A college pal wrote to me this morning while i’m preparing for the new workweek and new rest of the school year.
I want to conservative University in Ohio that was a feed for a very conservative outside the parish covenant community. He joined. I didn’t. Then, he left after several years.
Now he has a ministry to those who have left cult . He has a Facebook group to discuss this. I haven’t said too much lately about junk that’s going on in church. I don’t want to get involved in blogger life or any other garbage pit. But, I think it’s important to note that the US Catholic bishops had better start addressing some things.
Here is what he wrote this morning: ( I hope he doesn’t mind that I put this out there.)
Don’t Be Afraid
I read recently where this admonition in the Bible comes up alot. Jesus seems to tell people on a regular basis to not be afraid. I’m sure the more biblically astute here can tick off the book, chapter and verse of every reference to fear in the Bible.
Fear was used -and still is, according to a friend of mine who recently left the Sword of the Spirit- to control people, to keep them from leaving. I remember in 1989 as I was preparing to leave how intense it was. First, a prominent Catholic Sister in our group was telling us that the Seers in Medjugorje were predicting three “Days of Darkness” that would fall on the world very shortly. You certainly didn’t want to leave community at this time in history. (The Three Days of Darkness? Still out there, I guess.)
There was also the belief that you really couldn’t hear God’s Word if you were outside the community, that in SOS Covenant Community you were at the forefront, the cutting edge of what God was doing. They criticized Catholic parishes as being too secularized. SOS CovCom provided an umbrella of spiritual protection from all the evil of the world. The only safe place was under the umbrella of the Community.
There was the belief – promulgated in the Sword of the Spirit Policy Notebook- that you could not trust ANYTHING from the media. And even today I would agree that the News does take on a slant from whatever source you get it from. But the response to not trusting media in the Sword of the Spirit was to only trust those above you to interpret it correctly! And if you’ve studied anything about cults, the primary method of control is always about information. You have to control what information people are receiving if you want to control people. So you teach them not to trust anything outside of the community… which is where our Charismatic, Catholic Covenant Community ended up after 10 years in the Sword of the Spirit. (We couldn’t even trust our own Catholic Church!)
Finally, we were ALL afraid if we left community that we would lose our faith. The world would eat us up. After I sent in my resignation letter, I did not get any calls from any of the leaders saying, :What are you doing? Why are you leaving? What can we do? I did get a call from one priest/Coordinator predicting doom for myself and my sons. (I guess my wife at the time didn’t even matter.)
My faith changed… yes. After you strip away the veneer, the facia of ‘the life’ you see a cold god, made of rules, who has little affection for anything or anyone but that damnable ‘mission.’ I found a God of Kindness, who has been loving, forgiving and kind to me. I also found a God of multiple diversities… in nature, in people, in just about everything. In the Sword of the Spirit you ended up thinking alike, talking alike, dressing alike. In the world created by the other God, who isn’t a member of the SOS, you’ll find quite the opposite.
I am posting this thread this morning to tell people: if you’re thinking of leaving the Sword of the Spirit or any group that makes you afraid to leave, it’s just a smoke screen. You’re being controlled, manipulated. The water out here is fine. You get to make mistakes and you don’t have to tell anyone about them. You get to go to church as much as you want. You get to serve other people, not just those (or ONLY those) to whom you have made a ‘covenant’. And as for breaking that covenant, that should be the least of your worries. God will not punish you for breaking the “covenant.’ Hell, my Bishop tore one up on the altar in front of the Eucharist and he didn’t burst into fire or get hit by lightning. He did however live well into his 90s.
Don’t be afraid to think, to ask questions, to do research. Don’t be afraid, as Jesus once said. God is with you always. Nothing can separate you from God. Not even the Sword of the Spirit.
This says it all. Back in 1999, Scott my hub and got involved in this organization. http://divineprovidence.org/.
Then, I got another clue on Facebook that another old friend who did a lot of work left also and moved to a southern state. She went back to using her talents in freedom. These folks do not have all the answers. What’s wrong with doing things in a parish? What’s wrong with social justice? Can’t the two work together?
So, ten years have gone by. I drive by there during the week now . I think about the striving I thought that was mine.
But, it is about surrender to a God of love not a community of secret know alls. We’ve been gone for a decade. Since then one of their Ph.D. Teachers died. Too much has gone on. What bout freedom?
Much more needs to be done and said.