Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A Bear's Confession

The Bear realized he has been troubling the doubtful and tormenting the afflicted.

He has been constantly negative about the one, visible, indefectible, Roman Catholic Church (which is in Rome), in which we must without the shadow of a doubt all remain or lose our salvation. This truth is taught to us by the same Church that taught us the nature of the Trinity, the sacrament of matrimony, and the Real Presence, so the Bear takes it seriously.

It is, ladies and gentleman, visitors, friends and woodland creatures, the bedrock truth which shall henceforth animate this blog.

The Bear has been saying "Nail your foot to the floor in front of your favorite pew, and die there," but his attitude has been crypto-schismatic. He has taken an unholy delight in clever criticism of the Pope of Rome that would make Martin Luther roar with laughter. In his pride, the Bear has tracked his page views as avidly as a pennant race. He has chuckled when he "just knows" Pewsitter is going to pick up a piece. (Not that Pewsitter isn't a great resource, in it's place.)

As a former lawyer-Bear, he suspects he got caught up in the game, the need for a "success" in his life to make up for the loss of his exciting career. Too often the Bear feels like he's living that comic-poignant moment in Tender Mercies, when the woman asks Robert Duvall's character, "Didn't you used to be Mac Sledge?" The long, insidious rot that can accompany the years after children, after career, and after most everything is something with which some of you may sympathize.

There was a lot of interest in the special essay, "SCHISM!" (An old circus Bear still knows how to get attention.) A comment from "J" struck the Bear to the quick. "J" said that he/she was considering leaving the Church, but that the Bear's essay had changed his/her mind (at least temporarily).

At first, the Bear was happy. But then he started wondering, what would "J" had done had "J" tuned into one of the Bear's entertaining rants, instead? The Bear might have been the very one to push "J" out of the Church.

The Bear thought of Christ's words in Matthew 12:34.
For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil man out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment men will render account for every careless word they utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.
Also, James 1:26: "If any one thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this man's religion is vain." The Bear could weary you with similar warnings. Please indulge him one more, from the Rule of St. Benedict. (The Bear is supposed to be a Benedictine Oblate, after all.)
Let us act in conformity with that saying of the Prophet: "I said I will guard my ways lest I sin with my tongue; I have put a bridle on my mouth; I was dumb and was humbled and kept silence from good things." Here the prophet shows that if we ought at times for the sake of silence to refrain even from good words, much more ought we to abstain from evil words on account of the punishment due to sin. Therefore, on account of the importance of silence, let permission to speak be rarely given even to the perfect disciples, even though their words be good and holy and conducive to edification, because it is written: "In the multitude of words there shall not want sin." And elsewhere: "Death and life are in the power of the tongue." For to speak and to teach are the province of the master; whereas that of the disciple is to be silent and to listen. Therefore, if anything is to be asked of the superior, let it be done with all humility and subjection of reverence, lest one seem to speak more than is expedient.
The Blogger's Dilemma indeed! Bloggers live by a two-edged sword. The Bear is going to try to be much more careful, although, hopefully, not less entertaining.

Some would interpose the all-purpose "Emergency Exception" to justify writing just about anything. This is not the place to elaborate, but it is no longer for the Bear. (And, no, the Bear isn't thinking of anyone in particular.) But it should be clear he's just a plain ol' Roman Catholic Bear with no special sauce. He hopes his friends and woodland creatures stay with him to see where the blog goes. He would certainly miss them if they left.

"I'm holding up a fish: this is the
important part."
There will still be fun, and he's not going to shut his eyes. But what he hopes he can do, with God's help -- and here the Bear is holding a fish up, because this is the important part -- what he hopes to do is not just encourage faithfulness to the Roman Catholic Church (the real one, in Rome, with a Pope and all), but put things in context and suggest a different way of looking at them, if possible.

No more crypto-schismatic mentality.

From now on, the Bear's mission will be to counsel the doubtful, and comfort the afflicted.

And fish.

23 comments:

  1. Hang in there! Well done.

    FYI--I see you advertise Catholic Supply in STL. They are having a heck of a clearance sale. Things marked in red stickers already are additionally 50% off that reduced price. We got some bulk items for PSR students. Dirt cheap!

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    1. Thanks, Pete. You have been with me from the beginning, no, before. Without you there would be no Bear. So your encouragement means a lot. This was a very personal piece, and you are kind of exposed with those, and never know how they're going to turn out.

      We need to go to that sale!

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    2. You are welcome. Thank you for being on the web and producing such thoughtful work for us to enjoy and meditate on.

      The Cath Supply saleswoman told me that the discounts would continue until just before Advent. Head to the back corner when you get there for some smaller bulk items. The front has nicer and larger icons etc on clearance.

      The store is not very convenient to any interstate on Chippewa. A bit of weaving here and there.

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  2. Humble pie can still be swallowed with a slag of coffee from one of those great cups you offer. Please keep writing and encouraging us to think...and remember.

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    1. Thanks for the plug! And now I have the image for a new line :-)

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  3. Tender Mercies was a really good movie. Used to live close to Duvall in N.Va.

    Seattle Kim

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    1. He is very conservative, and, I think, a Christian (albeit a Protestant). Have you ever seen "The Apostle?" He wrote and financed and starred in it himself. Very good story.

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  4. I'll stay! I enjoy your perspective, and while I am troubled, you are not the cause.

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  5. Bear--don't go all holy-poly on us. I like the old Bear persona. Let the Bear be the Bear by being helpful in his famously humorous and growly way. Comfort the afflicted but be sure to afflict the comfortable. Be true to yourself Bear and we will understand.

    Note today at Mass we were told that Padre Pio could be nasty, of course when the occasion called for it.

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    1. St. Jerome lived in the wrong century. He, too, could be acerbic, and would no doubt have had his own growly blog. He also had a fierce animal companion -- a lion (overrated cat, if you ask the Bear). Saintliness has not always meant mildness. There's something to be said for zeal and righteous anger.

      But it's easy to overdo the anger part. I don't want to "destroy the village in order to save it," or kill the hostages during the rescue.

      I hope you'll find the same barbed humor (as in the piece about Obama meeting some guy) and anger where warranted. But the Bear has been blogging on "easy mode." Checking the daily angelus to make fun of whatever the Pope said, etc. And he worries he has been damaging people's faith at the very time they need encouragement.

      So, Michael -- and sometimes I worry about you bolting, which is another reason for the change! -- the Bear will remain the Bear in all his Bearishness. But he will be a reminder to visitors, friends and woodland creatures (which he considers you, although you have never revealed what sort of creature you are) that there is no alternative to remaining or becoming a plain ol' Roman Catholic.

      And his anger shall be turned on some surprising targets! He doubts anyone "got" his allegory about the wicked bear. It wasn't about marriage at all. It was about those who would leave the plain ol' Roman Catholic Church for all those excellent reasons our favorite bloggers and websites are always hammering on about. If you read it in that light, you should be able to pick out certain words and themes that will make the Bear's new direction clearer.

      So, here's to the Bear being the Bear, in all his growly, center ring entertainingness, if that's a word, but without running up into the stands and mauling the audience.

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    2. Thanks Bear. Be like St Jerome and we won't have any concerns. Remember there is always collateral damage when pursuing the truth--sometimes to yourself.

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  6. I have been reading the same passages from the Bible. And I felt very 'convicted' as you have been. What is it about Our Lord's words that I don't understand? Nothing. But do I want to obey? No.
    So thanks for the reminder. Our Lady said to the stewards: Do what He tells you. And I start today!

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    1. I think we all tend to pick and choose what parts of the faith of the one, visible, indefectible Church (in Rome, with a Pope) we emphasize. A good example is the Pope and his circle, who seem to emphasize "mercy" over "correctness." On the other hand, you've got people who emphasize a rigorous adherence to following the rules over loyalty to, or even recognition of the Church!

      We should strive to emphasize everything but our human (or ursine) psychologies make that nearly impossible. Perhaps that is the mark of a saint. Unfortunately, some people get in the habit of reading nothing but bad things about the Church, and develop a "schismatic mind-set" even if they technically remain in the Church. I don't see any difference from that and committing adultery in your heart, then going on about how you're justified because your spouse is so awful (see The Allegory of the Wicked Bear).

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  7. Hello, I would like to say good for you! There are so many Catholic bloggers out there who seem to think that the only thing to be done is to criticize Pope Francis and other people or things that they don't like about the Church, without thinking of how discouraging and detrimental it can be so it is quite refreshing to see someone who has decided to take a more encouraging approach.

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  8. Good for you, Bear! There are so many Catholic bloggers out there who seem to do nothing but complain about and criticize aspects of the Church today. It can be quite discouraging and detrimental for the faith of many conservatively minded Catholics so I find your resolution to take a more encouraging approach refreshing. Thank you for doing so, and I look forward to reading more of your blog in the future.

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    1. I liked both of your comments :-) If you want me to take one down, just say which, and I will. Welcome to the woodlands!

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  9. Sounds like battle fatigue. If you focus only on the great tribulation without providing why we are going through it - to reach the era of peace, the triumph of the Immaculate Heart, and the Second Coming - it's easy to get negative and discouraged and frightened. I hope you don't become an "Akin-Bear" though, or an 'effective papolatrist' (the we never criticize the pope mindset or policy). It WILL get worse before it gets better.

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    1. Actually, I feel great! I think I was suffering from cynicism fatigue. It is certainly easy to be cynical these days. I guess you'll just have wait and see :-)

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    2. What you have expressed above (and in the Wormwood post) is exactly why I never created my own blog even though I've been seriously tempted several times and even stopped in the midst of creating one at least once. I did not want to become what I hate about the vast majority of blogs--one more talking head spreading error. [I do enough damage in the comboxes]. Over decades of surfing, I have yet to find a blog that is 100% correct on Church teaching every post, and sometimes the error is subtle enough that I've had to do hours of research to figure out why--and that's on top of existing formal theological training.

      Every would-be blogger should do a 30 day retreat on the millstone passage before he starts a blog. It's serious business, and too many seem think that because they have a keyboard, they are a theologian. And even for the bonafide theologians, they should consider the unfairness of inflicting pet speculations on the poor laity before the speculation has been confirmed by the magisterium.

      At least you're thinking about the ramifications. It's more than most do.

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    3. It is the Philospher King problem. A philosopher would not become King, and a King would step down if he ever became a philosopher. I truly good Catholic would probably be too humble to write a blog, and conscious of the zillions of condemnations of speech in the Bible and among the saints. Very wise post.

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  10. Thank you, Bear, for remaining aware of the reaction a growling bear can have on woodland creatures. Whether in fear or fascination we pay attention. It's good to know that you pay attention, too.

    And those of us still in the game can be just as prone to being caught up in our own cleverness. My personal halter--when I remember it in time--is Matthew 18:6: "but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea." That one stops me in my tracks.

    I look forward to seeing your new style. --I did get the allegory

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  11. To be honest, it is something of a relief. I like your blog, and I find many of your criticisms useful, and what you have referred to as the "apostolate of holy stubbornness" is inspired. The fact that one can see and know about all this screwy stuff in the Church and remain Catholic anyway has been very encouraging to me as a recent convert.

    But I've been a bit leery of recommending your blog, because I'm really not sure how many other folks would see it that way. And I have noticed a few changes recently such that I began to be worried for you! I am happy to know that my worries were baseless.

    Also, thanks for adding bumper magnets to your line of products. I'll have to pick one up once you get the "Nail your foot" stock back in. I realize you're trying to practice more humility right now, but I hope you won't hold it against me if I say that phrase alone was worth coming to this blog for.

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