I began blogging after finding myself victim to a certain amount of slander (see “When Jesuits Attack”) for writing a not wholly complimentary review of a book by George Weigel. In my subsequent dialogue with the author of the post—who publicly apologized for making uncharitable presumptions about me merely based on that review—I thought I saw an opportunity, an opportunity to bridge a gap between people of different perspectives in the Church. So, I threw my hat into the fray and it was fun, for a while. It even appeared that I might make some progress in this endeavor and perhaps even accomplish some goals that I had set for myself in becoming aware of the various dimensions of the Catholic blogosphere—trying to encourage some positive discourse, and hoping to offer a counterweight to the negative and unfair caricature of the Society of Jesus which obtains in many a corner of that blogosphere. And, at first, there seemed to be some hope of success at this, and there are still a coterie of bloggers (you know who you are) that give me hope in this regard. Yet, I’ve grown tired of swimming against the tide. The most negative of Catholic blogs still continue to be the most popular and, like myself, the more positive bloggers seem to be posting with far less frequency. The recent General Congregation has only provide more fodder for negative speculation among those who hate the Society of Jesus, and indeed some who claim to love it. And, finally coming full circle, in a sense, I recently again found myself the victim of slander, falsely accused of being uncharitably slanderous myself, and not by a stranger like in the first case, but this time by a friend, by someone who should have known better. That almost no one, it seems, found this hard to believe, just demonstrates what we have come to expect in the Catholic blogosphere. Charity, it seems, is not among those things. It has become—and perhaps always has been—a poisonous atmosphere which I no longer desire to be a part of.
Nonetheless I have made some good friends as a result of my time here, and for this I am most grateful. Some of those friends were able to be with me at my diaconate ordination, and some will also be guests at my ordination to the priesthood in June. It is this result of my time blogging which I can most celebrate. I may not have succeeded in convincing anybody of anything, the Catholic blogosphere may be nastier than ever, but I can celebrate a community of good friends with whom I have had the privilege of journeying in these years, and whose friendship I hope to maintain. But it will be in other ways.
Recent months have been difficult for me, and the episode I describe above was just the tip of the iceberg. But the blessing and grace has been that it has forced me to examine what is most important in my life right now. In a little over two months I will be ordained a priest, and there are few things more important than that right now. It is a fulfillment of God’s will toward which I have been working for nearly 11 years. It promises new challenges and new opportunities. What a privilege it will be to invite both strangers and friends to worship, and to be able to offer them reconciliation with God! To focus on these most important things, some other things, I realize, must go by the wayside. At this point, continuing this blog is more a temptation than a real contribution. And I hope it has been a contribution, at least to some.
In my prayer these months as I prepare for ordination, I will also pray for you, my friends, who have in various ways been Christ to me these three and a half years. Please also pray for me.
As I “silence” this blog, I do so in the hope of enjoying the silence which Alfred Delp invokes when describing ordination:
In that great moment of our life when we go to be ordained, we kneel before the bishop and he silently lays his hands upon us. He is silent. You feel the blessed and creative burden of this hand through your entire being. And the congregation is silent. And this silence will surround the priest. This keeping silent, the still hands of the silent bishop, calls forth the priest from his former homeland. It calls him forth from his previous refuges, and sequesters him and encompasses him with this silence, this stillness in which he will be consecrated, so that it will accompany him all his life. This silence must surround us. We guard people's secrets in silence. We call our heart to be silent, so that it does not love where it should not love. Our will for power must be silent, because we are sent forth to be the hands of the Lord in blessing. Silent, too, must be our will for all the other things that, otherwise, could shelter and anchor and secure a life in this world. The silence accompanies us, because it is always the sign that the Lord God has come especially near.
This silence does not and must not belong only to the priest. It is shared with all. May you also know the nearness of God in such silence. Thanks.