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How To Do Good on the Internet

May 26, AD2013 8 Comments

\"Sherry

The internet is the oddest of places. Even within limited settings as say, religious forums, you can go to a favorite haunt and discover after a few moments that an entirely different impression of you has been created by a few words. Opportunities for misunderstanding or at the very least, uncharitable thoughts abound.

Twice in the past week, I have been told that my faith is in error, and in opposite directions no less. One person accused me of not being a true Catholic for participating in the receiving of the Eucharist by hand, a licit practice sanctioned by the Church and her princes. How we come to the Eucharist in our souls matters more than the accident of how we receive. It is a difficult thing to be called a blasphemer about something so utterly central to our faith. The accusation made me wonder, how do we gather these angry brothers and sisters of our Catholic church and bring them back? How do we respond with love to them in a way that they can hear the beauty of Christ\’s desire to have real intimate communion with each of us, to break into every life and pour over every soul?

The other accused me of being docile sheep to the church to the point of being willing to gather firewood to burn heretics if a Bishop told me so. I\’d suggested we follow the counsel of Cardinal Chaput and pray and fast for Dr. Gosnell and others like him, as penance and reparation for the sins of abortion. Obedience to the suggestions of the Cardinals and the Bishops and priests and the Holy Father is not done blindly or in ignorance. But being asked to pray and fast for the sake of others seems like precious little time would be needed to discern if this was of the Holy Spirit. The person was angry at the Church for all the ways in which the humans which people Her, have failed. How do we pull these people who can rightly point to the flawed practicing of over 2000 years to see the beauty of the Truth of the Church, even if her witnesses miss the mark?

These people are on Facebook and in the comboxes of religious blogs because they crave a bigger community than the one they\’ve found in their lives. I must too or I wouldn\’t also be surfing around Facebook and Catholic blogs. Pope Francis just this week spoke about how the Lord created us in His image and likeness, and we are the image of the Lord, and He does good and all of us have this commandment at heart: do good and do not do evil. All of us.

But, Father, this one is not Catholic! He cannot do good.

Yes, he can…\”The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone! … We must meet one another doing good.\”

But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!

\”But do good: we will meet one another there.\”

So the Lord came for the true Catholics and the docile sheep and to those in between if we meet each other by doing good.

How to do good on the internet? Aside from setting limits on internet strolls, I talked with my family as many of us fall into the trap of \”hunting orcs\” when a topic, be it religion or politics or the love of a particular series in a science fiction genre. We came up with some rules for ourselves.

1) Speak truth in charity if the issue raised makes you come back to the site to read the position more than three times.

2) Pray about the topic and the problem each time. Seek out an actual friend with which to discuss the issue in question so as to gut check your own emotional response to something. Being called a blasphemer hurts. Don\’t think I wasn\’t ready to get up on my high holy horse and start announcing my bonifides like a Greek warrior declaring all she\’d slain before engaging in battle. I go to church. I read scripture. I pray. And so forth.

3) Do not seek to have the last word or \”win.\” Discipline yourself to not double back. This is a sublimation of the spirit that is amazingly hard. After all, after pouring out one\’s own wisdom in pithy phrases, who doesn\’t want to be validated or to take on whatever new argument has been presented?

But many in our family including, and perhaps especially, me need one more final rule, the self destruct button of all rules. Turn the damn thing off. Go outside. Bake bread. Walk. Kiss. Read a book or write a poem. Attend a mass. Pray the rosary. Play games. Garden. Do all the things you would be doing if the internet never existed, all the things that make for actual things and actual memories as versus virtual fossils of never to be read again thought left as so much intellectual litter cast on the information super highway.

Remember that the internet will still be there tomorrow. We\’re not trying for cyber immortality, we\’re trying for sainthood, which isn\’t achieved by victories in the comboxes, but by conversions of hearts, most importantly, our own.

© 2013. Sherry Antonetti. All Rights Reserved.

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About the Author:

I am a Catholic writer, happily married, and mother to ten children. Past publications include the Catholic Digest, Faith and Family Live, National Catholic Register, the Catholic Standard, East Texas Catholic and the Washington Post. I have a regular column at www.catholicmom.com and also a blog, Chocolate For Your Brain, with the I don't know what I'm doing blog address of http://www.sherryantonettiwrites.blogspot.com. My first foray into fiction is slated to hit the internet in May of 2013, The Book of Helen.

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  • Gresu

    Sherry, Would you please consider the fact that the person
    who told you that to receive communion in the hand is a sacrilege did so in love? You took offense I believe, because it has become a common practice, but that does not make the practice correct by its popularity. The Apostolic Teachings handed on in the Catholic Church are very specific on how one is to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.
    It is well documented that only consecrated hands can touch the consecrated Host. Holy Mother the Church does not err. If your church is giving communion in hand than you are not in a Catholic Church.

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  • Leila Miller

    Excellent article! Thank you!

  • kcthomas

    Gresu, may I point out that Communion on tongue has been the practice, but sometime ago the Church gave the option to receive on hand. Though the Church has permitted this option John Paul and Benedict XVI were telling that they prefer serving Communion on tongue. I always receive on tongue even when more than 95 percent in the church receive on hand. We shall not question the decision of the Church, but we can receive Communion on our tongue. I feel there is more devotion in the old ways …like kneeling down and receiving on tongue. We must realize that we receive the Body of Christ and not a piece of bread.

  • Mary Ann

    Thank you for your wise words! Jesus loves all of us, He died for all of us, and there should be no competition among us for whose practices or pious actions are more “worthy” than others. Those are only externals, but Jesus searches the heart and sees our true selves, there are no pretenses. We should be building each other up like St. Paul suggests. Holiness, like love, is inexhaustible, therefore, someone else’s increase should be no threat to my own. Now I’m going to take your advice, turn the computer off and go outside to enjoy the beautiful sunny day!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-L-Gray/100001385030074 David L. Gray

    I think tip #3 is very essential. It teaches us humility and how to be only concerned about debating for the sake of the truth, rather than debating for the sake of winning. Good article!

  • disqus_HnxqcZnJeM

    excellent insights

  • kneeling catholic

    >>>>>One person accused me of not being a true Catholic for participating in the receiving of the Eucharist by hand, a licit practice sanctioned by the Church and her princes. How we come to the Eucharist in our souls matters more than the accident of how we receive. It is a difficult thing to be called a blasphemer about something so utterly central to our faith. The accusation made me wonder, how do we gather these angry brothers and sisters of our Catholic church and bring them back? <<<<
    Dear Sherry,
    I think you might have left out one important caution about controversies….i.e. trying to understand your opponent. I get trapped when I assume I have nothing more to learn, especially when its from some faceless smart-aleck, ntl there are times when there is no substitute for listening–or in this case: reading!
    I apologize on behalf of traditionalists that you have been called a blasphemer–I assume–because you take Communion in the hand. But please consider that we now have two popes in a row who apparently do not like hand Communion (Pope Francis has given ZERO people Communion in the hand, and well, you probably know how Pope Benedict felt about it).
    I think if you would ponder as to why this is, you might adopt their attitude towards the practice (as well) or not……. :-)