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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Charity in the Chat Room

A first contribution
from one in the monastery
styling himself:
flos eremi
Regular readers of this blog will have noticed that comments on the blog have been turned off because of abusive statements. Unfortunately this sort of behaviour by a few bitter Catholics is not limited to this blog, but plagues the Catholic blogosphere to such an extent that it is even encouraged on certain Traditional Catholic sites. The lack of Christian charity, the constant bickering, name-calling, slander, detraction and calumny has reached truly epidemic proportions on some tabloid-like sedevacantist sites (we choose to not name them rather than give them cheap publicity) and this poison is then digested and regurgitated in other traditional Catholic sites. One Sedevacantist site that masquerades as Catholic and which is run by anonymous priests, could easily teach Jack Chick a thing or two about spreading lies and hatred about the Pope and the Catholic church. The sickening deluge of vitriolic bile poured forth in some Catholic forums on a daily basis is truly reminiscent of the vomitoriums of ancient Rome.

G. K. Chesterton
The great Catholic writers of yesteryear Belloc and Chesterton were able to get their point of view across with wit and humour. Being civil in our speech is something most of us try to practice in our daily dealings with our neighbour. But the anonymity available on the internet today has given birth to legions of keyboard warriors and pamphlet-theologians who are self-styled periti on every subject under the sun. No one is safe from their withering tongues, not even the Holy Father. Expressions like heretic, apostate etc... come freely without even the slightest attempt to check their rancour. If you must indulge in venting your spleen, have the courage to face up to the consequences of your comments and put your name, email address or your photograph to your comment or post. Hiding behind a pseudonym in these cases is sheer cowardice.

Whatever happened to charity in our speech? “Learn of me, because I am meek and humble of heart” says our Lord. [St. Mt. XI:19] Do we really think that there are no consequences to what we say on the internet? But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall render an account for it in the day of judgment. [St.Mt XII:36]. Do we think that we are really helping anyone or converting souls by the use of bitter sarcasm and malicious words that are designed to wound rather than to edify? charge them before the Lord to avoid disputing about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. [2 Tim:II:14]. Are we really proud of our words? Rejoicing that we have “won” the argument? He is proud, knowing nothing, but sick about questions and strifes of words; from which arise envies, contentions, blasphemies, evil suspicions. [1Tim:VI:4] But shun profane and vain babblings: for they grow much towards ungodliness. And their speech spreadeth like a canker... [2Tim:II:16,17]


It would perhaps be a good thing if the moderators on Catholic blogs and those who comment on them were aware of the gravity of the sin of Detraction and Calumny. The following is a summary of the Moral Theology of Dom. Prummer, O.P., on Detraction. A man has a right to his reputation in justice and no man’s reputation may be attacked without undue reason. Detraction (defamatio) may be defined as the unjust destruction of another’s reputation. It is the unjust revealing of a true hidden fault. Detraction may be divided as follows: Formal Detraction arises when one has the intention of harming another’s reputation and this is always a mortal sin. Material Detraction arises when one has some other intention. This may be allowable if there is sufficient reason, otherwise it is usually a venial sin, but could become mortal because of the gravity of the words used. Direct Detraction is when we reveal another’s faults: either by the accusation of a false crime, and this is called calumny, or by exaggerating a crime, by revealing a hidden crime, or by interpreting a good action as a bad one. Indirect Detraction is when we minimize another’s good qualities and this can take place by denying one’s good virtues, acts etc, by diminishing his good works, by silencing those who praise a man’s good qualities, by moderating our praise with a “but...”.

Calumny is detraction with the addition of a lie. While a lie by itself is a venial sin, Calumny has the same moral species as detraction. The lie in calumny has an aggravating circumstance only. The principle here is that unjust detraction is a mortal sin ex genere suo against justice and charity regardless if the detraction is true or not. This is proved from 1Cor: VI:10 and Romans 1:30.

The reason is that the more harm done to the neighbour, the greater is the sin; the greater the good destroyed, the more harm done. Reputation is a greater good than material possessions, the destruction of which can be a mortal sin in grave matter. Hence, a priori, so too with detraction. One needs to know that the greater the dignity of the person detracted, the greater is the offence. The more hearers there are, the more there are who are likely to repeat the detraction and hence greater will be the sin. With regards to Calumny, the intention is always malicious and hence calumny is always a mortal sin in grave matter.

We may indeed have the true faith; we may rightly be pleased with all the good works and prayers we offer up. But if we don’t have charity where does that leave us? St Paul tells us that if we speak with the tongues of men and angels and have not charity, we are become like sounding brass, like tinkling cymbals.[1Cor XIII:1] And right now the sound of brass and tinkling cymbals emanating from Catholic comment boxes and forums is simply deafening.

"flos eremi"

19 comments:

Cruise the Groove said...

Thank you so much for this lesson in love of Almighty G-D above all for His own sake and love of neighbor for G-DS sake!
Wonderful!!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you. I have commented before on this most serious problem and have refused to look at "ultra conservative sites" because of the hateful speech. For too long, we had to endure such uncharitableness from liberal catholics (some of them nuns). We who love the Catholic Church and Pope should also love her members.

V. Double

Brian said...

Excellent! Well said.

Brian

Scott Woltze said...

Thank you. Hope this will be widely read!
Scott

wheat4paradise said...

Humility, holiness, and common sense. These words describe the atmosphere that envelopes the fortunate reader who enters this wonderful blog.

Thank you and God bless!

David

Anonymous said...

If I tell a person directly what I know or think I do not sin. Rather it is a charity to do so. Is that right?
In the case of a priest who has lived a highly visible sexually immoral life. What to do? Tell then directly. Tell my bishop?
Sometimes the easier way is to take verbal pot shots hoping it will get to the bishop. What if the person can do great harm to me. What should I do?

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Fr. Michael Mary, for the reminder which I have taken to heart!

Anna

Anne said...

This is an excellent post. I suggest that these 'individuals' check themselves out with a fully appointed excorcist from the Holy Roman Catholic Church and have their orifices excorcised, it is clear to see that the Devil has truely entered them. There are some excellent and famous excorcists like Gabriele Amorth, Father Fortea, Father Bramonte to name a few, I am sure they will be more than happy to snuff out Satan's smoke that is in within them.

God Bless you Father Michael and your Community. We love you and cherish you.

Laudatur Iesus Christi!

Anne

Jack said...

With respect, Anne, I think the Devil gets too much credit for what is really just basic human nastiness.

One prominent Orthodox bishop referred to such sites (alas, they exist in the Orthodox world, too) as "ecclesiastical pornography" that can destroy souls participating in them.

Darryl Lewis said...

You can only educate those who are willing to get enlightened.It should be remembered that it is the choice of the receiver to accept what is sent to him and what hedoes not accept automatically returns to the sender

Transalpine Redemptorists said...

To Anonymous 15 Oct
"If I tell a person directly what I know or think I do not sin. Rather it is a charity to do so. Is that right?
In the case of a priest who has lived a highly visible sexually immoral life. What to do? Tell then directly. Tell my bishop?
Sometimes the easier way is to take verbal pot shots hoping it will get to the bishop. What if the person can do great harm to me. What should I do?"

REPLY:

Fraternal correction is the private admonition of a neighbour for the purpose of the amendment of sins and dangers of sins which proceeds from charity. If you are talking about Fraternal Correction, then yes it is charity to do so and sometimes we are obliged to do it. However, there are distinctions.

Fraternal correction concerns things done out of ignorance or negligence and not things done out of bad will which require Paternal correction. Paternal correcton is an act of justice of a father for the individual and common good. Judicial correction is an act of justice of an exacting judge mainly for the common good.

One ought to remember that Fraternal correction must be made in private, and this must be done with meekness and charity. The purpose of the correction is not correction for the sake of correction but rather to help our neighbour. As our Lord says , “But if thy brother shall offend against thee, go, and rebuke him between thee and him alone. If he shall hear thee, thou shalt gain thy brother. And if he will not hear thee, take with thee one or two more: that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may stand. And if he will not hear them: tell the church. And if he will not hear the church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican.” [St. Mt. 18:15-17]

With regards to the priest in question, remember that he is your superior. Speaking to him privately with humility, charity and reverence is the right thing to do. If he doesn’t listen to you, follow Our Lord’s advice and go with 2 or 3 other people who are aware of his faults. If that does not work one should inform the Bishop as the scandal involved regards the common good.

Taking pot shots is always the wrong thing to do. You would be committing detraction, you would be severely damaging the priest’s reputation with those who don’t know about it and you would be doing great harm to the common good and to the church in general. And all this wouldn’t help the priest concerned. But a private and humble rebuke done with charity might cause him to have some remorse and amend his life.

True Fraternal correction always requires courage. One has to put one’s feelings aside and speak mildly. Harsh words will make things worse. Pray for strength and guidance before you act.

Flos Eremi

Anne said...

Jack, with all due respect, you say 'basic human nastiness' do you think this originates from The Lord Jesus Christ? from the Children of Light? From the Heart of Christ? Think clearly as to where nastiness originates in all its gastly forms? (I dont mean correcting someone either) We cannot serve two Masters as we have seen in the warning of Judas Iscariot, (the deviant Apostle, who started off with good, sound and Holy intentions but did not end that way). Either we listen to the Devil (aka our fallen nature or we strive to acquire Grace, Fullness of God, Beatific Vision, Love our Neighbour and pray for our enemies at all costs whatever pain it puts us through). I don't know where your middle ground comes from?


Laudatur Iesus Christi!

Anne

Scott Woltze said...

The little "disagreement" between Anne and Jack is a perfect illustration of how things can quickly go wrong in the blogosphere. In their core beliefs, I'm sure Anne and Jack actually agree, but thanks to the dynamics of the blogspace (anonymity, short comments that can easily be misunderstood, the absence of trust-building non-verbal communication) and original sin (pride and the darkening of the intellect) they can quickly become entrenched in a position and talk past each other.

So Jack's point is that "the flesh" and "the world" (such as the blog dynamics I mentioned above) are sufficient for much of the nastiness we see. So the psychological and material effects of the Fall do enough work that demons don't have to do any heavy-lifting. That sounds right and I think Anne would agree. Anne's point is that any time we give in to the effects of the Fall, we are effectively (if temporarily and in ignorance) "siding" with the demons. So Anne isn't saying here that demons manipulate us like hapless puppets, just that we always take one side or the other at the end of the day. I'm sure Jack would agree to Anne's point as well.

Obviously Jack and Anne haven't erupted into nastiness, but hopefully their little disagreement can remind us that many online disputes begin with parties who actually fundamentally agree on the matter at hand!

Anne said...

Bravo Scott! Well said.

Deo Gratias.

A fraternal embrace to you both, Jack and Scott. You are both already in my prayers.

Laudatur Iesus Christi,

Anne

Cheryl said...

Beautifully said!!!! Is it alright to post this on my blog and my facebook?

God bless,
Cheryl

St. Jude Pray For Me said...

Dear Rev. Fr. Michael Mary, F.SS.R.
I have been victim of defamation myself so I can understand how you felt in those sad days.
---
Proverbs 10:20
The tongue of the righteous is choice silver, but the heart of the wicked is of little value.
---
Yours
A.B.

Oliver said...

Spoken like a new convert to conciliarism! Hopefully, you will not it time be following the example of Rifan and start cavorting with naked dancing girls. Ah, what variety and divirsity is in store for you in the new religion! No doubt, your Scotch masters have suggested you let go of the old stuff a little and join the world.

Jack said...

\\So Jack's point is that "the flesh" and "the world" (such as the blog dynamics I mentioned above) are sufficient for much of the nastiness we see. So the psychological and material effects of the Fall do enough work that demons don't have to do any heavy-lifting. That sounds right and I think Anne would agree. Anne's point is that any time we give in to the effects of the Fall, we are effectively (if temporarily and in ignorance) "siding" with the demons. So Anne isn't saying here that demons manipulate us like hapless puppets, just that we always take one side or the other at the end of the day. I'm sure Jack would agree to Anne's point as well. \\

Scott, you have expressed more exactly what I was trying to say.

Anne, I'm sure that we will agree on at least 90% of things.

Anonymous said...

Amen to what you said, Father!

This is my first time commenting on your blog. I'm happy that you and your fellow Redemptorists have 'come Home' to full communion with the Holy Father.

I was also happy to see the pictures of the community at the Mass in Bellahouston Park during the Papal visit last month, too! What a wonderful experience it must have been for all of you!

I greet you from 'across the pond' in the USA!

Barb

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