Peace of Mind, Distractions, Forgiveness?

Matt Emerson writes today of Peace of Mind. Why don’t we have it? Do we really need it? What brings it?

Of late, however, I’ve been unsettled less by the headlines and more by the trepidation of friends and family. I’ve sensed a growing unease and a strident wish to know when and by what means the economy gets fixed.

At root, I sense a desire for peace of mind.

But the cure we seek may never come. Gas prices may continue to rise, housing prices may continue to drop, and a second recession might soon be fact.

Which means it’s time to stop clinging. It’s time to stop anticipating saving legislation and despairing when it refuses to arrive. It’s time to stop searching, on the terms of this world, for peace of mind.

We don’t need it.

Let us not forget: Catholics know chaos. We know instability and unpredictability, not simply because of scandal or personal strife, but because of the spiritual heroes of our Tradition.

You’ll want to read the whole thing.

Many Catholics are finding peace of mind illusive because they see division amongst the faithful, all sorts of issues with our priests, dissent from many quarters. There is a primary issue of trust that has broken down and it’s going viral:

Sister Sharon Falconer has a vital lesson to teach. Once overlooked as an earnest, inexperienced supporting player in Gantry’s dramatic story of self-discovery, she becomes the all-important “flip-side” of the story – the effect that adulation can have upon the one being followed. This devout and well-intentioned young woman begins to view herself as more than a simple human instrument. Her followers have come to rely so completely on her spiritual strength that she now sees herself as The Only Instrument by which they can be saved, and her inability to reject her new-found fame for an “ordinary” life will have tragic and lasting consequences.

Is it possible that John Corapi—like the fictional Sister Falconer—has lost the ability to recognize his own un-essentialness, confusing his undeniable gifts and their noteworthy results with the true Cause of his success? Pride is a devastating taskmaster, and one who lurks behind many good and noble intentions.

You’ll want to read all that, too

Part of our dis-ease, I think, is that we fell pulled in many different directions in our concerns, not just within the secular world’s economic, but with the real threat to religion by the world. Our church is being challenged as never before:

But the governmental death blow aimed at the heart of the Church is to destroy the seal of confession. If you think this could never happen, think again. It may be happening right now in Ireland.

The Irish government, including the person no less than the Prime Minister, the Minister for Justice, and the Minister for Children are all backing legislation that would require priests to break the seal of confession to report pedophiles.

This is, of course, not only a monstrous attack the Church and religious liberty, it is also completely useless. Do these Irish geniuses think that all pedophiles are complete morons? If a pedophile knows that the priest will/must rat him out to the coppers, how many pedophiles will be confessing? Yeah, about the same number of Mensa members in the Irish government.

But why stop there? Why not force them to break the seal for the crimes of murder, rape, and spilling your beer? Where would it end? We would still have pedophilia, murder, rape, and spilled beer, but no confession. Aha…

Well, we don’t really need confession, now, do we?

Sr. Mary Ann Walsh explains why Yes, we do:

Confession has many benefits. Here are ten:

1. Confidentiality guaranteed. There’s nothing like confessing your sins to someone guaranteed not to tell anyone else. Sometimes you need to talk in absolute confidence. Even under subpoena, a priest can’t tell anyone what is said to him in confession. He can’t even hint at it. Now that’s confidentiality.
2. Housekeeping for the soul. It feels good to be able to start a clean life all over again. Like going into a sparkling living room in your home, it’s nice when clutter is removed&mash;even if it’s your own.
3. A balm for the desire for revenge. When you have been forgiven you can forgive others. If the perfect Jesus forgives me, who am I to want to avenge the slights in my life. (Think: “Why did they promote him over me?’ or “Mom played favorites!”)

Seven more here

That #3 is a really important one. The desire for revenge, the holding on to our hurts — all the forgiveness that God offers cannot be fully felt and utilized, until we manage to forgive others, as well. Marcy Morrissey tells why:

Forgiving is sometimes a series of decisions to let go again, and again. We have to do this, though, because to hang onto unforgiveness only hurts us. Unforgiveness is like having a boil that needs to be lanced to drain the poison in order to heal.

Forgiving doesn’t necessarily mean that the person who hurt us is going to ask for it, and sometimes we have to walk away from a person or situation. The forgiveness is something we need to do for ourselves.

It’s true: sometimes it can take us a long time to let it completely go, because the consequences of whatever happened are still playing out.

Forgiveness only costs us our grudges and the power we give others over us. If we pay that cost we are rewarded with freedom.

I will be going to confession this weekend, I need it for many reasons. My heart is very heavy about many things, right now, and I feel at odd-ends over many things. I feel like Martha, being pulled in a thousand different directions by so many distractions, and disappointments, and my own poor time-management. But I also feel a spiritual oppression that is unusual. I know what it’s about, and I need to get rid of it.

Meanwhile, I was supposed to take a vacation day today, but these don’t seem to ever work out well for me. Nonetheless, after this post I am going to go find the book my uber-smart son has been asking me to finish reading (because I am not uber-smart, I am still in Chapter 1) and sit under the tree and read it.

And truly, if you could spare a prayer my way, I would be so very grateful.

Pat Gohn is giving a retreat in Michigan. I’m tied up, but it sounds wonderful.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • john primm

    Anchoress, you have my prayers each and every day…I am sure you know and remember these two sayings, “God never tests us more than we can handle”, and “When you are going through a trial, God has a good gift for you. When He is pounding you, the gift is a great one”…well, that is how I remember them. :)

    You are a source of inspiration to many which is why you get into such qwatsch…law of Nature.

  • Joe C

    You are in my prayers.

  • vhayes

    Some days I feel live I should live in the Confessional (most days lately). The world just seems out of sorts. Being Catholic I know what is happening on earth is not important but I just can’t get pass what this man(Obama) is doing to our country. In the end He does ‘make all things new again’.

    I will pray for you.

  • Ruth H

    I really like that you wrote dis-ease, that is what it is. And I am afraid I am a victim of it. And it is of my own making. I set goals for myself that are not realistic and then get very uptight while achieving or trying to achieve them. No one is laying these expectations on me but myself.
    I am not a member of the Roman Catholic Church so I cannot go to confession but I can go to the One who gives ease and I need to do that. Thanks for pointing it out.

  • Barbara Peters

    It is not Mr. Obama who is doing “this” to our country. Many Democrats believe Mr. Obama is governing more as a moderate Republican. The wars, the massive debt, the outsourcing of jobs and ecomomic collapse started under Mr. Bush and are proving difficult to correct. In October of 2008 we were teetering on the edge of an economic depression. It should also be noted that the recovery was limping along last year in a postive trajectory and has now hit a brick wall – just a few short months after the Republicans took control of Congress. Unfortunately our country is so divided and polarized now that we can not come together to solve problems and we continue to skate along the edge.

  • Charles

    Ummm … since at least a few priests have been more than willing to betray their vows, and more than a few bishops haven’t seemed to care, I think that “confidentiality guarantee” isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.

  • Kevin S

    Thanks for the post on peace of mind and especially the link to Matt Emerson’s essay. His mention of Mary makes me think of the pain and sorrow Our Holy Mother felt watching Our Lord being judged, punished, scourged and crucified. Our Mother who was born without sin and remained sinless her whole life. How painful it must have been to witness that and not feel any anger or bitterness in order mask the sorrow in Her heart. It demonstrates to me my own shortcomings and how much I rely on sin to ease the pain of life when I should be relying on God. I clearly have more to reflect on during my Examination of Conscience prior to Confession this Sunday. Thank you and God bless for sharing this message.

  • Kathy Schiffer

    You can count on me for prayer. I’ve caught that angst, too– times are tough, decisions are many. May God grant you His peace.

  • Flodigarry

    You are always in my prayers. The ten Reasons to go to Confession are compelling me to revisit this sacrament that I have abandoned for so long. There is a great country song by Rodney Atkins that I love and think about when I am feeling as you are now…

    “If you’re going through hell
    Keep on going, don’t slow down
    If you’re scared, don’t show it
    You might get out
    Before the devil even knows you’re there

    Well I been deep down in that darkness
    I been down to my last match
    Felt a hundred different demons
    Breathing fire down my back
    And I knew that if I stumbled
    I’d fall right into the trap that they were laying, yeah

    But the good news
    Is there’s angels everywhere out on the street
    Holding out a hand to pull you back up on your feet
    The one’s that you’ve been dragging for so long
    You’re on your knees
    You might as well be praying
    Guess what I’m saying

    If your going through hell
    Keep on going, don’t slow down
    If you’re scared don’t show it
    You might get out
    Before the devil even knows you’re there

    Yeah, If you’re going through hell
    Keep on moving, face that fire
    Walk right through it
    You might get out
    Before the devil even knows you’re there”

    You’ve been my inspiration for a while now, hope this helps

  • FoolishMortal

    Holding you up in prayer right now! =:o]

  • alexandrag

    Prayers for you and everyone here. Maybe God needs all of us to pay a little more attention to Him. Have a good confession. It is a wondrous and mysterious sacrament. It helps clear the air, and makes the world seem brighter when you are done.

    Also, the other night I needed a sweet treat and pulled out the microwave mug cake recipe and made it, and thanked my lucky stars that you had posted it a year or two ago. It was delicious.

    God bless you!

  • Zorro

    This is why Catholicism never worked out for me. I always looked on confession as an endorsed form of bragging. I got the hugest kick out of shocking Msgr. Fitzpatrick with the ribald tales of my weekends spent in the woods with schoolmates of both sexes, a case of Budweiser and other nonsense.

    Got him to laugh more than once, too. I wonder if standup comics started like this.

  • James

    (Zorro wrote – “This is why Catholicism never worked out for me. I always looked on confession as an endorsed form of bragging. I got the hugest kick out of shocking Msgr. Fitzpatrick with the ribald tales of my weekends spent in the woods with schoolmates of both sexes, a case of Budweiser and other nonsense. Got him to laugh more than once, too. I wonder if standup comics started like this.”)

    So…not only did you clearly NOT understand the Sacrament of Reconciliation, but you actually went out of your way to actively abused it and mocked it.

    And you say Catholicism didn’t work out for you eh? Shocking.

    It looks like you’ve found your own form of “endorsed bragging”, doesn’t it……

    You’re in my Prayers Anchoress. And so are you Zorro.

  • Joseph R Wilson

    “finding peace of mind illusive”–elusive?

    [or both elusive and illusory? :-)?admin]

  • Greta

    I am well into my senior years. I remember a time when the bells of our church sounded and we stopped everything we were doing to pray. Our day was not complete until we said the rosary which included all the Mysteries of the Rosary. Prayer was integrated into our lives from waking to bedtime and meals. When we passed a church we stopped to offer a quick prayer. When we went to school and also when my kids went to school, all of the kids and teachers attended mass each morning. Our summer vacation which was the same time frame each summer included not only sunday mass, but also a Marian feast day. We learned the faith taught to us in the form of the Cathecism and were tested on our knowledge of the faith. As an adult, I obtain every Papal encylical and read it throughly and discuss it with my family and friends. I am heavily involved in the parish and have been for over 70 years.

    What irks me today are those who claim they are too busy and at the same time complain about having no peace in their lives. They want to compartmentailize their faith as if God is like an old pair of shoes. That is what irks me most about those who claim to be Catholics and have not seen the inside of a Church for years and in complete dissent with Church teaching. They want the grace and love and mercy, but are not about to take up their cross. They are like children who want everything they see, but want others to pay for it. They want to have sex “protected” from God creating life in the womans womb and then have the backup plan of killing the baby if God dares to create life. They want to say they support abortion politicians and parties, not based on abortion which they personally oppose supposedly, but are willing to support and keep legal as long as those same folks deliver a nanny state with a few paying the burden for far too many others.

    I lived through the depression and can tell you that going to get relief checks or help use to be thought of as a last resort and one you prayed would soon go away if you had the chance at any type of work. But it was also the time when your family did a lot more to pick up the load out of love and so did your neighbor and your church. When FDR started to create the nanny state, my dad said it was the beginning of the end of our freedom and left the party. It took me a while longer to leave took LBJ and finally Roe vs Wade for me to see what my dad saw instantly. It took me a solid prayerful reading of Humanae Vitae over and over to finally allow me to see the evil that the Democratic Party had become. It also allowed me to see the evil that would befall the Catholic Church in the cozy relationship the leadership seemed willing to keep with the party of Abortion and its acceptance by too many in the homosexual lifestyle. My best friend had a bar close to a very large seminary and starting in the mid 1960′s he saw a massive change in those being admitted to the priesthood. Where the seminarians use to stop by for a beer and watch a ball game, now he saw far to many open gay seminarians coming in for “play time”. He refused them admittance to his bar.

    So yes, prayer in our lives is essential and the more we get away from it being integrated into every phase of our day, the further we get from Christ and peace. Sorry for this not being well written as it clearly shows my limited 7th grade education. I wish I had the talent of the Anchoress rather than old age and experience to offer. Unless we return to prayer, and from the power of that prayer take up armed conflict against satan and the evils of abortion and start to defend marriage full bore with both barells, we are simply aiding and abbeting Satan who roams free and is seeking nothing less than each of our souls. Only Christ can give us the answers and the peace, but he expects the grace he gives us to find fertile soil and produce nothing less than warriors for Christ.

  • Greta

    Barbara in #5. You are fooling yourself about Obama and his party. Supporting any party that supports abortion as does both he and his party will bring nothing to our Country or to God. Either we are one nation under God, or we are lost. Mr. Obama fought for the right to kill babies who somehow by the grace of God managed to live through abortion attempts. Why would you want to believe he could lead our country?

    Any country that supports the killing of 4000 babies a day and expects continued ongoing support from God from whom all good things flow is lost. Mother Theresa warned often about our country and the impact of the culture of death as did Pope John Paul II. Both will be full saints in our time.

    And on simple economic terms, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and a host of other programs are not sustainable and frankly should never have been allowed under our constitution. It should be no wonder to anyone why we are in serious financial trouble. As a Catholic, I would love to see everyone taken care of and helped. As an American citizen and a very long term taxpayer, I can think of nothing worse for a country than any form of Socialism. What putting the government front and center in most of these things has done is take away personal responbility for ourselves and our families and our neighbors. The federal government and in many ways our state governments have tried to place themselves in a position where God should be alone. They decide who gets what and from whom things can be taken. They create hatred and discord as a result between one American and another. Judges decide to find words and meaning in our Constitution that were never there and create more discord and the government not only allows it, but makes the selection of judges less on ability than it does idiology.

    Unless more people wake up, our country is headed for mass gangs of people roaming the streets and taking whatever they want because government will collapse. People are arming themselves in huge numbers and we might soon look like a banana republic.

    Obama has held office with overwhelming majorities in Congress in both houses for two years and yet did not manage to submit and finalize a budget. You are wrong in saying the Republicans took over congress. To do that, they would have needed both houses and a huge majority to have any impact. My Obama submitted a budget this year, his to do by law, and it was rejected 97-0. In other words, what he gave the country was so big a sham that it did not get even a single vote in the senate controlled by the democrats. Zero votes. His tax increases imposed under Obamacare are the largest single tax increase in our history in one bill. Right now, no sensible business owner is hiring unless there is overwhelming need based on the uncertainty of the economy with this burden thrown on top of some of the highest corporate taxes in the world. He then allowed waivers to his union buddies and thousands of others while forcing everyone else to follow its mandates. Last time I looked, that was not making every American equal, but selecting winners and losers. It starts with abortion and it invades every area of our lives as it has with Mr Obama. He is a socialist who refuses to simply be open about his programs. I would have more respect for him if he simply said I am a socialist who believes in total central control because we know best, just like Mr Lenin and Mr Stalin…

  • Barbara Peters

    Greta – I disagree with everything you said as you apparently disagree with me. However, we are both children of God and both seek Grace and Forgiveness from the Lord – so in an effort to bridge some of the division I ask you to join me tonight in a prayer to Our Lord that He will send forth His Spirit and renew the face of the earth.

  • Xavier

    Owing you much after years of following your work and recommendations, Ms. Scalia, I’m sorry to register my sincere regret that you seem to endorse Mr. Susanka’s entry at I can’t think that such glib public analysis of the supposed state of another man’s soul, or the attempted literary comparisons, is healthy for the community of believers in the promise of the Lord Jesus. Or good even, which is of radically less importance, for the reputation of Mr. Susanka.

  • Zorro


    So did they remove your sense of humor at birth, or did your health plan at work cover that procedure?

  • tempus fugit

    This, like the proposed ban on circumcision is definitely an attack on the Judeo-Christian value system. Next up is forcing these religions to perform gay marriages. Islam somehow, will be exempt of course.

  • James


    Oh, I’m sorry Zorro.

    Given the heavy nature of this blog, and the relevant fact that the Church is being ripped apart from all directions (including from within) not to mention that very few Catholics actually go to Confession anymore, and given that anti-Catholicism is one of the last accepted bigotries that is actually encouraged in our depraved society- I guess I just wasn’t in the mind-set to recognize your rapier wit.

    My bad.

    Perhaps you could regale us with some holocaust jokes? Or maybe some one-liners about slavery? You might even work in some cancer jokes in honor of Christopher Hitchens.

    Those should be some real thigh-slappers don’t you think?

  • SKAY


    I will take your 7th grade education coupled with the experience and common sense that you have to the
    vaunted education of those in VERY high places in our government today-any day of the week.

  • Manny

    After learning that my wife’s car needed $2400 of repairs and maintenence or it wouldn’t pass inspection, I definitely needed some peace of mind. Probably confession will be needed after my few choice words were let out into the atmosphere.

  • Manny

    OMG, Greta, those posts are absolutely brilliant. You are my hero! God bless you!

  • Greta

    Barbara says “I disagree with everything you said as you apparently disagree with me.”

    Barbara said republicans took control of congress which created the impact of stopping the economic recovery. She is wrong. The Republicans took control of the house. The Senate is still in the hands of the democrats. They of course still have the white house.

    The House alone does not give you much control of the agenda. The president who will in a few months be in office approaching three years is by law to provide a budget. Obama budget was voted down 97-0. Do you disagree with these statements? During the first two years of the obama administration, he had larger numbers in both houses than Bush did in either term in office. Yet they produced no budget or plan in dealing with the deficiets or debt. zero plan, only more spending in his first 2 years plus than all the previous preisdents in the history of the country. They passed the largest tax increase in history with obamacare. Are all of these not facts? This is not about disagreement, but about someone facing facts squarely instead of going back to previous presidents to find fault. If we want to do that, lets return to FDR and LBJ who gave us programs that are literally bankrupting our country today. The so called rich cannot pay any more taxes to support the bottom 50% plus that pay no income tax and at the same time maintain the jobs and corporations in America. No jobs is a direct result of ObamaCare. The meager recovery was limping when ObamaCare was shoved into law with its massive new taxes. Many held out hope for a quick ruling declaring it unconstitutional so that we can get on with real fixes in healthcare. Until that is resolved along with the massive increase in new regulations on many industries and the huge price increses in every aspect of our lives from gas to groceries, the economy is dead. And this is despite the fact that almost a trillion was dumped into the economy by the big spending democrats to insure that the unemployment would never get over 8%. Now it is hoped by the democrats to see it down to 8.2% before the elections.

    Barbara, I know it is hard for long time Democrats to see the light, it took me decades to give up on the party. I should have seen the light after my dad pointed out the FDR nanny state for votes policies of the party. It took Roe for me to see that the party had turned totally evil and that to keep power, they sold out to Satan with 4000 babies a day dying and we now have the most pro abortion political hack in office in history. The tapes of his speeches to planned parenthood left no doubt. Those who use to bury their soul to stay democrats on abortion said they did so because they were for the poor. The poor under the democrats have not prospered long term and certainly under Obama. Unemployment is higher for the poor now than at any time under Bush I, II, or Reagan. Unemployment for blacks is now as high as it has been since the great depression and with black teens, it is through the roof. This is not disagreements, but a difference with one facing facts and the other person holding firm that democrats are going to be our salvation in spite of the holocuast they have given to our country with 54 million dead infants. Will never happen until the party rejects that great evil. It is far worse than slavery and far worse than Nazi Germany or Lenin/Stalin Russia.

    And since I pray on a regular basis multiple times during each and every day, I will say a prayer as I always do for all Catholics who are throwing away their soul in support of that evil party. Of course the Democratic party also supported slavery, lynching of blacks, and the denial of their civil rights for well over 100 years, but who is counting.

  • Zorro

    James, James, James. What is with all the rancor? Have you forgotten your Catholic schooling? I haven’t. I still have recollections of Sister Carmenita and Sister Jude ringing in my ears.

    Cancer jokes about Chris Hitchens? Surely you jest! Any proponent of the work of P.G. Wodehouse is off limits to such horrific practices, don’t you think? Or are you immune to the levity of that master of English prose?

    Apparently I have touched a nerve of yours. I sincerely apologize. I never meant to riffle your finer sensibilities.

    I’ll tell you what. You read “The Code of the Woosters” by P.G. Wodehouse, and I’ll never again sully this fine web site with my (apparent) invective.

    It would seem that your view on life as a human being simply doesn’t jibe with mine.

    Oh, and about the holocaust jokes. I know a few. None of them are funny. I never joke about human tragedy. Never have. I don’t imagine you do, either. What on Earth brought that up?

    Dude, you really need to look into your soul and uncover whatever is predisposing you toward such poison.

    Slavery jokes? WTF???!!

  • Manny

    Zorro – You’re initial comment (#12) did not come across as funny, at least not to me or apparently to James. I’m still not sure if you were being facetious or not. You should not be surprised at James’s reaction.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    I think Zorro came here, chiefly to pick fights with everybody.

    Ignore him.

  • Barbara Peters

    Greta, Yes I vehemently disagree with you and believe many of your purported “facts” are distorted or just plain wrong but I will not use this blog to continue to engage in this conversation because I do not believe it is the correct forum and because this discussion with you would be pointless. I will note however that I never indicated I was a democrat. I will have nothing more to say on this and will continue to pray that the Spirit wll renew the face of the earth.