I’ve been trying to keep up with news and thoughts by and about Catholics on Facebook. However, I’m starting to feel somewhat disappointed. It is naive to believe
that one is going to find much that is worthwhile on Facebook; but occasionally one runs into another person who thinks with clarity and shares his or her thoughts in such a way that encourages us to rise to higher moral ground and to a more intense life of virtue and prayer.
Having said this, I must confess that it has been a great disappointment to find the many priests and consecrated religious who post on Facebook talk about every social and civil ill, encourage people to rise in protest, at times denounce those who do evil, but something is obviously lacking from their posts. God, Jesus, the Immaculate, prayer, the perfection of charity and atonement for one’s sins and those who don’t do penance. These are never mentioned.
A good example of this gap in “Catholic” posts is found in discussions on discrimination and racism. Since the US elections several Catholic bloggers have taken to the Internet to denounce racial discrimination and other forms of discrimination, be due to religion, sex, sexual orientation or gender-dysphoria. They have denounced politicians, Church hierarchy, business men and women, and other members of society for behaviors that are often cruel and unnecessary, or at times for failing to speak up for the voiceless.
Another important area of life in which we find protesting, finger pointing and even name calling is in religion. We have politicized religion to such an extent that we now speak of fellow believers using popular political jargon: liberals and conservatives or novus ordo and traditionalists.
Here too, the language is very often offensive. At times, it offends because it is vulgar and sometimes it offends because words are used to assassinate someone’s character. They don’t simply describe an immoral behavior or a statement that contradicts absolute truth. These are words that encourage hatred.
It is important for all of us to be aware of injustices, abuses and disregard for God and man. When priests and consecrated religious brothers or sisters write only about the evils and don’t mention what the Scriptures, Sacred Tradition and the Magisterium have to say about these things, we fail our people. People have a right to expect clergy and religious to refer to faith to enlighten human life. We don’t become priests or religious to be social workers or activists. Ordination and consecrated life are not essential to the work of an activist. Conviction is what matters.
I encourage clergy and religious who post on Facebook and in blogs to remember that faith enlightens reason. Reason enlightened by faith strengthens convictions. Christ did not come into the world to lead men into a godless revolution. His followers were to be guided by their faith. Their faith shed light on the rightness and wrongness around them. Then they denounced what was wrong and defended what was right. But they always proclaimed the faith that enlightened them. Many were martyred for doing so, but there were more converts than martyrs.
Let us look at the world, including the Church, through the eyes of faith. Let faith help us see what is good and what is evil. Let faith supply the courage to fight for good and against evil. Most importantly, never forget to share the faith that drives us, lest others see us as simple social activists or worse.
We who are priests or consecrated men and women have committed our lives to living according to the faith. The Church has charged us with the duty to proclaim the perfection of charity and the Kingdom of God. The first step in serving God is to find Him. The search for God is the search for truth. We must begin by discerning what God has called each of us to do and how God wants us to go about it. For priests and religious, the call is not a call to godless social work or godless political activism.
We must never give up and never surrender our awareness of God’s presence in human affairs. Going into battle for purely human reasons or as some say, for the sake of justice alone, is not the Gospel. Christ exemplifies true justice. The exercise of evangelical justice leads man back to the Father. Christian justice and renewal is built on faith and preached with courage. There is nothing courageous in insulting another person or group of people. There is no hope when God is not part of the discussion for justice.