I wasn’t feeling well, so I couldn’t sleep. I started to navigate around CAF. I am very saddened by the amount of anger and hateful language toward the institutional Church that is contained on these forums. I’m not naïve and certainly not ignorant. I know my history and current events. I realize that there are many sins inside the Church. After all, it’s made up of sinners, many of whom eventually become saints.
But it seems to me that so many people on these threads cannot tolerate the fact that there are sinful people in the Church. Which leads me to ask myself, are these people sinless? What were they looking for? The Church has an unbroken record of sinfulness, 2000 years worth. But she also has an unbroken record of holiness, 2000 years worth.
Have we become so self-destructive that we cannot see this? But we can only spew out anger and hateful remarks about our bishops, clergy, religious and fellow Catholics. Don’t people realize that the more you dwell and the more you spew out venom, the more you hurt your own spiritual growth?
We cannot cover the sun with a dime. That’s naïve. We must admit our sinfulness and move on. To dwell on sin and evil is to deprive the soul of peace. I am reminded of the many great saints who lived during the Dark Ages: Francis of Assisi, Bernard of Clairveaux, Thomas Aquinas, Bonaventure, Anthony of Padua, Clare of Assisi, Dominic Guzman, Bruno and others like them. These people lived in a constant state of inner peace. The reason is that they were realists. They knew sin. But they also knew hope. It seems that too many Catholics posing on these threads are showing signs of hopelessness. That’s saddening to me. The last thing that I want for my brothers and sisters is to see them hopeless.
Hopelessness is that state of when the soul and the mind can only see the wrong, but has no expression of trust in the endless possibility of good and the triumph of Jesus Christ. To live in hopelessness is to lose sight of the fact that Jesus Christ can and will reconcile all things to himself.
At what point do we say, “ENOUGH!” to the pessimism that we have allowed to take hold of our spiritual lives? At what point do we say, “STOP!” to those who would contaminate our minds and our spiritual lives with despair and condemnation?
Is Catholic Answers a place where people come to find answers to their hopelessness or a site where people come to draw others into their negativity and pessimism? Do we, as Catholic men and women, want answers or do we just want to whine and feel sorry for ourselves as if we were the first generation of Catholic men and women who had to live in a sinful world?
It’s time to stop and to put a stop to those who would taint the environment in which we dialogue, live and work with their anger, hatred and spiritual arrogance. Sanctity is not achieved this way. Our holy saints achieved sanctity by accepting the reality that the human beings are weak, sinful and often wrong about many things. In the midst of this, they lived very courageous lives. They never lost hope. They loved their Church, their clergy, bishops, religious and laity alike. Where ever they went, they preached a message of peace. They tried hard to bring peace to the external world around them and peace to men’s souls.
One often wonders why so many men and women chose the desert over the urban areas of their time or the enclosure of the monastery. The reason is quite simple really. They realized that true peace leads to communion with God and communion with God leads to true peace. They made this their final goal in life.
I recently read the rule for the Carthusians. I found it very interesting that in their constitution they have chosen to exclude newspapers, magazines, television, internet and all forms of information from the outside world. They have even written into their constitutions that one of the duties of the superior is to make sure that the hermits know as little as possible about what is happening in the world and in the Church outside of the Charter House. At first I had to stop and ask myself if this is a healthy way to live. After some thought, I realized that this is what our holy Father Francis wrote into the rule of my religious family and why he left us with hermitages to which we retire periodically. Only when the mind is silent and disconnected from the grievances and violence of the world can man truly pray from the heart.
The point is this. If we want to pray, we must stop the hatred. Hatred can only be stopped when we stop posting about it and sharing it with others. We cannot achieve peace and union with the Divine while we engage in writing and speaking the language of hopelessness. As Nancy Reagan used to say, “Just say NO.” When someone posts hatred and anger, just say no. Don’t let yourself be sucked into their emotional and spiritual state. It’s not a healthy one. To engage is to encourage. When we encourage, we only spread the anger, rather than diffuse. While righteous indignation is perfectly moral, there is no room for anger in our hearts. The difference is that righteous indignation leads one to great works of charity, even if it’s just praying for the perpetrators and their victims. Anger does not lead to charity. It leads to darkness and hopelessness. Think about it.
Br. JR, OSF :)