For a church that professes to be “one,” we sure do have a lot of divisions. A few months ago, I wrote about the claim of being one church versus the reality and the ability of that disconnect to scandalize non-Catholics. This weekend, I read Fr. Denis Lemieux’s “Open Letter to the Catholic Blogosphere, On Pentecost.” Naturally, with all that on my mind, I felt convicted and compelled to respond.
Fr. Lemieux cites the works of the flesh and the fruits of the Spirit and calls Catholic bloggers in particular to cultivate those fruits and eliminate division. Assume the best of people (even troll-like commenters), be gentle about offering an opposing position instead of “coming out with all guns blazing,” and show the love you have for other Christians. That’s good advice, and it makes me think about what’s going on right now in my corner of the diocese and my circle of Catholic friends.
As we enter the summer, we begin the season of priestly ordinations and reassignments. We will get a new pastor at my parish, and based on what he’s done at his current parish, the transition will be significant. (I hope and pray for significant good.) Maybe your pastor is leaving, and you are considering following him to his new parish. Please don’t. We’re not supposed to follow our pastors, our earthly shepherds; we’re supposed to follow the one Shepherd, Jesus Christ. Jesus will still be at your current parish. When we make our experience of worship about Father So-and-So instead of God the Father and his Only-Begotten Son, we build a new Babel.
I have been practicing Catholicism for a little over nine years now. I have friends who are youth ministers and friends who are secular professional musicians. I have friends who are Extraordinary Form devotees and friends who are Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. I have friends who are religious and diocesan priests and friends who are in praise and worship bands. I have friends who are female religious, friends who are parents of honeymoon babies, and friends who are married couples without children (but not for scandalous reasons). They are all so different from one another and from me. Yet they are all united with me in friendship.
How often do we let differences such as those divide us? How openly do we denigrate people who attend Novus Ordo Masses if we have moved to the Extraordinary Form—or vice-versa? Have you ever found yourself listing the “obvious” sins of the childless couple or the “recklessness” of the parents of three under four? Who hasn’t rolled their eyes at the type of music played at a particular liturgy? (Guilty here.) Have we built a new Babel?
Recently, the Church celebrated Pentecost, recalling the day when the apostles and disciples received the Holy Spirit and proclaimed the Good News to people who spoke many languages. It was a reversal of the dispersal after the people built a tower at Babel, seeking to make a name for themselves against God. Those people were scattered when God made them speak many languages and they could no longer understand one another. The first members of the Church used their unity in language to build a unity in faith.
If you’re reading this, you are probably familiar with the Catholic blogosphere and the ugly side it can sow. Do your part today to sow unity, not division; peace, not argumentation; gentleness, not passion. The Spirit is the one who inspires. Let him inspire you to show him forth from the pews to the combox.