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.

  • Brian

    Thank you for this witness in humility. I need examples such as yours to follow in my own life. God bless you!

  • mephis

    Thank you. I’m afraid that sometimes I read your blog for the wrong reasons, to feed my ego and my bitterness towards the world. Usually your apology posts take me off guard and point to my own failings. I’m grateful for your example in humility and honesty, and hope that I will be able to recognize my sins better in the future. I wish you strenght & God’s guidance, please continue to write. :)

  • Sherry

    Thank you. We are all so good at seeing splinters, but not planks. Prayers.

  • FrankieBeanPie

    Mark, I’ve been reading you for about 2 months now and I really enjoy your blog posts (this is my first time commenting). I too have seen the issues you (and others) have raised. I wouldn’t get too hung up on the problem. The Holy Spirit has reached out to you and you will work to improve yourself and how you communicate with others. This life is truly a journey and as much as you are teaching others, you too are learning. I would ask that whatever new direction you take this blog, that you please continue (in whatever capacity that is). You’re doing something important here so don’t be dismayed by this pothole in the road.

    And for those who openly and consistently criticize Mark, I hope that they too take the time to reflect on their own behavior.

  • BHG

    My dear Mark–bravo for confronting these things and having accepted the grace to do so. Now remember a couple of things. (1) Ain’t nobody perfect. Repeat that and remember also: ain’t nobody God don’t love.(2) God uses broken vessels very well because it is all he has to work with (3) Change is hard, takes time and is on God’s schedule rather than ours (4) what you want changed and how is not necessarily God’s view of things (5) the occasional a bit of bitter sometimes makes the whole dish better (think marmalade…) I have been one of your critics in part because I wrestle with exactly the same sort of problem (at least going by the evidence before me–my sword lives in my mouth and I am very handy with it.) Here’s what I have found helpful in addition to the things you outline–foremost being talk to the person in question first before making a public statement if that can be done (not thinking you’s bee able to contact Pelosi anytime soon…): to pause before responding, to remember that whenever I am violently passionate it usually (though not always) means I am forgetting something that would balance me, and to pray–really pray–for those who irk me without telling God how I want Him to change them before I write or say anything. The Orthodox prayer for enemies is a good one and I pray it several times a day, believe me…. Last but not least: sometimes even misdirected passions work, One of the “arguments” (read tirades) I am most ashamed of is the very one that led a good friend (amazing, considering the argument) into the faith. Just do what you can, frequent the confessional, strive to let God change you and trust He will. And know we love you warts and all. I am sometimes critical of you but I read you because I find such value–not just ire– in what you write. You make me think and you make me change. Please do not ever forget that. (And remember: Paul, in his passion about the Judaizers did exactly what you repent of here–and very nearly caused the first schism in the Church because of it–and He turned out to have done pretty good work, right?) A round of beads for you this day, friend.

  • Dave G.

    Wonderful Mark. I can’t say how good it is to see this. I was one who, from the beginning, said contact Lila Rose. I also saw many of the things you point to become more and more common, and was becoming quite concerned, though never quite sure what to do. A direct email? From a schmuck like me? I didn’t want to post my suggestions or opinions on the blog. I felt that would be inappropriate. So this heartens me. No more apologies needed (though I hope now you’ll take my word when I say I am not really a fan of FOX!). Just good to think that the old Mark we used to sing about around the campfire might start tossing out that strangely wonderful mix of theological insight and emotional honesty that helped this stumbling Protestant minister come into the Church in the first place.

  • Andy, Bad Person

    My “gut” reaction is that you’re overreacting to overly-sensitive people. On further though, maybe (just maybe) you know your own heart better than I do.

    My knee-jerk desire to defend you on this is probably the same as the alcoholic’s drinking buddies telling him he doesn’t have a problem. Because admitting that their friend has a problem means admitting they have a problem.

    Hmm…

  • Dave Sloan

    Mark, this is great stuff. First, and most importantly by far, I am happy for you as a brother that you are finding your way to the light through the darkness of sin. I am also grateful that you are showing the way for me and many others I love who suffer from exactly the same sins. Well done, good and faithful servant! This is a big deal and could well be the most important contribution you will ever make to the body of Christ. Given the myriad contributions you have made and will continue to make, that’s saying a lot.

  • Dave Sloan

    Tip for the future: before writing about or replying to any person say this to yourself, “I love you . . .” being sure to append the person’s name at the end of your silent declaration. Try it. Let me know how it pans out. I just tried it myself. Before hitting post I said, “I love you Mark Shea,” then re-read, and clicked ;-)

  • Dr. Eric

    Let me express my admiration for posting this confession, Mark. Many people never examine their consciences and never admit their faults, neither to themselves nor in public.

  • Imp the Vladaler

    As someone to whom Mark has never done anything that merits an apology, I’ll offer this advice:

    Not only is the internet full of trolls; it tends to bring out the troll within us. We say things to each other – and in tones – that we’d never say in person. It’s great to argue well, and most of us can do that when we want to, but the nature of the medium makes it easier to be loud, perhaps to distinguish ourselves. (For whatever reason, some of the worst fights seem to be between the Judean People’s Front and the People’s Front of Judea.)

    You can ignore pure trolls, but some people would like to engage in real arguments, but are just having their inner troll come out and are being jerks. I’ve found that the way to handle this is to murder them with kindness. Someone wants to pick a fight? Don’t meet snark with snark. Meet snark with abundant charity and staggering politeness. Works better than anything else I’ve ever tried.

  • Joseph

    Mark, I’m not so sure you’ve done anything wrong nor have you anything to apologise for. It happens to be your literary style. Do you know how many people read Chesterton and complain that he sounds bitter? Irony and sarcasm can sound like a bitter cynicism to ears that cannot process it for what it is.

    I understand that you’re not being *bitter* but, ironically, being humorous. Anyway, I hope you don’t neuter yourself in an attempt to change when it isn’t you who needs to change. Loads of people don’t like Monty Python simply because they don’t understand the troupe.

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    That was incredibly open and honest. You deserve an immense amount of respect. God bless you Mark.

  • Jeff

    What a beautiful post! Thank you SO very very much. I’ve always had faith in you as a beautiful brother, even when your bitterness called forth a corresponding bitterness toward you.

    You’ve always succeeded much much more than you have failed. It’s precisely because you give so much nourishment that those who wish to converse with you as fellow Christians feel smitten in the muzzle when they try to talk to you on some of these subjects.

    May I add two requests? I hate to trespass on your conscience, so just regard them as petitions or suggestions, not demands.

    First, even when you are a controversialist, don’t forget to LISTEN. When you are dealing with faithful Catholics who love the Church, remember that YOU may be the one who’s gotten it wrong. Don’t just convince. Dialogue in charity.

    Second–to paraphrase St Thomas–”think well of evil doers”. Even if you see someone who appears to be unwilling to hear and understand, remember that they are a mixture of good and bad and try to see what it is that has brought them to this point. See the good that they are seeing and trying for before you squelch the bad.

    But in any case, as someone who has crossed swords with you on many occasions, I would MUCH prefer to see you continue even in the stubborn Mark Shea vein of old than to give up writing.

    Even when you are wrong (as I see it) you are often illuminating. And it’s the WAY you are wrong–or seem wrong–that

    You are loved! Not just by God, but by your many many friends. Even those friends who sometimes want to give you a good hard smack. I love you.

    God bless!

  • Rachel

    God bless you Mark. You have opened up my eyes to so many issues that need to be exposed and I thank you for that. My husband and I enjoy your blog and please keep up the good work. We always need to show more charity even when its the most difficult. Its very easy to become cynical. I know. I am a bit of a cynic too. I also understand the fear you have about God. I sometimes think that God doesn’t love me and He just wants to punish me. I’m not sure where that comes from exactly, perhaps my baptist background. I was very scared as a child and even though I’m a Catholic now, I still struggle with it. So, I know how you feel. Hang in there :)

  • enness

    We’ve had our differences, but this much I am sure of: God loves you immensely.

  • Martin

    Good job.

    Perhaps it would be helpful to you if you would look at the writing habits and tics that enable this tendency – and then when you find yourself thinking along those lines, use self-discipline and stop, and go in another direction.

    Most notable in this regard is your habit of using Capitalized Cute Phrases and Monikers. What Used to Be Called Conservatism. Gay Brownshirts. Etc. I’ll bet if you force yourself to stop slinging those about, you will find that your mind follows.

    You have gotten about 98% there. I think what you are missing is an honest assessment (which need not be done in public) as to whether your view of human beings in an instrumental way is not just about winning arguments but also about garnering and audience and making a bit more money and renown. The more you piss people off, the more they return to your page, right? Face that, too.

    And perhaps you might examine the question of whether Mark Shea’s opinion on anything is really that important. That is not meant personally. It’s something anyone who spends a lot of time opining on the internet, in columns or comments boxes needs to consider. To ask – why is it so important that I keep talking about this?

    Sometimes it does turn out to be important. Most of the time, it’s not, and our time is best spent in other ways.

  • Marc

    Dear brother. I thank you so much for your post. I have felt many time this bitterness that you mention. I even remember Leah Libresco telling you that she couldn’t hear you argument over the tone it was explained. I am looking forward your new style. It would be much appreciated. It is amazing how God works in the heart of people. He love you unconditionally. May this love comes always to be seen as a blessing in your life.

  • Stu

    Mark,

    “OK 3-wire” on that recovery! Solid landing and beer is on me at the club.

  • Heather

    Hi Mark. I have not read your blog very often, so some of this is lost on me, but I just wanted to say that your sincere honesty and humility shown here is very inspiring. I am sure it was not easy for you to own up to things that, quite frankly, many of us are guilty of as well but are too afraid to own up to.
    When you mentioned the “root of bitterness” spoken of in Hebrews, it reminded me of a great song called “Tornado” by Sara Groves. The chorus goes “I will not let that bitter root grow in me/ I will not let you leave that legacy/ but this constant fight is breaking me” . Such great truth in those lyrics. You should definitely look up the song.
    May God bless you as you move forward. I pray that you will continue to see that you are so much more than a simple tool for God.It’s frighteningly easy for each of us to lose our way and forget that it really is about love and relationship , with God and each other. I have experienced alot of family brokenness and this is definitely something I struggle with. You have my respect.

  • Gail Finke

    Mark: As someone who has enjoyed your writing EXCEPT when it came to certain topics (which, after a while, I did not bother to read), I think this piece is wonderful. I have the same tendencies you write about, particularly the “I’d better be a useful tool” fear, which is perhaps why I particularly disliked those posts. Too much of myself in them! Bravo and God bless you.

  • Terry Fenwick

    Sounds like music, Mark. Thank you, reading again. I like this Mark best. Psalm 51: 17 The sacrifice acceptable to God* is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

  • binks webelf

    I gmailed you.

  • Gary Keith Chesterton

    I love you, Mark Shea.

  • Dave

    God bless you, Mark! As someone who grew up in a nominal Christian home with divorced parents and little or no formation, I know exactly what you mean. It’s been 25 years now since my conversion, and I am still having nasty things uncovered from under rocks. The Holy Spirit is working on us at His own pace, and He’ll continue to chip away at the barnacles until we are purely ourselves as we were created to be. It’s a painful process, though.

  • Rebecca in ID

    What a beautiful apology and testimony. I don’t come here often, maybe once every couple weeks, maybe because I have felt a little about your blog a little as I feel about Beethoven–he can be so great, but boy, strong stuff, can’t take too much of it! :) Mark, I think many of us have the same deep fear; I know I do, and perhaps we all deal with it in different ways, most of them not productive. It seems that *the* thing the saints try to tell us over and over is that we are each the beloved child of God…it is all just that simple…and we can’t quite believe it. Your articulation of your fear brought tears to my eyes and I know that there will be great healing in your heart and there will be grace brought to the hearts of all who read it. God love and bless you.

  • mary

    As someone who used to read and enjoy your writing, I can only say “God bless you.” Over the last few years, the problems you’ve mentioned in your column have prevented me from being able to read your work. I’d just be so overcome with anger and sadness at your sarcasm and lack of charity that if I started to agree with you I’d doubt and question myself. Your arguments and points became lost. And now this humble and no doubt exceedingly difficult public apology. Bravo! I’ll keep you in my prayers.

    • Rebecca in ID

      Heh, I’m reading some of the comments here and thinking this is way worse than any hairshirt…if you can get through them all with equanimity, you probably are getting a few people out of purgatory…

      • Rebecca in ID

        oops, I meant to post this under my own comment, sorry Mary…yours was sweet.

    • appletree

      Mary, this sums up my sentiments exactly. I stopped taking Mr. Shea’s work seriously for a few years now. The negativity and heavy sarcasm were too much to bear (and that is a lot coming from me and my dark sense of humor). This apology and explanation goes a long way.

  • http://funkydung.com/ Eric Williams

    Please pardon me if the following is too presumptuous.

    Of those who think Mark is just in damage control mode, I ask benefit of the doubt. I see a lot of myself in what Mark has written, and I believe he’s sincere. Change doesn’t happen overnight, though, and as he said, “besetting” sins are hard to root out. If he falls one, ten, a hundred, or a thousand times, that does not mean he is an unrepentant hypocrite. It means he’s an ordinary, fallen person. Forgive him “seven times seventy times”.

    To Mark I suggest even more radical humility than expressed in this post. Consider the possibility that the skeptics are right. Consider the possibility that you’re not as contrite as you think you are. Consider that you’re just embarrassed to be called out for being abrasive, caustic, pompous, and repellent at times. I make this suggestion as someone who frequently exhibits all of those unpleasant traits and more. I’m also someone who periodically rends his garments and dons a hair shirt and ashes in profuse apology, such as you have done with this post. I am both sincere in my apologies, and also in my core still an arrogant jerk. Don’t beat yourself up too badly when (not if) you fall into bitter cynicism again, but don’t become complacent, either. But for the grace of God, ours would be a beak Sysyphean task.

    The rabbit hole is likely far deeper than either of us fully appreciates. It’s nice to have some company while falling down it, though. ;)

  • Isaiah OCDS

    Thank you, Mark, for the wake-up call. Your alarm woke me up, too.
    I am following (and downloading!) your columns on the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Remember that you possess every one of them now, and recall, too, that an individual gift “intensifies” as the occasion warrants.
    Through Understanding, you are, with faith, penetrating “new” truths the Lord needed you to appreciate. Through Wisdom, you are seeing, and living more, with love, the divine grace of humility. Counsel is making you more docile and receptive to the inspirations of God and the feedback from others. Fear of the Lord is detaching you from your own attachment to always being right, while Piety, which may be the bottom line here, is helping you relate to all people as loved children of God and your brothers. Of course, you are overcoming your difficulties and admitting your mistakes with a good dose of Fortitude. (You’re on your own here with Knowledge! I can’t get a handle on that one–but I’m sure you can!)
    May the Holy Spirit keep pressing in on you.

  • Aaron

    Thank you, thank you. I think you have a lot of truth and wisdom to share, but please try to meet people where they are. You and I are now in agreement on waterboarding/torture, but your attacking and condescending tone actually postponed my change of heart on the issue. That said, despite your negative tone, your posts did prompt me to look deeper into the issue and discover the truth on my own.

  • bob

    Good for you for being a big enough man to say all this. I’ve been reading you for a while now and have noticed the same thing that you are now acknowledging, and I have the same problem myself which is one of the reasons I keep reading. I sometimes find you so inspiring; other times so disappointing because you have such a deep river of basic decency in you that I hate to see you pollute it by indulging your sense of righteousness. Here are three pieces of advice that I offer humbly:

    1. Make it your new policy to give everyone the benefit of every last possible doubt. Put yourself in the shoes of your antagonists and try to understand why they think whatever they think. Are they really bad people, or do they just have the wrong idea?

    2. Please do ignore the trolls. I don’t know if you have siblings but take it from someone who grew up with three older brothers: You have NOTHING to gain by raising to the bait of people who simply wish to bait you. (This is especially true of the atheist trolls.)

    3. I second Martin’s comments about your overuse of the capitalized monikers. Sometimes you apply these monikers unfairly, and frankly it’s become a bit of crutch.

  • stef

    As a long time fan who got alienated with each post over the past couple of years, I want to thank you for this. God bless you for your courage, Mark. Sending many prayers :)

  • Heather Blaesing-Price

    I admire your bravery, Mark. You have said more than once that the Internet is a bad choice when baring one’s soul, and you still found the courage to post this. Conversion is a never-ending process, even for us cradle Catholics. That’s why God gave us Confession.
    God bless you, Mark.

    • chezami

      It seemed to me to be incumbent on me to deal with sins that have affect readers. There are other sins I have to deal with that don’t so I don’t discuss them here. Oh confession will be fun!

  • secondeve

    Thanks Mark. It’s hard to be a prophet. Jeremiah 15:18-21. I have been there too. example: I kept seeing the Vice president of the county Planned Parenthood in the grocery store, deli, restaurant. I wanted to give her the Gospel, or a punch. One day I saw her in the produce section again. I was sweating, what to do? I distinctly heard God in my head say “How can you talk to her if you don’t love her.”

  • Robert Homan

    Check out Heather King as an example of someone who has struggled her entire life but I think is someone on the internet really living out the true miraculous tension of the Christian life and not falling into bitterness:

    Her posts are absolutely stunning, really everyone please check them out. This is just the latest piece she has up:

    “We’re all in danger of becoming almost fanatically convinced that OUR MODEL ALONE is “right”….Voting for “the right” candidate can become a “rule,” the feeding of the poor can become “a rule,” getting sober a certain way can become a “rule,” being against war and for peace can become a “rule”…

    I once received a great gift from a man whose dear face literally looked like the face of a sickly lamb–and isn’t it interesting that the most vulnerable person in the room in a strange way has the most power; is the most compelling? To have someone who is very “poor” give to YOU is transformative. It is a very great mistake to think we are doing for, giving to the poor. Love is an exchange.

    The suffering human being–if we are brave enough, and vulnerable enough, to look him or her in the eye–blows all our belief systems and power systems apart. We are called to pray for the complainers, the kvetchers, the nitpickers, the “good Catholics” who have never received the great great gift of embracing the leper. Because those people are us. If our eyes were truly open, we would know we are lepers ourselves–we are all lepers.

    We would all be better poised to feel God’s infinite mercy and tender love…”

  • David_Naas

    Good for you, Mark. This is just what Christians are supposed to do.

    (Not that I, myself have ever done such a thing… Lessee, Confession is Saturday…)
    May I attribute some of this to the influence of Pope Francis?

  • rozdieterich

    It sounds like God is doing something significant in your life. May he give you the grace to yield fully to it and not to give a fig about the reaction of anyone in this part of your world. Feel free, however, to give a fig about the love that’s being expressed. God bless you and your family.

  • Kelly

    Peace be with you, Mark!

  • Chesire11

    If we were all so honest with ourselves and sincere in seeking God’s will rather than gratifying our own egos as you have been, Mark, we would all be in much better spiritual shape.
    God bless you (I think He already has!), you have taken a step closer to the Kingdom. Pray for those of us fumbling to find our ways as well.

  • She Set

    Your words bring me to tears. God bless you, Mark Shea.

  • Stephen J.

    “Were all men judged according to their desserts, not a one should ‘scape whipping.”

  • William Mild

    Thank you for writing this my fellow ragamuffin.

  • tedseeber

    Sometimes it actually works though. I came looking for sympathy after the re-election of Obama and got the brush off for my despair. Which caused me to look at my despair, confess it along with gluttony, be told that I needed a victory and since the culture wasn’t going to change anytime soon I should focus on most of my snacks being whole vegetables, which is why I’m on my current diet.

  • Jack Davis

    Mark, I am so moved, really. I am choked up to read this. I think that it was last week sometime when – out of the blue – I got the idea to pray for you. So I did. I guess I heard you on the radio and what you said was so wonderful. It made me think of how there seemed to be 2 Mark Shea’s: the one who can defend the faith so beautifully and artfully, bringing the message of the Gospel to life for people, then the other Mark Shea who I sometimes found confusing on your and other blogs.

    It takes a real man to write what you did, moreover it takes the Holy Spirit. (May I do as much!) No short journey though of course….

    Meanwhile, I hope you don’t mind if I point out the larger context in which “this happens” online. Isn’t it amazing how we can go to a Catholic website and very quickly find “good people” who disagree duking it out in the comboxes in such a viscous way? I used to be on a lot. But I literally had to give it up (one Lent) because I felt that God did NOT want me on Catholic blog sites! Imagine that! Not because of the posts, but because people were not loving each other in the boxes! (Oh yes, INCLUDING ME!)

    If it were possible for satan to have satisfaction, he certainly would be coming very close to that by so successfully inciting Catholics to rip each other to shreds over questions of how to be holy! I literally sense his disgusting presence – a lot – on these sites and just want to beg people to love each other.

    Thank you for your thoughtful post…. for all you have done over the years for the Faith. I disagree with you on a couple of things, but we both desire the same thing. May God bless you, Mark. A real person, a well-loved child of God!!!

    • chezami

      Thank you for your prayers. I’ll try to deserve them.

    • Pavel Chichikov

      That’s “vicious” way.

      Slugs slug it out viscously.

      God bless.

  • Cari Calfo Moebest

    Oh this is great Mark. I am glad that you made this public. The great thing about Catholics is that we are willing forgivers AND humility makes us examine our own motives as well.

    Glad to be a reader of your stuff again.

  • http://raisinglittlesaints.blogspot.com Mama Erika

    We’ve been praying for you for over a year, Mark. Glad to read this and will continue to pray. Please pray for us too. Thank you for making this public, it speaks volumes!

  • Jeff

    I notice with myself that when I tend to see myself as a tool of God, something funny happens. God ends up being a tool of Jeff. Or I try to use Him that way.

  • Erin Flynn

    You are Brave. Strong. Wise. Infinitely loved. My respect for you just grew immeasurably. All of us have soul-searching to do, and most of us don’t have to do it so publicly. Thank you.

    I hope that instead of rah-rah Mark’s finally seen the light, but is it true, will it last, etc., everyone (even those who feel the immediate need to respond with instruction or cynicism) will be inspired to say, Hmmm do I have any of the same tendencies and wounds? Do I need the light shed on some dark places in my heart? You’ve touched upon such prevalent and important themes, and in such a moving and vulnerable way that it brought me to tears. So much to ponder. I have no doubt God is going to do incredible things through it all. It was really nice to see so many of the comments be supportive ones from beautiful, self-reflecting people …

  • Jo

    It is a such a delicate balance to be an authentic person with a style that has come into being through our life experiences yet maintain a certain charity of heart. Certainly, our style has a purpose as long as we are using them for truth. We can’t be someone else. I don’t believe that God wants us to.We just have to resolve, when that style presents itself as a problem (not always a problem just sometimes), to be humble enough to ask God to help us grow in love.You are an awesome witness.God Bless you.

  • Elizabeth

    Mark, God bless you, this is beautiful. Even when you get all “pit bull for Christ,” it’s never scared me off for very long! But when you write in this spirit of humility and charity, it is magical. I am so happy that the Holy Spirit is working in you like this.


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