Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Overcoming the Obstacle of Stuttering

On the  spirituality page of the Catholic Times, the columnist discusses how a young  religious overcame an inferiority complex and now sees that affliction as a blessing.

The columnist recalls the long talk he had with the religious, who had doubts about his vocation right up to the day he was ordained; the reason was his stuttering. He wondered whether he could be a  good  priest while having feelings of hopelessness. This showed up repeatedly when he was in the choir, and it was his turn to lead the prayers, which would then bring back stress and despair into his life; the negative feelings about himself resulted in a dislike for his brothers, who he believed were laughing at him, making his despair even worse. 

When he considered what his life would be like after ordination, with his stuttering before the Christians, he became more irritated with himself and embarrassed. Thinking of leaving, it happened that he was visited by an older priest who came to  see how he was doing. He told the priest of his feelings of helplessness because of his stuttering. The priest told him that during the litany of the Mass of ordination,  he should ask God for what he  dearly wanted, and it would be given to him.  He wondered whether it was right in such a public situation to ask for something so personal. The older priest told him you will not know whether God will take it as a personal request for a healing or use your stuttering for something else.

"God," the priest said, chuckling as he left the room, "can use your stuttering for the good of others." His words stayed with him, and during the ceremony the next day he was at peace. When he lay prostrate on the floor during the litany he prayed, "Lord, please at least when I am speaking your words to others let it be without stuttering." From that moment on whenever he said Mass, gave a sermon or spiritual talks, he has never had any difficulty. At times in conversations with others, he will stutter a little,  but not in his work as a priest. 

Looking back on his life as a religious he's grateful for the inferiority feelings he once had. Even now, when he gives his sermons and feels the signs of stuttering coming back,  he reminds himself of the priest's advice, sees that he is rushing things, and tells himself to stay calm and  composed. He takes a deep breath, and when he reflects on what he is doing, the stuttering signals disappear. The inferiority feelings have turned into feelings of being blessed; he has found tranquility and a restful spirit.