A resolution worth keeping

From the President of CatholicCulture.org:

Those of us with dogmatic personalities—and that includes many who take the Faith seriously in a hostile culture—have an additional spiritual hurdle, because we so often confuse our commitment to God’s principles with our own self-importance as God’s spokesmen. This can lead to a habit of self-righteous indignation, as if we must denounce others in defense of Christ, though to be sure He has already indicated His complete willingness to suffer disrespect in order to win hearts. This is usually a case of the servant not really following the Master.

Moreover, we have a tendency to assume that because we know we are right about some things—namely, the dogmas of the Faith—therefore we must be right about everything. But because we have the privilege of accepting the truths of Catholicism, it does not follow that our pastoral preferences are infallible, or our political insight, or our social theories, or our ability to separate truth from falsehood in other fields, or even our spiritual perception. Why then do we pronounce as Catholics on virtually everything under the sun with the same certainty which we ought to reserve for the most basic precepts of the catechism? How easily do all men and women assume the rightness of their own judgments! But in Catholics, who ought to know that they depend at all times on the most generous gifts of God, this belief in our own perfection is a particularly offensive fault.

Here’s a sobering thought: The next person to contradict us (or to contradict the Church) may actually be at an early stage of his own interior journey home. Now it just so happens that, for better or worse, in almost every discussion we ourselves represent home. A harsh word now may drive this person away. A good rule of thumb is that we need to know someone extremely well and have a pre-existing relationship with him if we are to be in any position to speak harshly, and then only as a last resort. We dare not break the bruised reed or quench the smoldering wick (Is 42:3; applied to Christ in Mt 12:20). But I know I have done it. Have you?

Therefore, as we begin a new year and consider our own resolutions, I’d like to recommend that we all strive to discuss the issues that animate CatholicCulture.org with greater charity. I don’t mean so much on the website itself, for we have precious little opportunity for discussion here, except for just a bit of it in Sound Off! or via email. I am referring instead to the deliberate and persistent cultivation of charity in our discussions with those who are not part of the CatholicCulture.org family.

To which I can only add: Amen.

Read it all.

Image: via Motifake.com

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11 responses to “A resolution worth keeping”

  1. Thanks for this. I’d love to see this be required reading, with an e-signature also required, before anyone is allowed to comment on Catholic blogs on the internet.

  2. Good comments. The major newspapers in my state have gone to facebook instead of made-up names, etc. (although obviously a made-up name can be used on facebook). The number of insults has been significantly reduced. Would we say face-to-face to people what we say online?

  3. “Here’s a sobering thought: The next person to contradict us (or to contradict the Church) may actually be at an early stage of his own interior journey home.”

    Good point. I know that, for myself, during my agnostic stage, I alternated between extreme arguments with believers and doing my darndest to avoid them with all of my strength. The latter tendency was due to do the knowledge that, if I truly didn’t believe this stuff, I should care about it.
    But it bugged me terribly.

    And it bugged me that it bugged me.

  4. The blogosphere would not survive without argument. With all due respect, but blogs like this have become popular because controversy and argument. Heaven, populated by saints most likely does not have blogs.

  5. Rudy, good comment. Easy to see which posts blog owners post which will generate conflicting comments by the dozens and the posts that do generate charitable comments but only get a handful of them. I always about plea’s for discussing issues with greater charity while generating “red meat” articles one has to know will stir things up. I have been to a few sites where stories are posted that will never generate red meat feelings and all of them seem to die on the vine. Deacon Greg with his background in the media certainly knows this better than most.

  6. Very good point, Mark. But I wonder if some of this has to do with personal offense levels as well. I guess, given my field and given that I’m a New Yorker, I’m just not that easily offended. I’m perfectly fine with people having impassioned, and perhaps not necessarily always very polite, disagreements on comment threads. Especially on a blog like this, where everyone is Catholic to some degree (as opposed to, say, YouTube, where people are just turds to each other for the sake of). I realize that lines are crossed, but I’m personally surprised sometimes when I read of people being offended on the comment threads on this blog. I guess my line is a bit further down the plane than it is for others. Though perhaps this means I need to be more sensitive.
    Yes, argument can get heated. Even impolite. But hey, that’s ok, I think. Especially given the issues at hand. And as for this blog, I’d say that contentious issue posts (like, say, the ones about our friend Mr. Voris) are certainly a lot more fun that the warm and fuzzy story blog entries, me thinks. I like the warm and fuzzy stories just fine. But such stories don’t generate a lot of comments because comment threads on such stories would be largely redundant. (“That’s really great!” “What a great story!” “What a cute kid/puppy/story.”) Again, those stories are great and wonderful, but we shouldn’t be surprised that they don’t generate huge comment threads. Controversy does. And controversy is fine. Certainly, I think there are people on these threads that need to work on their people skills, but at the same time, I think that it’s difficult to tell tone, sometimes, in people’s words. And we should give people the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes people, due to their writing style, have a hard time expressing their tone in their words. They might come across as insensitive, but that might just be an interpretation that doesn’t actually match their real sentiment when writing the comment. And anyway, controversy, me thinks, is fine and good. We can be friends and get along and support each other all the while vehemently disagreeing with each other on very, very important matters. It sounds impossible. But really, that’s just life. 🙂

    Anyway, those are my half-baked thoughts.

  7. Agree Nate. I just find it kind of funny that a lot of sites that have interesting and by their nature red meat within them known to provoke serious and often heated debate take time to post calls for less self-righteous indignation. Easy to keep this off the blog. Just look at the posts on the blog with zero to 5 comments and only put those type posts up for comment and stop writing those where you get 50 or more. Every blog seems to do in on occasion, but then can’t seem to control themselves to throw out some red meat.

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