Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Solemn Warning to Catholic Bloggers

Damned for Sins of Tongue
Have you ever had the great grace to read something that stirs up in you great fear enough to intensely exam yourself. Recently I had one of those experiences and it caused in me fear for myself and for everyone who practices their Catholic faith and participates in discussions about it on the internet.

I doubt anyone has not noticed the contentious atmosphere, the constant conflict, the impatience and quarrels that have arisen among Catholics on the internet especially in the last week.

If you think that this is not a problem look up almost any Catholic thread on: creationism vs theistic evolution, Vat II and its interpretation, SSPX confessions being valid or invalid, the liturgy, etc. I am not going to address any of the controversies but wish to befriend you in the fear of God that you and I can help each other on our way to salvation.

The Eternal Truth himself has warned us that to show contempt or insolence for our brother puts us in danger of going to hell. "And whosoever shall say, Thou Fool, shall be in danger of hell fire." Matt 5:22

Before, dismissing that as hyperbole St John Chrysostom, Doctor and Father of the Church, taught that this was not hyperbole (he gives an in depth explanation in the Homily Danger of Evil Words available here in Volume 2 of the Church Fathers for Lent free to download).

Lets look at a few things he said about this line of scripture

“For there is nothing, nothing in the world, more intolerable than insolence, it is what hath very great power to sting a mans soul” The Danger of Evil Words Homily

“Think it not a light thing to call another fool. For when of that which separates us from the brutes, by which especially we are human beings, namely, the mind and the understanding, when of this thou has robbed thy brother, thou has deprived him of all his nobleness” From Vol 2 of the Church Fathers for Lent

This calling our brother a fool can take on many forms. It could be direct of course, but also in being dismissive, speaking down to him as an idiot,calling him a nutter or mad, and so on. I am not saying that a person could not take a firm stance, but that he should avoid trying to make the other out to be a fool but rather to “being ready always to satisfy every one that asketh you a reason of that hope which is in you. ” 1 Peter 3:15

If we were able to look at our neighbors ability to understand things more in terms of grace and gifts we might not be so impatient and indignant with our neighbor when we do not see eye to eye. After all, we are nothing more than temporary custodians of the various things God has given us; whether it be wisdom of the Holy Ghost,our intelligence or our ability to even communicate with others “for every best gift, and every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no change, nor shadow of alteration.” James 1:17

St John Chrysostom points out in other places in that homily how insolent words are what causes thoughts of murder, and who has not encountered someone still reveling in some insolent remark perhaps even made years ago? If one of our insolent remarks has caused our brother to lose his soul through rage, then we will be held accountable to it and according to Our Lord it will be the most terrible reckoning.

Let us not forget in this age of communication where anyone can blog, post to forums or scan documents to the internet that many people make haphazard remarks that will now never die. These remarks often times are judged from the outside not considering whom it was that the author spoke to and to what audience would read them. So it can also fall of our words and writings and as such it just simply is not enough to be right with what we say, if what we say seems false and wicked.

Together lets be converted unto Christ and put away all insolent remarks and exercise our charity through patient, considerate and brief speech. Who does the Holy Ghost say is the perfect man? The man who offends not in word: “For in many things we all offend. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man” James 3:2

My friends, we need to be on guard moving forward. The world is full of insolence and the demons reveal and roll in the insolence against God like the filthy pigs they are. It will be easy to find bad examples to follow, it will be tempting to let our new found discipline be carried down stream. However, with the guidance of the Holy Ghost and the channels of grace through good spiritual reading like the Holy Scriptures we can have many good examples of the meekness and loving kindness of Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Saints.

Please come back next time for an article on what we should do when we are treated with insolence.

Pone Domine, custodiam ori meo - Set a watch, O Lord, before my lips, Amen.


Catholic in Brooklyn said...

I am a Catholic blogger, and I take your words to heart. I have most definitely been guilty of some of these actions you mention, but I am truly trying to amend my ways.

That said, I have to say I find the Catholic blogosphere to be scandalous for the most part. I see so many bloggers hold themselves out as loyal sons and daughters of the Church and yet have no qualms about saying the most horrible things about Church hierarchy including Pope Francis. It seems everyone just wants to prove their own points. No one ever seems willing to say, "You know, I just could be wrong."

We all have so much for which we must answer.

Anonymous said...

Some of the articles on this blog reflect that which you speak. I feel there is nothing wrong with calling out people on things such as claiming hell may be empty and cardinals who frequently and publicly support gay marriage and condone politicians that support murdering children. If things like this go on unchecked they become accepted and peoples firm stances on such issues become weakened. Shepherds who are leading thousands of sheep astray with their loose words in interviews and homilies must be corrected and made to answer for their words and actions. I disagree with what is being said in post.

Boniface said...


The post does not suggest we should not call out evil, but that in doing so, we ourselves should not commit evil.

Nancy Allen said...

Excellent article and Catholic in Brooklyn your comment was well expressed.
I have often wondered, if people truly want to lead others to God, then why are they so mean to each other? It is hard, if not impossible, to see God in a situation when insults are heaped upon anyone who is not perfectly aligned with a certain way of thinking.
The kind of ugliness we often see these days is not something that anyone wants to be around. In fact it has the opposite effect. This tells me that the devil is working overtime because a person cannot say, 'I love God and His Church' while spewing hurtful phrases at the same time and driving others away, yet this has become common place.
There are many similarities to the way people respond in these cases I have noticed, and it's as if they are using the same play book. It is a strategy filled with pride and self-love trying to mask itself behind 'doing good for souls' when in reality, it's just a ploy of the devil.
The fact is, one simply cannot love God while hating others. Discussion is good; information is good; but those things can be had in an atmosphere that fosters them and not one that creates anger and resentment. It is backwards logic to think otherwise and it's just another way that the devil is trying to take down the Catholic Church.

Marietta said...

I hope someone will forward this article to the Pope. His Holiness shows so much hostilities to faithful, obedient, and traditionalist members of the Church, calling them all sorts of vile things. I don't belong to any schismatic groups, but I'm not too happy with how Pope Francis treats ALL traditionalist, even those who love and respect the Papacy.

Eric said...

I am Protestant but I enjoy many of your posts and have even found some excellent reads as a result of your recommendations (I.e books by Father Lagrange). The approach I take in any discussions is the one recommended by Paul in 2 Timothy 2:22-26. People are not the enemy, Satan is the enemy. Ad Hominem attacks don't accomplish anything. There are always 3 possibilities in and disagreement on facts:

1. I am wrong (in which case I want to know).
2. The person I disagree with is wrong
3. We are both wrong

I love what Ravi Zacharias says. If we present the truth in an unloving way, we make the truth ugly to the folks we are trying to convince.

Anonymous said...

Marietta, Amen to that! While I agree with the author's intent, and it can get sketchy with the nature of blogs, I have to concur with you that the pope has come across with a very odd sense of anti-traditionalism not found in any pope but usually relegated to modernistic bishops. He is a head-scratcher to me. This man seems to be separating the men from the boys. It will not be pleasant on the other side of this.

Eufrosnia said...

So I think there are some problems with the post above. How would we assess Jesus in light of the content in the above post? He spoke in a denigrating manner to the Pharisees didn't he? Is Jesus responsible for making the Pharisees rage and plot his death?

Apart from that, I think it is high time we acknowledged that there are truly weird views on the internet. No one needs a degree to type and post something and so we have some of the most radical ideas that spread. The spread of one line philosophies are almost contagious. "Do not judge" is probably a classic nowadays! People hold these and do sound it off often.

What do we do about it? How do we get it across to them that their ideas are foolish even though they are not fools? I think there needs to be a blog post on that. Till then, everyone is probably trying their best to get it across to the other that their views are foolish in the only ways they know. Simply tolerating cannot be the solution, right?

Boniface said...

Our Lord knows the exact state of every soul, so I am not sure our Lord's own prohibition applies to Him.

People seem to be interpreting this post as if it means "don't challenge wrong beliefs" or "don't correct people." All the post states is merely what our Lord says - that when we speak, we are not to call our enemies names, but be charitable even in our disagreement.

Eufrosnia said...

Thanks for clearing some of the confusion.

I think what is causing the confusion is the following content in the post

///Together lets be converted unto Christ and put away all insolent remarks and exercise our charity through patient, considerate and brief speech. Who does the Holy Ghost say is the perfect man? The man who offends not in word: “For in many things we all offend. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man” James 3:2///

This interpretation of it is a problem because it bars any sort of disagreement. Some ideas are just plain bad and at times evil. But from the above interpretation, one cannot raise an objection that it is bad because it will naturally offend the person presenting the idea. It ties a person up from confronting error and ultimately allows it to grow.

Maybe there is a distinction to be made. Maybe some ideas which are not gravely disordered or filled with error should be tolerated and dealt with using much patience. But perhaps there is a line after which we have ideas that try to justify grave evils, grave errors. Those perhaps are to be confronted with zero tolerance.

At least, this is what I see when I look at Church history. There have been saints tolerant of certain errors while others who have gone to the length of advocating force to bring the straying person back in line.

Just to highlight another dimension, the NRSV translation has James 3:2 using the word "mistakes" instead of offends. So the line reads that a man who makes no mistakes in speech is a perfect man. That I think explains the meaning a bit better. The "offend not in word" does not refer to not offending a person but not making mistakes in ones conversations.

With that in mind, the Bible condemns Blasphemy and other things but more in line with what is said here, cursing ones neighbor! Something about the tone of this post seems to go beyond just discouraging "cursing" type behavior.