Mark Shea strikes a poignant tone of contrition and humility in this morning’s post. Listen closely and you can hear the fervent thumping of his fist against his chest.
The past week has not been a pleasant one, but it has been a fruitful one. I won’t bore you with a lot of autobiography, but I will say that the Holy Spirit has been very busy, turning over some rocks in the heart that have nasty things living under them. And since some of them concern youse guys (who have been way more patient with me than I would be if I were reading me over the past several years) I think I owe some apologies.
You know how something can be right in front of your face and you can’t see it? That’s what it’s been for me this week and really for a good number of years. I’ve sensed that something is wrong, but not been able to really get it or know what to do about it. Partly I spent a lot of time thinking about the reaction to this piece, in which it was very plain that the issue for readers was simply that I had offended and angered a lot of people for a long time. But in many ways, the reactions to that piece just seemed to recapitulate a lot of reactions over the years. It seemed obvious to me that the problem was me, not my readers (since I don’t believe in conspiracy theories). My assumption is that when a random sample of people all report a very similar experience, that’s because they are reacting to something that is there, not conspiring to create an illusion of something that is not.
So there was that. There is also the fact that, over the past several years, I have engaged in a number of arguments on a number of questions that have brought to the surface some pretty deep rooted habits of soul. I have remarked on them in the past and tried to repent of them (sincerely, I might add, but of course the problem with besetting sins is that they are besetting: think about that sin you’ve confessed a hundred times and seem to make no progress with. Frustrating, ain’t it?)
Anyway, it all kind of came to a head this weekend on Sunday, starting at Mass. The hymn was, appropriately enough for Corpus Christi, “Taste and See”. As I was praying it just got more and more apparent to me that the message I’m getting back from so many quarters is, if you will, “You taste bitter”.
And I couldn’t argue with that. I do taste bitter. And for that I am deeply, profoundly sorry, because it is through my fault, through my fault, through my own most grievous fault that I do. I’ve become bitter in much of my interaction with people. And bitterness is a root that “defiles many” according to Hebrews. In my case, I think I have defiled quite a number of hearts who came here looking for the gospel and instead just got Mark Shea getting increasingly cynical and angry about all sorts of stuff. You can’t eat food, including food for the soul, that is bitter. My apologies to all to whom I have done this.
And there is more. Deep, personal, searching and profoundly honest. It is, in a way, a gift—and a challenge. Read it all. There’s a lot here for all of us to ponder and pray over.