When I hear the word evil, an image immediately comes to mind of a dark, formless hulking figure intent on destruction. Sometimes, though, evil doesn't manifest itself that way. Sometimes, evil comes at you from places where you least expect it and because of this, you could be fooled into thinking that it is you who are evil.
Evil is not always a boogie-man waiting to leap at us from a dark corner. Sometimes, evil arrives with a smile on its face and a kind word meant to distract while the knife is plunged between your shoulder blades. The bigger the smile, the harder the force with which the knife is aimed. Sometimes, that evil even has the nerve to call itself a Catholic, and in the name of defending the "values" of the faith, it will come at you with such force you are left breathless.
At some point in my life, I hope that I learn not to retreat in the face of such attacks. I'm not there yet. My first reaction is to recoil and go running in shame, wondering how I can have the nerve to think I'm a good person with honest motives rooted in the love of Christ. Maybe it's part of my over scrupulosity. I don't know. But I really need to overcome this because that old demon, despair, is looking to get back in to the clean-swept house, and he'll do anything to gain entry. Hard to believe that it would be another so-called Catholic who would attempt to afford him entry, but there it is, in so many ways.
Today, it came in the form of a co-worker who is, behind my back, "counseling" one of my problem employees. He attempted to characterize my struggle to hold this person accountable (lest she find herself unemployed) as decidedly unCatholic. I asked this person to consider my premise that while we can turn the other cheek, we also have a responsibility not to aid and abet those intent to keep on the wrong path. It's not fair to the co-workers who have to pick up the slack for this person, who has no desire to change, and we're certainly not demonstrating true Catholic charity by offering the necessary correction.
That demon comes in other forms, too.
1. The priest who tells me to mind my business when I ask him to speak to a brand-new priest who is not purifying the chalice after Holy Communion.
2. The staff member who questions my Christianity because I insist that she carry her fair share of the workload. Her beleaguered co-workers would beg to differ with her and they expect me, as their superior, to hold her accountable.
3. The unbeliever who twists your words and tries to make you question your worth as a Catholic
4. The priest who questions my Christianity when I voice concern about giving a Catholic award to a person blatantly living in contempt of the church's moral teachings.
I should have seen this coming. It always happens after a time of intense union with Christ and the inner joy that comes with frequent reception of the sacraments and commitment to prayer.
One of these days, I'll learn.