Faith on display

October 10, 2007 | Daily Spirituality | 22 comments

I’m really enjoying following the discussion to my post about covering my head at Mass. I’ve been thinking about it a lot and will probably do a follow-up later this week.

One subject that’s related to this that’s been on my mind is the concept of outward signs of piety. In the comments here as well as other conversations I’ve heard on the topic, people sometimes mention that they don’t do something that is an outward sign of their beliefs (e.g. praying in public, wearing chapel veils, carrying a Bible with you, etc.) because they’re afraid they’ll seem self-righteous. I’ve also heard people mention with a note of shame that it pleases them when others comment on their pious dress or actions.

But is that definitely a bad thing?

It love it when something I do or say or wear indicates to a stranger that I’m Catholic and they comment on it. I hope I’m not off base here, but I’ve been assuming that the pleasure I take in these kinds of events isn’t a bad thing. I just think it’s exciting when I’m identified as being serious — or, at least attempting to be serious — about my religion.

Once again, a lot of my feelings here are influenced by my atheist background. When I was an atheist I told myself that nobody even believed this Christianity stuff anymore. I saw what I wanted to see to tell myself that all these so-called “Christians” didn’t even take their own religion seriously and just went to church for social reasons. But on the rare occasions that I saw someone who went against the grain and did something unusual as an outward sign of their faith, it gave me pause.

One time I saw a few nuns in an airport. I noticed a priest at a local restaurant one afternoon. Once on a plane there was a little old lady in the aisle across from me read her Bible out loud (quietly) through the whole trip, and when we landed safely she looked up and profusely thanked Jesus. One day I walked into a deli to see a Rabbi and a couple of orthodox Jewish men at a table. There was a family at a restaurant one time who all held hands bowed their heads in a long prayer before eating.

I smiled on all of these occasions. These religious in their habits, the lady with the Bible, the Jewish men, the family in prayer…their actions and appearances left me without my old line that nobody took religion seriously anymore. They might have plenty of faults, I’d think, they might be wrong, but I can’t say they don’t take it seriously. Their religion is such a big part of their lives that they’re willing to look different than everyone else, to risk stares and perhaps even ridicule, to live their faith publicly. I not only felt respect for people like this, but I even felt a bit of warmth upon seeing them. I didn’t know where that feeling came from at the time, but looking back I think I know what it was: hope. Though I had never consciously entertained the notion that God might exist, I think that something within me felt joy at the recognition that these people obviously believed the whole God thing, and they didn’t look totally insane. These people were beacons of hope to something hidden deep, deep down inside me…the part of me that wanted them to be right.

Another reason that I’ve come to love being recognized as a Catholic Christian is that I’ve discovered that many people who have fallen away from faith want to talk about it. Comments about my closely-spaced children frequently lead to the subject that I’m a convert to Catholicism, and I’ve been amazed at how many times people have opened up to me about their personal crises with faith and asked me questions about what led me to Christianity — so much so that I keep joking with my husband that I’m going to get an “ASK ME ABOUT MY CONVERSION FROM ATHEISM TO CATHOLICISM” t-shirt. 🙂 I actually wish there were more ways that I could outwardly display my faith to others so that anyone who would like to talk about it would recognize me as someone who’d be more than happy to chat with them. Sure, some people might think that I fancy myself to be some kind of holy roller, but if even one person found it inspiring or helpful it would be worth the tradeoff.

And, finally, I think that displaying my faith through attire or actions helps keep me in line. I’m going to hang a rosary from my rear-view mirror, and having it there will definitely incentivize me to keep any road rage in check. Sometimes it’s nice to have a physical reminder that, as a Christian, I’m supposed to be representing Christ to the world.

I want to end this with a BIG disclaimer that I’m not saying that outward displays of faith mean that you’re actually holy or devout or pious or whatever (definitely not in my case!), or that if you don’t do anything to “show” your faith then you’re not serious about it. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I just wanted to throw this out there, especially to share my memories from back before I was a Christian, to say that I think that sometimes the concept of outwardly showing your faith gets a bad rap. Sure, it’s not a good thing if it’s motivated by pride or feeling superior to others. But I’ve noticed that, even when those motivations are ruled out, when discerning these types of matters people usually err on the side of not doing anything to publicly display their faith unless there’s some extraordinary reason to do so. The reason usually cited is fear of appearing self-righteous. Perhaps that is a concern, but I think it should also be weighed with the benefits of having others recognize you as someone who is at least attempting to take his or her faith seriously. To some you may seem pretentious; but to others you may be a ray of hope.

22 Comments

  1. TwoSquareMeals

    Wow, Jen. Thanks for some great food for thought. I think those of us who have been Christians all of our lives do tend to err on the side of not displaying our faith. As I think about why I do that, I realize that a lot of times it is because I fear what non Christians, especially those antagonistic toward the faith, think of me. I don’t want them to assume I am stupid or crazy, and I also don’t want to add to any ideas that Christians are “holy rollers” out to guilt people into heaven. And then there is the issue of being just plain lazy or scared.

    You have given me a great admonition to think about those people out there who may be looking for Christ without even knowing. It makes me smile to think of someone appreciating my family’s prayers at a restaurant. And it is good to be reminded that it is more important to look foolish for the sake of the gospel than to try to make the gospel look good to the world.

    Thanks for making me think about this.

  2. WSG

    Jen, I think it depends on why it pleases you. Is it because you think you look beautiful and pious like the Virgen in a sculpture (one of my friends said this, seriously)? Or is it because your head covering may lead people to Christ? If the latter, it’s obviously a good thing. If the former…

  3. Heidi Hess Saxton

    On the subject of “appearances,” I always carry rosary beads with me when I fly anywhere. On more than one occasion I’ve found myself seated next to someone with a Bible THIS BIG, who eyes my beads suspiciously and engages me in conversation about the whore of Babylon or some equally flattering description of the Catholic Church.

    I always get a little rush when I get to deliver the punch line: “I was once in your shoes, sister. Can I share my story with you?”

    One time I was talking to a former Catholic. I talked with her about the Eucharist — didn’t she miss it? I also shared with her how much Mary had helped me be a good mother.

    “It’s never too late,” I said to her. “Jesus is waiting for you in that tabernacle. Go to confession, and receive Him again. You don’t have to be satisfied with just reading ABOUT Him. You can receive Him, and let Him give His life to you….”

    It’s funny, I don’t usually carry rosary beads with me. I do finger rosaries more often than not. But when I’m on a plane, they’re always in my carryon. And they always spark conversation.

  4. Red Cardigan

    Lots of thoughtful comments in that earlier post.

    I have an examination of conscience that asks whether the penitent has omitted some act of faith (such as the sign of the cross) due to the presence of others. So, it’s not only not sinful to show your faith, it can be sinful to omit to do so under some circumstances.

    On the other hand, of course, Our Lord was particularly harsh with those who made an outward display of faith to the point that they imposed heavy burdens on those around them, but didn’t reform their hearts–the Pharisees.

    How do we know the difference? I think we can listen carefully to the promptings of our hearts and follow them. For some, this may mean wearing a religious medal that is visible to all on all occasions, while others may adopt a head covering at Mass, and still others may decide that doing either of these things is more a temptation to pride than a call to holiness.

    One thing we can do is respect others who may be called to do things other than what we are called to do. It bothers me that some (who may, indeed, be sincerely confused about the matter) use the head covering issue as a wedge and a division rather than a sign of Christian holiness, by insisting that the law regarding head coverings is not abrogated and that therefore women are, objectively at least, sinning by not covering their heads. If the law has not been abrogated, wouldn’t it be the Church’s duty to say so, clearly and publicly? Wouldn’t silence on the part of the Church mean that the Church didn’t much care if most women were seriously offending God in this matter? I find that unthinkable, frankly.

    One final comment: we who are coming at this issue from a post Vatican II perspective should be aware of the fact that the requirement was not “women must wear veils” but “women should cover their heads in Church.” The most common and accepted way of doing that in most Catholic churches in America was by wearing an appropriate hat. Some cultures, indeed, wore the lace mantilla both as part of their ordinary dress and at church, but aside from those cultures it wasn’t all that common for an average American Catholic woman to wear a veil unless she made an unscheduled stop at a church on a day when she wasn’t wearing a hat; on those occasions the neatly folded chapel veil tucked into her purse came in very handy. I think that if I ever truly were called to cover my head, a hat (or hats) would be the choice that would make the most sense to me: no one would know for sure why I was wearing one, there would be no automatic assumption that I was more holy or pious than any other woman there, and I would still be covering my head.

  5. spanishgrad

    This is always on my mind when I get dressed in the morning–to wear a medal, or not? How big of a cross to wear (thanks to my non-believing brother gifting me with some man-size ones he got as gifts, I have some pretty honkin’ big ones)?

    I teach at a public college, so the dilemma for me is, I want my students to know I’m Christian (Catholic, clearly) because so many of the liberal arts profs are manifestly non-/anti-Christian. There’s definitely the idea that Christianity is for the unwashed masses & that once you bother to think about things you’ll drop that superstitious nonsense along with the Tooth Fairy. So, I hope wanting my students to see that they don’t have to drop their faith when they’re in academia via my jewelery isn’t prideful (+ I want my own profs to realize that not all their students agree with their ultra-liberal views). But on the other hand, I don’t want my students to feel pressured into not expressing their views for fear of a bad grade (this happens with liberal profs, but no one says anything. I think if someone accused it of happening with a conservative one things would be different).

    So, I usually go for small medals when the dress’s neckline doesn’t make them the focal point of the whole outfit. The debate returns, of course, on Ash Wednesday…

  6. Literacy-chic

    I teach at a public college, so the dilemma for me is, I want my students to know I’m Christian (Catholic, clearly) because so many of the liberal arts profs are manifestly non-/anti-Christian.

    I’m right there with ya!! And what can be frustrating sometimes is knowing that there are students in my class who have been raised Catholic and would love to know that they have a teacher who is Catholic, too. I wore a medium-sized cross after I first converted, but on a public university campus where evangelical Protestantism is the norm, that didn’t feel satisfactory. And that semester I taught Mohamed from Saudi Arabia, I felt too self-conscious to do even that. Especially when I had a Jesus in my class, too. Seriously. The point being that the outward display of faith is complicated in the university setting.

    On the other hand, I have a pretty bold Crucifix and a striking Miraculous Medal that I really like wearing. I would wear them more often if I felt that I could. Few things say “Catholic” like a Crucifix of medal of Mary, and as a convert, that is important to me! (They are also the first things I actually had blessed for myself!)

  7. jrg

    Jen,

    Thanks for giving so much of yourself in your blog.

    The title of this blog entry is “Faith on Display” and you write and others have commented on displaying the faith by something one wears.

    However, I have the good fortune of being allowed to display my faith through religious images in the workplace.

    The nature of my job requires that I have two large computer monitors side by side. Between the two of them and directly front and center of my work area is a 4″ crucifix. Underneath that is a black and white image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. That right there is Pope John Paul the Great’s Coat of Arms: Mary at the foot of the Cross.

    A small statue of my patron saint is also on top of one of the monitors keeping watch. Currently Mother Teresa of Calcutta is also here as I’m going through the new book of her private writings, so I get to see her hands folded in prayer, eyes raised to heaven that is the photo on the book’s cover.

    Each of these reminders help me throughout the day. They also provide an evangelistic witness to others even when I’m not around.

    Thanks again for your great blog, and for helping the rest of us grow in our faith.

    jrg

  8. Jenny

    Jen,
    One of my fondest memories from college is of Ash Wednesday services, those rare occassions where the students were permitted to use the “chapel” on campus for its intended purpose as a forum for religious worship. Nothing compares to the thrill and the terror of being recognized and identified as a Catholic Christian. All of a sudden, you stand for something, representing something greater than yourself, and that’s a lot of pressure. What an awesome measure of accountability, though… and I love that flash of recognition, that “aha” moment when you lock glances with another ash-wearing, rosary carrying “undercover Catholic” on the street. Awesome. Thanks for your amazing blog!

  9. Melanie B

    Some years ago my dad gave me a beautiful miraculous medal and I wear it and a small cross all the time. most of the time I don’t even remember I am wearing them and yet the medal frequently sparks great conversations. Just yesterday I had a nice Catholic chat with the prenatal nurse at my new OB’s office because she noticed my medal. She even shared with me that her husband had died of cancer and it led to a discussion about why God cures some people and allows others to suffer and die. I’d never have had that connection with her if I hadn’t worn the medal because I am very reticent to talk about my faith with strangers.

    While I don’t wear the medal to be noticed, I do appreciate that it is a sign of my faith. I did wear it and the cross when I taught at a public school; but frequently it was hidden by my collar. I didn’t either deliberately hide it or pull it out, just let it fall when it would when I got dressed in the morning. For me having a piece of jewelry I just wear 24/7 made the whole thing easier. I wasn’t deciding to wear it or not wear it depending on what my students thought but doing it for myself, a reminder to me of both my dad who gave me the medal and Mary my mother, whom I frequently asked to guide me in my work.

    Likewise, I don’t pray before meals in restaurants because I hope people see me nor avoid it because I fear they will think I’m odd. I pray because I try to always pray before every meal no matter where I am because it is proper to thank God for his gifts and I do so with a sign of the cross and out loud because that is how I pray usually. I don’t do it in a showy manner; but in the same way I do it at home.

    I think being certain that one’s own motives are pure can be quite difficult because really our motives are seldom completely unmixed (those saints among us excepted). We should work to eliminate false pride and not do things exclusively for show; but being happy when our actions lead others to draw closer to God is a good thing, especially if we remember to thank God for allowing us to be his instruments. If we remind ourselves that it really isn’t something we are doing; but God in us, then I think that helps us to avoid hypocrisy.

  10. Courageous Grace

    I am a member of a religious order called The Order of the Daughters of the King (it is an order for Episcopal laywomen). It is an order of prayer and evangelism. In addition to the vows members take to pray daily and keep a rule of life, we are also required to habitually wear the cross of the order.

    This fleury cross is a lovely silver piece inscribed with the words “Magnanimiter Crucem Sustine” (With heart, mind and spirit uphold and bear the cross) and FHS (For His Sake).

    It is an outward sign of my faith and of the vows I have taken (much like a nun’s habit is a visible sign of the vows she has taken), and I must say it sparks the most interesting conversations. I have found that showing a visible sign of my faith tends to bring people to Christ rather than just me feeling embarrassed.

    And I am bound and determined to start covering my head in church, I just can’t decide between a hat or a mantilla (I have never seen an Anglican woman wear one in church and think that might be a little too much).

  11. Dan and Janet Brungardt

    Very interesting discussion. I always put on my miraculous medal (my brother got it for me in Paris) and my St. Benedict’s medal whenever I go somewhere. I don’t always at home because the kids like to pull on it. I used to have them on a long chain so they would fall under my shirt but the chain broke(kids), so I put them on a short one I had, so now they show. That was supposed to be temporary, until I got another long one, but I began to get comments and questions about them and it opened up interesting conversations about what they are and why I wear them, etc. I never wore them for that purpose, but it is an easy way to share your faith, which I normally would have a hard time doing. So, the long chain will not make a comeback!

    We also pray before meals as a family in public. If we didn’t, the kids would remind us! Nothing showy, just an extension of what we do at home.

    Janet

  12. Maria

    Generally, I think it is important to have visible displays of our faith on our person and in our enviroment (offices, homes, etc.). Firstly, it’s important for our own benefit. We are both body and soul so we need to constantly experience our Faith both in a mental/spiritual way and in a physical way.

    Secondly, I agree with Jen that it is a form of evangelization. I think this is especially true for preists and religious. If they aren’t wearing religious garb or habits, they don’t allow others to know where to go for spiritual help. Just like the police wear uniforms to let folks know where to go for help, religious habits and ornaments let others know where to go for spiritual help.

  13. Abigail

    As a convert, doing Catholic things like making the signs of the cross or praying the rosary in a funeral home, was the hardest to do in front of my Protestant family. (The starting to pray over meals at dining halls in front of strangers – seemed easy by comparison.) Every thing that was different, such as having to go to Mass during a family vacation instead of ‘just sleeping in” on Sunday. It all felt like a jab to my family and was certainly unfavorably commented on by my siblings.

    Those outward displays are important. It helps keeps a healthy tension based on the idea that I am different now as a Catholic. The being open to life is a much deeper difference, but it is all tied to the reason that I now cross myself before being to pray.

  14. Catherine Shaffer

    Jen,

    I think it’s curious that you are drawn to wearing a headcovering at mass, but actively avoid sharing the sign of peace during mass. One is optional, the other compulsory–sharing of peace is an important element of the mass. You’ve talked about this with humor, but I wonder if maybe you need to plunge deeper into your motivations. You mention that when you went to mass for the first time you felt that the women “should” have their heads covered. Why? AFIK, you hadn’t read the bible, and had been brought up totally unchurched.

    Fundamentally, what you are talking about is a fashion statement. You have posted twice on this and neither time have you ever stated that you believe God asks it of you or that it’s a matter of obedience. You have said that it’s an outward sign of faith, but to whom are you displaying this sign–other Catholics at mass. What are you trying to tell them? “I am very holy, but don’t ask me to shake hands with you?” I would look on this more kindly if you were at a parish were other women wore headcoverings or if it derived from bible readings or some other source where you felt it was an obligation, but basically it sounds like you want to “look” more Catholic, and that seems like a flawed motivation to me.

  15. Mojo

    When my father was in the final stage of pancreatic cancer, we wanted to honor his wish to die at home. Having spent many days in both the hospital and the local inpatient hospice, he simply didn’t want to pass away at either place. At the time, it seemed far too many of my parents’ contemporaries were also battling cancer, a few of whom died while in the hospice facility. Knowing this only strenthened my dad’s resolve to die at home. At one point, however, he became so ill that one last, brief stay in the hospice became necessary to help him cope with the pain. He agreed to go, but his fear of dying there did not wane. Our goal was to admit him for the shortest possible length of stay, get his meds regulated and then to take him home as soon as we could.

    On the day of his admission, my mother tied a small crucifix to his bed rail, as they had done on all his previous hospitalizations. Dad was silent, still and barely conscious. My mother was holding his hand when a nurse they had never met arrived to introduce herself. Noticing the crucifix, the nurse asked my mother if she and my dad were Catholics. When Mom answered yes, the nurse began to share how she had left the Church, but not in an antagonistic way. Hearing this, my father weakly squeezed my mother’s hand. Mom thought my father was asleep, but then realized he was not. Never one to miss an opportunity to share her faith and recognizing the subtle but encouraging nudge from my father, my mother proceeded to talk with the nurse.

    The two women, my mother and this nurse whom she had never met, spent an extraordinarily long time talking about the Catholic faith. Mom took the chance to share her love of the Church, its Sacraments, rich traditions, the Blessed Mother and particularly, her deep devotion to Our Lord in the Eucharist. By the end of a long and fruitful conversation, my mother (and the Holy Spirit!) had convinced the nurse to visit the local parish priest to talk about returning to the Church and the Sacraments.

    Perhaps my father’s return to the hospice facility one last time was part of the Lord’s plan for this nurse. Dad was fully aware of the entire conversation, though unable to participate. He willingly admitted perhaps his last stay there was necessary, indeed. A few days later, my sweet, wonderful, faith-filled father died peacefully at home.

    From this I learned we never know when our willingness to show outward signs of our faith will be a cooperation with God’s plan.

  16. Jennifer F.

    Catherine –

    You have posted twice on this and neither time have you ever stated that you believe God asks it of you or that it’s a matter of obedience.

    I guess I should have made it more clear. Re: the head covering, I do strongly suspect that this is something that God wants me to do, that’s why I’m even considering it.

    As for your concerns about me sharing the sign of peace, the joke there is that I’m a socially awkward person. As I said in my first post on the subject, I’m always afraid that I’m going to offend someone or do something stupid — my hesitation doesn’t come from a dislike of other people, just self-consciousness and worry that I’ll negatively impact someone else by doing something idiotic. That’s not a good excuse for avoiding it, as I am aware. It’s something I am working on.

    I would look on this more kindly if you were at a parish were other women wore headcoverings or if it derived from bible readings or some other source where you felt it was an obligation, but basically it sounds like you want to “look” more Catholic, and that seems like a flawed motivation to me.

    I’m sorry to hear that you don’t look kindly on my motivations. Please keep me in your prayers.

  17. Jennifer F.

    Mojo – wow, thank you for sharing such a touching story.

  18. SH

    Catherine-
    I have to say that your post seems to be downright wrong. You twisted Jennifer’s words and called into question her motivations to do something (i.e. wear a veil) that shows humility before God. Our Lady wore a veil. Should we not imitate her? Be careful not to discourage anyone from taking a path towards greater closeness to God. Think twice before you type.

  19. anh

    “Our Lady” was a Jew and wore the dress of her time. All the women wore veils, and men wore head coverings, too. It had more to do with heatstroke than anything else.

    Given that Jen has focused many times an outward appearance of Catholicism and has very little content here having to do with God or Christ or anything other than a very superficial “spirituality”, I think Catherine’s comments were fair and appropriate.

    I, too, find Jen to be a fairly shallow, self-centered person and don’t find much of the truly divine or spiritual here.

    Each post seems to either seek validation for a choice that doesn’t seem to run very deep in Jen, or a comparsison of her new, oh-so-holy self to the people she feels she is now “holier” than.

    Also, that she has to include so very many BS, self-serving “disclaimers” with her posts or add “clarifications” so often, I think it’s fair to suggest that Jen isn’t thinking too hard about any of this stuff.

    The chapel veil is an outdated custom that draws attention to the individual during Mass. There is nothing about wearing it that expresses humility in this day and age. The message is loud and clear: “Look at me!”.

    The focus on Mass, or at least back in the day when being Catholic meant something more than the jewelry you wore or what you stuck or strung all over your car, should always and exclusively be on the altar. Yes, we extend the sign of Christ’s peace to our neighbors during one part of that Mass, but the Mass isn’t about us. It’s about Christ. Or used to be, anyway. These days, it’s hard to tell. Seems like far too many Catholics are spending their time counting what they suppose to be liturgical abuses, or mentally rolling their eyes at the music, or checking out what their neighbor is wearing, or comparing the number of people they counted at Confession the previous Saturday to the number of people they count on the Communion line and making nasty assumptions about people they don’t know.

    Jen would do better to learn to focus on herself less (in which case she could be a little more gracious about the sign of peace instead of thinking everyone is all about her when she’s giving it — or not giving it, or faking it, or rendering some half-assed version of it) before she trots out and purchases a flashy array of chapel veils to sport up in the front pew.

  20. Mojo

    I, for one, had previously decided just to ignore ‘Catherine Shaffer’s’ contributions to this thread, but now ‘anh’ has joined the attack.

    That you two are given to such vitriol reveals that Jen’s recent posts about outward signs of faith caused you both distress. Be honest enough to acknowledge it’s because she hit a nerve deep within you both, and be happy your (Christian?) consciences aren’t completely dead.

  21. anh

    Um…and what nerve would that be, mojo?

    The reality is that Jen has a well-documented track record of superficiality and lack of any real sense of God and his love and the sheer unfathomable awesomeness of it all.

    For her, it’s all about showing the rest of the world how humble she is because she’s going to dust off some ancient, old, out-dated chapel veil, proudly don it, and traipse up the center aisle to the front pew just like some cheap supermodel walks up the catwalk wearing nothing but two inches of Lycra during Fashion Week.

    It’s the same thing.

    It’s attention-whoring.

    Just because it’s religious doesn’t make it any less attention-seeking and unchaste than wearing a string bikini. Frankly, the string bikini is more honest.

    I guess if there was one spark of joy in anything here, one iota of love for God, anything real or raw or human in anything she’s ever written, I’d give her the benefit of the doubt.

    But everything she writes is so contrived and mechanical and designed to bring the focus straight to Jen and how holy she looks.

    It’s at the point where it’s beyond vulgar. It’s obscene, this public display of her cheap, plastic holiness.

    This kind of shallow, superficial, ego-centric religiosity is an insult to the people for whom being Catholic, staying Catholic, came, still comes, at a very great personal cost.

    The chapel veil may make sainlty, pious little Jen feel very holy, but, to too many women, it’s a symbol of oppression and abuse beyond Jen’s comprehension, and to drag it out now and wear it in a parish where it is not the norm is, frankly, as slutty as if she showed up sans panties wearing a micro-mini and pulled a Britney Spears as she got in and out of the pew.

    If Jen had any real sense of humilty, she’d put her ego in park and just go to Mass and focus on what’s going on in front of her rather than focus on her self during the whole thing.

    The Mass is not Jen’s personal stage to make a big public statement about how holy and humble and special she is.

  22. Mojo

    anh,

    Your responses are so over-the-top, I am not even confident you are for real! Perhaps you troll decent blogs and perpetrate “shock posts.” Or, is your contempt for Jen sincere?

    If you are for real, I am actually sorry for whatever has happened in your life to cause such pain that you find it liberating and necessary to attack others. You certainly don’t seem to be someone who is at peace and possesses a “real sense of God and his love and the sheer unfathomable awesomeness of it all.”

    Please be assured of my prayers for you.

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