Wednesday, October 1, 2014

My Candidate for Patron Saint of Bloggers: St. Therese of Lisieux

The only way to advance rapidly in the path of love is to remain always very little. That is what I did, and now I can sing with our holy Father, St. John of the Cross: 'Then I abased myself so low, so very low, That I ascended to such heights, such heights indeed, That I did overtake the prey I chased!'
St. Therese of Lisieux

Today is the Feast Day of St. Therese of Liseux, one of our most amazing saints.  She is the patron saint of missionaries although she was never a missionary.  She is a doctor of the Church, even though she wrote only one book - her biography - and was never even a teacher in her short life.  She lived only 24 years and died as an unknown little nun.  Yet, she is now loved and revered around the world, and considered one of our greatest saints.

I would also propose that St. Therese be named the patron saint of bloggers. Why? St. Therese taught the "little way", which means making ourselves as small and insignificant as possible. Her "little way" includes accepting personal insults without striking back, and in this way making ourselves a part of the suffering of Our Lord, who took all of our sins upon Himself.
Think of how different the Internet would be if bloggers got rid of all of the self righteousness and indignation with which so many of us express ourselves, and we instead treated one another with love and understanding, even though we disagree with one another.

Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who modeled herself after the Little Flower, had a "Humility List" which corresponds with the teaching of St. Therese of Liseux:
1. Speak as little as possible about yourself.
2. Keep busy with your own affairs and not those of others.
3. Avoid curiosity.
4. Do not interfere in the affairs of others.
5. Accept small irritations with good humor.
6. Do not dwell on the faults of others.
7. Accept censures even if unmerited.
8. Give in to the will of others.
9. Accept insults and injuries.
10. Accept contempt, being forgotten and disregarded.
11. Be courteous and delicate even when provoked by someone.
I am using this opportunity to confess that I have failed miserably in living this list on this blog and on the Internet in general.  I have been subjected to some pretty nasty name calling, such as bloviating crackpot, an evil rotheart, a megalomaniac and a twit, to list just a few of the pejoratives used against me.  I've also gotten "hysteria and irrational methodology", "Your behavior is impulsive and irrational", "You have been inconsiderate, unreasonable, and biased", "your rhetoric is blatantly dishonest, it's why you have a double standard". One of the "nicer" things said about me is that I am "clueless." I confess that I more often than not allow my pride to get in the way and have reacted to these insults with indignation. Hardly the way of St. Therese and Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

As a Catholic blogger, with the emphasis on "Catholic", I am here and now making a pledge, in the spirit of the "Little Way" of St. Therese of Lisieux, never to get involved in personal attacks against others.  I will continue to comment on issues and show where and when I think others are wrong in their opinions and even in their actions.  That is the definition of blogging about the issues.  But I will never again make personal attacks against others, judging their character in any way.  

More importantly, I will never again respond in any way to personal attacks made against me.  I am going to write my blog and live my life according to Blessed Mother Teresa's "Humility List."   I accept personal attacks from others as a tool to help me in my own spiritual growth, as a reminder that I am just a sinful human being in great need of correction.

There is no need to fight our personal battles. We have a Savior who will fight for us. We are told in the Divine Office, "Surrender to God, and he will do everything for you." It is not necessary to win every argument or even win any arguments. The ultimate aim of all we do should be to spread the Love of Jesus Christ, and the best way to do that is to allow Him fight our battles for us.

In reading the Gospels, you will never see even one instance where our Lord defended his personal honor against others.  He always defended the Gospel, but when it came to personal attacks, He never once struck back.  This is most especially seen when He was crucified.  In fact, one of His last statements was made on behalf of those who were crucifying Him:  "Father forgive them for they know not what they do."  

The Word of God warns constantly of the senselessness of arguing, and just how self defeating it is:

Proverbs 15:1 says, "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."

Proverbs 15:18 - "A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel."

II Timothy 2:14 - "Keep reminding God's people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen."

II Timothy 2:23 - "Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels."

James 4:1 - "What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you?"

I know that when I argue with others, it is far too often not because I am searching for the truth, but because I want to prove how right I am.  It is a matter of ego.  It is in direct contradiction to the teachings of that great doctor of the Church, St. Therese of Lisieux, who taught the "little way." 

Following are a few quotes from St. Therese by which I think every blogger should live: 
"And it is the Lord, it is Jesus, Who is my judge. Therefore I will try always to think leniently of others, that He may judge me leniently, or rather not at all, since He says: "Judge not, and ye shall not be judged."
"You are wrong to find fault with this thing and with that, or to try and make everyone see things as you see them. We desire to be 'as little children,' and little children do not know what is best: to them all seems right. Let us imitate their ways. Besides, there is no merit in doing what reason dictates."
"When something painful or disagreeable happens to me, instead of a melancholy look, I answer by a smile. At first I did not always succeed, but now it has become a habit which I am glad to have acquired."
“Without love, deeds, even the most brilliant ones, count as nothing.”
“It is better to leave each one in his own opinion than to enter into arguments.”
I think it is important that Catholic voices are heard on the Internet, but let us try to follow the way of the Little Flower. Let the Catholic voice be one of love and true concern, and not just a matter of showing how "right" we are. When someone personally attacks you, be it on the Internet or in your personal relationships, instead of striking back and answering in a like manner, think of this quote from St. Therese:
“Sufferings gladly borne for others convert more people than sermons.”
St. Therese, pray for us.


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