About this blogger:
Ronda Chervin received a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Fordham University and an MA in Religious Studies from Notre Dame Apostolic Institute. A widow, mother, and grandmother, she currently teaches philosophy at Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, Connecticut. Write to her at chervinronda@gmail.com.
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“In older times we referred to humans as the human race, but according to this foundation we are being classed with the animals on the farm, the cow, the horse, the mule […] According to this foundation, I have no right to be born, for I am the youngest of 16 children, and God bless my mother for every one of them!”
— Archbishop Schrembs (d. 1945) vs. a foundation promoting artificial contraception

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More from Fr. Gregory’s Retreat
published 11 February 2013 by Dr. Ronda Chervin

(These teachings are taken from notes of mine on a private retreat in 1996)

SKING Fr. Gregory about anxiety attacks in the night, he developed for me an easy to remember humorous analogy.

“At night,“he said, his large beautiful eyes gleaming, “be sure not to listen to the “radio station” KHell- like station KFAC. KHell is the bad news about yourself the Devil wants you to listen to. St. Catherine of Siena said that if it is making you depressed, that thought is not from God. Christ drowns out KHell. KHell broadcasts in the mind, not in the heart. The army Christ sends to defend me is love. John of the Cross says that the devil can get in the mind but not into the soul. He can only come into the soul or heart if we let him in.

A big subject for me whenever I make a private retreat is co-dependency. I am an expert in entangling myself in relationships of this kind. After idol-worship, usually comes disappointment, resentment and then hate. Fr. Gregory tried to teach me “you cannot get your strength from people. Detachment isn’t to hate creatures but simply to get your strength from God. The proof of the divinity of Christ is that He could forgive everyone, even those who killed Him. That is where He goes beyond the Old Testament. Only God can forgive. Christ sponges up all the sins of the world. Since we ate the rotten fruit we are covered with vomit.

“The Apostles were converted when He came back from the dead and, instead of punishing them, forgave them, saying “Peace be with you. “ You can only imitate God by being forgiving and compassionate.

“But I thought the twelve step people are always saying about co­-dependency that you shouldn’t just excuse people for treating you badly. You need to set up boundaries,” I objected.

“Forgiving is not excusing,” Fr. Gregory explained. The “enabler” gets enmeshed because she excuses instead of forgiving. Excusing is to say “you are not really bad.” Forgiving is saying “you are bad, but I still love you.” Enablers are always agitated. To be more peaceful, you must stop trying to fix others. But you certainly can get away from people who are treating you badly.”

With this in mind, the monk added: “Melodrama, you know, Ronda, is the theater of the ego. Making scenes is a way to escape from the long hard work of crucified love called patience. Benedictine monks are to share in the sufferings of Christ by patience. When you are agitated, cultivate solitude. This is good because there is no one to play-act before when you are alone.”

“How long do I have to keep going through these horrible co-dependent relationships, Gregory, before I get healed?”

Dramatically, Gregory proclaimed, “Jesus sets us free by letting us 'be killed.’ Yes, our ego is killed when we are rejected.”

That didn’t sound like good news to me, but Gregory added hopefully that he thought I was coming toward a time of great freedom. I have to let all my hunger for human love get focused on Jesus.
Twisting the Scripture in an unusual way, the monk told me that I am “the pearl of great price” for which Jesus sold His glory. He bought me from the devil by his crucifixion. What is needed is not to try to earn the love of Jesus, but just to accept it.

To decide what to do, Gregory suggested that I ask what conduces to peace and what to agitation. When I feel depressed I should offer those feelings as a love­-gift to Christ, and then distract myself by doing many varied satisfying things, such as reading and walking.

“But, but, but, life seems so boring when I don’t have any drama in it.” I expostulated.

“If you live more in your heart, Ronda, you will not fear boredom. Doubt and boredom are the shadows of the isolated mind.”

One of the most humorous statements of Fr. Gregory during the retreat concerned the need to keep the mind busy by reading spiritual works: “if you do not give the mind something good to chew, then you eat yourself – which is a lousy diet!”