Friday, July 11, 2014

St. Benedict, Jeremiah and Michael Voris

There are two topics today, you lucky reader.

Happy St. Benedict's Day

The first is the memorial of St. Benedict of Nursia. St. Benedict is famous for founding Western monasticism and authoring his Rule, which is still read and followed today by Benedictines and Oblates. This slender volume is a practical masterpiece of social wisdom and a guidebook to sanctity in the little tugs of daily temptation and triumph. Long before St. Josemaria Escriva preached sanctity through work, St. Benedict's motto was "Ora et Labora" -- prayer and work.

The Rule is detailed. Yesterday, the reading was about care for the tools of the monastery. A monk who was careless with the things of the monastery was subject to harsh discipline.

Yet the Rule is surprisingly lenient, too. Monks who succumbed to "the noonday devil" and fled the monastery for the allures of the world were to be welcomed back. If they did it again, they were still to be welcomed back. Even a third time they were to be welcomed back, although after that it was evident that the monastic life was just not for everyone.

St. Benedict was a genius whose monastic tradition salvaged some of the best from the fallen Roman Empire as the barbarian tide swept over Europe.

God our Father,
You made St. Benedict an outstanding guide
To teach men how to live in your service.
Grant that by preferring your love to everything else,
We may walk in the way of your commandments.

-- Prayer, Liturgy of the Hours, Benedict, Abbot

Jeremiah and Michael Voris

As our lectio divina grinds through the book of the prophet Jeremiah, the Bear cannot help but think about Michael Voris. Both he and Jeremiah inveigh against venality in the religious establishment and sexual sins, and both use Sodom and Gomorrah as rhetorical props.

The Bear then thought about many of his own articles that have been critical of bishops, and even the Pope.

What is the difference between Jeremiah and Michael Voris, or the Bear, or many other conservative bloggers?

Jeremiah was called and sent by God.

The Bear is off on his own here, nor has Michael Voris ever prefaced his Vortex program by "thus says the Lord," as far as the Bear knows. Should we be troubled by this?

The Bear has long thought that the Catholic blogosphere is fulfilling a prophetic role. All of us on the conservative -- i.e. orthodox -- end of the spectrum seem to be saying the same thing, more or less. Are we collectively fulfilling a prophetic role in a new way? Calling Church leaders and the people back to faithfulness to the way of the Lord?

Or are we false prophets?

The Bear takes this question seriously, because the consequences for us and our readers could not be more important. Upon reflection, however, while the Bear does not believe he has been called as a modern-day Jeremiah, he feels pretty safe repeating Jeremiah's message:

  • don't depart from the time-honored ways of right believing and acting
  • don't call evil good and good evil
  • religious officials must lead and protect the sheep or they will stray and be lost

As long as the Bear sticks to these basic themes, he feels like this blog is a tiny part of a broader movement -- who knows, perhaps encouraged by God -- to witness to the Catholic faith in its fullness and truth. 

Isn't this what Michael Voris is doing? Sure, you can play a drinking game with some of his episodes, taking a shot every time he says the word "sodomy," but his apostolate drills down to the bedrock of the faith. 

That doesn't mean the Bear agrees with everything he says. 

For example, the Bear is not a fan of church-shopping, which is a famous Protestant vice. But we can -- and must -- remain united on the fundamentals, even if we disagree here and there. The Bear would wager most of his readers are annoyed by his philosophy of "nailing your foot to the floor in front of your favorite pew in the closest Catholic church and dying there," but hopes we can still remain friends. The Bear has his own reasons for this position, that come from hard experience, but also realizes that not everyone is a Bear. In the end, your soul is your soul, and you gotta do what you gotta do.

There are two types of problematical blogs, as the Bear sees things.

The first are like the false prophets of Jeremiah's day who assured the people that everything was fine, the future was rosy, and God had no wrath in Him. Michael Voris has called this group the "lapdog media." Now, even lapdogs have their place, but we all understand his point and and target.

The second are the ones who undermine the Church itself. These are the sedevacantists and ones that deny the validity of the "Novus Ordo" Mass they despise. The fact is, that is the Mass of the Church for most people. Unless you are going to claim it is invalid, it is the Mass that brings Jesus from Heaven and into the hearts of those who may receive Him. Yes, it has its symbolism skewed, but it can be celebrated reverently and be the source of profound consolation.

Jeremiah was charged by God to both pluck up and to plant. There seems to be a lot of plucking and very little planting these days.

The Bear hopes to do both, although he confesses to throwing out the occasional Pewsitter bait. That is the plucking part of the mission. If you find that this blog is unremittingly negative, please be a friend and let the Bear know that he is failing to imitate Jeremiah and needs to plant a bit.

There have to be flowers or the bees can't make honey. And these days it seems you can't get the honey without getting stung. So get your Bear on and make the best of the Church, and realize that there's a whole lot God has not placed in our hands. 

Lucky for us, and possibly our fellow Catholics.


  1. Enjoyed this blog entry. Glad you're back! :)

  2. I don't profess to be prophetic. I may be what's wrong with Catholic blogs. I probably am too much of a spewer with too little truly thoughtful posts. I appreciate your thoughtfulness.

    [Speaking of what's wrong, it seems that Shea's comboxes are dominated by people who resent the wealthy and are convinced they're being robbed of a just wage...? If only the wealthy were not so, or were taxed more, my life would be better. I think these people see themselves merely as victims of circumstances. It's very strange stuff going on there.]

    1. It would be boring if every blog was the same, Pete. There is a place for those who go out into the wide world and bring back word of what is happening, and comment on it. I can tell you that I do not read the news, because I can count on you and a couple of others to zone in on what's important.

  3. Bear, fwiw my growth as a Catholic has been immensely -- immeasurably -- aided by access to the Internet. Once I decided that I must make it my goal to some day join myself to the One, True Church, my efforts in that direction would have been terribly hampered and constrained without the ability to learn and discuss and express myself to others privately. (This was because of specific circumstances in which I was living at the time, which necessitated my remaining outwardly a Protestant.)

    Fast-forward to today, when hostility toward our Faith has become unprecedentedly focused and powerful, and the Internet is an indispensable tool of resistance. Prophetic? Maybe - but I believe that another "P" word - Providential - most definitely applies.

    1. I will echo that. When I returned to The Faith, I began to read lots of blogs. Shea and Welborn were the gold standard. Welborn's faded from the center, I think mostly b/c of her life circumstances. Shea's books were helpful as were other apologetics books, especially those which responded to evangelical/protestant claims about The Church. I've moved beyond Shea..yet, I am tempted to offer my 2c there, mostly in contrary to his posts and his commenters, who've seemed to move rather left.


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