Sunday, March 30, 2014

Fellowship, Facebook and the Holy Spirit

The original caustic title was "What is Wrong with You People?" which became "What is Wrong with Us" which became something far less accusatory. But being a Catholic blog junkie and a Catholic writer want-a-be, I've watched several firestorms erupt within the Catholic blogosphere that resemble the fellowship exhibited within the confines of the Senate between political parties.

I am for Simcha!  I am for Greydamus! 

The tenor, which began as a discussion, often became a poor witness of what we say and believe and know we are to be. 

Noah is a stupid film with rock monsters! 
Noah is a serious if imperfect film!
See it! 
Don't See it!
How about, there is no mortal peril to laughing at Noah or to going to see Noah? It's not an occasion of mortal sin except to the extent we forget that ours is not the defining opinion. 

This also happened with The Catholic Stand and a fight over the issue of romanticism and marriage, where advice given freely became fodder for personal attacks because others were protective of their friend who voiced her understanding in a piece, but with more force than experience or doctrine warranted.   Truth in Charity we are called to give, but we often forget one or the other, and the public nature of the internet can make discussion easily turn from instruction to entertainment, to something less noble.  We're supposed to be known by "look at how they love each other" and the witness of fights over Facebook, does not reveal anything but camps, camps of friendship, camps of loyalty, camps of intellectual agreement, but not Catholicism, which is "universal." It bothered me, but I also feared losing friends on both sides. It is my always great fear, losing friends. 

Then I hopped over to Creative Minority Report and saw the continuation of what has been a long discussion over weeks, that doom is upon us, that the end time is near.  These are also friends,  but at least one of the writers is indulging the notion of despair, that the enemy is warming up the Lions, and our long Lent shall continue even when the season ends.   Now I know all the fights he speaks of, lurking, growing, growling on the horizon, they're legion. I see the coming moral storms and ongoing ones we have to navigate.  None of us are under any illusions, much will be demanded of us if we are to call ourselves Catholic, but to quote from a movie I watched last night:

"Frodo: I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.

Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us."

There is not an age, not a country, not a person in any of the world who embraced Catholicism, who did not at some point feel the weight of the cross they were called to carry and tremble, wish it were taken away, wish the person chosen were anyone else but them, wish the world were lighter, wish the work were less. Some brave souls do this every day. Folks in these great stories that are told every day, didn't know how it would end. 
Sam: It's like in the great stories Mr. Frodo, the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn't want to know the end because how could the end be happy?

How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened?

But in the end it's only a passing thing this shadow, even darkness must pass. A new day will come, and when the sun shines it'll shine out the clearer.

Those were the stories that stayed with you, that meant something even if you were too small to understand why.

But I think Mr. Frodo, I do understand, I know now folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going because they were holding on to something.

Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?
Sam: That there's some good in the world, Mr. Frodo, and it's worth fighting for.

 It is the dark night of the soul, when the only thing one can do, is pray and carry on.

The desert we travel in, is not our time or our nation, but our hearts.   We need to stop looking outward and despairing, that is judgment; we need to look inward and beg for mercy, that is Lent.   Then, we need to put on our best, to wear our hope and trust in God's mercy, and our friendship with his son Jesus on our faces.  Then, we will be lights to others in places where all other lights go out.  Scared? Sure, that's why we need courage, courage for our friends.  We need to ride out and meet them for there is always hope.     "Anyone who wishes to follow me, must pick up their cross,"... "for the yoke is easy, and the burden light."  I love the constant truth of both and that is our faith.

And it is hard, and yet not.

This week, I fretted.  A friend constantly posted things that I found offensive, that I found hurtful, and they were because that friend sincerely believes his political side is on the side of angels.  Admittedly, I understand the blind allegiance, I've been there.  It's easy, it requires no thinking, it justifies one's own opinion and makes one feel righteous in all things.  I worried how to illustrate my disagreement, i.e, how to "turn the other cheek," so I did not agree and did not run away, and did not lose the friend who has been a bright light for me.  How could I approach this delicate topic of believing all children are infinitely valuable, even in their preborn and even pre-implanted state? 

I didn't want to fail to speak.  But I'd written a response earlier to a prior similar post, one where I used reason and logic, and received no answer.  So clearly, stating a position, even defending a position, telling my position wasn't the answer.  This person knew my faith and that wasn't a compelling witness or argument. 

That day, my brother  posted a picture of his unborn child. And I was reminded of the writing adage, "Show, don't tell." 

Then he posted a picture of my dad holding the picture, two days before he died. 

And there was the continuum, right there, on Facebook.  All life is precious and equally infinitely loved, from conception to death.   I couldn't miss it.  It is right there alive in that picture.  And I remembered the words from Luke, 12:11, "When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say; 12for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say."

Just in case I was slow on the uptake, and the Holy Spirit knows I need overkill to get the point,  there was this piece on my Facebook feed at Word on Fire!

And the final smack across the heart, a piece by a fellow member of the Catholic writer's guild about his newborn daughter's diagnosis of Down Syndrome, Stage Six: Joy.


Which brings us back to how we are to be in the face of everything, joyful, even as we scour our own souls, even as we know there is a tremendous amount of labor to do.  Even the smallest act of kindness is a rebuke of the seemingly endless waves of chaos, pain, suffering and evil, both in the virtual and actual world.  
The hardest thing for us to do, is love someone we cannot see, either because we do not know them, we seek not to see them, or we want to pretend they do not exist because to acknowledge such existence would demand something of us. The internet provides us with a constant challenge, to see the person on the other side of the keyboard, regardless of their politics, positions, opinions, power or reach, as people of infinite worth, pearls of great price, people we hope to keep and call friends. 
Hold true, hold fast, hold. 


1 comment:

maria mcclure said...

Beautiful, Sherry!
As for the non response from your friend to your comments... perhaps you could choose to see the lack of an answer as your friend's way of respecting while not agreeing with your opinion and not wanting to lose you as a friend.

Leaving a comment is a form of free tipping. But this lets me purchase diet coke and chocolate.

If you sneak my work, No Chocolate for You!