Through my fault, through my fault, through my own most grievous fault

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.

There’s more, so bear with me.  I mentioned things living under the rocks.  One of the things that lives under the rocks in my heart has been a deep and abiding fear, a kind of heart conviction about the universe that long predates any conscious relationship with God I formed as an adult (recall that I was no raised Chrisian). I’m not saying it’s a truth about the universe. I’m saying it’s something more like a broken bone in my soul that never knit right. And what it comes down to is a pattern of assuming that I am, at best, a tool of God, not a son of God and certainly not somebody God loves.  And with that has been a fear that, at the end of the day, once my utility to God is spent I would be tossed away like a candy bar wrapper.

Observant readers will grasp that this has more than a little to do with my intensely strong reaction to the notion of using people as means to ends–as though the person himself is merely a tool.  Hence my intense reactions to such questions as abortion, torture and the whole Live Action thing, all of which involve reducing people to things or means to an end.

But there’s a bitter irony in all that too.  Because while I have been busy (for instance) arguing all that stuff here, I really saw this weekend that I have myself long had a habit of reducing other people to means to ends, depersonalizing them, and treating them with little or no respect.  It works this way:

If I am arguing with somebody who seems to me to merely be in intellectual error (like somebody getting their sums wrong or having an honestly mistake idea) I will treat that one with respect.  But when I feel as though I am engaged with somebody who is wilfully refusing to get the point, I will generally reach a point where I decide “Okay, you refuse to listen honestly or reply honestly, so I will henceforth respond to you only for the sake of those third party bystanders watching the conversation who will listen.  You have just been reduced to a Thing: a means to the end of talking to them.”

In addition, my attitude toward Public Figures is much the same.  I tend not to see them as human beings, but as sort of semi-fictional characters.  People who don’t fully exist but who are In the News and therefore symbols or representatives of ideas.

The upshot is this: Irony of ironies, a friend asked me today if I had contacted Lila Rose.  I said that I had contacted her organization–recently.  He said, “Why didn’t you contact her at the start of the contretemps?”   I had no answer.  It had never occurred to me.  Those familiar with the history of the controversy will recall that when it erupted, I basically was of the school that saw no big issue and said pretty much what most LA defenders say.  It wasn’t till various readers, Dawn Eden among them, challenged me and I could not find a way to argue with them that I changed me mind.  Honest, you can go back to the Register blog archives and watch the progression of my change of mind in February 2011.  Anyway, as the conversation moved along, I was basically thinking on the fly and in public and as opposition to the change of mind increased, it never occurred to me to contact Lila Rose because, well, my argument was primarily with people talking about her and she was a public figure acting publicly like, say, a movie star or politician or philanthopist in the headlines.  And so, instead of doing what Matthew 18 says and going privately and speaking in love, I simply treated her as though she wasn’t so much a person as a thing–a Figure in the Headlines and therefore a means to an end wherein I made some points about things I wanted to say to third parties I wanted to convince.

If you are noticing a certain irony (the more accurate term is “sinful hypocrisy”) in that, so have I. Because it has been right at the heart of my complaint about Live Action’s tactics.  Physician, heal thyself.  Next stop: confession.  But first, this:

To Lila Rose (and all her associates and sundry supporters) my sincere apologies and contrition.  I got so caught up in arguing about points I wanted to persuade people of that I completely failed to see you as human beings and reduced you to means to an end.  It was a sin and all I can do is ask for forgiveness.  In addition, as the argument has “hardened” (for want of a better word) I have let that bitter taste poison the conversation.  It’s lost people who might otherwise have listened, which is my own stupid fault.

Finally, those patterns have played out repeatedly in other arguments over the years: take your pick, you guys know better than I do.  Again, the point is not who was right or wrong about the point being argued, it’s that I have been wrong in the way that I argued, very often reducing people to means.  Again, mea culpa.

There are undoubtedly more rocks to turn over, but that’s all I have worked out so far.  Your prayers and forgiveness would be appreciated.

In future, I’m going to be trying to take the blog in different directions.  Don’t know what that will look like, but I think it needs to happen.

  • Lina

    What a beautiful article. Can I just say that you are not the only Catholic blogger to fall into the traps you mentioned.

    Any attempt to disagree or point out fallacies in an argument is met with pride. It’s very disheartening to see from the Catholic bloggers.

    I hope more follow your example of humility.

  • Gina101

    Thank you, Mark. I had “liked” your FB page because you are one of those Catholics with so much knowledge of the Church and philosophy that I really respected your thoughts and wanted to learn. Then not long after the election I had to “unlike” your page because I didn’t find charity along with the mind.

    Fast forward to this morning, Catholics Vote tweeted your confession and I was thrilled because a brilliant mind is a terrible thing to waste. :)

    • Lina

      Catholic Vote needs to take a page from Mark Shea’s mea culpa book. They have become highly partisan and negative.

  • Rebecca Freeh Thornburg

    Beautifully said, Mark. My prayers will join yours.

  • Beth Turner

    “And what it comes down to is a pattern of assuming that I am, at best, a tool of God, not a son of God and certainly not somebody God loves.” Now Catholic, formerly Calvinist, but growing up in a non-Christian household, I constantly fight this sense, too. Certainly a big, generational problem.

  • Matthew Kennel

    Mark, first and foremost, I’d like to say that I’m praying for you. You are a brother in Christ, and you are beloved, even though I’ve never met you. Your blog is one of the few sites that I visit each and every day of the week, because I feel like I’ve learned so much from you over the years, and – while I don’t always agree with you – I generally find myself on the same side of many issues with you.

    I had to read this post long and hard and think about it carefully, because it is obviously a heartfelt apology, and that from a man who definitely tries his best to please the Lord. I am also trying to think out this response carefully. I’ll have to admit that, at first, I was a bit discouraged by the post. The fact of the matter is, while I do think you go too far from time to time, I have gotten alot of good out of such things as the monikers (“The Country that Used to be England,” “The Thing that Used to be Conservatism”), etc. I have also appreciated your ability to call a spade a spade. Sometimes, one needs to be honest and to cut out euphemisms, and you do a good job of doing that. Do you go to far at times? Yes, probably. But one thing I’ve always appreciated about you is that you apologize when you think you’ve gone wrong. But as I continued to read, I think that I became encouraged. Here’s why. Clearly, it’s the Holy Spirit who is moving here. We know that grace does not destroy nature, but heals it, perfects it, and raises it up to the heights of union with God. We also know, as Lewis said, that “badness is only spoiled goodness.” I trust that, as the Holy Spirit moves in your life, he will get rid of the sinful side of this so that the humor, the courage, and the incisive intellect that God has given you will be an even greater tool for the truth. I guess what I’m saying, though, is don’t be too cast down. You’ve done much good, and many of us have been brought closer to Christ and to Our Lady (Mary, Mother of the Son anyone?) by your writings.

    Mark, please know that I will be praying for you.

    Your brother in Christ,

    Matt Kennel

  • Reetu

    It is beautiful. The ways in which God leads us are just marvelous. Thank you for going ahead in the path of holiness and giving good example to others

  • Phil Steinacker

    Mark,
    Like many others here I became dismayed by your constant vitupertive cutting attacks on others with whom you disagreed. I stopped visiting routinely and only occasionally followed a link here, and even then avoided reading any posts which were grounded in theology, spiritual life, Church history, etc. – stuff which gave you less room to pick a fistfight with someone else and teach me something.
    Now I am surprised and thrilled to read your owning up to your sin, and I must admit I know all too well this struggle because I too love to “wield the sword” – my phrase to describe my God-given ability to “slay” adversaries with my sharp-edged retorts to their silly stupid ideas which, while beneath me, are not so far out of reach I can’t dispatch them with a good wide sweep of my verbal scythe.
    Indeed, I could have entered into a contest to out-MarkShea Mark Shea in this regard, except as I examined myself I was led to develop a rule of thumb about confronting those in error: if I take pleasure in dispatching my adversaries – however in error they are and in posssession of God’s Holy Truth I am – I MUST step aside and relinquish the responsibility to someone better capable of doing it with love. If there is nobody to do so, it changes nothing. I MUST leave the field of battle until I can return for the right reasons and in serving love.
    I don’t mean the squisy, hand-holding saccarine love which makes you want to throw up. I mean the kind that still gives a swift kick where it’s most needed. However, Jesus showed me that doing so is ALWAY about serving Him – and NEVER for my own stimulation.
    So now you have become MY HERO, sir! I am as full of admiration for you as I once was distressed by your snarly and surly persona. You are in my prayers, now, Mark. I look forward to your direct but not so brutal honesty serving us all ever better in the future as you lasso your demons, place them in restraints, and do nothing which does not serve Him first.

  • Rosemarie

    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.

    That is one of the two reasons I stopped reading you years ago and came to dislike you after having been a fan for so many years & the second reason is because I AM JUST LIKE YOU. We often are repelled by our own faults if we see them in others & I see a lot of me in you thought maybe you are not as unforgiving as I am. Nor might you be angry all the time 24/7 like moi. One other slight difference I am not really afraid God doesn’t love me but I am afraid at the end of the Day I might no longer love God. Except maybe by my own strength which when I try comedy ensues & not one of those funny comedies with poop jokes but more of a black comedy with a downer ending.

    But cheer up. We got Sacraments, a True Church, children, lovely wives who put up with our crap and forgiveness from Yeshua.

    Not a bad deal.

    HaShem bless you and keep you Mark Shea.

    -YACHOV BEN YACHOV husband of Rosemarie.

    • Rosemarie

      +J.M.J+

      That was my husband, not me. The computer still had my name in the “Name” field. But I would be very happy if the animosity ends now. :-)

  • Chris R

    Amazing. Recently in a discussion I used Mark Shea as a prime example of self-declared authorities on Catholicism who give scandal to souls and lead them away from Christ through lack of Charity. Its a problem very common in the laity dominated world of media. I was sent this link today by my friend and all I can say is, it takes a real man to speak such words as these. My respect factor has gone up from 0.
    Mark has a grave responsibility in what he has been called to do. And reading these words gives me hope that all of his work and efforts won’t ultimately be worthless. If he means what he says and follows through, perhaps I can begin to use him as an example of a real Catholic, fallen, but repentant, and working not out of love for his own feelings and opinions, however correct, but out of love for Jesus, and love for the souls that Our Lord so dearly sacrificed Himself for.

  • stephen ryan

    More fruits of Pope Francis..He has us all looking at our souls

  • Charlotte

    Thank-you and God bless you! I’ve wanted for years to see the Mark of the Prayer Requests and the Mark I hear on the air speaking in this space.

  • William

    Mark, I rememberwhere we were and what we were doing when you (in person) asked me if I readyour blog. I didn’t even know what a blog was at the time. That got me started and was hooked for years. It was usually one of the first sites I would go to each morning. Over those years I agreed with 90% of what you said and especially appreciated your concern for the Christians of the Holy Land. At a certain point, I had to cut back drastically on reading your blog and recommending it to others when you started going on in an uncharitable way towards those who buy into the Medugorje phenomena and the countless very devout and good people who’ve had their lives changed because of it (whatever “it” is). I certainly don’t know if it’s legit or not, but I know that charity calls us to wait on the Church rather than wasting our time judging and degrading those who’ve have been there and/or promote Medugorje.

    Thank you for totally laying yourself and your faults out there. We all have them, but my little world and those closest to me are the only ones who know them. By doing so you’ve so with your very public confession, you’ve set a great example for us all. May God have mercy on you and bless you in a special way for responding to God’s call.

    • Allan B

      In fairness, the Church HAS spoken repeatedly on Medugorje, and indicated that it is a fraud. I’m not sure what people are still waiting for.

  • ProLifeMommyof2

    You apologize NOT for WHAT you said, but HOW you said it??? You do not admit that you are WRONG for WHAT you said and the accusations you made??? One word explains this—–>PRIDE.

    • Gabriel

      Wrath, resentment and nastiness are not virtues..

      • ProLifeMommyof2

        Ok. I apologize for HOW I said it.

        Mr. Shea, do you stand by your accusations that Ms. Rose & Live Action were “lying,” “committing a grave evil by tempting someone else to commit a grave evil?” (“tempting abortionist to commit MORE murder”) — my comment: as if they didn’t already have at least a DOZEN more planned that very week.
        Your apology, while all well and good, falls short of admitting the wrongness of these most HARSH accusations. The public (and I’m sure Live Action and Ms. Rose herself) would greatly appreciate it if you would address—specifically—the comments that you made and, whether or not you still stand by them.
        Respectfullly,
        ProLifeMommyof2

        • chezami

          I have attempted to contact Lila Rose, who is likely busy and may not yet have received my email. We’ll see where things go. Till I speak with her, I don’t think I will discuss things further here.

        • Gabriel

          Geewhiz, please make your point without being rude.

          As for abortion, realize that it is illegal in Brazil to have an abortion, yet the abortion rate in Brazil is much higher than in the U.S.

          The devil does not care about killing the children as much as he wants to make murderers out of people. In a survey of people who have abortions, the majority of women in the U.S. who have one identify themselves as either Catholic or Protestant.

          So undercover stings trapping an abortion clinic in the act of providing abortions doesn’t really solve anything. It just shows the depravity, callousness , indifference and ignorance there is among those who choose to walk into an abortion clinic.

          Maybe it would be more effective to stand and pray outside the residences of bishops and priests and hand them a bullhorn so they can proclaim the teachings of the Church loud and clear. Most Catholics either do not know or completely disregard the Church’s teachings on artificial contraception and abortion, probably because they never hear about it from the pulpits..

          • steve5656546346

            Nothing could totally “solve” a massive problem: short of a miracle. But Live Action has indeed had a positive effect. The issue remains what is a “lie” and the fact remains that there is legitimate difference of opinion within the bounds of orthodoxy.

            • Gabriel

              Mankind will not have peace, until it turns with trust to My Mercy”–Christ words to St. Faustina

        • Allan B

          Are you denying that they lied?

          • ProLifeMommyof2

            They were acting.

          • Carol

            Allan, you suffer from the theological misunderstanding that those who covertly operate to nab murderers or terrorists — police, military and lay people have done for centuries — are breaking commandments and sinning. It is a sophomoric understanding of theology and catechetics.

            • Allan B

              Thank you, Your Holiness, for relieving me of my “sophomoric understanding of theology and catechetics”. Wow, arrogant much?
              Your examples don’t hold water anyway. They are not police or military, and they have not nabbed anybody. They are just playing “gotcha”. They’ve accomplished nothing tangible. The only people who care about what’s in the videos are people who are already pro-life, and Planned Parenthood has used the stings to raise more money from its supporters. Classic backfire. It IS lying, and it’s not a particularly effective strategy. There are better ways to go about this.

          • steve5656546346

            Ah, Allan, I take it you have not followed this debate? At all?

            Yes, that is the issue: is stating a falsehood always a “lie” in terms of Catholic moral theology.

            Many articles have been written, and it appears clear that this is the correct answer: the Church has not definitively answered that question, and orthodox Catholics remain orthodox even though they disagree with each other on some points of this debate.

    • appletree

      Wrong side of the bed much?

    • Carol

      You are absolutely 100 percent right on. Mark has not even scratched the surface of the real problem.

  • John Shea

    Mark,

    Your brave and Christian apology is accepted. Public apologies are not easy, nor are they pleasant, and I admire your courage in writing this. You are in my prayers.

  • Gabriel

    Thanks Mark. In this world of massive and instant communication, we all have much to beware of. As Scripture puts it:

    “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”–James 1:26-27

    “Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts.Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.”–James 3:5

  • julianmalcolm

    Right on brother. Also, I’ve always enjoyed how you regularly post some of the brighter sides of humanity…the clips or stories of folks demonstrating good humor and/or generosity towards one another. Even some of the pleasant “12 year humor” silliness is a bright spot. Chalk this one up as another signpost of grace in the blogosphere. Pax Christi.

  • Samuel Crow

    Mark,

    You’ve taken the first step, a true confession is good for the soul. Christ took on humanity and knows and loves us more than we can know and imagine.

  • michael

    Something I learned today trying to fix my own habitual sin was that we will never truly be free from those sins until we have the right motive, even if the motives we have are good things in themselves. Our main motive should always be bringing more Glory to God. Good for you Mark. Sometime we are clay in the hands of The Holy Spirit and sometimes we are stone, and that chisel hurts much worse than a massage.

    • fiorella

      “Sometime we are clay in the hands of The Holy Spirit and sometimes we are stone, and that chisel hurts much worse than a massage.”

      Well put, Michael! I’m gonna remember that!

  • Josee

    Dear Mark, I had stopped reading you because I found you to be a very angry man and it upset me. For what ever reason, I decided to read you today and was pleasantly surprised, apology accepted! I will pray for you!

  • Jessica

    Wow, Mark. It takes a strong man to be vulnerable in view of others. My heartfelt prayers for you in your on-going conversion…. but don’t lose your zeal, your passion, your spark!

  • http://twitter.com/spinellileo0807 L Spinelli

    Thank you for this. God bless.

  • Ronald King

    Mark, I just read this and I thank God for the gift of humility He has given you. Thank you for the courage to accept His gift and to share yourself with us.

  • Tina

    Mark – I must admit I have had issues in the past reading your blog…until today. Thank you for this open, humble and honest post. I look forward to reading more from you and seeing how God will make this ‘seed’ of new direction a fruitful one!

  • jplsr

    Please take two aspirin and write a new column in the morning. I liked the previous column much better than this mewling and puking.

  • GinaRD

    Beautifully said, Mark. I appreciate this reminder of the temptation that so many of us are prone to fall into.

  • appletree

    Wow! This makes a difference for me. Thank you.

  • Randall

    Mark, your book, “By What Authority?”, had a profound impact on my conversion to Catholicism. As a result, I was delighted when I discovered your blog and began reading on a regular basis. Overtime, however, I had become uncomfortable with your snarky tone. Thank you for your humble confession. Know that you are in my prayers.

  • Gabriel

    so when will the kumbaya video be available?

  • Jim Kennedy

    Wow Mark, I’m impressed. I stopped reading regularly because of your frequent use of ad hominem and bitterness towards those who disagree with you (as you put it). I actually came by today to see what the “sardonic Catholic” had to say about the whole NSA thing, but I’m much happier to see God working on your heart. I hope that God will help you to turn over the new leaf and live virtuously.

    • chezami

      Thank you. What NSA thing?

      • Jim Kennedy

        All of the domestic spying being conducted by the NSA.

  • Tim

    Mark,

    I am glad you have had a revelation in your own spiritual life. Treating people as less than human even if they are public figures is something we all do – including some of your readers I think maybe. We can all take a page from your learning here.

    Maybe you’ve had bitterness and maybe I have bitterness too. Frankly, I’ve always taken what you call bitterness with a grain of salt. But then my heroes have always been curmudgeons.

    I hope you do make changes in your life and I am sure you are seeking God’s will in this. So he will bring good from it. I’m hoping whatever that change is though will not remove the saltiness from your work. We have enough beige Catholicism. I come to your blog for fire and Catholic commentary with liveliness. Between you, Zmirak and Simcha I find Salt and Light alive and well in our faith. Whatever changes you make, I hope the fire will stay.

  • Tim h

    OK, I just finished reading a good number of the comments. I am glad for the support of Mark’s own confession here which can, really, only be personal but he is sharing for our benefit.

    On the other hand . . . MAN A LIVE (and I am asking this question in all honesty) have we really turned into a society of such thin skinned, small souled creatures where zesty pursuit of truth and fierce intellectual rhetoric in the service of truth is just too mean?

    I’m thinking particularly of the posts where people said they stopped reading Mark because of this or that level of rhetorical approach to an argument.

    I honestly don’t know what “the meek shall inherit the earth means” for sure. But I am sure that Christ and his apostles had good hearty laughs and strong conversations around campfires about the day’s events or current events. There was nothing “meek” in the sense of smallness of personality to these men. And some of those days or current events undoubtedly included silly things that happened to people or actions they took. It doesn’t HAVE to be dehumanizing to simply find things funny or stupid or angering in the actions others are involved in.

    Let us not fall into trap of making fun of others or of dehumanizing in any way. But let us also not lose our sense of the absurdity of some activities that befall folks or that they bring upon themselves.

    • Ronald King

      Tim h, It seems that your understanding of human suffering is limited and your projection of Christ and His disciples is the result of that lack of empathy.

      • Gabriel

        I wish people would stop being so sensitive with their feelings constantly being hurt. Deep down it’s a sign of pride. Instead of forgiving they choose to whine, complain, and hold on to a grudge. God forbid these people might actually be persecuted some day for their faith. Are we to complain about that too? Not according to Christ:

        “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven..”

        • Ronald King

          Gabriel, your comment is a complaint about what you believe is in another’s heart. You are complaining about some people being “so sensitive”.

          • Gabriel

            It’s usually quite easy to see what is in someone’s heart when they type it out for all to read. Again, people need to stop being so hypersensitive.

            • Ronald King

              I see that you are hypersensitive about others being hypersensitive.

              • Gabriel

                I would say annoyed. We seem to be living in a growing land of big babies. Maybe the product of a litigious society which has spawned generations of people who are always ready to sue one another over trifles. Always complaining, always bemoaning and demanding an apology to satisfy their rationalized urge for revenge. Often times vindictiveness is dressed up in nice words and signed of with pious blessings. The art of holding a grudge is often expressed in long explanations of hurt feelings..

                • Ronald King

                  I see you are annoyed.

                  • Gabriel

                    I was annoyed, but I’m fine now :) In truth, I would rather hear the raw opinions of people rather than vindictiveness dresses up in niceness. The first is sincere, while the later is not. In Mark’s case it seems to me like we hear who he is, and in his apology who he is sincerely striving to be.

                    • Ronald King

                      Gabriel, When describing someone through a disposition of annoyance as “hypersensitive” it reveals that the person judging is being influenced by some internal distress which is triggered by the person who is objectified as hypersensitive. I have observed this for over 30 years in my vocation that the “hypersensitive” person is reactive to whatever it is that is a threat to a secure and loving relationship Their symptoms are misunderstood as being a sort of personal pathology but in reality they are reacting to a systemic pathology within the environment they inhabit. The problem is they are influenced to believe they are the problem rather than the messenger of the problem because they do not possess the ability to verbally state their internal distress which is a reaction to the external conflict which is the source of their suffering. When there is no one who can help them understand the actual dynamics of their distress then healing cannot take place and their interpersonal relationships become very distressing as result of a lack of understanding from external and internal influences throughout their lives. The highly sensitive person is a creation of God who will exhibit extreme distress to any disposition coming from another human being which is not connected to the love which is there to unite and heal each of us. Are you aware of John Paul II’s theory of the laws of ascent and descent?

                    • Gabriel

                      Overanalysing things is often detrimental because it can bubble up conclusions that simply do not exist—and in the end making things much more complicated than they need to be. The simple route is always best.

                      People who have a habit of complaining all the time often have a problem with pride and unforgiveness due to an inordinate attachment to one’s own ego—which is constantly being hurt by the slightest disagreements or criticisms. The recipe for overcoming this is humility— a true knowledge of one’s own self. Thus the need for regular examinations of conscience..

                    • Ronald King

                      Gabriel, Is your opinion based on education and experience in the field of interpersonal/intrapersonal neurobiology and psychology or is it based on something else? Things that may seem complicated are really quite simple when education and experience create a clearer picture of the dynamics involved in a person’s development. Do you know what influences the development of what you call the ego?

                    • Gabriel

                      Education, experience and human psychology. Studying the lives of the saints is most enlightening, as they were real people from all walks of life with real problems; the common denominator for saintliness is the death of the ego. Thus Christ Himself tells us that to be His disciple one must deny one’s own “self”.

                      The ego is the obstacle to saintliness, which is the vocation of every human being on earth. But, as Bishop Sheen would say, If the soul is filled to the brim with the ego, there is no place left for God.

                    • Ronald King

                      I have studied the lives of the saints along with the education and experience I mentioned above and have directly worked with real suffering people from many different walks of life. I will end this discussion because what you have written indicates to me that you are not open to discussing the complexities of human development and relationships. I do not know your experiences nor your life’s vocation and I am disappointed that you dismiss so easily what I have stated above about some of my background especially because I believe it was through the Grace of God that I was led to pursue the study of human development and relationships to work in His service to ease the suffering of sensitive souls.

                    • Gabriel

                      Probably a good idea, as I’m not really interested in discussing the complexities of human development and relationships, especially in the comment section of a blog.

                      But again—overanalysing things usually complicates—and can even mask the genuine issue at hand.

                      I am happy to hear that you are able to help people who suffer, which is the vocation of every Christian, not just social workers. Christ Himself described how we will all be judged by how we loved those who hunger, those who thirst and those who are homeless and naked. All Catholics are wealthy with the treasures of sanctifying grace which we receive in overflowing measures through the sacraments. What we are given we are expected to share with those who hunger and thirst for the love and truth of Christ.

                      But a caution must be taken, especially by people in academics. The Father Lies often finds fertile ground among highly educated individuals, swelling their ego and weaving an arrogance which ends up blinding the mind with a false sense of having all the answers— we often see this with scientists who have jam-packed their minds with facts and figures but fail to grasp the basic meaning and purpose of life..

                    • Ronald King

                      “…weaving an arrogance which ends up blinding the mind with a false sense of having all the answers…”

    • Gabriel

      Agreed. Grownups need to stop being so overly sensitive.

    • steve5656546346

      Tim h, the common complaint was that Mark was falsely representing the positions of others, and engaging in personal attacks rather than rationally discussing the issue.

  • ConservativeDC

    here is how you’ve wronged me, just to add to the pile: you actually blocked me from your Facebook page for daring to point out that orthodox Catholics online can be divided into two main groups (New Evangelization apologists and liturgy types). Oh, the horror!

    • chezami

      It would appear you are not blocked here. Meanwhile, I highly doubt you were blocked for such a banal observation, particularly since I would agree with it. And since I do not *owe* it to you to have you on my FB page at all, I don’t see how it is wronging you to block you. Typically, I block people for being abusive.

      • ConservativeDC

        It’s difficult to find it since you’ve blocked that conversation on your page. If there’s a way to retrieve it so I’m not working off memory, I’m open to finding it on my end. David Alexander might also have a memory of it, since he was my occasion of finding the thread.

  • Joanne

    Mark, I am a fairly new convert and was turned away from your blog because of your “don’t play well with others” attitude. I found the link to this post from Father Longenecker’s blog, & I am happy to say that I feel like I can come back again.

  • cestusdei

    I was blocked a few years back and haven’t been back much since. I love Mark’s books, but his blog not so much. Now maybe I will stop back in on occasion.

  • I am not Spartacus

    What about the number of times you simply made-up ugly “facts” about others? You did it in the case of Dr. E. Michael E. Jones and Dr Sungenis re. the Galileo Conference and you did it to the “What’s Wrong With the World” web site operators.

    Even after they patiently and politely corrected your false accusations, you continued in the same vein or simply refused to rationally respond.

    Of what use are these repeated apologies and promises of “no more”if the actions can be predicted to happen again as they did in the past after similar apologies?

    • chezami

      No idea what you mean about What’s Wrong with the World. I took down the blog about the geocentrism conference and apologized a couple of days after it happened (while also documenting the toxicity of what Jones and Sungenis have to say): http://www.patheos.com/blogs/markshea/2010/11/so-the-other-day.html

      • I am not Spartacus

        For WWWTW isuue just google

        Mark Shea + Wahts’ Wrong With the World

        • chezami

          Still no idea what you are talking about. But since you are not actually part of WWWtW and seem to simply be here to make demands about things that are not your concern, all while ignoring the many abusive things you yourself have done and said over the years without any apology whatsoever, I opt to ignore you.

    • Gabriel

      The problem with Sungenis is that he’s making some pretty wacky claims, actually trying to convince people that the universe revolves around the earth, and uses Sacred Scripture to try to prove his point. For these types of Christians, St. Augustine has some pretty harsh words. In in his work The Literal Meaning of Genesis (De Genesi ad litteram libri duodecim) Augustine gives this advice which Mr. Sungenis should ponder:

      “Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he hold to as being certain from reason and experience.



      Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men.

      If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason?



      Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion.”—De Genesi ad litteram libri duodecim By St. Augustine

  • Carol

    You know how this reads?

    Mark, the celebrity just gets so mad when people refuse to accept his opinion, which you which you confuse with the Magisterium.

    What you don’t get Mark, is that it is you who is not getting Catholic theology and the Mystical Body of Christ. You cannot admit when you are wrong and the people who attempt to correct you have been subject to your toxic temper.

    • chezami

      Carol: It’s difficult to know how to proceed when a good faith effort at admitting I was wrong is met with “You cannot admit when you are wrong”. I’m sorry it was not good enough for you, but I did the best I could and wrote in tears of contrition. If you choose to disbelieve my sincerity, there’s not much I can do about that.

      • Carol

        Mark, there is a lot of water over the damn in Christendom and it is indisputable this piece recognizes there is a problem for which you are sorry.

        But if one apologizes for the way one treated the stupid people who were telling you to stop kicking your dog – and then proceed to explain it was all about the stupid people who just won’t accept the reasons why you kick your barking dog – if that isn’t what you meant to convey, what you can do about it is correct the content and syntax.

        There is all different kinds of contrition. Both Judas and Peter were, sincerely, contrite. One of them had contrition unto himself.

        God Bless.

        • chezami

          and then proceed to explain it was all about the stupid people who just won’t accept the reasons why you kick your barking dog

          I don’t see where I did anything like what you describe in what I wrote. So I remain mystified about how to persuade you of my sincerity since you seem to be reading into what I wrote things I neither said nor implied. I have no idea what to do about that. So I hope you will accept my sincerely apology and say a prayer for me. You have mine as well.

          • Carol McKinley

            Mark,
            I am glad to hear that you didn’t intend to convey that the fix here is forbearance with people who willfully refuse to accept what you say. That kind of an understanding of what has transpired would not serve you well.

            We are only able to persuade people of our sincerity with our actions and that takes time. Time either heals the wounds or wounds the heel. We can be our own worst enemy.

            you don’t owe me anything, I assure you. I have kicked a few dogs myself – and a saint or two. I am not looking for apology – though I welcome your prayers and will certainly ask God to bless your contrition.

            • chezami

              Thank you, Carol. God bless you.

        • Gabriel

          Carol, I think you need to apologize. Be not like those people who always demand apologies, never accept one, and is impossible for them to give one themselves.

          • Carol McKinley

            Gabriel, why not practice the lost art of seeing people as having good intentions?

            • Gabriel

              So why do you not practice this art of seeing people as having good intentions in Mr. Shea’s case? He apologized in what seems to me a very sincere way, yet you bring up Judas.

              • Carol

                You seem to pose questions but you do not want to know the answers.

                I did want to clarify your misunderstanding as your use of Judas’ name taken out of context burdens him with an act of betrayal of our Beloved and he is innocent of that.

                I only used the name Judas to illustrate the different kinds of sorrow one can feel.

            • Carlotta

              Oh my, Carol, and you just keep going. Take your own advice. Everyone here can see by your comments that you are no better than the behavior Mark Shea apologized for. Who’s the only one who can’t see it? You (surprise, surprise). Do yourself a favor honey and stop being so hard on Mark and the others that tell you to forgive and forget cause God can read your heart and he’ll use that same measure you’re using on Mark an others on you. I sure hope you’re ready to be canonized cause if not, you’re setting yourself up to be judged by some tough standards. Good luck with that. Can everyone who agrees give me a vote up?

              • Carol McKinley

                Haha. No good deed goes unpunished.

                • chezami

                  Yeah. It’s hard when you try to do the right thing and people kick you for it, isn’t it?

            • ocbjack

              Why not go back to your uninformed hate-blog?

              You are a disgrace to Christianity – http://throwthebumsoutin2010.blogspot.com.au/

      • Deacon Ed Peitler

        Your contrition was apparent to me and you need say no more. You ARE God’s son and that knowledge should be sufficient for you and for the rest of us who acknowledge same.

    • Josh Schwartz

      Carol, where is your mercy? There is a time and a place to debate theology. This is a time for forgiveness. The man has humbled himself before you. What would Christ do?

      • Carol McKinley

        Tell me something sir. If you saw a man trying to heal his fractured leg with a bandaid, would you consider the Samaritan who tells him the bandaid is not going to help and then carries him to the physician, unmerciful?

        • Josh Schwartz

          Carol, this isn’t analagous. Sorry. For starters, if you want to take Mark to task on a doctrinal issue, you might choose to do that on a post where he is discussing doctrine. Second, if you need to confront him about something that has occurred in the past, you might consider doing it privately. Not only does Christ instruct us to do so (Mt 18:15-17), but it is also infinitely more effective than publicly excoriating someone. Finally, Mark is apologizing for his behavior. You may not feel he goes far enough, but God could say that to each of us, couldn’t He? Perhaps a bit of mercy would go a long way to helping you have a more constructive dialogue with Mark in the future? Instead, you just come off as angry. That is not going to win any hearts.

          • Carol McKinley

            Josh, permit me to inform your ignorance. I did reach out to Mark numerous times to speak to him privately. His conduct was abusive and most people avoid that gutter as there is much contagion. That is what has happened to his apostolate. The damage is to him – not me or anyone else to whom his conduct has been directed.

            You know not of what you speak and in that ignorance you stand in your self-righteousness to turn people’s good faith intentions into something sinister.

            Apologies are always accepted by Catholics of good faith but what we want is for Mark to restore. His reflection seems to indicate he thinks things are going awry when people willfully refuse to accept his caricatures of Catholic theology.

            Directing his attention to the root of the problem is done because I want to see Mark succeed at restoration. Nobody who has ever engaged in private conversations with Mark and endured his conduct is obliged to attempt that again at this point.

            • Carol McKinley

              In other words Josh, if he testifies that he wishes he could have used more charm to persuade people that police and military or Lila Rose are being sinful when they undertake covert actions to catch murders or terrorists – we are nowhere near getting to the root of the problem. Given the good will that has been exhausted in Christendom, proceeding with this tack will harm Mark and the success of his apostolate.

              As a wretch, there is nothing for me to be ‘angry’ about. I don’t have a horse in this race. Other than speaking the truth to serve Christ and my brother.

              You are confusing zeal, fortitude, conviction and tenacity with anger.

              • Josh Schwartz

                Carol, it seems to me you might want to go back and re-read Mark’s initial post. Then step back and reflect about how it might apply to you.

                • Carol

                  Josh, and it seems to me you may wish to read the comments in that article and contemplate how it applies to you.

                  • Carlotta

                    Carol, Do you know how your comments read? They read like a bitter, angry person who is so hurt that it has turned into hatred. You’re so busy over here talking about Mark and calling Josh “ignorant” that you don’t even realize what you’re doing. Let your anger go. Mark may have offended others, even you, but you’re not better. Your comments say you are no better than he. Take a look at yourself.

        • Thomas R

          Even if one feels he has not entirely realized his own faults it would make sense to encourage him on the way to that. Even if you don’t mean to what you’re doing feels too close to just berating the man who used a Band-Aid on a fractured leg. (To use your analogy) Maybe he has progress yet to make, we all do, but it feels like one should give him a chance or be open to doing so.

          • Carol McKinley

            Thomas,

            Of course in some circumstances you would encourage a person who is putting a bandaid on a broken leg. If the person does it for ten years and the shards of bone are destroying his musculature to the point of crippling him, It is bewildering that you would use the adjective ‘berate’ to caricature the person who does them the service of telling them they need an ambulance and an orthopedic surgeon.

  • Josh Schwartz

    Mark Shea, I have the utmost respect for you after reading this piece. Thank you very much for writing this. I had de-friended you on Facebook because of our interactions, and had begun to develop a negative view of you. Of course I think you are a brilliant man and great apologist. However, I was also displeased with what I deemed to be ad hominem attacks against me. After reading this piece, I can say you are a man, like the rest of us, prone to sin. What I can also say though is that you are a man of God, growing in humility, insight, and holiness. Thank you for your witness! More than anything you have ever written, this powerfully impacted me. What a powerful example you have given to all us Christians! God bless you!

  • kmleo

    Wow. You totally convicted me with this post. In fact, I was just saying a little prayer to figure out what I need to do about so-and-so that needs a good smiting. But it would seem that they probably don’t. I probably do. God bless you man. I know it is hard to admit when you’ve been wrong, but if you hadn’t, I might not have realized some of my own glaring errors. Thanks!

  • Thomas R

    I used to post here as Thomas R. I am pleased to read this and admire your ability to admit your faults, which can be very difficult for any of us. Even when you really irritated the stuffing out of me I knew you were mostly a good person who meant well. Hope we all are able to recognize and work on our own faults. Good progress to you, etc.

  • Doug Lawrence
  • Pedro Erik

    May Holy Spirit continues enlightening you. One day I felt your, may I say, fury and run way from facts. But, I always wished you the best in Jesus Christ.

  • Susan Kaness

    Wow! What a gift to be given a peek at the conversion of one’s soul! This is something we all must do continually. Seeing the journey of another helps all God’s children. The specifics ALMOST don’t matter. It is the realization of and sorrow for what was done that is universal. You are one of us. Welcome back to the hospital for sinners! God bless you, Mark.

  • Daniel Barker

    I have been an adversary of yours in the social media on the issues you mention. I both felt your barbs and dished out my own, exacerbating the bitterness. It takes some courage to publicly ask for forgiveness, so thanks for leading the way. For what it is worth, I forgive you and ask you to forgive me also. God bless you,

    Daniel Barker

    • chezami

      Thank you.

  • Rosalinda Lozano

    May Our Lord Jesus profoundly bless you with peace and courage! This post was a blessing and very courageous… soldier on :0) Blessed Mother pray for us.

  • Y. A. Warren

    The RCC is full of philosophical Pharisees. It sounds like you may have been one of them. I wish you success in practicing humble compassion, but do believe that those who accept the public eye are not given a pass as “simple people.”

  • Tim Wallace

    Now if only all bloggers think as you think, we might blog about what God thinks.


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