Step Away

A colleague in ministry emailed me yesterday asking If I’d heard about the new archbishop in Portland. Or the breaking news on Cardinal Mahony in Los Angeles. I sent her the link to my post yesterday and said that music/liturgy peeps on the internet have been abuzz about the former for three days now.

She read the links and came back and said that maybe she needs to get online more often.

I haven’t replied yet, but my first thought was, no you don’t. And maybe I need to get offline more often.

It is easier to find allies online than in real life. It has become very easy for an intent person to find others who are largely in agreement. They can readily eject noncomformists from the circle, and reinforce their own thinking. If I were of a mind, I could do that in parish ministry. I once found a hidden memo from a predecessor who had charted out the people in liturgy she “needed to get rid of” and there were a few notes about a timetable for it. I didn’t get that at all.

I relish the people in the parish who don’t agree with me. I value their friendship all the more. We have a staunch Republican in the campus parish here. He and I are about as opposite as you can get, politically. Yet when he misread a recent letter from the pastor announcing that parish liturgy and music was going to be trimmed to half-time and the other half of my position would be campus minister, he was concerned about my family and me. I reassured him this was largely a bookkeeping switch, as half the people involved in liturgy and music are students, and that the line items of the parish budget and our campus ministry endowment should reflect the reality of what I do. Still, I was deeply touched by the gesture of concern and friendship. And he set aside his letter to the pastor.

One of the things that bothers in the whole Bishop Sample-to-Portland discussion are the lies, smears, distortions, and such of people who work for OCP and who use their products with quite fruitful results in liturgy and spirituality. I’m reminded of Thomas Aquinas’s maxim that bearing wrongs patiently is a sign of holiness, but remaining silent when wrongs are done to others may be a sign of actual sin.

Iowa has been broadcasting an anti-bully ad on tv the past few days. Most of the video shows bleeped out taunts of some poor kid, but at the end, they zoom in on a bystander, obviously thoughtful. And troubled. That was striking to me. When is it wrong to remain a bystander?

Perhaps the time I’ve spent sharpening my positions and thoughts among Catholic conservatives should be coming to an end. Another friend sent me a link to Fr Z this week. I really dreaded clicking on it. I don’t feel a compulsion to comment there, less so than I have an urge to slash myself bloody and jump into a pond of piranhas.

There are good people on the fringes of these folks, and maybe it’s time to let them have a try at Thomas Aquinas. Maybe they can do it more fruitfully than I.

Have you noticed Lent is coming soon? Eleven days away, can you believe it? I don’t think I’ll give up computers or the internet for Lent, but maybe I’ll get an early start on commentary elsewhere.

Here, I’ll still keep going. Last month was my lightest month for blogging in over eight years. That felt right to me. I don’t miss the daily slog through documents. And since the hit count hasn’t gone down that much, apparently neither do many of you.

Any thoughts on what you’re seeing online these days? The worst and the best?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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4 Responses to Step Away

  1. Jen says:

    I might not always comment, but it helps to hear people voice the same frustrations and thoughts I’ve been having lately about the RCC.

    • Todd says:

      I’d say I’m less consterned with Jeffrey than I might be chuckling in his general direction. I don’t think he gets the bigger picture.

      AmChurch, MaChurch, blah blah blah. Just more namecalling. I’d rather be following Christ and making music than following politics and making hay.

  2. adasimpson says:

    Well put, Todd. Thank you See March, Inside ML…..it’s all about balance.

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