Hot off the cyber-presses!
Notre Dame University’s Institute for Catholic Living today launches a new online journal: Church Life; A Journal for the New Evangelization
There are a whole bunch of interesting writers in there, including Cardinal-designate Archbishop Timothy Dolan (writing on “The Dignity of the Human Person”, page 39), Fr. Jeremy Driscoll, OSB, (page 6) and, er…me (page 42). Yes, my head spins at the company I keep, sometimes!
My piece is about Catholics online — timely, since the Pope has recently made a point of saying that A Catholic presence online is essential. They asked me to write something experiential, so I did. It’s called, “Catholics Online: Cogs in a Divine Whirligig”:
Talk to almost any Catholic writer who blogs, and you will hear a similar story:
The blog is gluttonous; it is always hungry; in order to grow your traffic, you must feed it multiple times a day, even on weekends, and after you have fed it, you get to moderate comments, which – between the adoring fans and the snarky haters — is a roiling occasion of sin just waiting to suck you down into your lowest, most prideful or spitefully deluded self. You spend countless hours reading, studying news stories and documents, collecting fodder you believe will interest your readers, propel a discussion or promote understanding; occasionally, (or, frequently) a political story will pique the interest and – seizing an opportunity to demonstrate the right of the faithful to participate in the civil arena – you will venture a heated opinion that can result in virtual fisticuffs between yourself and any or all of your readers. And the next day, you get to do it all over again!
But when you ask the blogger why he doesn’t just shut the blog down and get back to the paying work–when you ask her if there isn’t something better she can be doing with her time–you will hear a staggeringly similar reply. The blogger will blush and the voice will take on a note of hushed and awestruck humility, “well, it’s the darndest thing; every time I’ve thought about pulling the plug, I’ll get an email . . .”
The email will say something like, “I left the church 20 years ago and haven’t looked back, but I found your blog while googling about [politics, Irish Coffee recipes, Bryn Terfel, baseball stats, The Vagina Monologues] and noticed your other piece about [confession, the Holy Eucharist, Mary, the Rosary, Humanae Vitae, Saint Catherine of Siena] and started visiting regularly. I have slowly made my way home and recently I received Our Lord in communion for the first time in two decades: don’t stop blogging!”
Emails expressing similar sentiments seem to come, “providentially” to every Catholic blogger I know–nunbloggers, Mommybloggers, doctrine-aficionados, human-interest bloggers–every single time they begin to think about quitting. It is a humbling affirmation that while we do nothing of ourselves, we can be willing to make ourselves a sort of conduit (in my case a very dubious conduit) through which the Holy Spirit, who often uses the most confounding means and methods to work God’s will, has a bit more room to maneuver.
And that is almost the whole point of Jesus’ command “Ephphatha; be opened” (Mk. 7:34) isn’t it? If one were to ask me what nearly seven years of toiling online—writing for several digital “magazines” both secular and religious, editing and organizing and spending entirely too much time promoting the work of myself and others in “fun” social media (by which Satan keeps the whole world willfully, fitfully distracted) and all the time blogging, blogging, blogging, that would finally be my answer. I have learned to stay open, even when one wishes to slam the door closed, because my job online is the same as what all of us are called to everywhere else: to be opened, so the Holy Spirit has one more avenue by which to move around and get the real work done, even using our flub-ups and foibles, to God’s own purposes which are often none of our beeswax. As Bono once sang, “it’s alright, it’s alright; She moves in mysterious ways.”
Does that sound like I fancy myself some indispensable cog in the Divine Whirligig? Well, I am a cog; so are you.
From there I make my explanation for calling us all cogs. But if you’re a churchy blogger or you know a churchy blogger, pass it along; they might like it!
You can read the whole journal, here