I once again want to appeal to those who post about the Church's problems, to ask themselves, "What effect will my post have on others, as far as their ability to live faith, hope, and charity, and what effect will my post, my thinking, and my message have, on myself."
At ordination to the diaconate and the priesthood, we seminarians were asked to swear oaths in writing, that what we undertook in ministry, we did so, with "no other purpose than the glory of Almighty God, the good of the Church/exaltation of the Faith, and the salvation of my own soul."
We had to write this out, in hand, in various copies, when we petitioned for Holy Orders.
That is, or should be the priority, when it comes to writing about the Pope, or the bishops, or my personal bishop, or my pastor, or the clergy in general.
First, is what I post, especially on a social network, giving glory to God? I don't mean is it giving glory to God in a subtle or roundabout way. Is it glorifying God in a sense, obvious to the average reader?
Second, is what I write about all the workings of the Church, and post, on Facebook, building up the Church and showcasing the beauty of Catholic Faith?
What do the non-Catholics and unbelievers walk away with, when they see my posts on a papal document, a synod, or a meeting of the bishops? Are they now tempted to join RCIA? Do my Catholic brethren read my posts about the Church and experience an increase in the theological virtue of hope? Or of charity?And third, what about the salvation of my own soul. People who repeat, often, the quote about the "auto-demolition of the Church" must understand, that the auto-demolition of the Church begins with the auto-demolition of my own soul, by failing to seek holiness and the peace of Christ.
I have heard it all from people who get irritated with these questions: "Excuse me, but I have a right to be angry! Don't you know that it's my right to express my opinions and anger to the pastors of the Church? I have a crusade for justice, and like Catherine of Siena I will not be silent! It is excessive papalotry and thinking the hierarchy is impeccable that got us into this mess!" However, read the writings of the saints, when they are angry or enraged. I don't mean those pithy quotes that fit in a meme, or that are cut and pasted from their context. Read an entire chapter or passage of an angry statement from a saint. What is the difference between what the saints write, and what we post?
The difference is that the saints and holy people who are not yet canonized leave us with a sense of trust in God. They leave us with the sense that the Faith is beautiful and strong, even when its leaders fail and are weak.
The difference is that holy people will always leave us with a sense that we must reach out to, and try to save, even the adversaries within the Church that we hate or dislike. I am not alone when I say that the comments made about Pope Francis, or a failed bishop in the Church, or a priest who is lost, are often without any evidence of this desire that they be saved.
My sense is that the exclamation, "He needs prayers!" or "God help him" are more of a desire for God's wrath and vengeance upon the pope or the clergy, and less a desire that they see the light and be saved by God. And those are exclamations from people who are nice. Most comments run along the line of how stupid, insane, evil, lying, sneaky, pernicious, treacherous, laughable, and disgusting these people in the Church are.
Just some things to think about.
Reprinted with permission from the FB of Fr. Angelo Sotelo Pastor of St. Columba Church Diocese of Fresno