I mentioned in my initial post here that there are several priests who have guided me in various ways since I began blogging. Most of this was indirect, through ordinary homilies and talks having nothing to do with the internet. Some lessons learned, were more direct. Who are these priests?
A PRAYERFUL PASTOR
First, there is my pastor, Fr. Eduard Perrone, who is a diocesan priest and a third order Carmelite. He has been consistent in his advice to pray first and then blog. His advice was the same for engaging in discussion in Catholic forums. How can we be effective if we do not pray for our readers or people with whom we engage in dialouge? When discussing the challenge of maintaining charity on issues that are sensitive, he was emphatic that prayer must guide us. With a proper relationship with Jesus Christ through prayer, charity will flow.
He not only advocates Adoration and the Rosary, but mental prayer. The ancient practice of Lectio Divina, something promoted by Pope Benedict, can help us with mental prayer.
It is nice when you can find an adoration chapel near you, but if it is not accessible to you, there are other options. Find a church that is open and just spend time before the Blessed Sacrament in the Tabernacle. If that is not available, then fall back on another piece of advice given to me by Fr. Perrone: Adore God in your heart. If there is a Catholic Church nearby, Our Lord is there - simply turn your heart to Him.
INFLUENCE OF RELIGIOUS ORDER PRIESTS
In addition to Fr. Perrone, I have been deeply influenced by priests of the Order of Canons Regular of the Holy Cross (ORC not OSC) who work out of my parish - Assumption Grotto in Detroit. The following key words describe these priests in my own words: Semi -contemplative, semi-monastic, and missionary.
Their contemplative nature goes well with all that Fr. Perrone has taught us at Grotto about prayer. So does their deep emphasis on adoration, especially with regards to praying for priests. Rev. Wolgang Seitz, ORC was the celebrant in the Missa Cantata which aired on April 6, 2008. His homily that day spoke volumes about the need for prayer. You can watch the Mass or listen to the audio homily on this page at EWTN.
I call them monastic because they live very simple lives. They do not have large monastery here in Detroit, but a simple home donated to them that serves their small numbers here at this time. I amtold there is no television in their little monastery and they do not concern themselves with the kinds of worldly things that we so often permit ourselves to get caught up in. They go about the country giving retreats, missions and days of recollection. They are among the finest confessors and homilists, always guiding us to live virtuous lives in a gentle way - the same way you see in the homily given by Fr. Wolfgang.
I am fortunate to have received feedback from one or more of them on some of my posts. Early on, I was told that it would have been better if I had spent an hour in adoration in reparation for sins committed against the Blessed Sacrament than to post on certain liturgical abuses giving them further publicity. This had me thinking back to prayer and how quick I was to post on those things, but how I had not bothered offer something to Our Lord in reparation for those offenses and for the conversion of those souls involved.
It had me thinking about something else: Do I believe in the power of prayer? If I do, then my first reaction should be to pray for those people and to make acts of reparation just as the priest had suggested.
As Catholic bloggers we come across all kinds of scandals which have been made public. Check the number of hours spent reading these things and posting on them, versus the amount of time actually spent in prayer on a given day. If you are reading and posting for an hour or two, or more, and haven't spent even 30 minutes in prayer that day, then something is terribly out of balance.
MODELS OF VIRTUE AND PRAYER
If we want to be virtuous bloggers, then we must look to a model of virtue. First, there is Christ who is the Light. It is in silent Adoration that we will encounter Christ. How can we hear the voice of God if we constantly surround ourselves with noise? That noise is not only in the form of television and radio, but in activity. Yes, too much activity can be a form of noise. Too much blogging without prayer is an even greater form of noise. When we spend time in silent Adoration, we can hear the voice of Jesus above all others. It should lead us to be gentle and charitable, not harsh towards the unbelievers, poorly catechized and even the arrogant dissenters. Pope Benedict has shown us that we don't have to give in to false charity by saying nothing. Rather, it is in how we say it. It is only through prayer that we will learn how to blog with total charity
The Blessed Mother is another model of virtue. She shows us not only the silence needed to be virtuous, but teaches us humility. She also teaches us obedience. This is a topic for a post which I will make at a later date. For now, suffice it to know that you should pray to Our Lady for assistance with virtuous blogging and there is nothing better than the Holy Rosary. Remember, the Rosary is scriptural and Rosary Confraternity's website has an online meditation for this purpose. As you pray a Hail Mary, you visually scan one line for each of the ten (click here for the sorrowful mysteries).
There are other models of virtue and we will get in to those later, as well.
PRAY BEFORE YOU POST
If you want to be a virtuous blogger, then pray first and post second. Most of all, pray earnestly for your readers, especially those quiet souls lurking in the background exploring the faith through your words. Be a virtuous blogger and you just might pull them along with your good example. Show a lack of virtue, and Our Lord may someday reveal to you just how many opportunities were lost.
Through prayer, we can mirror the love of Christ rather than project our human weakness.