Between projects this week, I made the mistake of opening an email of a kind that’s all too common these days – a quasi-news message with a heated headline, a short rant about a controversial topic, and a link to the full text of the author’s article, which in turn contained another link at which I could buy the author’s book on the subject.
In this case, the email probed a particular spat among several Catholic personalities that, instead of sensibly dismissing with an eyeroll and a prayer, I decided to research so as to know which party was really in the wrong. Lacking sufficient coffee, I neglected to ask myself the actual value of undertaking such verification (the answer being “none”), and I pattered away at my laptop, calling up as much information as I could to form a reasonable opinion on the matter.
After spending more minutes on the task than I’d like to admit, I reached a disheartening conclusion: we Catholics are spilling quite a bit of digital ink on accusing, mocking, demeaning and judging each other. From social media to print to broadcast platforms, we’re tearing ourselves to shreds.
Politics, papal authority, the magisterium, the holy sacrifice of the Mass itself – all are seen as fair game for a fight among the ones who are, by virtue of their baptism, “incorporated in Christ” and “constituted as the people of God” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 871).
Such a smackdown among the so-called saints is contrary to the “life worthy of the calling (we) have received,” as St. Paul notes: “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Eph 4:1,2-3).
Without that cohesion, we can’t hope to bring Christ to our own dinner tables, let alone to a lost and wounded world that desperately needs him.
And although (especially as Americans) we’re quick to sound off about the right to express ourselves, St. Paul reminds us that we have been liberated by Christ for purposes greater than our own: “For you were called for freedom, brothers. But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve one another through love. For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement, namely, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Gal 5:13-14).
Even from a practical perspective, such strife is counterproductive. While we’ve been busy “biting and devouring one another” (Gal 5:15), how many of our hungry brothers and sisters have gone unfed? How many unclothed and unsheltered? How many enslaved by human trafficking, addiction, persecution and injustice?
As we’ve tapped out our wrath on our cell phones, how many hours has Christ in the Blessed Sacrament remained unadored in our tabernacles, unwelcomed in the Eucharist? How much dust has gathered on our Bibles; how many rosary beads have been left untouched?
How many persons have breathed their last, unevangelized, because we would not quit our soapboxes for the sake of souls?
Division doesn’t come from the Triune God who is one, but rather from the enemy, who from Eden to the internet and everywhere in between has sought “only to steal and slaughter and destroy” (Jn 10:10). Indeed, the moments I wasted on my recent cyberspace excursion were lost to “foolish and ignorant debates” that do nothing more than “breed quarrels” (2 Tim 2:3).
The enemy, who “(prowls) around like a roaring lion looking for (someone) to devour” (1 Pt 5:8), has done enough damage on our watch. Let us reclaim the time by dressing the wounds within our Catholic family, and working to build the kingdom of God on earth.
Gina Christian is a senior content producer at CatholicPhilly.com, host of the Inside CatholicPhilly.com podcast and author of the forthcoming book “Stations of the Cross for Sexual Abuse Survivors.” Follow her on Twitter at @GinaJesseReina.
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103