Wednesday, March 26, 2014

From some fissure the smoke of Satan has entered the Catholic Blogosterium ...

Church of St. Foy

The fissure.

I can't recall where, but I came across a headline which stated the Catholic blogosphere is the most significant contribution to the Church in recent history - or something like that.  I think such self-congratulations are vain and misleading.  Online writers are easily pumped up and imagine their influence to be much greater than it really is.  Despite what their site meter and donation meters tell them, the majority of ordinary Catholics do not subscribe to Catholic blogs or news portals.  Take a poll - a real one - I'm sure the results would be far different than what your blog stats tell you.  Most people do not even read or subscribe to Catholic print media, not to mention diocesan newspapers.

Bloggers love to take credit for all sorts of things - I may be mistaken, but I think not a few congratulate themselves on the resurgence of the Extraordinary Form of Mass, exposing sex scandals in the clergy, and now days interpreting exactly what the Pope should be saying - or something like that.

Pope Paul VI had no way of knowing how prophetic his words were.  Many have pondered what exactly he meant by his words, "from some fissure the smoke of Satan has entered the Church ..."  I'm not seriously suggesting I know exactly what he meant, and to be sure, I'm not suggesting he meant the Internet would be the fissure, the portal which emits the smoke of Satan - I'm just saying it seems to me, not a few Catholic bloggers are emitting a foul odor, if not the smoke of Satan into their nearly schismatic version of the Church.

Just sayin'.

As I mentioned to a friend,  I try to give people a long leash on my blog, but I can't tolerate abuse against the Holy Father.  (Just like I never allow comments against Our Lady, the Blessed Sacrament, and so on.)  It seems obvious to me, many people online today expose themselves to bad teaching coming from bad websites. Anyone who reads and believes what sites such as Novus Ordo Watch publishes is exposing himself to genuinely anti-Catholic writing. In a way Michael Voris is right to refer to some of these sites as Catholic porn because they sow misinformation and doubt, which embeds in the memory and taints one's perception.  Hence, they are unstable, tossed about, doubting everything and extinguishing all hope for the future.  Worse, they see the death of their enemies as the biological solution to their discontent and objection to such persons and organization they perceive limit their religious freedom and rights.

In the throes of His sacred Passion, Christ said, "Put away your sword!"

It is obvious that many people online are unstable in the faith they proclaim.  Not a few are recent converts, recent 'recovering dissidents' and their initial fervor and convictions can be easily shaken.  I know of a few bloggers who have fallen away, left the Church.  A couple returned to pagan cult - Wicca - some have gone to other sects, others back to a disordered life.  Not a few of these folks were flaming evangelists, ritual thumping traditional Catholics, even holy contemplatives.  Remember Christ told the disciples who wanted to call down fire from heaven that they knew not what spirit they were - he also reminded them that he saw Satan fall from the highest point of the angelic host, falling from the sky like lightening.

Today's first reading at Mass is a precaution to all of us:  
Moses spoke to the people and said:
“Now, Israel, hear the statutes and decrees which I am teaching you to observe, that you may live, and may enter in and take possession of the land which the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you. ...take care and be earnestly on your guard not to forget the things which your own eyes have seen, nor let them slip from your memory as long as you live, but teach them to your children and to your children’s children.” - DT 4: 1-9
Those who mistrust Moses and the prophets, as well as those who mistrust Christ's Vicar on earth, need to remember what Christ, in today's Gospel assures us - that not one iota of the law will be dispensed with:

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.
I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.
Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away,
not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter
will pass from the law,
until all things have taken place.
Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments
and teaches others to do so
will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven.
But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments
will be called greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.” - Mt 5: 17-19

All of us should keep in mind how Aaron and Miriam were punished for murmuring against Moses. [Numbers:12:1-16]  Miriam was struck with leprosy - signifying the contagion spread by gossip and murmuring.  If you teach others to murmur, watch out.

Just sayin'

BTW: Comment moderation is on.

Just don't inhale.


  1. Excellent insight, Terry. I am personally scandalized by a large number of Catholic blogs. It is appalling to see some of the things that are written about the Holy Father and the bishops. Is this really what we as followers of Christ should be doing? So many of Catholic bloggers are brimming over with self confidence, so absolutely assured that their insights are correct and not to be questioned. I have dared to post a contrary opinion, and I am immediately booted off their blogs.

    There is the story going around about the English deacon who was forced by his bishop to take a leave of absence from his blog because he was starting to be very critical of church hierarchy. Many well known and respected Catholic bloggers (including priest bloggers) immediately ran to support the deacon against the bishop. Something is seriously wrong here. And then there is the whole Fisher-More College debacle, when many were quick to immediately condemn the bishop. They suddenly got very quiet when it came out that the president of the college is on the lunatic fringe.

    Where did we ever get the idea that badmouthing the hierarchy of the Church is acceptable? Our Lord said, "A house divided against itself cannot stand." Well, we know the Church will always stand, but what about those who refuse to stand with her?

    When I first started blogging a couple of years ago, I was a very traditional and very opinionated person. I was reading the "ecclesiastical porn" mentioned by Michael Voris, and buying into it big time. As a result of doing my blog, I started reading the words of the Holy Father and the other hierarchy in the Church without going through the filters of these "experts". A whole new world opened up to me, and I think that for the first time I discovered the real Catholic Church, which is beautiful beyond compare. We have to stop letting others tell us what to think, and instead, as Our Lord told us, to become as little children, trusting Him to never allow us to go astray. It is not up to us to right the barque of Peter. He has been taking care of His Church for 2000 years, and He doesn't need our help now.

    Your blog is one that has helped me tremendously, Terry. Your love of the Church and of the Gospel comes through loud and clear. I never get the idea that you are trying to show others your own brilliance or insight, but just to share your thoughts along the way, trying to figure out the confusing mess we find ourselves in. Thank you for that.

    Don't stop!

    1. I'm very close to shutting down - but for now I still have a few things to write about.

      I also read the stuff in support of that poor deacon and the encouragement to spike his stats since his wife is taking over the blog. My goodness - men are ordained deacon and priest to serve and assist the bishop. They owe obedience to their 'local ordinary' - to interfere in the internal workings of a diocese not there own is a scandal all its own.

      Your post on the recent Fr. Dolan interview helped me see things more clearly as well.

      Thanks very much.

    2. It's all not very surprising when you consider that the "spike his stats" instigator lives thousands of miles away from the oversight of his ordinary.

    3. I understand what you're saying, Terry, about shutting down. But I think the very fact that you think about it shows that you should stay here. We only have something to give when we realize that we don't have anything to give. I don't know if that makes sense, but it has to do with humility and letting Jesus work through us. I'm still working out this concept, but I can only say this: the more you want to run away from blogging is the very reason why you should stay.

      Lack of self confidence means you are on the right road, and we out here need what you have to say. (Christ's way never makes any sense to our human minds)

  2. Excellent post, Terry. I once asked about a dozen Catholic friends if they knew any of the top ten Catholic bloggers - I gave them a list of names - and out of all of them, only one recognized one of the names.

    The blogosphere is just one small element of evangelization, but each blogger still carries a grave responsibility to be humble, truthful and not lead anyone into error, even if they have one hit a day.

    I think St Paul would be horrified by what is written at Catholic blogs...just as he told the communities of his day "I have heard some of you are being led astray". Or something to that effect.

    I can't say for certain the atmosphere has gotten more toxic over the past several months, but I can certainly say having been away for 4-5 months has given me a clarity I had been lacking. I hope and pray I can maintain that as I vdip my toe back into the cesspool.

    1. Thanks Larry.

      I've asked b people the same things - even priests - so many do not even read blogs or Catholic websites. They do use the Vatican website, as well as the USCCB and official news sites - and I say that to demonstrate that they actually use the internet. Most priests I know have too much to do to read blogs on a regular basis.

      Speaking of cesspools - how's the lake in your backyard? What? I'M KIDDING!

  3. When I had my 'reversion' experience about a decade ago I spent hours reading a good and orthodox Catholic forum (run by Fr. Z). I learned a lot there regarding what the Church actually taught and why. The board was tightly moderated so the more opinionated readers branched out into blogging where we could say whatever we wanted. Some of these bloggers are still out there. I finally quit and this is one of the very few blogs I still read because it's always balanced. Please keep writing Terry!

    1. I finally quit and this is one of the very few blogs I still read...

      I will be very very very very very very very hurt if mine isn't one of the very few too.

      tagged: Catholic blog guilt trip


  4. Speaking of cesspools - how's the lake in your backyard? What? .... —t.n.

    Hire Dr. Emoto ...

    1. He really lives on a lake - in a palatial house like George Clooney.

    2. And now I know who Dr. Emoto is. LOL!

  5. I hope you don't stop blogging, Terry. I love visiting and, while we don't agree 100% on everything (who does?), you always make me think and examine my conscience. Now that is no small thing in my opinion.

    1. I kind of thought we were 100% on everything. I really did - thanks for the kind words - I much appreciate it!

    2. LOL! 99.8% I love your gentle spirit. I'm too mean to be 100% Just ask my kids. Now my grandkids, that's a different story.

  6. I think Angela M. has it right. The Catholic internet (and Catholic Answers radio) can be an enormous benefit to those who are new to the faith or finally catching fire, but there comes a time when you experience diminishing returns as well as a few too many temptations along the way. Eventually God will try to steer you away from the internet into, you know, actual ministry or deeper human interactions, but it can be hard to break the habit. People often have the impression that they are making a real difference by being a culture warrior online (even if a polite one), but there is some delusion there...

    I think the actual number of daily readers of the Catholic internet (in English) is fairly small--probably in the middle tens of thousands. To second Larry's observation, even Catholics whose whole life revolves around the Church, have rarely heard of Fr. Z, something called 'Patheos', America, etc. Many bloggers and those with online ministries would be shocked if they knew how many of their site hits were owed to a small core following. I remember when a blogger boasted of his 800,000 hits, and I thought, "Heck, I'm responsible for more than a thousand. So maybe he has 800 loyal readers, big deal." Of course that's about 750 more readers than professors get in academic journals, but I digress... Finally, there doesn't seem to be too much overlap between serious consumers of radio, print and internet. Or that's what I've learned after doing some print and radio interviews. Print people are print people, radio people are radio people and internet people are internet people. So the Catholic internet is a small, noisy place, indeed. So why not just be informative and have some fun, too?

  7. I agree re: Fr Z. I didn't have anyone to ask since I had no religious friends so his blog was quite helpful at first. But eventually I concluded that it's divisive as he pits one form of Mass against the other. Patheos writers seem to encourage people to read other patheos blogs or to point out new bloggers as much as they post their own content.

    But if Terry stops blogging, where will we get our Poodle PSAs?

  8. Terry, I just love your blog. You make me think about my own writing, often enough, and in a reflective way.

    I also find myself agreeing with you much on things like the foul odor you sense among some sites. I just had a man ask me in person the other day, with much indignation, if I had heard the Pope referred to those who pray the Rosary as "self-absorbed promethean neopelagians." My irascible temperament took over and we ended up with raised voices. I found out in the course of that discussion that he was reading a particular blog that I stopped reading soon after I found it years ago, because of the utter bile it spews. Contempt, when manifest in someone's speech, and aimed at the Pope or a bishop, can be objectively grave matter.

    Where St. Thomas Aquinas doe say that one may fraternally correct a prelate, publicly even, if his words present a danger to others, he has some pretty firm boundaries. Those who quote Aquinas on this, seem not to have read that part of the same section which reads:

    Since, however, a virtuous act needs to be moderated by due circumstances, it follows that when a subject corrects his prelate, he ought to do so in a becoming manner, not with impudence and harshness, but with gentleness and respect. Hence the Apostle says (1 Timothy 5:1): "An ancient man rebuke not, but entreat him as a father." Wherefore Dionysius finds fault with the monk Demophilus (Ep. viii), for rebuking a priest with insolence, by striking and turning him out of the church.


    It would seem that a subject touches his prelate inordinately when he upbraids him with insolence, as also when he speaks ill of him: and this is signified by God's condemnation of those who touched the mount and the ark.

    I would say much of what we see out there, be it bloggers and com-boxers berating Pope Francis or Cardinal Dolan, among others, is upbraiding, insolence, and impudence. In any event, it is not classified as fraternal correction as Aquinas defines it. To understand this, I recommend people read the entire section on fraternal correction, especially article 4. But, in order to fully understand article 4, one needs to do so in the context of the entire section.

    1. Diane Korzeniewski writes : "In any event, it is not classified as fraternal correction as Aquinas defines it."

      And fortunately, neither are blog posts typically understood as conversation with Pope Francis where fraternal correction could occur. Blogs are more akin, not to conversations with Pope Francis, but instead to conversations in a parish parking lot after Mass, or on a front porch or someplace else partially public where passers by can join in a conversation of common interest.

      Pope Francis is not a party to those discussions, but is instead the subject under investigation, not any different than any other subject under investigation and as subject is not due the same courtesies if he was a participant in the conversation.

      For blog posts what matters is not St. Thomas on correction of prelates, but instead giving subjects under investigation the respect each is due according to its dignity.

  9. And, BTW - I did send Mike Voris a note supporting his public stand against criticism of the Pope. But I pointed out the very arguments he uses, such as the possible adverse impact to those weak in faith, I also apply to public criticism of bishops. There are always plenty of things to criticize that bishops say or do, but there are always hidden and untended consequences as I once found out the hard way. There are people struggling out there and when they are exposed to a constant barrage of put-downs and contempt-filled speech for a bishop, they waver. Sometimes, it is better to not put a spotlight on a bishop's words. In any event, when we do talk about them, the criticism must be done in a way that is devoid of disrespect.

    When I said this last night to someone, I was told that is just how men talk. My response to him was that I don't think Aquinas was addressing women when he wrote what he did about fraternal correction and prelates.

  10. Anonymous1:28 PM

    Do you mean to imply that this is only a problem in the past year?

  11. "Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary, that he hold the Catholic Faith. Which faith, except everyone do keep entire and inviolate, without doubt he will perish everlastingly." - Athanasian Creed

    "Even if Catholics faithful to tradition are reduced to a handful, they are the ones who are the true Church of Jesus Christ." - St. Athanasius

    Just sayin'


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