Saturday, August 2, 2014

Catholic Virtual Wars 12: Mocking and ridicule of bishops - a failure in communication…

There are lots of ways to try to change the hearts of bishops where one thinks change is needed.  Some feel certain bishops are going out of their way to hinder the use of the extraordinary form Mass. In some dioceses, this may be true.  But, one sure way to fail at driving change, is to publicly mock and ridicule, "the bishops." It doesn't matter if it's done in a general way, or by name.  Such behavior will lead only to a self-fulfilling prophecy when those bishops, and ordinary people, think all traditionalists are cranks who can't seem to find 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 if it was taped to the inside of the 1962 hand missal.  St. Francis de Sales makes the point:

One of the most evil dispositions possible is that which satirises and turns everything to ridicule. God abhors this vice, and has sometimes punished it in a marked manner. Nothing is so opposed to charity, much more to a devout spirit, as contempt and depreciation of one's neighbour, and where satire and ridicule exist contempt must be. (St. Francis de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life)

How much more offensive to God it must be when the target of contempt is a bishop?  Oh, people inform me all the time that St. Thomas Aquinas said we can fraternally correct a prelate, even in public, if what he says or does presents a danger to the faith.  But, I wonder how many have read it in context of all that he wrote on the subject?  And, kvetching is not fraternal correction. Aquinas lays down some boundaries that are somewhat inconvenient to the trigger-happy.  When composing or sharing something online we should also be mindful of canon 1373.

If you want to compound the failure in communication, simply gin up the  crowd-anger by mixing in other complaints in a condescending and abrasive manner on passionate subjects like Communion-in-the-hand. Hit a triple by showing public scorn for particular bishops by including the most undignified pictures of them in the narrative; and, don't forget to present every word and action in the most unfavorable light. Toss out the traditional practice of making excuses for others to protect their dignity. In this way opinion of them is lowered in the eyes of others.  Consider how Our Lord treated Judas.  St. Augustine points out something worthy of pondering...:

Of this patience Himself afforded and showed an example, when, before the passion of His Body, He so bore with His disciple Judas, that ere He pointed him out as the traitor, He endured him as a thief; and before experience of bonds and cross and death, did, to those lips so full of guile, not deny the kiss of peace.

One can advocate for more extraordinary form Masses or ending Communion in the hand, or any other subject that brings out strong emotions, but it ought not be made with all the tact of bison in a ballroom.  In fact, the more sensitive the issue, the greater the need for restraint in how it is discussed - if progress is desired.  If we want people to hear what we have to say on these topics, we have to cease the condescension, mockery, ridicule, and abrasiveness. It's not necessary. In fact, it is counterproductive, no matter how entertaining it may be to the choir. When we die, God won't ask us how well we entertained others; but, He might have something to say about our sins against charity. Venting is not a virtue; it's a vice.  More from St. Francis de Sales:

A brave man can easily bear with contempt, slander and false accusation from an evil world; but to bear such injustice at the hands of good men, of friends and relations, is a great test of patience.

Read that whole section from St. Francis de Sales. It will have you heading into Adoration to meditate rather than desiring to commiserate at the usual watering holes that leave you feeling hopeless, bitter, and angry.  See also what St. Alphonsus says about anger.

How to advocate for a good cause

Bishop Athanasius Schneider has been traveling the world, and writing books,(1) discussing how we can increase reverence for the Eucharist interiorly and exteriorly.  He does so in the most respectful way, very mindful of the dignity of those he addresses and speaks about.  His is a mission love - love for God that is manifest in the dignified way he speaks about the subject, about his concerns, and about people.  Anyone who has heard Bishop Schneider speak can sense that love.  He is not abrasive; he does not put on airs; he does not make use of put-downs and ridicule.  He explains and teaches, constantly proposing with gentleness and meekness. Sometimes he is firm on a point, but his most firm expressions are gentle and loving.  Knowing Bishop Schneider from his visits to Detroit, I can attest that his gentle and meek manner has everything to do with the fact that he is aware people have a free will and can accept or reject what he teaches.  This is prudence in action.

If you want to help Bishop Schneider, then follow his gentle and meek way of advocating.  If you want to harm his mission and cause a good many bishops, priests, and people in general to reject the discussion altogether, and turn against it, then go ahead and mock and ridicule them publicly.

I've seen people use Bishop Schneider's interviews and quotes to browbeat other Catholics over Eucharistic reverence.  I've seen people use the words of Cardinal Burke likewise, as well as Pope Benedict XVI.  I've never heard any of them speak the way that I see others sometimes quote them.  All this does is get people to tune out what they have to say. It never ceases to amaze me that anyone would think that quoting them in vinegar-laced airs would convince others to hear their words. It is so contradictory and unorthodox to promote reverence for the Eucharist or, for the EF Mass, by abrasive and condescending means.

Let's all remember to pray for our bishops and priests.  Where our public, and private, respectful discussion cannot make headway, prayers can.  We have to be mindful, that what God doesn't will, He permits.  If the thing we want doesn't come when we want, despite respectful discussion and prayer, then it is best to leave it in God's hands.

"We can have the most beautiful liturgy in the world, and not have love... It's just for show.... As we seek our way forward...not to be angry and embittered, but people filled with the joy of the Gospel, in love with Our Lord Jesus, and sharing that with our brothers and sisters..." - Archbishop Alexander K. Sample at first Pontifical Mass in EF as Archbishop of Portland. 

Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath.
    Do not fret—it leads only to evil.
Psalm 37:8

When will they learn?

More Catholic Virtual War Series posts:

(1) Both of Bishop Schneider's books, now in English, can be purchased here, including his latest book, Corpus Christi.


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