Thursday, April 17, 2008

Amy Welborn: Pope Benedict is a uniter, not a divider

I really enjoyed the article by Amy Welborn at the blog set up by the NY Times where she was asked, among many others, to participate. Her post mirrors some thoughts I've been having since the Holy Father's visit began ('ll add link below). I left a comment there which I'll repeat here with fixes in brackets:

One thing that strikes me repeatedly about Pope Benedict and something we would do well to emulate, is that we don’t see him publicly violate charity regardless of the severity of an issue. He is frank and calls things out as they are [in other words, he does not give in to false charity by saying nothing], but his firmness is not one that lacks charity and [he shows] care for the dignity of those to whom it is aimed.

How often do we bloggers set charity aside to get one more dig at a fellow Catholic rather than engage in dialogue with the intellectual charity of which Pope Benedict XVI encourages and exemplifies?

I’ll be pondering that myself.

I want to expand on this thought while I have it.....

When I first got serious about my faith when Pope John Paul II died, I found myself extraordinarily hungry for all things Catholic. Just to be clear, I was seeking out an understanding of the mind of the Church in her teachings, not the mind of someone who has other ideas that are more aligned with the mind of the world.

I was relativisitic in my thinking and the light bulb went on for me, realizing that truth can't be in two opposing directions, nor can truth change directions. If Christ is Truth, then truth must be absolute.

As I learned about the faith at places like and through solid sermons at Assumption Grotto, an anger began to increase inside of me - an anger being caused with another realization: The catechism of my youth was not only deficient, it was a distortion of authentic Catholic teaching. And, it wasn't only the catechism: The sermons I had been hearing for the past 40 years were equally deficient and sometimes distorted. I felt duped.

Just for reference, I was born in 1962.

This anger began to build, creating a defensiveness in me. In my discussions with other Catholics, I tried to "help" people to understand with all the grace of Attila the Hun.

I tried to use humor too. Usually that humor was in the form of little digs which, as I see them now, served no other purpose than to get under the skin of other people. A little humor here and there is good, but it has to be properly ordered. Has anyone ever heard Pope Benedict, or the man Ratzinger ever take this approach to passing on the faith? No. He has a level of spiritual maturty that we should all strive for. However, pride sometimes gets in the way.

If you peruse discussions in the many Catholic forums out there, and even the posts on some Catholic blogs, you will see examples of all kinds of behaviors that are not in alignment with charity - digs, bad humor, and the Attila the Hun approach to catechesis.

We Catholic bloggers must ponder the words and actions of Pope Benedict. If we are to use the web to evangelize other people - especially poorly catechized Catholics and interested non-Catholics, we have to let go of the anger and let love for neighbor backfill that void. When our words are guided by love, the Holy Spirit will lead us in our quest to help others. Early on, several priests at Assumption Grotto encouraged me in this way with regards to discussions. It has taken much time to learn, and I continue to learn and make adjustments.

When we engage in discussions with others on the faith, even on the most sensitive of subjects, we have to work on the charity side of it. An examination of conscience needs to be done regularly in this regard. Bloggers would do well to make use of confession when they realize charity was violated. A good confessor, along with the graces of the sacrament, can go a long way into enabling God to fine tune us like strings on a violin. There is nothing sweeter than a well-tuned instrument and nothing more grand than an entire ensemble of well-tuned instruments in aiding others to see the beauty of our faith.

We can't make anyone play the 10-stringed harp; we must lead them to want to play it!

Now......go read Amy Welborns excellent article: A Uniter, Not a Divider

Te Deum Laudamus! Home