This is one of a thirty part exposé on the Children of the Legion. This group of women, then girls, in the Regnum Christi, share their stories of abuse, neglect and the aftermath of being children in the Regnum Christi. For a complete list of stories to date, view Children of the Legion.
At 15 years of age, after attending many summer pre-candidacy programs, I officially became a pre-candidate. I was eager to begin my formation as a young woman whose sole purpose was to try to grow in grace and sanctity. With the eagerness of youth, I threw myself into the program, divulging my thoughts and actions without question in spiritual direction. And so began my discovery of Godʼs Will.
I was told to distance myself from those around me and to be detached from all worldly things. If I felt the least attachment to clothes or the way I looked, I was told that I was full of vanity which needed to be eradicated. If I questioned why we did certain activities or even why they occurred at the time they did, I was told that was my deep-seated pride which needed uprooting. The continual need to find fault with each and every action and report my failings not only to my confessor but often to my spiritual director and sometimes even peers created a deep sense of insecurity and self loathing.
The Regnum Christi Movement implemented several activities to find and express oneʼs faults to the point of creating a scrupulous conscience. More importantly, the danger that persists is that you begin to have a disgust for yourself. Especially for a child, this can become the way that they see themselves their whole life. Combined with no emotional connection to family or friends, and a life controlled by a strict schedule, many turn to other ways of control such as bulimia/anorexia of which I began a battle during that year.
Never did we dwell on the idea that we should love and respect ourselves because we are made in His image or that God loved us completely including our faults.Instead we were asked to rid ourselves of our faults in order to be loved by Him.! A vital flaw within Regnum Christi is the separation from the family.
As parents,we are entrusted with our children and they are placed under our authority and care. It is very hard to find a parent who does not intrinsically love their child and want only good for their child. The Movement sought to disrupt and usurp the natural parent child relationship replacing it instead with a distrust between the child and his/her parent. For me, throughout my childhood, I saw my parents sacrificing everything for my well-being.Before they made decisions for me, I knew that they prayed and discerned Godʼs will for me.
As my parents, they were given the authority and grace by God to discern what was best for me because they loved me. My parents could tell that something was not right when I told them that I was certain that I was going to give my life to Christ as aConsecrated. This would be the same concern any parent would have if your 15 year old told you they were going to be married in a year. My parents told me that I needed to come home for my last year of high school before making that step. I wasnʼt sure what to think, but it became very clear in spiritual direction. This was the moment when the warning bells went off in my head. I was told that my parents did not know what Godʼs will for me was. That they were trying to take me away from my vocation; that I should resist their decisions. Iʼll never forget the clarity of my thoughts when this was suggested. I knew I was my parentʼs daughter and under their authority. More importantly I knew they loved me no matter how full of faults I was. They wanted what was best for me and that was really Godʼs will. This was the first time I had resisted anything in spiritual direction. Maybe it was because it was no longer me that was the“problem” but my parents. It was easier to stick up for others than oneself.
The Regnum Christi movement is dangerous because they demand that you subject yourself to the “will of God” as proposed by an inexperienced spiritual director who cannot themselves offer more than the mind games they have been indoctrinated with.This brings me to what I find to be a fundamentally divisive view within the Movement:The idea that Godʼs will is not what makes you happy, but the ultimate sacrifice that you have to do please Him. This idea rejects the fundamental Truth that God is Love. It perpetuates the notion that we are bound by rules simply to avoid punishment and misery. Godʼs will is not a path we are forced to follow, but a path that he presents to us so that we can CHOOSE to follow to find the Truth and peace and ultimately happiness.Yes, there are sacrifices, or crosses, that will happen along those paths, but God is there to provide the grace to grow and be sanctified in them. The subtle distinction that was never mentioned in Regnum Christi is that our vocation is not supposed to be across. Choosing to be married or becoming a priest, nun or consecrated in itself should be joyful and without the fear of being punished by Him if we turned away from it.
I used to think that being a consecrated or a nun would be the ultimate sacrifice, the hardest thing in life. Therefore, because it was hardest and thus would be a cross, I needed to sacrifice myself for Godʼs will. We are not meant to choose a life that will make us miserable like virgins preparing to be sacrificed to a pagan god. God gives us a vocation in which we can find happiness. It took years for me to finally realize that Godʼs will is not to make you miserable. His will for us is a path to bring us closer to Him so we can discover how much He loves us.Finally, I have not been as affected by Regnum Christi as some others, but I have seen first hand many who have suffered greatly. For this reason, I am writing this letter. I think it is important to voice my story to make clear how the loss of faith and despair is a direct result of the scandal of Fr. Maciel and other priests within the Movement and the measures used to attain and grow the “kingdom” on earth. Regnum Christi deceptively attaches itself to the church.
Many people have pointed to “all the good fruit that has come from the Movement.” That is not the way to look at it. Christ never said “ Just pick out the bad fruit and look at the good fruit thatʼs left then youʼll know itʼs from Me.” No, ifHe is truly present in an order, there can be only good fruit. I firmly believe that the good that came out of our situations was Godʼs grace working and answering the prayers of those young girls and boys, men and women, crying to out to Him to show us His will.God can bring such good out of such evil. People can be deceitful, but God never can.
Strangely enough the greatest gift that I received from this environment of deception was trust. I learned to trust in the only thing that does not change, God Himself. Over the years, while I struggled to build up my confidence and regain a sense of self worth, I could throw myself completely in the arms of Christ knowing that He would heal my insecurities. He guided me through life to a point where I am happily married and am other. Finding Godʼs will in my life has brought its many struggles and will continue to bring many more, but it is my ultimate joy in life as it is the path towards Him.
This story is a testimony from the 49 Weeks Blog. You can see this and more stories by visiting 49 Weeks.