Get this!:The Holy Father has identified ecclesiastical narcissism as the fundamental illness the Church needs to address.
I read the article, by Fr. Roger Landry, with mounting excitement.
Here's an excerpt:
"One of the wild grapes that flows from the vine of clericalism, the future Pope said in El Jesuita, is a hypercritical spirit that leads some Catholic priests and faithful to expend most of their energy censuring others inside and outside the Church rather than seeking to live and share the joy of the Christian faith.
“This is a problem not only for priests,” he said, “but also for laypeople. One isn’t a good Catholic when he is looking only for the negative, for what separates us. This isn’t what Jesus wants.”
Such unredeemed behavior — found regularly in personal conversations, blogs, comment boxes and Internet video analyses — “mutilates the message” of the Christian faith and scares people away from it, he said.
Firing vitriolic criticism at those with whom one disagrees is not the path of the reform of the laity and the Church.
The true path, rather, was delineated by Cardinal Bergoglio in the final report of the Latin American bishops’ encounter in 2007 with Pope Benedict in Aparecida, Brazil.
Cardinal Bergoglio was the principal author and presenter of the "Aparecida Document," which not only echoes many of his fundamental themes, but is a reliable indicator of his thought.
The reform of the laity, the document says, must involve reforming them to become “missionary disciples in communion.”
Those four words define the lay vocation: converted followers of Jesus, who, together with others, share Jesus’ life and faithfully seek to spread their joy, life and love to those who have not yet come into that twofold communion..."
Here at last is the corroboration, from the Vatican no less, I've been waiting for! Here is the Pope himself decrying the craven nitpicking that so often masquerades these days as "faith." Here is the very Vicar of Christ on earth saying the mark of our faith is wonder, joy, and how well we love "the least of these"...
I don't read most Catholic blogs for the same reason I don't watch TV: because I find a culture of carping, snitching, and gossip inherently un-Christlike. As you know, I don't tend to weigh in on Church scandals (partly because I usually don't even know of them); global disasters; who, in the Catholic world or elsewhere, is doing or saying what.
I am anything but 'trending.'
953 comments from people with nothing better to do on a glorious spring day than sit in front of their computer screens and insult each other is not what I have ever been after. I am after, among other thing, shadows, random leaves on sidewalks, tarantulas, orchids, Etta James, The Queers, dinner parties, the long, slow death of my mother, and drunks.
I also quickly discerned what kind of comments I would host: those that reflect fellow feeling; fresh insights; a sense of humor (always welcome), or courteous, well thought-out dissension. I will not host comments that are insulting, rude, or doctrinally wrong. In a post that is clearly from goodwill and a searching heart, a commenter who zeroes in on a tangential, not-in-discussion point is doctrinally wrong, because Catholicism is not stupid. An insulting comment is doctrinally wrong because the doctrine of Christ is love. A comment that is rude, threatening and anonymous is doctrinally wrong because the doctrine of Christ is courage.
Insults and rudeness drive traffic--thus I have foregone that kind of traffic.
Which brings me to my real point: the incredible gratitude I feel to my readers. As I told Austin, "I am never more certain I haven't gone completely off the rails as when I am irresistibly drawn to Mass; when everything in me just desperately wants to be close to Jesus"...And if you follow Shirt of Flame, in some way you want to get close to Christ, too--close to truth, close to goodness, close to beauty...
I could barely sleep the night after I read Fr. Landry's piece. To spread my "joy, life and love" has been my aim since Day One. Pope Francis has corroborated what any follower of Christ knows instinctively: that our goal is not numbers; it's authenticity. Our hope is not in marketing; it's in fidelity.
My correspondent also sent on "this absolutely brilliant and convicting and so precisely sharp article I recently discovered that sums up many of my thoughts and conversations (particularly many conversations with my spiritual theology professor Dr. Tom Neal who is a living breathing real-live saint and just a joy of a man: (you can check out one of my favorite blog posts of HIS here)) over the past several months (and years) in such a clear and concise manner that it absolutely must be passed on to you, because I think you share the same heart on this matter.
Whoever this Fr. Landry is, I want to be friends with him."
As I told him: "I want to be friends with Fr. Landry, too."
And we both celebrated to heaven on high his successful use, in the paragraph above, of double parentheses.
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