Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Blog Culture


I almost deleted my blog.
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The comment I received the other day was so disturbing, I thought I should quit blogging all together - and just as I was planning to develop my art blog and possibly connect with other online art sites to sell some of my work. Today I decided to stay with it, but with a few changes.
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First of all, comment moderation will be enabled. I will screen the comments before posting them.
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Secondly, and more importantly, I will be very careful in the future to respect the dignity of the priesthood - no matter what.
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Since the incident, which had the effect of a swift kick in the butt, I realized I may have inadvertently invited this type of comment due to some of the more off-beat subjects I post about, as well as my off-the-wall humor. I've since been trying to figure out how and why I find it so easy to write something cheeky, or even critical of any priest I come across who happens to strike me as rather eccentric - including cardinals and bishops. From time to time, we all run into this type of post on various Catholic blogs, from the very traditional to the very dissident, and those in between, as well as some written by priests. For instance, the Cardinal of L.A. is a frequent target for many bloggers. Frequently such critiques lead to mockery and scorn, while inviting a variety of opinions which quickly degenerate into factions. When I started to blog, I pretty much got on that band-wagon, so to speak. Over time, after frequent confessions, I've made attempts to be more careful about what I write and how I phrase things, so as not to elicit derision upon the subject of my post. I frequently fail however.
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Therefore, I have decided not to play the critic of those in Holy Orders, even if one of them runs naked through the streets in the early morning hours, as one guy did a year ago. I suppose the freedom Catholics now feel to criticize priests stems from circumstances such as the sex abuse scandals, or serving as 'ministers' of this or that in parishes, along with working closely with the pastor in parish offices, and of course, the disparity in liturgical practice. Another consideration would be that the sacred character of the priesthood is often forgotten or ignored as the emphasis upon the priesthood of the laity grew in importance since the Council.
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In my case I believe it began quite early on, as I became friends with seminarians and priests soon after my conversion, and later, as a result of my monastic experience. Naturally, in that milieu, debate takes place regarding fellow clergy and the episcopate. I've concluded it much more prudent that I limit my my participation in such situations, considering it improper for me to be privy to so much information about the private life of priests and the politics of diocesan life. Working in a Catholic book store proved to be even more detrimental - gossip, calumny, detraction, and slander was much more prevalent in that situation. Too much familiarity... as the Imitation instructs:
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"We must have charity for all, but familiarity is not expedient. It sometimes happens that a person, when not known, shines by a good reputation, who, when he is present, is disagreeable to them that see him.
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We think sometimes to please others by being with them; and we begin rather to disgust them by the evil behavior which they discover in us." - Imitation: Bk I; 8:2
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Of course, that chapter describes me - readers know it. But it also describes the effect familiarity with priests and religious can have upon others as well. Hence, my effort to maintain certain boundaries, albeit frequently failing after becoming passionate about a topic, and then permitting myself to write about what I know. No more.
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I've decided that I may never gossip about, or criticize any priest ever again , no matter if he is a bishop with a liturgical dance team, or a parish priest with a mistress, gay or straight, or just an eccentric computer geek. He is the representative of Christ and the dispenser of his mysteries. As St. Francis De Sales said of priests, "I will close my eyes to their faults, and only see in them God's representatives." Even when it may seem obvious the priest's life does not correspond with the requirements of his office, we owe him respect, and this respect is due his office, since he represents Christ himself.

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That is my policy. I also offer my sincere apology to every priest I may have offended, even when my only intent was either to tease or to make light of something I thought was humorous. I also apologize to anyone I may have caused to disparage any priest. I am very sorry.



10 comments:

  1. Jessica11:54 AM

    Terry, have you ever heard of the Pieta prayer book? They have a wonderful prayer in the book for priests, alongside the Litany of Humility. I think it's appropriate that the prayer for priests is next to the litany of humility for us.

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  2. Jessica - Thanks. I do have that book - I've also been praying the litany of humility every day of Lent. God bless.

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  3. Hi hon.

    Ok, what priest or brother ran thru the streets naked a year ago?

    Even in contrition you make me laugh! LOL!

    So you had one freak (not me or Little Freak) go too far, I don't think that is a reflection of your blogging style.

    Yes, you can be extreme (so can I) but you are always contrite. I don't think your comments, or criticisms are unfair (or unfounded) in most cases.

    I think the follow-up contrition is a powerful lesson and you always give that. In fact, I've been waiting for it for a spell because I could tell you were in your dark place. We talked about this via email so you shouldn't be reading this and throwing Agnes across the room! Well, you shouldn't do that anyway: Throw Ms. Rabitowitz across the room into my Sunday dinner pot-thanks!

    Luv ya!

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  4. Don't you remember Cath? The jogging priest.

    I'm telling Mrs. Rabitowitz what you said.

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  5. Even though I don’t know the content of the comment made by the individual in question, the mere allegation of impropriety shakes me to the foundations. I’m putting all my eggs in your basket, Terry, and I going to rely on your confidence to dismiss this calumny as just that: a vicious calumny. I’m also too well aware of the fact that if this individual wanted attention or view voyeuristically the affects of his actions, he has several of your posts and this comment to satisfy his appetite. If this individual should contact you again to make similar allegations about this priest or anyone else, tell him to have the COURAGE to go PUBLIC with his accusations. He should have the you-know-what to put his name next to those things he alleges with a contact email address or a blog.

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  6. Terry, I have been reading your blog for awhile now, and I have never felt that you disrespected the priesthood. Don't let one jerk get you down. His words say more about him than about you. My father-in-law used to say that some people couldn't say anything without coming across like a flatulence in church (not his exact words but you get the idea).

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  7. Thanks Tom and Melody - I very much appreciate it.

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  8. Rosa Mystica ora pro nobis!

    Our Lady of the Rosary (Father Finigan's Parish,Blackfen,England) pray for us too!

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  9. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


    Ruth

    http://laptopmessengerbag.info

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  10. Dear Ruth

    My teen years lover Fiona, was a big woman in every way. Fiona went on to engineer a top class career for herself as the 'Advertising Director' of the Guardian Newspaper.

    Here in London, as we prepare for the 2012 Olympics, our poor Holloway Helens, and all the ladies at Stonewall, wondered if Cedric was the Patron Saint of insurance and advertising executives?

    Rosa Mystica ora pro nobis!

    Our Lady of the Rosary (Father Finigan's Parish, Blackfen, England) pray for us too!

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