Because the Holy Spirit is On the Line

Posted by Webster
I have a theory that can be stated simply: The Holy Spirit is on FaceBook. I don’t mean to promote a single form of the new electronic media by proposing this. I could as easily prove that the Holy Spirit uses Twitter. I mean, think about it. What sound does a dove make? Tweet, tweet.

I offer this for weekend discussion and propose one test case for consideration. Exhibit A: Frank Weathers.

Several weeks ago, as dedicated readers of this space know, I was struggling with the direction of YIMCatholic. Started as a sort of love letter to Katie and the girls—you are the most important people in the world to me, these are the most important ideas, let me share—YIMCatholic took on a life of its own, mysteriously attracting the attention of such as Fr. Jim Martin at America magazine and Elizabeth Scalia over at The Anchoress. Them and others, all in a few weeks.

It was at that point that the ego went rampant and your humble servant began blogging his fanny off, like Cedric the Entertainer working out to a Richard Simmons video. It didn’t do much for my fanny, but it sure as heck annoyed my bride.

I began to despair, and with a twist thrown in from a personal matter that has since clarified itself, I thought, Junk it. You’ve lost the original purity of mission. You’re making a fool of yourself. Switch off that darn video and have a pizza. Pepperoni, extra cheese.

It was about this time that Frank Weathers (remember Exhibit A?) started barraging me with e-mails. Something about a retired Marine from, where was it, Kentucky? Tennessee? Probably the hills, where he brewed moonshine, I thought. Since I don’t give anyone the right to retire until they’re older than me, I had “Frank W” pegged as a geezer with a few teeth left in his head after a life of bar fights, staggering around with a jug in his hand and Semper Fi on his chapped and dirty lips.

But his e-mails were too smart for that. He began providing me on-line resources for subjects on which I was writing or might write, stuff I never would have found myself, about Merton, Erasmus, Dickens’s Life of Our Lord. He almost seemed to anticipate my thoughts, moving stealthily like a Navy Seal in the darkness just ahead of YIMCatholic. It came to a place where I could not ignore the old geezer a minute longer. Then I found out he was no geezer: Twelve years younger than me, happily married, father of three handsome kids, active in a second career that allows him to research questions posed in this space, a persuasive and thoughtful writer, and—most important to the mission here—vitally, passionately, happily Catholic.

I made Frank a proposal. How about writing up your own conversion experiences in a short (500-to-750-word) essay? If it’s any good, I’ll put it up and let the dogs howl. An hour later, Frank’s 900-word draft was in my in-box, and by the following morning, before I had a chance to react to this barrage, he had sent me “chapter 2.” Whaaaat? I screamed to myself. Then I read what Frank had written and thought I heard a bird chirping. Could Frank be the answer to a prayer I hadn’t even verbalized? An answer to the woes faced by every blogger, I’ll bet: loneliness and fatigue. Loneliness, because every day you have to strap it on and write 1,000 words that no one might even read. Fatigue, because, do the math, that’s 365,000 words a year.

Oh, yeah, and this: There’s no money in it. (See annoyed bride)

I have an impulsive child in me, who makes snap decisions and then sometimes regrets them. But so far I have had no reason to doubt the decision that came next: By the time Frank had written and submitted chapter 3 (before chapter 1 was even on line), I realized that this stuff, good stuff too, was pouring out of him. I realized that, as a Catholic convert from the same RCIA graduation class of 2008, Frank seemed to have a lot in common with me. On the flip side, as a man raised in the South and a man with a distinguished military career under his belt (I have none), he might have significantly different points of view on non-essential points. (The maxim “In essentials, unity; in doubtful matters, liberty; in all things, charity” may not come from St. Augustine, as some say, but it works for me.)

So I said, “Permission to come aboard!” And here we are. Frank has made it clear that I am the front-seater, that he’s content to sit behind as RIO, covering my six. (I’m starting to get some of this military terminology.) I’ve made it clear that if I go down in the line of duty, or while working out to Richard Simmons, he has the conn. Last night, Frank talked me on-line through the set-up of a FaceBook fan page. He’s twelve years younger, remember, and he gets this stuff better; I’m convinced it’s generational, that he was born into a world of color television and never saw “Leave it to Beaver” in black-and-white.

The Holy Spirit on FaceBook? Yes, I’m sure of it. And everywhere else on line. Messages coming all day long, many of them not from the HS. Which is the problem, of course. But it’s all about keeping our own channels open, isn’t it? Like recognizing the sound of a bird chirping when you hear it, and opening the window so you can hear it sing.

  • Anonymous

    I am 'anonymous' only because all the rest of the commenting options mean nothing to me. I am and remain Warren Jewell, older-than-Webster and preferring KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid – I fulfill the Stupid role only too well) to confusion. So, equivocate, pilgrims: "Anonymous" equals "Warren Jewell". Onward . . .Only the Holy Spirit knows how very many forms He takes to get next to each of us. He is more determined than any old mule, and He's God on top of it all. Yeah, I've seen His work all over the web – Facebook is but a latest fine place to find like, now, over 350 million of us. I could suggest a dozen more sites where He has just made it obvious He wants me to hear Him, and know Him, and love Him as He loves me.That said, I am pleased to find Him having His way with any who come here, to YIMC, because I have found the bloggers Webster and Frank less erudite than humble. Though, erudite has a fit here, too. Because converts have looked hard for truth, and finding it have much to say to every cradle Christian. From them, through converts, to my lifelong Catholic Christianity, the Holy Spirit has re-kindled the fire of His divine love in me into an unquenchable bonfire.Now, off to my Rosary, where again the Holy Spirit will remind me that He is already next to my easy chair, ready again to love with all His Sacred Heart. I'm praying for you – all of you – simply because He will remind me it is one love from Him – that I can and we all can PRAY – that I can spread around. Enough of my wind – to the Holy Spirit's Pentecostal storm into my heart, spirit, mind and, in spite of residual stubborness born in sin in me, my will.O Sacred Heart, take our hearts and make them like unto Thine.

  • Webster Bull

    Warren, thanks so much.It's great getting to know you on line. Hope to get to Chicago one of these days to meet you in person!

  • EPG

    I want both of you (Webster and Frank) to know how much I get from reading this blog. As I seriously explore Catholicism, I know that the experience of others who came to the Church as adults will resonate with me much more than the experiences of cradle Catholics. Because, unfortunately, a lot of cradle Catholics take the faith less seriously, and know less about it, than someone who has made a deliberate (and sometimes difficult) decision about the faith. So, keep it up guys. And thank you.

  • Webster Bull

    Thanks, EPG, and good luck with the trial!

  • Frank

    EPG: Thanks for the complement. I did a lot of exploring (because I thought I could prove Catholicism wrong LOL). Here is an interesting conversion story that you may find of interest. A book about a Professor of Eastern Religions, and a practicing Buddist who chucked all that for Catholicism.It is called "The Unexpected Way" by Paul Williams. A preview is available on Google Books. The link to is below.

  • Stephen Taylor

    Frank, I think this is the best post you have ever done. With Life Vows as a canonical hermit less than a year away one of the first things I learned about Facebook and Tweeting is the wide open field of opportunity for Christian, yes Catholic, witness. You and I met on Facebook and I became a reader of your blog that day, well before you moved here to Patheos.

    The Holy Spirit is within us and blows where it will. Those who condemn social media without a second thought are often those who, to quote St. Paul, require “spiritual milk.” Knowing how to use Social Media is also part of the knowledge of self, which you made plain in your post.

    Now, the fact that you are just a touch crazy (in the best possible way) adds a lot to your blogging. Thank you for being you. I thank the Lord for allowing me to know you in this way.

    • Frank Weathers

      Webster Bull wrote it, that’s why it’s so good. =D

  • Eve

    I love conversions stories. I’m a cradle Catholic in a multicultural country in Asia where the majority are ‘free-thinkers’ -i.e. don’t really know what to believe, and I’ve had to find my way back, too. It’s just amazing to read how God calls people through their U-turns and detours and still gets them back on track. Thank you, Frank and Webster and all the other courageous people out there to whom Truth is the most important person in the world.

    • Frank Weathers

      The miracle of conversion is incredible. Thanks for stopping in Eve.