Just say NO!


#1

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.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)


#2

*“A servant of the Lord is not to engage in quarrels, but has to be kind to everyone, a good teacher, and patient. He has to be gentle when he corrects people who dispute what he says, never forgetting that God may give them a change of mind so that they recognise the truth.” *[2Timothy 2:24-26]

We pray for genuine charity in the Church
and in Catholic Answers Forums.

*“You are God’s chosen race, His saints; He loves you, and you should be clothed in sincere compassion, in kindness and humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with one another; forgive each other as soon as a quarrel begins. The Lord has forgiven you; now you must do the same. Over all these clothes, to keep them together and complete them, put on love. And may the peace of Christ reign in your hearts because it is for this that you were called together as parts of one body.” *

“Love each other as much as brothers should, and have a profound respect for each other. Work for the Lord with untiring effort and with great earnestness of spirit. If you have hope, this will make you cheerful. Do not give up if trials come; and keep on praying. If any of the saints are in need you must share with them; and you must make hospitality your special care.” [Romans 12:10-13]


#3

Thank you, Br. JR! I haven't been a member for long but I've read CAF for a while and I've come to really respect what you have to say. I hope many people read this and listen!

Again, thanks!


#4

I also respect what you say, Bro. JR. At the same time, words like “hatred” or “pessimism” are fairly broad brushes with which to paint. The nature of some topics are controversial, in particular the news stories. Expressing a disappointment with something or someone, perhaps expressing disgust with people in a public light who make a mockery of Church teachings often reveals there are others who feel likewise. Sometimes you can find peace in knowing you aren’t the only one thinking one way on an issue.

I believe it’s possible to express how you feel on a topic and move on without dwelling on how foul a situation may be, remaining locked-up in the anger or disappointment such that it becomes a mold that shapes your whole day. I’m not sure if that’s what you are addressing or not. I do agree with you that many, me included, ought to strive to show more charity in personal exchanges. I know I find myself coming back to a topic after a couple days to check responses and think to myself, “Gee, I wish I’d said that in a better way,” but at the time I didn’t see the defect in what I typed. I’m not sure experiences like that don’t help us to grow in bettering how we deal with each other.


#5

I'll share an example of how one deals with sin and wrong--doing in an evangelical manner. In our rule, St. Francis tried to teach us what to do when others sin, violate Church law, or break with the faith, especially when they commit mortal sin. So he wrote this in the chapter on sin:

And they [the brothers and sisters] should beware, not to grow angry and be distressed on account of the sin of another, since anger and distress impede charity in themselves and in others. .

To avoid us ever getting angry at any sinful behavior, he ordered us, under holy obedience, which binds us under pain of mortal sin, never to be angry or distressed by the sin of another. He was so convinced that anger and distress on account of the sin of another was wrong that he authorized excommunication from the Church anyone who became angry. When a brother does get angry, he commits a mortal sin against obedience. If he does not quickly repend and show charity, his superior may request a decree of excommunication from the local bsihop. He wanted to protect his brothers from failure in charity. Righteous indignation responds with charity and justice. The virtuous life does not recognize venting. Because venting contaminates others. We may feel better; but those who hear us do not. The question that should drive us when we encounter sin is: "How can I show charity?"

Because people are prone to get angry, rather than show charity is probably why the Great St. Bruno forbids the Carthusians having any knowledge of what goes on in the world, even in the Church. They have no clue what goes on out here. They shield themelves against all of it, by not reading, listening or seeing any of it. I guess that the point that they are making is that if one cannot handle the emotions that go with knowing, it is better not to know and let those who can respond with inner peace and charity take care of things. It's a great act of humility. One recognizes that one does not have the virtue that it requires to respond to sin and error. Sometimes we all think that we have what it takes. That's not always true. We're not all cut out to be warriors. Some are cut out to be contemplatives who raise the world in prayer and do penance for those who do not do it for themselves, but stay way from what triggers their anger and disappointment, as best they can.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)


#6

[quote="JReducation, post:1, topic:177763"]

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.

I think that people are frustrated with what they see as the continuation of sinfulness in high places, and decisions that are made at the expense of the people. That too has always been the case, but some bishops and priests are very arrogant in their demands on the people in general, and when church leaders ignore Church teaching and proper rules, people get concerned. When they are ignored, they become angry because they feel they are not being listened to or taken seriously.

I find it is mostly anti-catholics who spew forth their venom in here.

. 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.

By the very fact that the vast majority of Catholics have remained in the Church after the horrible worldwide sex scandal among the clergy reveals that they love the Church and desire to follow Christ and His teachings through the Church.

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.

Not everyone has the constitution to become a monk.

Get a glass of warm milk, put on some classical music, and go back to bed. Your not going to change the world overnight. ;)

[/quote]


#7

[quote="peary, post:6, topic:177763"]

[/quote]

A glass of milk, classical music? What's that? LOL

We do not eat more than twice a day. We have no radio or sound system. No newspapers or magazines. One TV and one computer. :D

I think that people are frustrated with what they see as the continuation of sinfulness in high places, and decisions that are made at the expense of the people. That too has always been the case, but some bishops and priests are very arrogant in their demands on the people in general, and when church leaders ignore Church teaching and proper rules, people get concerned.

But this has happened since the birth of the Church. We have generations of holy men and women to whom we can look for example on how to respond and deal with this situation, rather than get angry or frustrated. We can turn these situations into moments of grace.

When they are ignored, they become angry because they feel they are not being listened to or taken seriously.

To this I can offer a good piece of Franciscan advise. See if it works for you. Always remember that you have no right to be heard and that you are the servant and the clergy and bishops are the masters. They do not have to take you seriously at all. This has gotten us through 800 years of Church history. It actually works. -)

Fraternally

Br. JR, OSF :)


#8

Br. JR - Thank you, thank you, thank you!


#9

[quote="Student09, post:8, topic:177763"]
Br. JR - Thank you, thank you, thank you!

[/quote]

Not sure what I did. But you're welcome.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)


#10

[quote="JReducation, post:9, topic:177763"]
Not sure what I did. But you're welcome.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF

[/quote]

Sorry for confusing you. :)

I was thanking you for these posts. You are saying things that need to be said. That's all.


#11

Thank you so much, Brother JR for your positive, comprehensive post. It is gladdening to read. I think I understand the rule of minimizing the world's influences. A Franciscan advisor recently told me I would be "very wise" not to revisit a certain website that was causing me confusion and distress, but which also was very compelling at the same time. I haven't visited it since and have experienced greater peace.

Pax et Bonum


#12

[quote="RosalieM, post:11, topic:177763"]
Thank you so much, Brother JR for your positive, comprehensive post. It is gladdening to read. I think I understand the rule of minimizing the world's influences. A Franciscan advisor recently told me I would be "very wise" not to revisit a certain website that was causing me confusion and distress, but which also was very compelling at the same time. I haven't visited it since and have experienced greater peace.

Pax et Bonum

[/quote]

I'm glad to hear that. Thanks to our Franciscan Friars of the Eternal Word, the rest of the order is beginning to develop a greater awareness of the damage that the so-called Catholic forums are doing to our people. The Franciscan Poor Clares and Franciscan Friars of the Eternal Word have been very influencial is creating an environment where Catholics can find answers to their questons, where non-Catholics can learn about our faith, without the exposure to the frustrations, anger and hopelessness that so many people feel and communicate on certain threads and forums on the internet.

You see, the problem with internet forum is that they are not regulated. Therefore, they are not balances. What you get is what posters say. But you don't have a moderator giving you the other side of the story or helping you understand the story in its larger spiritual context. So, if you have a poster with a positive message or a thread that is very positive, you will walk away with a sense of peace and a mission to help fix what is wrong. But if you walk into a situation where the exchange is antagonistic, either between posters or toward the Church, you're adrenalin is going to rush and you will leave with a greater sense of frustration and often hopelessness, sometimes even helplessness.

The idea is not to hide the truth. The idea goes far beyond that. The idea is to see the ugly truth in light of the Church's history and to learn how to respond to the ugliness of our sinful condition with the same sense of joy, silence, optimism, hope, charity and purpose as the other men and women have done through the past 2000 years. This is what made these men and women saints. This is true heorism. The ability to remain joyful and hopeful when everyone is pessimistic requires heoric effort. To choose not to engage in conversations about the sins of the world, the Church or the individual with whom you are talking, requires great heroism.

This was why Francis of Assis and other founders of religious families began secular orders. They realized that he secular mand and woman living his or her home, needed to learn and practice the same spiritual discipline as the religious in the convent or friary. This discipline consists of embracing hope and refusing to even discuss the sins of another.

Another important part of this spiritual discipline is the ability to see the good in the other. I'll shae something that has always helped me in this area. People may find it helpful. When I look at my superiors or the bishops and I see the weaknesses or what I perceive as weaknesses, before I open my mouth I ask myself one question. "Have they ever spoken ill of you?" I find myself shutting up fast.

When a superior or a bishop, who may be guilty of sin by comission or omission, asks for my obedience, I ask myself another questions. "Do you have the right to refuse obedience to legitimate authority because they are sinful? Who said? Since when?" I find myself being humbled. The answer is always, "No I do not."

I find myself walking away in peace. I also find myself in prayer asking God to help me respond with perfect charity, without murmuring, without complaints, without anger and with hope that someday Christ will restore all things.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)


#13

I’ll freely admit to not being the world’s greatest expert on many of the illustrious Saints you’ve named, but I’m pretty sure from what I know about St Bernard of Clairvaux, for example, that he was never backward in coming forwards, and didn’t back away from a good stoush, as befits one who agitated for the First Crusade.

From a biography of Bernard: ewtn.com/library/MARY/BERNARD2.HTM

"Bernard had been called into Aquitaine, where William, the duke of that province, was persecuting the adherents of Pope Innocent, and had expelled the bishops of Poitiers and Limoges. William was a prince of great wealth, gigantic stature, and exceptional ability, who from his youth on had been irreverent and aggressive.

Bernard’s prayers and persuasion having failed to prevail on William to restore the bishops, he used a more powerful weapon. He went to the church to say Mass, while the duke and other schismatics stood at the door, as under excommunication. The kiss of peace before the Communion had been given, when suddenly Bernard laid the wafer of the Host on the paten, turned, and holding it high advanced with it to the door, his eyes flashing and his countenance all on fire. “Hitherto,” he said, “I have entreated and besought you, and you have despised me. Other servants of God have joined their prayers to mine, and you have not regarded them. Now the Son of the Virgin, the Lord and Head of that Church which you persecute, comes in person to see if you will repent. He is your judge, at whose name every knee bows, in Heaven, in Earth, and in Hell. Into His hands your obstinate soul will one day fall. Will you despise Him? Will you scorn Him as you have done His servants?” Unable to bear more, the terrified duke fell on his face. Bernard lifted him up, and bade him salute the bishop of Poitiers. The duke did as bidden, abandoned the schism, and restored the bishop to his see. William afterwards founded a new Cistercian monastery and went on pilgrimage to Compostella,[6] in the course of which he died."

Hardly a dove of peace and calm by the sounds of him - distinct shades of the ‘sons of thunder’ more like! But sometimes, as even Our Lord found, strong language is exactly what is required.


#14

quote="LilyM, post:13, topic:177763"

I'm pretty sure from what I know about St Bernard of Clairvaux, for example, that he was never backward in coming forwards, and didn't back away from a good stoush,

[/quote]

My friend, you are missing Bernard's gentleness, his inner peace and Cisterncian silence so well presented in this evant. Let me show you something, please.

"Bernard had been called into Aquitaine, where William, the duke of that province, was persecuting the adherents of Pope Innocent, and had expelled the bishops of Poitiers and Limoges. William was a prince of great wealth, gigantic stature, and exceptional ability, who from his youth on had been irreverent and aggressive.

The reason that Bernard was called to intervene in this case was because of his reputation for great silence and inner peace. Innocent wanted a resolution, not a conflict.

Bernard begins his campaign through contemplation and persuasion.

[quote]
He went to the church to say Mass, while the duke and other schismatics stood at the door, as under excommunication.

Bernard returns to the monastery church to celebrate the Eucharist, not to engage in battle with the Duke.

The kiss of peace before the Communion had been given,

Bernard deliberately chooses the moment of the kiss of peace to face the Duke. Because in Bernard's own mind he remembers Christ's words, "if your brother has something against you, leave your offering at the altar and go make peace with your brother." Peace was primary to Bernard, peace for him and for the Duke. Therefore, he does something that is not allowed in the rubrics. He stops the mass to make peace and invite his brother to peace. He is not angry or confrontational. He extends an olive branch and watch how he does it, with such gentle and persuasive charity. Even the rubrics of the mass are not powerful enough to prevent Bernard from seeking peace. Imagine stopping the mass just before communion. This is big. But Bernard shows us that charity trumps rubrics.

when suddenly Bernard laid the wafer of the Host on the paten, turned, and holding it high advanced with it to the door, his eyes flashing and his countenance all on fire. "Hitherto," he said, "I have entreated and besought you, and you have despised me. Other servants of God have joined their prayers to mine, and you have not regarded them.

Bernard reminds the Duke of what has transpired. But he does not condemn him. Again, he remains charitable.

Now the Son of the Virgin, the Lord and Head of that Church which you persecute, comes in person to see if you will repent. He is your judge, at whose name every knee bows, in Heaven, in Earth, and in Hell. Into His hands your obstinate soul will one day fall. Will you despise Him? Will you scorn Him as you have done His servants?"

At this point, Bernard simply invites the Duke to hear the voice of Christ. He's not challenging him, judging him, condemning him nor is he hopeless. The opposite is very true here. Bernard is so trusting of the power of the Eucharist to transform men, that he allows the Eucharist to speak through him. This is a very mystical moment between Bernard and Christ in the Eucharist. It is Christ who is doing the speaking. It is Christ who is asking the Duke the same question that he asked the apostles in Jn 6, "Are you gong away too?" Christ speaks through Bernard and aks the Duke, "Are you going to deny me?"

Unable to bear more, the terrified duke fell on his face.

Bernard has allowed Christ to speak through him and the Duke has been moved, not by Bernard, but by Christ. When we open ourselves to let Christ speak through us, miracles and conversions do happen. But we must back down and let Christ step up to the plate. That's what Bernard does.

Bernard lifted him up, and bade him salute the bishop of Poitiers.

Observe how Bernard lifts him up. He does not command, demand or direct him to rise. He bends down and embraces his brother and lifts him to his feet. Why? Because Bernard is aware of his own sins. Second, observe the word "bade". Bernard does not demand that the Duke salute the Bishop, he requests. Bernard was one of the most sensitive and polite human beings in the spiritual life of the Church. He was a true monk, always faithful to the rule of Benedict which demands hospitality in all things toward sinners. Hospitality is not only providing shelter, but also providing a place in one's heart. That's why Bernard lifts him up, rather than tell him to rise.

The duke did as bidden, abandoned the schism, and restored the bishop to his see. William afterwards founded a new Cistercian monastery and went on pilgrimage to Compostella,[6] in the course of which he died."

Observe how the Duke responds to Bernards great charity and courage. He becomes a monk and starts an new monastery. Because holiness is like a good mother. It begets holiness.

Hardly a dove of peace and calm by the sounds of him - distinct shades of the 'sons of thunder' more like! But sometimes, as even Our Lord found, strong language is exactly what is required.

Bernard is very much a model of calm, of charity, of great faith in the power of prayer and the Eucharist over men's hearts. He is a model of great gentleness, literally lowering himself to lift up the broken hearted. He is a model of great meekness, when he asks, not demands, that the Duke salute the bishop. He is a model of great courage, when he stops the mass to seek reconciliation, before receiving communion. How many of us go to communion with an angry heart?

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)
[/quote]


#15

[quote="JReducation, post:14, topic:177763"]
My friend, you are missing Bernard's gentleness, his inner peace and Cisterncian silence so well presented in this evant. Let me show you something, please.

The reason that Bernard was called to intervene in this case was because of his reputation for great silence and inner peace. Innocent wanted a resolution, not a conflict.

Bernard begins his campaign through contemplation and persuasion.

Bernard returns to the monastery church to celebrate the Eucharist, not to engage in battle with the Duke.

Bernard deliberately chooses the moment of the kiss of peace to face the Duke. Because in Bernard's own mind he remembers Christ's words, "if your brother has something against you, leave your offering at the altar and go make peace with your brother." Peace was primary to Bernard, peace for him and for the Duke. Therefore, he does something that is not allowed in the rubrics. He stops the mass to make peace and invite his brother to peace. He is not angry or confrontational. He extends an olive branch and watch how he does it, with such gentle and persuasive charity. Even the rubrics of the mass are not powerful enough to prevent Bernard from seeking peace. Imagine stopping the mass just before communion. This is big. But Bernard shows us that charity trumps rubrics.

Bernard reminds the Duke of what has transpired. But he does not condemn him. Again, he remains charitable.

At this point, Bernard simply invites the Duke to hear the voice of Christ. He's not challenging him, judging him, condemning him nor is he hopeless. The opposite is very true here. Bernard is so trusting of the power of the Eucharist to transform men, that he allows the Eucharist to speak through him. This is a very mystical moment between Bernard and Christ in the Eucharist. It is Christ who is doing the speaking. It is Christ who is asking the Duke the same question that he asked the apostles in Jn 6, "Are you gong away too?" Christ speaks through Bernard and aks the Duke, "Are you going to deny me?"

Bernard has allowed Christ to speak through him and the Duke has been moved, not by Bernard, but by Christ. When we open ourselves to let Christ speak through us, miracles and conversions do happen. But we must back down and let Christ step up to the plate. That's what Bernard does.

Observe how Bernard lifts him up. He does not command, demand or direct him to rise. He bends down and embraces his brother and lifts him to his feet. Why? Because Bernard is aware of his own sins. Second, observe the word "bade". Bernard does not demand that the Duke salute the Bishop, he requests. Bernard was one of the most sensitive and polite human beings in the spiritual life of the Church. He was a true monk, always faithful to the rule of Benedict which demands hospitality in all things toward sinners. Hospitality is not only providing shelter, but also providing a place in one's heart. That's why Bernard lifts him up, rather than tell him to rise.

Observe how the Duke responds to Bernards great charity and courage. He becomes a monk and starts an new monastery. Because holiness is like a good mother. It begets holiness.

Bernard is very much a model of calm, of charity, of great faith in the power of prayer and the Eucharist over men's hearts. He is a model of great gentleness, literally lowering himself to lift up the broken hearted. He is a model of great meekness, when he asks, not demands, that the Duke salute the bishop. He is a model of great courage, when he stops the mass to seek reconciliation, before receiving communion. How many of us go to communion with an angry heart?

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)

Brother, you're seeing this through some filters.

Note the description of what Bernard says and does - his countance is flashing fire (the polar opposite of a peaceful and calm face).

Most tellingly, he tells the Duke in exactly so many words that he is persecuting the Church - in other words that he is a heinous sinner, and tells him moreover that he is obstinate in his sin of persecution. He gives this not as his own opinion but as fact.

It's hardly peaceful and non-confrontational to pointblank nail someone as an obstinate and grievous sinner in this way. Bernard here is, IMHO, PRECISELY doing what you have claimed he doesn't. He is in fact challenging the Duke, judging him and condeming in regard to his sins. I'm not saying he's doing so in an inappropriate or wrong way, but it's certainly not a peaceful or non-confrontational moment at all.

And you're ignoring the fact that Bernard literally TERRIFIES the Duke into listening and obeying him - of course only as a last resort, but terrifies him nonetheless. Now you surely aren't going to try to tell me that calm and niceness and knightly courtesy ever terrified anyone into anything.

To say it was Jesus or the Holy Spirit speaking through Bernard is merely to say that it was Jesus or the Holy Spirit using terror as a means to get their message across, and if Christ is our example and the Holy Spirit our inspiration, then we must acknowledge that terrifying people into listening to you is sometimes appropriate for us as it was for Bernard.

Yes, he bends down to pick up the Duke - but then again, so do jailers to pick up prisoners who they have thrown to the floor, so it wasn't necessarily a conciliatory gesture by any means.

[/quote]


#16

[quote="LilyM, post:15, topic:177763"]

Brother, you're seeing this through some filters.

[/quote]

The filters are the teachings found in mystical theology about Bernard, written by his own confreres.

Note the description of what Bernard says and does - his countance is *flashing fire *(the polar opposite of a peaceful and calm face).

Flashing fire in mystical theology is an allegory for love and the presence of the Holy Spirit, not anger.

Most tellingly, he tells the Duke in exactly so many words that he is persecuting the Church - in other words that he is a heinous sinner, and tells him moreover that he is obstinate in his sin of persecution. He gives this not as his own opinion but as fact.
[/qutoe]

He actually narrates for the Duke what he has done. He does charge at the Duke. It is very important to notice that it takes place at the kiss of peace. The writer deliberately puts the action at that moment in the mass to establish the connection between Bernard's action and the liturgical moment. Bernard, as a man of deep inner peace is seeking peace.

In addition, in Mystical Theology, it is always understood that actions that take place within the mass, such as this, are actions filled with great gentleness and great honesty, because nothing else is possible for the saint who is in the presence of the Eucharist.

to be continued


#17

conclusion

It's hardly peaceful and non-confrontational to pointblank nail someone as an obstinate and grievous sinner in this way.

But Bernard is not nailing him. He is simply and calmly telling the truth. This is the difference between the sain and you and mel. We want to nail the other person. The saint does not. The saint is only interested in showing great charity and mercy. Humility and respect are part of charity and mercy. Therefore, the saint speaks the truth without the bite or the intention to bite.
The bite is felt by the listener, because his conscience accuses him, not because the saint intends to bite. In mystical theology the principal by which Bernard's behaviors have always been judged have been as those of a quiet, gentle, intelligent and mystical contemplative. There is not proof in Mystical Theology that Bernard was ever confrontational with anyone. He was truthful. But that's not the same as confrontational. Bernard never saught to engage in conflict. That's confrontational.

Bernard here is, IMHO, PRECISELY doing what you have claimed he doesn't. He is in fact challenging the Duke, judging him and condeming in regard to his sins. I'm not saying he's doing so in an inappropriate or wrong way, but it's certainly not a peaceful or non-confrontational moment at all.

Not at all. Your depiction is contrary to the reports of the Cistercians. Bernard was always reported to be a strong father and a humble teacher. This is what made him the pefect reformer for the Benedictine Order. He had the leadeship skills of a king and the gentleness of a lover. This is how he is remembered by the early Cistercians and Trappists, as well as described in Mystical Theology.

And you're ignoring the fact that Bernard literally TERRIFIES the Duke into listening and obeying him - of course only as a last resort, but terrifies him nonetheless. Now you surely aren't going to try to tell me that calm and niceness and knightly courtesy ever terrified anyone into anything.

Bernard does not terrify him. This is the gift of the saint. The saint is able to move conscinces without inflicting fear. Instead he awakens in the person a sense of responsbility. Observe that William goes on to become a Cistercian and starts a monastery. True holienss is not about fear, it's about courage to take responsibility. The Duke is not frightened. He is convicted by Bernard's words. He is not frightened. He is converted. And it is not Bernard who is doing the talking. Theology tells us that at that moment, it was Christ doing the talking. Bernard had slipped into the background and is simple like any other prophet. He is being used by God to speak. God does not frighten. We become frightened becaues our consciences accuse us in the face of our failures.

Yes, calm and nightly courtesy have terrified many into repentence. Ask Francis of Assis and Clare of Assisi. Both were very calm and genteel. Both had incredible power to convert others. As I said above, the fear is not the work of the saint. The fear is the work of the individual's conscience. The saint is usually very calmly telling the truth, reading into the soul. This is a very common trait found in mystics. The last one who had this gift was Padre Pio. He would calmly read a person's soul. It would scare the heck out of the person. But Pio was making no attempt to frighten them. He simply reminded them of what was on their conscience.

To say it was Jesus or the Holy Spirit speaking through Bernard is merely to say that it was Jesus or the Holy Spirit using terror as a means to get their message across, and if Christ is our example and the Holy Spirit our inspiration, then we must acknowledge that terrifying people into listening to you is sometimes appropriate for us as it was for Bernard.

That Christ is speaking is an accepted fact by mystical theologians and by the Cistercian scholars. That Christ and the Holy Spirit engage in terrorizing is heresy. Christ never terrified anyone. He simple spoke what was true. Those who became afraid, were afraid because of their self-awareness. There is a difference between attempting to frighten another into conversion and the other person becoming frightened of the consequences of their actions when they beocme conscious of them.

Yes, he bends down to pick up the Duke - but then again, so do jailers to pick up prisoners who they have thrown to the floor, so it wasn't necessarily a conciliatory gesture by any means.

Oh but it was. Don't forget, Bernard was an abbot. Abbots don't bend down for anyone. Even today, an abbot enjoys the same regal authority and prestige as a bishop. How many bishops bend down to the faithful?

It was an unprecedented move. An abbot just does not do this, unless he is steeped in holiness and great humilty. In what does this humility consist? It consists in kowing oneself to be a sinner. One sinner bends to lift another sinner. Bernard was very conscious of his own sinfulness. This is one of his saving graces that make him a great saint.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)


#18

[quote="JReducation, post:17, topic:177763"]
There is not proof in Mystical Theology that Bernard was ever confrontational with anyone. He was truthful. But that's not the same as confrontational. Bernard never saught to engage in conflict. That's confrontational.

[/quote]

Bernard may've had the best and purest motives, indeed may've been doing entirely the right and correct thing. It doesn't make him non-confrontational. He knew there would be confrontation and didn't avoid it. That makes him confrontational. He didn't, for example, avoid discussing William's sins as he easily could have done. That makes him confrontational. Like Christ, Bernard knew that he was come not to bring peace but the sword (or that such would be the effect of his words). That makes them confrontational.

Not at all. Your depiction is contrary to the reports of the Cistercians. Bernard was always reported to be a strong father and a humble teacher. This is what made him the pefect reformer for the Benedictine Order. He had the leadeship skills of a king and the gentleness of a lover. This is how he is remembered by the early Cistercians and Trappists, as well as described in Mystical Theology.

Strong? Kinglike leadership? And of course strong kings are never ever confrontational or aggressive :shrug: Episodes like the one we're discussing are most unconvincing if your theory is that Bernard was always gentle. I just don't see it at all.

Bernard does not terrify him. This is the gift of the saint. The saint is able to move conscinces without inflicting fear. The Duke is not frightened. He is convicted by Bernard's words. He is not frightened. He is converted

The report says in exactly so many words the reaction Bernard evoked in William, and that William was in fact terrified. What else could 'the TERRIFIED Duke fell on his face' mean? How you can proceed to suggest that Bernard didn't terrify him when the account plainly says the opposite is beyond me. Clearly the Duke is BOTH terrified and convicted - and the account says as much. The one emotion doesn't exclude the other.

And it is not Bernard who is doing the talking. Theology tells us that at that moment, it was Christ doing the talking. Bernard had slipped into the background and is simple like any other prophet. He is being used by God to speak. God does not frighten. We become frightened becaues our consciences accuse us in the face of our failures.

That Christ and the Holy Spirit engage in terrorizing is heresy. Christ never terrified anyone.

Terrorizing is too strong and negative a word. Let's call it inducing Godly fear instead. You yourself say that fear is the work of our consciences. Our consciences being a gift from God, ergo our fear can also be a gift of God. Hence 'fear of the Lord' being one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Fear, meant in a non-negative sense, absolutely has a place in God's arsenal of weaponry against our sinful natures - to fear Him is the beginning of wisdom, after all. And in our weaponry against our sins and the sins of others. I'm not necessarily saying Bernard, Jesus or the Holy Spirit have anything to do with UNGodly fear, by the way.

He simple spoke what was true. Those who became afraid, were afraid because of their self-awareness. There is a difference between attempting to frighten another into conversion and the other person becoming frightened of the consequences of their actions when they beocme conscious of them.

Yes. It's the same as the difference between me intending to murder a person and me shooting a gun for some other reason knowing full well that the person was in the path of my bullet and that it would hit them and kill them. In the one case there is grave sin involved, the other may be a totally blameless act (for example done in self-defence).

Either way, of course, the same act occurs and the person ends up dead. And either way I knowingly choose to kill them. I cannot claim otherwise.

Your reasoning - that Jesus, the Holy Spirit, or Bernard, never terrify/induce Godly fear in anyone, but that nonetheless people FEEL terror/Godly fear because of them, with them knowing this will result, is baffling.

It's akin to me shooting someone as described above, and then claiming 'but I never killed him, he just got in the way of my bullet which I happened to fire knowing full well it would hit him and cause his death!'

Oh but it was. Don't forget, Bernard was an abbot. Abbots don't bend down for anyone. Even today, an abbot enjoys the same regal authority and prestige as a bishop. How many bishops bend down to the faithful?

It was an unprecedented move. An abbot just does not do this, unless he is steeped in holiness and great humilty. In what does this humility consist? It consists in kowing oneself to be a sinner. One sinner bends to lift another sinner. Bernard was very conscious of his own sinfulness. This is one of his saving graces that make him a great saint.

There are many many many reasons for kings, queens and abbots to bend or bow, only one of them relates to holiness and great humility.


#19

[quote="JReducation, post:1, topic:177763"]
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.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)

[/quote]

I quite agree with you. Sometimes, I just can't read some post because of negativity towards the Church. I then take time to pray and things seem better. Sometimes I wonder if some people are not taking things seriously. I for one pray for each and every one on this forum that they find peace with God and that they are properly instructed.


#20

[quote="LilyM, post:18, topic:177763"]
Bernard may've had the best and purest motives, indeed may've been doing entirely the right and correct thing. It doesn't make him non-confrontational. He knew there would be confrontation and didn't avoid it. That makes him confrontational. He didn't, for example, avoid discussing William's sins as he easily could have done. That makes him confrontational. Like Christ, Bernard knew that he was come not to bring peace but the sword (or that such would be the effect of his words). That makes them confrontational.

Strong? Kinglike leadership? And of course strong kings are never ever confrontational or aggressive :shrug: Episodes like the one we're discussing are most unconvincing if your theory is that Bernard was always gentle. I just don't see it at all.

The report says in exactly so many words the reaction Bernard evoked in William, and that William was in fact terrified. What else could 'the TERRIFIED Duke fell on his face' mean? How you can proceed to suggest that Bernard didn't terrify him when the account plainly says the opposite is beyond me. Clearly the Duke is BOTH terrified and convicted - and the account says as much. The one emotion doesn't exclude the other.

[/quote]

And it is not Bernard who is doing the talking. Theology tells us that at that moment, it was Christ doing the talking. Bernard had slipped into the background and is simple like any other prophet. He is being used by God to speak. God does not frighten. We become frightened becaues our consciences accuse us in the face of our failures.

Terrorizing is too strong and negative a word. Let's call it inducing Godly fear instead. You yourself say that fear is the work of our consciences. Our consciences being a gift from God, ergo our fear can also be a gift of God. Hence 'fear of the Lord' being one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Fear, meant in a non-negative sense, absolutely has a place in God's arsenal of weaponry against our sinful natures - to fear Him is the beginning of wisdom, after all. And in our weaponry against our sins and the sins of others. I'm not necessarily saying Bernard, Jesus or the Holy Spirit have anything to do with UNGodly fear, by the way.

Yes. It's the same as the difference between me intending to murder a person and me shooting a gun for some other reason knowing full well that the person was in the path of my bullet and that it would hit them and kill them. In the one case there is grave sin involved, the other may be a totally blameless act (for example done in self-defence).

Either way, of course, the same act occurs and the person ends up dead. And either way I knowingly choose to kill them. I cannot claim otherwise.

Your reasoning - that Jesus, the Holy Spirit, or Bernard, never terrify/induce Godly fear in anyone, but that nonetheless people FEEL terror/Godly fear because of them, with them knowing this will result, is baffling.

It's akin to me shooting someone as described above, and then claiming 'but I never killed him, he just got in the way of my bullet which I happened to fire knowing full well it would hit him and cause his death!'

It was an unprecedented move. An abbot just does not do this, unless he is steeped in holiness and great humilty. In what does this humility consist? It consists in kowing oneself to be a sinner. One sinner bends to lift another sinner. Bernard was very conscious of his own sinfulness. This is one of his saving graces that make him a great saint.

There are many many many reasons for kings, queens and abbots to bend or bow, only one of them relates to holiness and great humility.

I'm not willing to surrender my inner peace and interior silence debating this point. Rather than continue in this back and forth motion that will lead us no where, which is precisely what this thread is about. What if we go somewhere? I strongly recommend that you read some excellent works on the spiritual life and the mystical life. For starters, I'm going to recommend some Franciscan writings, because they are reader friendly. Though some of the mystical theology of the Franciscan school is not too reader friendly. But it was never intended to be read by the laity. The friars and nuns who wrote them, did so for other friars and nuns. However, today they are read by many lay people, because lay people today are much better educated than they were when these writings were written. I can suggest a couple of works from that collection too, ify you like.

For the moment, I suggest these books for any lay person who wants to live the life of saint in a peaceful manner, yet being very effective in the world around him or her.

  1. The Rule of St. Francis of Assisi for the Friars Minor

  2. The Virtue Driven Life by Fr. Benedict Groeschel, CFR

  3. Spiritual Passages: The Psychology of Spiritual Development "for those who seek" by Fr. Benedict Groeschel, CFR

They're very good books on these topics that we're discussing here. I would start with the Rule of the Friars Minor and the Spiritual Passages. Spiritual Passages explains the psychological development of the mystic in a way that allows us to move in that direction so that if the Lord chooses to grace us with mysticism, we are open and able to handle the graces that come with it.

The Rule of the Friars Minor both the edition of 1221 and 1223 are filled with guidelines on how to be a brother or sister to all men, in peace, without getting caught up in conflict or confrontations, but through a life of total abnegation, penance, obedience, prayer and brotherhood. These are virtues that can benefit all people, not just friars. The rule has helped thousands of men and women become canonized saints during the past 800 years.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)


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