Imagine going to Mass and hearing a fifteen minutes homily on how bad you are for not coming to Mass. The ironic part is that the people being harangued are people who are at Mass so maybe a better example are the endless homilies week after week about the paltry collection. If every time I came to Mass I was yelled at, if it weren’t for the Eucharist, I might be inclined not to return. “Why should I go? I’m just going to be told how poor my efforts are.”
Of course at times we all need a little “Come to Jesus” talk. But not constantly. It can be disheartening and off putting to the point that you wonder why you are putting yourself in the situation to feel miserable about yourself.
The domestic church, the home, is much the same. If home is the place where you are constantly nagged at and put down, instead of being the safe haven it is the place you don’t look forward to going after being away and a place from which you look for an excuse to escape when there.
There is a great scene in “The Incredibles” when the husband and wife are having a very difficult go of it. They bicker and yell at each other and it becomes apparent that neither likes being in their roles or in their house. But the wife makes an attempt to break the cycle (almost too late.) She walks up to her husband and says something along the lines of, “I know you hate your job but I want to thank you for sticking it out and doing so much for your family even though it is difficult for you,” and then gives him a kiss on the cheek. Now, instead of hating his job AND hating being home, there is the possibility of turning the home into a safe haven and a place of love, a place to be protected; a place that you mind a little less dong something you dislike because it allows you to defend the place you like.
Even closer to home is the same phenomena in the temple of the body. Say you are trying to rid yourself of some habit/addiction. It is good to feel some amount of guilt which will help you realize that your behavior is worth reforming, but if you constantly beat yourself up - who wants to live in that temple – especially you. Ironically what is the best way to escape feeling miserable (at least in the short term?) by engaging in the very activity that you are trying to escape. Of course after you feel even worse – so what is the best way to escape, by engaging in the very activity that you are trying to escape. Of course you feel even worse – so . . .
While keeping an eye on the desire to rid yourself of certain behaviors, rather than beat yourself senseless, concentrate on celebrating victories. “I feel great today! Yesterday I was free from that activity! Thank you God. Please help me continue. I know I may fall again, but boy does it feel good when there is a victory. Help me to have more days like this. Help me cleanse the temple and let it be a place I enjoy being.”