Friday, September 20, 2013

The love of money leads to vanity, self-importance and the sin of pride...

The Human Poodle.  What?

The love of honors and celebrity do too.

When I first began to blog I did so for a Catholic company I worked for.  The intention was to draw traffic for the website.  I had some marketing ideas and knew that to get noticed online I needed to use catch phrases, names, handles, key words for search engines to pick out.  I wrote about Church issues, celebrities, I editorialized stories from popular blogs and commented on what they were discussing - I also begged for people to link to me, and so on.

When the stats went up and comments came in, it was really exciting.  (I thought it was all for me.)  I soon began to mix in controversial issues and critical discussions on the blog - as well as sarcastic and contentious remarks for anyone who disagreed with me or criticized my writing.  Favorite topics such as the Novus Ordo vs. the TLM really pulled in readers.  Gossip, such as which Catholic blogger left the Church for another Church and why would anyone ever read him again, also generated traffic.  Stories of the priests who left or got caught in scandals was a guaranteed stats booster.  Picking on Catholic journalists and pop-Catholic writers was another source of 'revenue'. 

Controversy and contentiousness and just pushing buttons did wonders for the stats.  Sadly, when I went 'independent' - I started out relying on some of the same tactics - convincing myself I had noble intentions, but deep down I knew it was a quick way to get myself noticed, or just blow off steam.  Despite the fact I wrote many sincere posts on the spiritual life, some days I also used the blog in a passive aggressive sense to air 'dirty laundry' and to comment on a lot of negative crap that was definitely none of my business.  I'm ashamed of that.

Many antagonists online continue to operate that way.  They seem to love the controversies, the attention it attracts, the honors, the notoriety, as well as a sense of their own celebrity.  I think, like the love of money, it leads to vanity, self-importance and the sin of pride.

For the past few years I have tried really hard to avoid all of that.  I hope to do better to avoid such traps in the future and once again, apologize for the many mistakes of the past.  I hope to be a better blogger, to say the good things people need to hear, things that will really help them, with some humor and silliness thrown in of course.  Perhaps I will be able to make amends for all the bad posts I've written thus far.

The Pope said something today which may be helpful:

Instead of focusing on money, (drawing attention, hits, stats, etc.) the Pope said, we should strive for justice, piety, faith and charity, as well as the gifts of patience and meekness which are the ways of the Lord. Pope Francis concluded with the wish that God will help each one of us to avoid falling into the trap of making money (the blog) our idol. - Pope Francis

Caption H/T to Nan. 


  1. Beautifully said.

    I wonder, too, if the Holy Father is addressing the root of this- pride- in his re-evaluation of the monsignor honorific.

  2. BTW, in the photo, is that Cardinal Burke's choir dress?

  3. keep up the great blogging Terry and never lose that edge!



  5. Amen.

    We need a blogger's examination of conscience that includes some question such as:

    "Have you shared things online that feeds fallen human nature to increase your traffic?"

    "Have you allowed your fallen nature to be fed online by a diet of complaint and discontent?"

    "Have the sites you visit left you feeling bitter, angry, and in a state of disquiet?"

    1. I find it interesting that several high profile FSSP priests have admonished their flocks (and internet listeners) to stop the grumbling, spreading poison in blogs and online forums, etc. God bless them. The TLM would spread faster if devotees would just discipline their tongue online...

    2. Scott - is that online anywhere, or was it in sermons?

      I was shocked years ago when I printed out the "outrage of the day" stuff and took it to Grotto expecting my pastor, and the canons who assist there (ORC), to be indignant, or... outraged only to find them disappointed that I was spending my time online that way. It took some time to sink in.

      I find that tradition-minded priests, be they EF or OF, take the fullness of tradition in mind, and it starts with the virtues. I've been writing about this in my Catholic Virtual War series. We cannot separate the practice of virtues from knowledge of the faith. It doesn't stop with this teaching or that, but is all encompassing, fully comprehending the virtues. The virtues should guide our conduct online.

      Good Catholics don't concern themselves with just avoiding grave matter; they concern themselves with pleasing God by avoiding even venial sins. Only Jesus is perfect; the rest of us have to practice, practice, and practice some more, and use Confession even for the lesser sins that are not grave. Any confessor who is dismissive of a need to confess this stuff, well, if possible, find another confessor - a man who exemplifies the virtues he embraces.

      We need more priests cut from the cloth of Fr. Hardon. Several people at my parish who were privileged to know him well (he had an office there in his final years), say that he did not like when things turned negative. For as much as he was persecuted, you didn't see him angry, bitter, and complaining. He worked to imitate Christ who was meek and humble of heart, bearing patiently with all that came at him.

    3. I've noticed that, too, and have also embarrassed myself on that score. Good priests have an aversion to church gossip, and thank God for their witness. As for the examples, see Fr. James Fryar (posted at Rorate Caeli--no, really--under "Trad Catholics, remember..."), and sermon on 9/13/13 "Becoming little...".

    4. Thanks much Scott! I will look for it. The title sounds great too. It reminds me of Fr. Hardon's language.

    5. Scott - thanks so much again for that link to I had no idea that existed. I just listened to several sermons there, including the one you named. What a treasure! It reminds me of those we get at Grotto, but I could never get enough of those. It's always great when a priest refers often back to the saints.

    6. The sermons from 2011 and before are even better--more sermons on advancing in the spiritual life as well as some gems on the saints.

  6. That last question is a takeaway from St Teresa's admonishment: "Let nothing disturb you."

    It doesn't mean we should be happy with problems in the world or among fellow Catholics. Rather, anxiety is not a fruit of the Holy Spirit nor of faith in God.

  7. You're a good egg, Nelson. Our catholic media celebrities need to realize that God has given them a great responsibility that goes with their success. Many new faithful and the trusting pew-sitter just assume that since a person has been given a regular platform at EWTN, Catholic Answers etc. that the person has an unusually deep understanding of the ways of God. That was certainly my assumption when I was a new revert. Then I was disabused of the notion after a couple of years--especially after attending a few conferences (where speakers censor themselves less). I finally realized that just because someone is a good writer or speaker and uses a Catholic lens to view the world that doesn't mean they are especially conformed to Christ. It's better to watch the old lady at your parish that you know is holy than take cues from those on the speaking circuit. That's my opinion, anyway.

  8. This morning during the homily, Father reminded us that we implore Holy Mary to pray for US sinners, not THOSE sinners. I think this captures the essence of the message Pope Francis is trying to impart to those who are content to let the sheep fall into the pit and stay there for the sake of maintaining a "purer" church. Just look at some of the anger on the so-called Catholic blogosphere since the Pope's election. The mocking, the anger, the finger-pointing by people who actually think they know better than the Pope is not going to bring anyone back to the Church or build the Mystical Body of Christ, nor will it satisfy Our Lord's thirst for souls. Scott is right - we have better examples of holiness and piety in our everyday life that we don't need Catholic celebrities to show us the way. I also think too many Catholics have allowed politics, not faith, to inform their conscience and some of those Catholics are American bishops and cardinals. The Pope unnerves both the right and the left and this is something much needed. Christ turned the status-quo on its head. Pope Francis is doing much the same. Will we be the Pharisees, or the Disciples?

  9. TLW, the disciples who ran from Christ?

  10. Not all the disciples ran during His Passion and even those who did willingly took up His commission and followed His example of seeking out the lost sheep, even to the extent that it cost them their lives. No one sitting behind a keyboard or making podcasts calling out others is at risk of losing their head for Christ.

    Catholics who detest Pope Francis and who are content to watch the sheep fall into the pit without making an effort to get them out are like the Fundamentalist Christians who believe they are saved and don't have to do a further thing to get into Heaven, all the while pointing their fingers at the short-comings of others and ignoring their own. No thanks.


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