be said as an ejaculatory prayer, meaning no need to kneel or make the sign of the cross, but standing there washing the dishes, driving the car, or walking the dog, you can ask Our Lord to inflame your heart with love for Him. And the more our hearts are inflamed with love for Him, the more we are able to love our neighbors for His sake. And doesn’t the world need more of that? I also think that the final prayer to the Almighty Father is an excellent one to pray for all those sad and unfortunate people addicted to porn.

I hope to someday see Sr. Josefa canonized. I can attest that reading the book taken from her diaries has been a huge source of grace in my own life. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Now I’ve got to figure out how to say that in 250 words.


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More Thoughts on Standing Rock: The Battle Belongs to the Lord

david-goliath

 

So I’m in an ecstasy of prayer, and I’m meditating on the Nativity, and I think of how God willed to be born in a simple shepherd’s cave, and to have His birth first announced to shepherds, as an embrace of poverty, and how much the gospel urges us to care for the poor, and God is Friend of the Poor, and woe to those rich men who don’t take care of the poor. Etc. Just a drop of water from Lazarus’s finger, for I am tormented in this flame.

All that. And I think of the folks at Standing Rock, who’ve had everything but this bit of land taken from them, and now the Corporatocracy’s trying to screw them out of that, too. With violence. On the taxpayers dime.

And I think how prayerful these people are (I’m praying for y’all, hard!). I was just telling my priest the other day, how some may not know Christ as God’s Son, but do they know God as Creator. And they’re asking for prayers. He was passing this on to Bishop Matano, so it’s my hope that something will be included soon in the prayers of the people. Meaning that the whole Diocese of Rochester might be praying for these people who are clearly the David to the Goliath. (Hey, remember, Dakota Access: Goliath loses, because God is on David’s side.) Not only has our Holy Father made it clear that it is our duty to care for the environment in his encyclical Laudato Si, but he’s also made clear that the indigenous are some of those people “on the margins” he exhorts us to care for. And Praying for the Living (and the Dead) is a Work of Mercy. So.

May the Father of Us All hear all our prayers, and protect the protectors, bring peace and humanity back to the hearts of the mercenaries, and safeguard the water for the sake of all life. For His Glory and the salvation of souls! Amen. So I hope, so may it be.

 

 

 

 


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The Sanctity of Water

the-baptism-of-christ__02909-1389545874-490-588

During my foray through Orthodox Christianity, before reconciling with the Catholic Church, one of my favorite discoveries was the blessing of the waters celebrated in January, on the day of epiphany. The coolest aspect was this: because Christ was already perfect, sinless, as God-made-man, when he submitted to baptism the grace that would have flowed into his soul in the sacrament, washing away sin, instead flowed out from his divinity into the water, into all water. Now, having witnessed many Catholic baptisms, I realize that this doctrine is also held true in the Catholic faith: because of this outflowing of grace at Christ’s baptism, all water is sacred. This is a tenet of the Church which corresponds beautifully to what is held true by most indigenous peoples, including the two nations from which I descend and to which I retain a certain loyalty.

That loyalty, to my indigenous heritage and to the land held sacred by my native ancestors, impels me to side with the water protectors at Standing Rock in North Dakota, opposing the desecration of their sacred burial grounds and the callous risk-taking with their water supply (and the supply of millions of Americans, native and settler, that live downstream!) that Dakota Access (and all the companies banking on their success) wants to commit for profit (don’t let them tell you it’s for energy independence…because much of that oil will be sold to other countries…true energy independence is found in renewables like solar, wind, and geothermal). Here’s a link to info regarding the legal status of the case. The company does not actually quite have legal permission yet to do what they want, but they’re trying to go ahead with laying the pipeline anyway, and even bulldozed through sacred burial grounds on the day a request for an injunction was filed because of those burial grounds, on the holiday weekend, in hopes that if they simply did it before they were told not to, there’d be nothing to stop them. And used a private security firm with attack dogs against non-violent families (including a sweet little two-year-old girl whose face was mauled–for shame!) when confronted. This is the sort of cultural genocide that has no place in 2016. (It was shameful in past centuries, but at this point it’s simply unconscionable and anyone who supports it ought to have their humanity membership card revoked.) The UN has recognized that human rights abuses are taking place at Standing Rock. And now the Governor of North Dakota, who stands himself to profit from this pipeline, is calling in the National Guard against these peaceful people. And yet the Obama administration is silent. Which makes them complicit. You can try, as I did, to call the White House at the number below, but you may find the line closed, as I did. Frustrating, to say the least.

So what can a Catholic of goodwill, who recognizes all of God’s children and His Creation as worthy of protection, do? Well, we can call our local representatives and ask them to speak for us, we can donate to any number of funds.

And we can pray. We can pray to the Holy Mother, who so loved God’s creation for His sake that before her death she willed her body to become part of the earth as a blessing for it, though He had other plans (for more on this, read The Mystical City of God). And who loves every one of the people, made in His image. We can pray to St. Kateri, Lily of the Mohawks and patroness of ecology. We can pray to the newly canonized St. Teresa of Calcutta, who ministered to the poor and downtrodden (our indigenous citizens on reservations are the poorest of the poor and the most downtrodden in this country, much to our shame). And we can pray to St. John the Baptist, who baptized Christ with that sacred water and who knows a thing or two about speaking truth to power (though it cost him his head).

What we can not do is pretend that this isn’t happening, that how we treat the earth and all its citizens doesn’t matter. Pope Francis, Vicar of Christ, calls us to treat Creation with the care it merits as the handiwork of God, and as a work of mercy, since a polluted earth impacts most profoundly the poor, who are our sacred responsibility. Please join me in all of the above.


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Devotion to St. Joseph and his Most Chaste Heart

three hearts

 

So as a Carmelite, I’m devoted not only to Jesus and Mary, but also to St. Joseph. This began somewhat gradually. First, after reading St. Teresa of Avila’s encouragement in her works to devotion to the most holy and chaste spouse of the Blessed Mother (she was a client of his, and his intercession was instrumental in securing a home for the order she founded), I bought a little book of prayers to St. Joseph at the church’s gift shop (now sadly closed). But I barely cracked it open. Then, when spring came here in our new home, the soil heaved up a small statue of St. Joseph, one of those used in securing his intercession when you need to sell your house. (It worked!) I cleaned it up and placed it on my iconostasis in front of the icon of the Immaculate Conception of Most Holy Mary (it has Sts. Joachim and Anne — whose name I’ve carried since baptism — embracing). Seems fitting he should stand with his inlaws, though he didn’t get to meet them until he joined the souls of the just in limbo, where they awaited the opening of the gates of heaven by his foster son.

And then I read that some visions of St. Joseph have been approved as worthy of belief, and that devotion to his Most Chaste Heart is being encouraged (we certainly could use an elevation of chastity as a virtue to counteract sexuality’s idolization and commodification, egads, people). So I began praying to him every morning. He is truly a powerful intercessor, I have found, and I want to encourage others to pray to him, as well. Here’s a prayer that’s almost as old as Christianity (the earliest copy comes from the year 50.) Say it nine mornings in a row for a particular intention.

Ancient Prayer to St. Joseph

O St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the Throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires. O St. Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession and obtain for me from your Divine Son all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord; so that having engaged here below your Heavenly power I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of Fathers. O St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms. I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press him in my name and kiss His fine Head for me, and ask Him to return the Kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, Patron of departing souls, pray for us. Amen.

And if your prayer is answered (and it most likely will be, if it’s conformed at all to God’s will), remember to thank him for his intercession! Not only is that gracious, but it will make him more likely to help you in the future. Here’s a lovely way to say thank you:

 

PRAISES OF ST. JOSEPH

IN the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

O holy Patriarch Joseph, ever blessed be thy soul, which was adorned with all the virtues and gifts of the Holy Ghost.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

O holy Patriarch Joseph, ever blessed be thine intellect, which was full of the most sublime knowledge of God and was enlightened with revelations.

Glory be …

O holy Patriarch Joseph, ever blessed be thy will, which all inflamed with love for Jesus and Mary and always perfectly conformable to the Divine Will.

Glory be …

O holy Patriarch Joseph, ever blessed be thine eyes, to which it was granted to look continually upon Jesus and Mary.

Glory be …

O holy Patriarch Joseph, ever blessed be thine ears, which merited to hear the sweet words of Jesus and Mary.

Glory be …

O dear St. Joseph, ever blessed be thy tongue, which continually praised God and with profound humility and reverence conversed with Jesus and Mary.

Glory be …

O chaste St. Joseph, ever blessed be thy most pure and loving heart, with which thou didst ardently love Jesus and Mary.

Glory be …

O holy Joseph, ever blessed be thy thoughts, words and actions, each and all of which ever tended to the service of Jesus and Mary.

Glory be …

O holy Patriarch Joseph, ever blessed be all the moments of thy life, which thou didst spend in the service of Jesus and Mary.

Glory be …

O my Protector St. Joseph, ever blessed be that moment of thy life in which thou didst most sweetly die in the arms of Jesus and Mary.

Glory be …

O glorious St. Joseph, ever blessed be that moment in which thou didst enter into the eternal joys of Heaven.

Glory be …

O happy St. Joseph, ever blessed in eternity be every moment in which, until now, in union with all the Saints of Heaven, thou hast enjoyed the incomprehensible bliss of union with God, with Jesus and Mary.

Glory be …

O my dear Protector! Be ever blessed by  me and by all creatures, for all eternity, with all the blessings which the Most Holy Trinity bestowed upon thee and with all the benedictions given thee by Jesus and Mary and by the whole Church.

Glory be …

O thrice holy Joseph, blessed in soul and body, in life and death, on earth and in Heaven. Obtain also for me, a poor sinner but nevertheless thy true and faithful client, a share in thy blessings, the grace to imitate thee ardently, and to love and faithfully serve Jesus, Mary, and thyself, and especially the happiness to die in thy holy arms. Amen.

 

St. Joseph was made patron of the Church by the Vicar of Christ, so he’s also a good one to pray to to help the whole Catholic world. There’a a wonderful prayer for priests in that little book, and one for the Holy Father and the Church, and for the church militant. Our church hierarchy and our dear priests can’t lead without prayers from the pews, and from all the saints and angels. I encourage you to pray to St. Joseph, for the good of the Church and all the world. That picture up at the top…those flames on all three hearts is the fire of charity, and as this old prayer card shows, it’s catching. Let our hearts be tender tinder for it. Charity: love of God in our neighbor, or love of our neighbor for His sake. Let it burn.


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Re-Entry

In a few days the Perseids will peak. A bit of comet detritus the size of a grain of sand will light up a streak across the sky bright enough to be seen with the naked eye, if viewed from a dark place, and there will be lots and lots of them. I grew up in Florida, and my family went down to the Kennedy center to check out the space shuttles as a little girl. I was fascinated by the special tiles the  bottoms were covered with to protect them from the heat created by the friction of the atmosphere on re-entry. A loose tile meant that the whole thing could explode. Imagine, going so fast that air could set you on fire.

I haven’t posted at this blog in ages. I’ve been in transition. We moved house (which for a gardener is somewhat traumatic, y’all). Our son’s gone off to college (he’s home for the summer now,  but will go back in a few weeks). And we reconciled with the Catholic Church. Like, jumped in with both feet. It’s been quite a journey, and it’s ongoing. As far as I can tell, it’s a journey that doesn’t end, at least not anywhere we can recognize. I’m mining Her treasures. The richest I’ve found is a work from 17th century Spain, by a Carmelite nun named V. Mary of Agreda, The Mystical City of God. It’s kind of like Remembrance of Things Past, except instead of being about the author’s life, it’s about the life of the Holy Mother, from foreknowledge of her in the Mind of God at the creation of the angels, through her Immaculate Conception, until her Coronation in Heaven. It purports to be divinely inspired, and it was raked with a fine-toothed comb by the Spanish Inquisition and found worthy of belief. I’m currently working on a series of prose poems about the 20 mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary, informed by this incredible work. I’m on my second reading.

So, here I am, still here, listening, praying, trying to figure out how best to serve God, and His Holy Mother. The world is a mess, y’all, so there’s no shortage of opportunities for works of mercy, that’s for sure. I hope you’re all making headway on your own journeys, with enough sun through the clouds to reassure you that the light leads you on.


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The Problem With Single-Motive Thinking And The Zero-Sum Game

So unless you live under a complete media-free rock (in which case I don’t think you’ll be reading this), you’ve heard about the killings in Isla Vista last weekend, and probably also about the media shit-storm(s) that followed. Because that’s what media does…it feeds the violence-for-display beast, and then gasps loud and long about what might have caused each instance of violence-for-display, pitting single-motive thinkers against each other in click-producing battles that fill the media moguls’ coffers but do little to bring the general public to a greater understanding of the cultural forces that are making life in America (and around the world) feel more and more like the world intimated by one of my favorite bumper stickers: “Where are we going, and what are we doing in this hand-basket?”

So you’ve got gun-rights activists fearing that this is some kind of false flag to justify someone coming for their guns, mental-health-care advocates imagining that this is simply a case of failed psychiatry, gun-rights opponents imagining that if they just got rid of the guns everything would be okay, and feminists pointing out the deep misogyny displayed in the killer’s manifesto and YouTube videos, some insisting that to talk about mental health is a mistake. While the truth is, as always, complex and involuted and known probably only by God and the young man who killed himself after taking out the innocent victims of his twisted thinking. (And there’s an aspect that too few are discussing, which is the overculture’s obsession with sex, as if it’s some magic key to happiness. I’m quite sex positive, but y’all, it’s not all that. When you’re done basking in the afterglow, the laundry still needs doing.)

For the past few days I’ve spent a fair bit of time (which sometimes felt like an important investment, and sometimes like a waste I had to ask forgiveness for during my evening prayers) on Twitter, reading and participating in the #YesAllWomen and #YesALLWhiteWomen hashtags. And several things are pretty clear to me. There are a fair number of men who get their panties in a bunch at any implication that women have it pretty hard at the hands of men, who seem unable to grok that when we try to bring attention to rape culture (which, yes, is a thing that affects all women, whether they’ve actually been raped or not, because violence exists on a spectrum and being subject to it triggers fear, and the possibility of the extreme end of it exists even at the lesser end) we are not trying to say that all men are rapists, but that a minority of repeat offenders make it miserable for all women to one degree or another. And guess what? Rape culture makes things miserable for many men and boys, too. If you need to hear such a thing from a man to believe it, watch this excellent TED Talk about how violence IS a men’s issue. This guy’s really smart, and gets intersectionality, something I’ll talk about later.

 

Also, that some women are just as unable as too many men to grasp the point of the hashtag, and feel the need to pipe up with “this is sexist, I’m not a feminist because I don’t hate men” (ladies, your misogynistic conditioning is showing). And at least as frustrating as the women who won’t consider themselves feminists because they’ve bought into the backlash idea that feminism=man-hating (guess what? I’m a feminist and I love my husband, and more than that, my husband is a feminist, too, and only a fool would accuse him of having a vag…he’s got a power rack in the basement that he uses on a regular basis), are the white women who refuse to examine and check their own privilege and insist that women of color bringing up the fact that, for example, Native American women are three times as likely as white women to be raped, are trying to derail rather than deepen the conversation. Thus was born the #YesALLWhiteWomen hashtag, and if you’re a white feminist, you really ought to be quiet and scroll through it, practice some empathy (just like we’re asking of men at the other) and try to understand someone else’s experience and how things you do or say may be contributing to someone else’s suffering. To admit that there’s a Venn Diagram of oppression and that some people exist in the intersections doesn’t diminish the fact of your own suffering, and when we can do this and do our best not to be oppressors, it gets better for everyone.

 

Just as the Marxist who comes in and bashes an indigenous woman for being a capitalist overlord because she likes vintage Chanel ads because it’s all about CLASS and not gender or race, white women who can’t share the spotlight with women of color suffer from simplistic, zero-sum thinking. There is enough attention to have all the conversations that need to happen, and when we go ahead and let them happen, without defensiveness, without fear that in the attention economy we’re going to get the short end of the stick, we might actually end up discovering that, <gasp> we are all human beings, that we all suffer in one way or another, and that when we humble ourselves enough to admit that we sometimes contribute to the suffering of others, we can start to change our ways and do what Christ calls us to do. The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, y’all. We just need to participate in it, by loving each other. The zero-sum game is a construct, not reality. There’s enough food, enough attention, enough love to go around, especially since all three are things that we can cultivate. One key value that indigenous cultures on this continent share and the settler culture suffers from the lack of is the value of cooperation. When we cooperate instead of compete, we can actually increase the available resources. Empathy can also be cultivated (reading other people’s stories helps), and if we had more of that, events like the recent killings would become a thing of the past. We might find ourselves living in a world that seems more like Heaven than the Hell we’re speeding toward in this whacked basket. Let’s make it so.