Abbey Roads is just such a fine blog

Abbey Roads is just such a fine blog February 21, 2013

I have so much respect for Terry Nelson, the author of the blog. He is an authentic disciple of Jesus and a far better man than I am. I always profit from reading him. You should check him out.

Two things on his blog stick out for me today, and one of them helps crystallize something I’ve been chewing over for the past couple of days.

The first is this piece on this beautiful work commissioned by a Barcelona priest who hired street graffiti artists, aka taggers, to decorate his Church:

I think it’s beautiful and in keeping with the truest of Catholic traditions: that “liturgy” means “the work of the people”.

Second, is this post on Cdl. Mahony, which puts me to shame.

I took a walk yesterday and spent the time struggling, as is my custom, to pay attention to the Rosary. In the course of my many mind wanderings, I got to thinking about some of the people in the news I’ve been harsh with. These tend to be people I regard as abusive of power entrusted to them at the expense of the weak (think “Mahony and the cops who killed that young man with Down’s Syndrome”). I was praying the Sorrowful Mysteries, it being a Tuesday, and got to thinking about the parable of the unmerciful servant. I thought about my wishing that Mahony was in jail, that the cops were in jail, that the bad guys get there comeuppance and it was sort of like I was challenged to say all that to Christ’s face: to say, “Give them what they have coming to them!” with the full awareness that the measure I use would be the measure I receive.

Long pause. Couldn’t do it. I’m stupid, but not that stupid. I’ve got sins in my own past where I’ve received ridiculous amounts of grace and would not all all like it if I got what I deserved for them. I tried that “I’m just after justice here” feint but it was pointed out to me that I am not charged under law with the task of dealing justice to these or most of the people I sit in judgment about as I blather on from day to day. I’m neither judge, prosecutor, jury, nor jailer. So what is achieved by training myself to wish for judgment to fall on people whom God has not placed me, under law, with the duty judge?

Nothing, unless you account “becoming more eager for the punishment of others and the exemption of myself” an achievement.

So it appears that one of my Lenten projects is going to be to try to find a way to think differently about people I regard as guilty of serious evil. It can’t be to pretend that they are not guilty of serious evil (I don’t do it of myself when I sin–or at least I try not to), but neither can it be the wish they they get their comeuppance. It has to be a hope and a prayer for mercy for them and for the various other people who commit outrages. I’ve received absurd amounts of mercy myself and I don’t want to blow that like this guy:

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven. * 23* “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents; * 25* and as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26* So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But that same servant, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; * and seizing him by the throat he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and besought him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison till he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. 32 Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you besought me; 33 and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, * till he should pay all his debt. 35* So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

All of which is to say, my prayer is that this will affect the way I blog in future, and I think Terry Nelson is one guide in this department. So: thanks Terry! And to Cdl. Mahony, the cops who killed that Down Syndrome kid, and anybody else I have wished punishment on for their sins: For my part, I forgive you. And I ask God forgive my sins. Unless it somehow becomes my job measure out just punishment for sins (which, as a father, it sometimes is) I think it healthiest for my soul to attempt to break that habit. I suspect that, like quitting smoking, it will be so easy that I will do it thousands of times. But I think I should try.

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  • I have been reading Terry’s blog for about 5 years now. It is always funny, except for when it’s weird, except for when it’s totally authentic and real, except for when it’s deep and spiritual. He has an awesome sense of humor and a great sense of the journey we’re all on. He has many times contacted me personally out of concern and stood up for me against bullies. The Catholic internet is blessed to have him.

    • Mercury

      Amen. I have never met him in real life, but I’d be happy to call him a friend.

      And he hates it when people say nice things about him, haha.

  • Jmaes H, London

    And that, folks, is why our host is The Blogger here, and not me!

    Thanx, Mark

  • I find that, if I pray for someone, it is difficult to wish them ill. (That’s pray *for*, not pray *that*; God will choose the means.)

    The simplest and surest way I know to stop going down the path of vengeful delectation is: “Lord, bless them and have mercy on me.”

  • freddy

    God bless you, Mark!

    In praying for those, especially in public life, who seem to have no idea of the evil they do, I like this: “May God strike him….a glancing blow.” (got that from the Smothers Brothers, of all places!)

    Also like, “May God bless him … really hard.”

    But of course my favorite is the Fatima Prayer: “O My Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of thy mercy.” (“in most need of thy mercy” — that would include me!)

  • James

    Terry’s blog is weird, but in a good way…as opposed to weird in a toxic way, which a number of Catholic blogz and discussion boards caf sometimes be. Abbey-Roads always makes me smile, and so does Terry…apart from when he bewilders me with all that Marian locution stuff, that is. And I can always be confident that if I post a comment in his combox, I will never get my head bitten off by him for having the temerity to see something from a different perspective. Not only is he a Catholic, he’s a Christian.

  • Roz

    I’m inspired by your Lenten project. May the grace of God pour down on you. I’m kind of honored that you share about it so honestly – it feels like you offered your readers a gift. May God grant me help to be receptive to the nudges he gives me and willing to respond likewise.

  • Bad MF

    Sometimes it helps me to think of how Mary must feel about her children who do evil. How agonizing, when all you want is what is best for them, and how they waste the beauty and the gifts that have been given to them. I wonder if she knows what they were meant to be. It is difficult to remember that these people are not “them”, they are “us”.
    Your repulsion to their actions is correct and actually refreshing. Feigned outrage is overused, so when it it rightly placed, it is a breath of fresh air. It is not wrong to afflict the comfortable, especially if they are committing heinous acts against the weak.

  • Like a former colleague once said, it’s not easy being Christian. It is easy to veer off to one side or the other, to lean toward one extreme in our attempts to avoid the other extreme. Prayers that this works out. Any habit can be broken.

  • thomas tucker

    Very well done, Mark. I will join you in your project.

  • Ann

    I think Abbey Roads is one of the best (if not the best!) blogs out there.

  • Thanks Mark – you and the commenters are very kind.

    I’m scared now. Someone please insult me.

  • The Next to Last Samurai

    Thank you, Mark. Reading about your project was very helpful and I believe I’ll try it myself.

  • What if Mahoney becomes Pope, but similarly to St. Thomas Becket, he becomes a great ascetic, reformer and saint? God works like that sometimes.

  • Becca

    Praise God for your softening of heart 🙂

  • thomas tucker

    Kinda scary to see you seriously walking along the road to sainthood, Mark. What am I gonna do now?

  • thomas tucker

    I mean, I wuz actually considering joining you, but it just seems too radical.

  • Momster

    Mark, I commend you and the Abbey Road blogger for your honesty, and good disposition considering this painful topic.
    We live in the Archdiocese of L.A. My father knows a lot of connected Catholics who have been gossiping and gnashing their teeth about Mahoney for years and years. I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard about “the latest outrage”. Honestly? I really don’t know how to size it all up. Was he a heartless CEO,following orders, or was he the head of a connected and powerful network riddled with homosexuals who kept each others’ backs? Is the Vatican also riddled with these same “Gay Mafiosos”? I don’t know. It’s a scary thought.
    I just thought I’d throw this out there: A few years back something happened that gave me a completely new perspective on the whole abuse crisis and how the regular priests dealt with it. My husband finally told me about some stunning kinds of abuse that happened in his own family. There were plenty of little signs on the outside that things were seriously amiss, but when he told me the entire extent of it, I was literally BLOWN. AWAY. This was an “upstanding” family that enjoyed wealth, education, power and prestige. If pressed they would have told you they were “Catholic” in religion. They would have argued with you if this was compared with how they lived their every day lives. It took my husband *decades* just to come to terms with what had happened within the walls of his “upstanding” family. It was THEN, that I realized what priests hear all. the. time. in that little black box, called the confessional. I’m not trying to express that they get jaded, or less willing to do the right thing, in prosecuting criminals, my point is that they are forced to deal on a constant basis with sexual deviancy in all its forms, CONSTANTLY. They know that there wouldn’t be a jail big enough for all the criminals.
    I understand the need of a son to protect the honor of his mother, and his family, while at the same time I shake my head and realize that some criminals, in the truest sense of the word will “walk free” (using the term loosely)– in * this* life.
    The Devil is active.