So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15). Guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards faith (1 Tim. 6:21-22).

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Apologia for Zealous Bloggers

Good critic, bad critic: the Catholic blogger in an age of dissent.

Catholic bloggers of a Tradition-minded orientation have taken more than a few hits on the nose lately for reminding the more lax brethren that to be Catholic and Christian one must be ever striving to be faithful to Christ and His Church and honest enough to confront and repent of any contradictions one is placing between oneself and the teaching of Christ's Church (sentire cum ecclesia).

The "critics" of the critics, most often self described liberals or progressives with an axe to grind against the skulls of Tradition-minded Catholics, take great umbrage over anyone being called to the carpet on account of their so-called "prophetic acts", acts which put their souls and the souls of those unfortunate enough to have allowed themselves to be conned by some teaching that may or may not contain an ounce of truth yet is seriously polluted by subtle or even overt error.

The fact that a multitude of impenitent souls react so violently toward their orthodox critics is a sign, be it ever so small or fleeting, that they take criticism seriously and possess a modicum of humility or sorrow for sin. Unfortunately, they misdirect their response to the defense of their shabby actions—i.e., teachings, social or personal life—which merely results in an unnecessary confrontation and possible further entrenchment of an attitude of impenitence. Those who have become defiant have probably become so because they have encountered criticism they cannot handle. Perhaps they lacked the coping skills or the will to address issues which they probably knew to be objectively at odds with the Christian witness at the time they committed said acts but which pride or fear glued them to an unhealthy response.

No heretic is ever without some truth in his or her luggage. Or, is that baggage? That's what makes the task of walking the Christian pilgrimage difficult—the encounter with teaching that has truth mixed with falsehood. Unfortunately, those self proclaimed prophets who cling to their "insights" as sixth and seventh gospels are most often very reluctant to have their teaching challenged, especially when they attach that teaching to their person and take any criticism personally. Academics are most prone to that tendency. The hard truth is found by taking a long pause in front of the mirror of criticism. An honest scholar tests his or her resolutions against the backdrop of Truth, not against success or fame. True fame awaits those who are humble enough to measure their work against objective reality. Saint Thomas Aquinas comes to mind. The question is, can one accept the Lord's grace which helps one move beyond egotism and selfish pride to understand that no person's actions are above criticism? No human word spoken or in print can be thought to be above criticism.

Bloggers who 'hit hard' at the wayward behaviour of the lax do so because they care for the eternal well being of another. They use clear, unvarnished language intended to unfreeze those frozen by sin. Said bloggers zealously love the Church and earnestly desire to rescue those who, many times, often do not imagine themselves in need of rescue. The brethren who, for whatever reason, identify more with the world than Holy Mother Church by holding positions contrary to the Gospel as articulated by the Magisterium have frequently lashed out at those offering fraternal correction with little purpose other than to lash out and distract others from the argument rather than admit their errors. Thus, the heterodox are guilty of both their original offense and the sin of pride for refusing to weigh the criticism offered.

Those stuck in the hardened cement of their errors are right to insist on criticism that uses compassionate language. Indeed, if cement, a jackhammer may be required. When a child is about to put his hand on a hot stove, there is little time to engage in a debate with that child the consequences of touching a hot surface. In other words, time sensitive interventions often require the use of blunt or decisive action to prevent serious harm. The concerned party—an older sibling, a parent, another adult—must grab the hand before it touches the stove or shout a command of 'stop' to halt someone bent on injuring himself. Said command or the firm grasp of a correcting other—the use of reasoned force—can leave the child with the impression that his rescuer is mean and harsh. Some children do not give parents the opportunity to explain after the fact that their gesture was an expression of love and protection. Sometimes correction comes in a form we interpret at the time to be excessively harsh, but that is hardly the intent of the one offering the correction.

What we experience as harsh as children hopefully we learn to reinterpret as adults as something intended for our well being. Here we are talking, of course, of just corrections intended for our good, not abusive acts which offend the dignity of the child of God. Teachings upheld by the Church may seem unduly harsh, and some have tried to paint them as unmerciful in order to force a relaxation of the Lord's teachings (e.g., against adulterous unions, aberrant sexual acts, etc.) which protect man from descending into a hell of man's own making. Sadly, no sharp rebuke nor honeyed bread is capable of enticing some souls to stop snorting the drug of their own inflated self-importance in order to return to a humbler life of service.

Catholics are, or should be, penitent by nature. To refuse to examine one's conscience and to refuse to enter the confessional on a regular basis is to act against our Christian nature. Or, to put it another way: we are wounded by sins committed after Baptism, and those who know they are wounded (in the spiritual battle called life) know they must report for care and attention in the hospital that the Lord Jesus Christ offers us. Through the priest-confessor, the Lord Jesus Christ offers us the great gift of the Sacrament of Penance to reconcile us back to Himself after we have put some obstacle between us and Him. The Lord gives us the grace to overcome every obstacle that we, ourselves, put between us and His peace, His joy, His love and mercy. Go to confession; receive the gift of authentic freedom!

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"A multitude of wise men is the salvation of the world(.)—Wisdom 6:24. Readers are welcome to make rational and responsible comments. Any comment that 1) offends human dignity and/or 2) which constitutes an irrational attack on the Catholic Faith will not go unchallenged. If deemed completely stupid, such a comment will most assuredly not see the light of day. Them's the rules. Don't like 'em? Move on.

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