Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Why I left the Legion of Christ

blogger seems to be called Luke Clougher and his blog has been around for a year or so

Building on the Ruins of the Old Me: why I left the Legionaries of Christ

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When I realized I had to leave the Legion of Christ, the floor was ripped right out of my life.
Everything on which I had based my very identity was called into question.  I had become a member of this religious order at fifteen, before having completed high school, and my past seven years had been completely dedicated to learning how to spend the rest of my life as a priest in the Legion.  Now with the fundamental direction of my life suddenly in question, I found myself incapable of the most routine activities of my day; classes, community prayer, mealtimes.  There was no point anymore.
I believe that a person’s vocation is the central kernel of their existence.  Your identity is built around your purpose in life.  God exists outside of time, and he calls you into being in one eternal moment: the whole you, from beginning to end.  And when God calls your name out of the nothingness, he does it for a reason.  I thought I’d found this reason.  For seven years I lived my life for this reason, and then one day, my certainty was gone.
Without my priestly vocation, I was faced once again with the most fundamental questions.  Looking in the mirror I had to ask: who are you, Luke?  Why are you here?
Eight months later I’m still building on the ruins of who I was.  I don’t mean to sound melodramatic or depressing; I’m actually quite a joyful person.  The truth is simply the truth: my identity crumbled and now I’m building a new one.
By now you may be asking: well, Luke, if your vocation to the priesthood was so central to your identity, why did you have to leave the Legion all of a sudden? That would be a very fair question.  I have two answers.  I had known in my heart for some time that I wasn’t cut out for religious life, but I had been afraid to face the facts, choosing rather to view that nagging realization as a temptation against my vocation.  The second reason is that the Legion I had fallen in love with and joined was changing before my eyes.  I had signed on for one thing, and it was becoming something else.
Let me make something clear.  I am still in contact with many Legionary priests and seminarians, and I do not subscribe to the brainwashing, cult accusations leveled at the order.  As someone genuinely concerned for the future of Christianity, Catholicism and the religious life, I would like to share my experience as a Legionary seminarian in all it’s detail, including the personal struggles I had with certain aspects of the Legion’s formation and methodology.
When I read or hear some of the horror stories about excessive control, brainwashing and repression that come from certain former Legionaries, I think of certain moments of difficulty I had, and how easy it would be to tell those stories in terms that would horrify anyone out of context.  If I wanted to, I could use all the right words to push all the right media-hype buttons.  What I would much rather do is something productive, i.e. tell my story exactly as it happened and let you judge the Legion of Christ for yourselves.
This is something I wanted to do back in the Legion, but couldn’t, because I wasn’t allowed internet access to have a blog.  Maybe this is a little piece of the new me…part of my new purpose in life.
A few days before I left the seminary, I wrote these words in my journal:
I believe that:
1. One day I will look at all my present goals and say I fulfilled them.
2. On that day I will make new ones.
3. one day everything will work out.
4. I am a survivor.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Divine Mercy Today

On the left Fr. Neftali Sanchez Tinoco, one of the first ordained Legionary priests, co-founder in Ireland in the early 1960s; he left soon after and returned to his diocese in Michoacan, Mexico, where Maciel recruited him at the age of 12. In this recent photo he looks full of peace.

[From the I st Sunday after Easter]

Today is the Sunday of Divine Mercy. John Paul II died on the eve of this feast day, so beloved by him. It is the marvelous expression of God's love for humanity. We are all sinners. We are all children of God, here in this world to choose good, to let ourselves by loved by God. Sometimes we think that our personal sin distances us from God. The opposite is true: when the soul acknowledges that it has sinned, and experiences its impotence,  it is in that moment of sincere humility that it can be invaded by God's love that comes to meet it, and loves us even more than before. God is vulnerable to our humility.

Humility is the personal expression our our truth; it is soft and silent; source of peace. We all need God's Mercy. All of us. Today is the day for us to realize that we all need love, so we can open up fearlessly to love, as a person and as an institution. 

Today is a day for us to experience that there is always a clear path to take a step forward. We are not alone.

Nieves Garcia, former member of Regnum Christi
La Iglesia celebra hoy el domingo de la misericordia. Juan Pablo II falleció en la víspera de esta fiesta, tan querida para él.
Es la expresión maravillosa del amor de Dios por los hombres. Somos pecadores, todos. No hay buenos y perfectos y malos y pecadores. Todos somos hijos de Dios, que estamos en esta vida para elegir el bien, para dejarnos amar por Dios. A veces pensamos que nuestro pecado personal nos aleja de Dios. Resulta todo lo contrario, cuando el alma reconoce que ha pecado, experimenta su impotencia y es en ese momento de humildad sincera cuando puede ser invadida por el amor de Dios que sale a su paso, y nos quiere incluso más de lo que nos quería antes. Dios es vulnerable a nuestra humildad.
La humildad es la expresión personal de la verdad, es suave y silenciosa. Es fuente de paz.
Todos necesitamos de la misericordia, todos. Hoy es un día para reconocernos necesitados del amor, para abrirnos a la verdad sin miedo, la verdad personal y la verdad institucional. 
Es un día para experimentar que siempre hay un camino limpio para dar un paso hacia adelante. No estamos solos.

Monday, April 23, 2012

"Leave for the Good of the Legion/Regnum!"

Well did Julius Caesar say, Divide and Conquer.

The most dangerous division/separation is in the area of ideas because it is the hardest to discover. When a dilemma arises between two realities, before opting for one of them, first we have to ask ourselves whether such a division/separation is necessary. 

Some Legion superiors try to insure permanency in the institution by "expelling" one or more members. They justify their actions saying that it is necessary to get rid of some members for the good of the institution. But I ask myself, is there such a thing as an institution without people? Without people there is no institution. And, if that is the case, what is there to defend?

They are asking some consecrated members or Legionaries to "leave the institution" because they are in a stage of discernment after all that has happened. And this seems like a coherent and legitimate attitude for a person who has lived in deceit and is trying to make a wise decision about their life. This is an attitude that should be supported by the "institution". When the assumed well-being of the institution is put before the objective well-being of the people that make it up there is a forced dilemma: institution or person.
Sooner or later the institution will wither away because it did not know how to save its most important asset: people, its members.

Nieves Garcia
Bien dijo Julio César que la división del enemigo propio el triunfo de su opositor: "Divide y vencerás"
La división más peligrosa es la conceptual porque al ser más sutil es difícil de descubrir. Cuando aparece un dilema entre dos realidades, antes de optar por una de ellas, hay que plantearse si realmente es necesario.
Algunos superiores de la Legión tratan de defender la permanencia de la institución a través de "expulsion" de una o muchas de las personas que la conforman. Se justifican diciendo que para salvar la institución hay que alejar a personas. Me pregunto ¿Acaso existe institución alguna como tal? Existen personas que viven un estilo de vida, y a ese grupo humano se le llama institución. Sin personas no hay institución. Entonces ¿qué se defiende?

Se está invitando a algunas consagradas y legionarios a dejar la "institución" porque están en una etpa de discernimiento, ante todo lo acaecido. Postura coherente y legítima en una persona que ha vivido en un engaño y quiere hacer la verdad sobre la propia vida. Postura que debería estar apoyada "institucionalmente" para descubrir entre todos la verdad de la misma institución. Cuando se opera haciendo prevalecer el supuesto bien de la institución por encima del bien objetivo de las personas que la configuran, se cae en el dilema capcioso: o institucion o persona.
Tarde o temprano la institución irá muriendo porque no supo salvar lo más grande que tiene: sus personas.

Recovery from Legion of Christ & Regnum Christi


Welcome to Vol. 13, No. 2 April-June 2012 edition of the reFOCUS Forum: An Internet Newsletter for Recovery

reFOCUS is a network of referral and support for former members of closed, high demand groups, relationships or cults.
reFOCUS is dedicated to the recovery of former members…please visit our web site at We are a tax-exempt not-for-profit corporation - all contributions to reFOCUS are 100% tax deductible. Because reFOCUS is dedicated to recovery, we are looking for suggestions and input from you: are there articles or topics you want to see covered? Are there questions you need answered? Email us at

Upcoming Events

After the Cult Recovery Workshop for Former Group Members
Recovery Workshop for Former Members
When: Friday 3:00 p.m., July 27 to Sunday 3:00 p.m., July 29, 2012
Where: Franciscan Retreat/Conference Center, Colorado Springs, Colorado
Topics discussed typically include:

·         The nature of psychological manipulation and abuse
·         Conditions of thought reform programs
·         General recovery needs of former members
·         Coping with depression and guilt
·         Effects of hypnosis and trance techniques
·         Critical thinking
·         Relationships and intimacy
·         Post-traumatic stress disorder
·         Boundaries: re-establishing trust
·         Coping with feelings of anger
·         Coping with anxiety
·         Decision-making
·         Reestablishing trust in yourself and others
·         Dependency issues
·         The grieving process
·         Reintegration/identity issues
·         Spiritual and philosophical concerns


Free resources and articles

ICSA is proud to welcome STARTING OUT IN MAINSTREAM AMERICA by Livia Bardin, an online resource for people who have left cults, their families and friends, and professionals working to help them.

Starting Out is a compendium of information ranging from practical needs like how to get a photo ID or a copy of a high school diploma, to cultural catch-up, like types of popular music or quotations from classic movies, to  concepts like relationships with others.  There are detailed sections on basics like health, education, careers, and money management, as well as consumer tips on subjects from housing to selecting a doctor or counselor.  Sections on “Parenting After the Cult” and “Teenagers on Their Own,” focus on the needs of younger people who have left cults.  Though oriented  to those living in the U.S.,  Starting Out contains much that will be useful to people in all countries.

Author Livia Bardin, M.S.W., is a social worker who has specialized in research on cults and the experiences  of cult victims.  Her book, Coping with Cult Involvement, focuses on families with loved ones in cults. Her research on the experiences of children in cults has been published in in the Cultic Studies Review and the Journal of Public Child Welfare.

Available online only, Starting Out is accessible to anyone and sections are downloadable free of charge. Users are prohibited from selling or charging for information downloaded from the site.



What Are the Blocks to Critical Thinking after the Cult?
Carol Giambalvo
Every resource we read about recovery from a cultic experience informs us how critical thinking is of utmost importance. Yet there seem to be so many stumbling blocks in the way of incorporating critical thinking into our lives. Let’s look at some of them.
·        “No past experience is relevant to now”. Many groups used different words to convey this stumbling block to critical thinking, basically our past history was to be set aside and we were to begin thinking in the way of the group.
·        Information control. Certain books, feedback from friends and family, certain movies, television shows and activities were “distracting you from your life’s work”. Only sources of information from the group were “allowable”.
·        Milieu control. Control of who you see, communicate with, take advice from all needed to be from the group or its leaders. There were planned activities that seemed spontaneous, but were designed to orchestrate an experience that led you further down the road of belief and commitment to the group.
·        Dissociation. Some of these orchestrated experiences caused us to dissociate (dissociation is a disturbance in the normally integrative functions of identity, memory or consciousness), to enter a trance state. It can be caused by rhythmic patterns of speech, chanting, long lectures and/or prayers, meditation, guided visualization, conflicting information (discordant noises), repetition, stress of activities and/or poor diet and lack of sleep.
·        Loaded language. Every group has their own loaded language and when it is used, it brings with it a sequence of “knowledge” taught by the group. One does not have to think about it, the constant repetition of the language automatically brings the desired chain of thought. Thinking outside that chain of thought would meet with confrontation.
·        Negative connotations to the word “mind”. We are taught that using our “mind” would cause doubts. We are just to accept the teachings and the word of the leader as awe inspiring.
·        Humiliation when you ask a question. We learn not to question, especially the teachings or the authority of the leader.
·        Black and White Thinking. The beliefs of the group are “white” and undeniable and everything outside the group is black. This mode of thinking tends to follow us outside the group.
·        Spiritualizing Everything.
·        Being kept busy all the time. No time for reading or outside interests.
·        The sacred science of the group. It is unquestionably THE only way.
In understanding how our critical thinking was stifled in the group, it can lead us to begin the process of exploring possibilities, finding a career, finding what we truly believe … and it begins with allowing ourselves the ability to question!
Some positive aids to start us off:
  • Journaling
  • Hobbies
  • Returning to school
  • Writing about your experiences
  • Reality checks from trusted others
  • Getting feedback on critical views
  • Practicing logic problems
  • Critiquing television shows
  • Debating

Further reading:

Critical Thinking: Ethics Without Indoctrination

Comments, questions, and suggestions: email us at
reFOCUS, Flagler Beach, FL 32136

The reFOCUS Board of Directors:
Carol Giambalvo, President/Secretary
Rick Seelhoff, Vice President
Mary Taylor, Treasurer
David Clark
Maureen Griffo
Nancy Miquelon
Vanessa Weber

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Leaving behind the Safety of the Regnum Christi, human security.

Fear is the road that leads to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hatred, hatred leads to suffering. I perceive a lot of fear in you (Yoda)

Do not be afraid is the constant message of the Living Christ who lives in and with us.
My experience during these last years was about fear which stemmed from feeling subject to a blind obedience which would not let me do the truth. Fear magnifies the obstacles, paralyzing us and making us vulnerable. The Evil one feeds on anger and hatred. Even when I was in my parents' house, that fear kept possessing me until I became aware that it came from my strange concept of obedience. I had experienced lies first hand from some of my superiors. I already knew enough about the facts, and when I asked them about them, their answers were false. How could I believe that "the will of God" (or at least the strange concept I had of it) could come from someone who told lies?
But I kept believing that my life was in their hands and that they were only interested in me as long as I joined in the institutional falsehood.
One night, praying, in the silence of my room, I read with new sight these words of Jesus "Let not your heart be troubled or be afraid. You believe in God, believe in me too". Fear fled from my soul, and I was able to rest in the arm of He who is Love. From there a new impulse to love, to keep going as through the years that God gave me, without fear, full of trust and peace. 
Asking, discussing, listening to those who had another version of the facts different from the institutional helped me widen the horizon and break off that obedience which enslaved my life.

The great obedience to which a christian life dedicates itself, is obedience to God through one's conscience, intimate tabernacle, where God talks to us showing us the difference between good and bad (from the Sacred Constitution of the Church in the World, Gaudium et Spes, II Vatican Council). 
From then on I felt free to take the reins of my own life in my own hands, seeking the grace to live in truth so I would be able to love.
Now there are not human securities -I am 48 and I don't have social security- but I am finally learning to live like the birds of the fields that God feeds. As fear disappears, peace and love enable the soul to fly. This is the life Jesus invites us to live as his children. 
"Do not be afraid!"

Nieves Garcia

"No tengais miedo" es el mensaje constante del Cristo Vivo que vive con y entre nosotros.
Mi experiencia en estos últimos años fue de miedo que procedía del hecho de sentirme sujeta a una obediencia ciega que no me permitía hacer la verdad. El miedo nos agranda los obstáculos, nos paraliza y hace vulnerables. El maligno se alimenta de odio y de ira.
Aún estando ya en casa de mis padres, ese miedo seguía posyéndome hasta que me dí cuenta que procedía de mi extraño sentido de obediencia. Había experimentado en primera persona la mentira por parte de algunos superiores. Ya conocía bastante de la realidad del que fue el iniciador, y cuando les pregunté, las respuestas fueron falsas. ¿Cómo podía creer que "la voluntad de Dios" (un extraño concepto de la misma que al menos yo tenía, podía provenir de quien mentía?
Pero seguía sintiéndo que mi vida estaba en sus manos y que mi persona solo les interesaba si se sumaba al error institucional.  Una noche, recogida oración, en el silencio de mi cuarto, leí con ojos nuevos estas palabras de Jesús "No se turbe vuestro corazón, ni se intimide. Creís en Dios, CREED también en mí".
El miedo huyó de mi alma, y pude descansar en los brazos invisibles de quien es Amor. Entonces creció un nuevo impulso para amar, para seguir adelante con los años que Dios me regalé, sin miedos, sin temores, llena de confianza y paz. Preguntar, argumentar, escuchar a quienes tenían otra versión de los hechos distinta de la versión intitucional, me ayudó a abrir el horizonte y a romper con esa obediencia que subyugaba mi vida.

 La gran obediencia a la que se consagra una vida cristiana, es la obdiencia a Dios a través de la conciencia, sagrario íntimo, donde Dios habla y muestra el bien y lo diferencia del mal.

Entonces me sentí libre para tomar las riendas de mi propia vida, y pedir la gracia de vivir en la verdad para poder amar.
Ahora no hay seguridades humanas, tengo 48 años y no tengo seguridad social, ni pensión para el futuro, pero por fin estoy aprendiendo a vivir como los pajarillos del campo a quien Dios alimenta. A medida que el miedo huye, conquista la paz y el amor el alma para volar. Esta es la vida a la Jesús nos invita como hijos suyos.
"No tengais miedo"
Nieves García