Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Farewell


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.

24 Comments:

Blogger crystal said...

I'm sorry about the bad stuff that happened - I didn't know about that until I read of it in your blog recently. Sorry too that you won't continue blogging. I'll miss you.

3:06 PM  
Blogger Susan Rose, CSJP said...

Oh, Mark!

I'll miss you here, but hope we'll keep in touch. You were one of the first "bloggy friends" I met in real life!

Peace my friend ....

7:47 PM  
Blogger Meg said...

You will be missed, Mark. You'll be in my prayers.

Meg (aka Talmida)

8:46 PM  
Blogger Alan C. Mitchell said...

Mark,

I think you have wisely discerned what you must do. Your description of the Catholic blogosphere is on the money, as others have noted. All of the veiled language of "fraternal correction" is empty in the absence of genuine charity.

The Delp quotation defines your next important moment. I wish you all the best in your priestly ministry

Alan

1:07 PM  
Blogger Garpu the Fork said...

Bleeeeh. :( I liked your posts! But I completely understand how some Catholic bloggers can be.

5:15 PM  
Blogger angelmeg said...

I am sad, but I realize that you must go.

Know that you will always be in my prayers, (and apparently on my bookshelf).

5:26 PM  
Blogger The Ironic Catholic said...

Mark, best wishes to you. I don't know what happened recently, but I will missing reading your tonic posts.

The challenges and disagreements we have in the church are best resolved by prayer and actual face to face communion. Not online. Maybe the internet is the reason God determined the kairos to be revealed in some 2000 years ago, not now.

Blessings on your ordination--
IC

9:10 AM  
Blogger aggiepundit said...

There's so much truth in this post, Mark. Blogging-to-convince is an exercise in mind for the most part, and has very little to do with spirit.

11:48 AM  
Blogger Dale P. said...

Speaking as the uncharitable fellow who inadvertently midwifed this noble endeavor, I am compelled to say that you will be very much missed in the blogosphere.

I am sorry to see you go, but am delighted and grateful that you will be a Jesuit priest. Go with God, friend and brother.

2:08 PM  
Blogger Kat said...

Mark;

Well, I was so happy that after I left Loyola (a while later) I stumbled upon your blog. This has given me a chance to get to know you better (a little) then I got to know you while I was at LOYNO.

Leave the blog up is my suggestion...there is a lot of good stuff here and you never know when you might come back to it as a mode of stress relief or more importantly as a mode of helping others to conversion of heart and discernment of spirits. (yes I have spent far too much time around jebbies...*grumble grumble yous guys don't admit women grumble grumble*)

Anywhoo... I get to see you in June in NOLA so I guess I am blessed anyway. I guess this means that I have to actually be better at the whole off blog communication thing I guess...

5:46 AM  
Blogger Joseph Fromm said...

The Jesus needs more Holy priests in this world. God Bless.

12:56 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

What can I really say?

I am sorry that you have had this type of experience in the Catholic blogosphere, but

I am grateful that I found you through it and through you another dimension of my journey of faith.

I hope that we can remain in contact as life permits.

I hope the blog won't go away because I'd like to drop by for a refresher from time to time.

Following the Spirit's direction for you is right, but it's sad how the decision came about and the pains that you have had to endure.

I am not really sure what else to say at this point.

With tears and gratitude, I wish you many blessings and deepest peace!

12:26 PM  
Blogger Ryan Duns, SJ said...

Mark,

I'm sorry to see you go. Should you ever fancy, feel free to contribute to my blog -- your words would be much appreciated as I continue to slog away in the blog battlefield.

Best,

Ryan

1:16 PM  
Blogger Huck said...

Mark - Your voice in the blogosphere will be missed more than you know. God bless and may your ordination be a wonderful moment for you.

8:15 PM  
Blogger Amy Giglio said...

Wow. I'm not terribly surprised but Wow.

You just keep in touch, Mossa!

10:21 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Mark,
You will be missed. You will be in my prayers in a special way on your ordination.
Michelle

10:05 AM  
Blogger Theresa said...

I was sorry to read that you won't continue your blog. I enjoyed reading it! Before I came across your blog I only knew Jesuits from TV oder Movies, where they are mostly portrayed as the bad guys. I was glad you taught me that they aren't ;-).
Like some others who commented before me, I hope you'll leave your blog online. I especially enjoyed your post about St. Ignatius' autobiography and was thinking of maybe going back to some posts some other time.
I wish you all the best for the future, especially your upcoming ordination. You'll be in my prayers.
Greetings from Germany,
Theresa

10:30 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

I've enjoyed reading your blog! Thanks for your stories and wise words.

7:32 AM  
Blogger Maureen said...

Wow, Mark, I didn't realize any kind of bad stuff was going on with you and your blog. I've been out of the loop for awhile. Yeah, the negativity of the Catholic blogophere can be hard to take sometimes. Sometimes it seems more like St. Blog's High School than a spiritual blog community. I hope you will come back!

God bless, Maureen

3:29 PM  
Blogger ~m2~ said...

as someone who used to post quite frequently that has dwindled on m2 to perhaps once a week, i understand.

it was such an enormous blessing for me to be in attendance at your deaconate ordination; i am so disappointed i cannot make new orleans, for the *big day*. i will continue to pray for God's blessings on you (abundant ones, at that), and know i am one of those friends i am most CERTAIN you will keep in touch with :)

much love,
penni

7:32 AM  
Blogger Nan said...

Mark,

I hope you will leave this blog right where it is. You have no idea how your words bring healing and charity. It was in your heart to speak to a need. Let us trust Christ that you have done that and more.
I will really miss your posts.

2:17 AM  
Blogger + Alan said...

Well, I haven't been keeping up and came over to see what was going on and saw this. A while back I had to stop reading a couple of blogs because of the inner tizzy they put me in every time I'd read their posts. I've said as much myself about the Catholic blogosphere. It's definitely not totally filled with negativity, but has more than it's share and that is unfortunate. It's discouraging really.

Anyway, I pray God's Grace and Peace on you now and for your upcoming ordination.

1:12 PM  
Blogger BarbaraKB said...

I have been so busy these last few months (and thus failed to read your blog along w/many others) that I missed this decision. Not knowing any details, alas, I am sure it's a wise one. Congrats on your upcoming ordination. Feasting will ensue!

6:22 PM  
Blogger Clayton said...

Will be praying for you as you cross the threshold into ordained ministry this week. Thanks for your presence in the blogosphere. It's a challenging mission field, to be sure.

The value of silence is great. Our loss is heaven's gain, please God.

Wisdom enters through love, silence and mortification. It is great wisdom to know how to be silent and to look at neither the remarks, nor the deeds, nor the lives of others.
-Saint John of the Cross, Sayings of Light and Love, #109

9:00 AM  

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