At the same time, it was a good reminder of the importance of being on our game in every encounter. Our own distractions can lead to (unintended) thoughtlessness and missed opportunities. It can hurt fragile or wounded people and even discourage them from approaching.
I see myself as someone with fine-tuned awareness -- and this is usually my downfall. My children and grandchildren are the center of my universe. The skill of fake it till you make it comes naturally to me. I've mastered the life-skill of being present and putting worry and frustrations into the locked Pandora's Box so they don't detect it. I've always watched everything I say and do in their presence. Imperfectly sometimes, but careful listening and communication is more front and center than the average person. I practice the art of doing things I don't want to do, with joy (when appropriate), to please another person.
I've noticed lately that St. John Paul II has been making me more aware of the folly of my own distractions. I constantly find myself being a polite minimalist in encounters with strangers and they'll suddenly mention something St. John Paul II said or did. I've had enough of these conversations to know that's his calling card. When I tune in and respond, bare witness to his powerful intercession, the power of the Sacraments, Church teaching, Christ, Mary, they always reveal something I would have completely missed had I kept my distracted trajectory. And it isn't subtle. Here's something from a conversation yesterday: "And I have to tell you that your words are a direct answer to an anguished prayer I had this morning..."
Of course, they weren't my words. I prayerfully acknowledged the opportunity and asked the Holy Spirit to help me accomplish and say what was needed.
In spite of all the tools Christ left me and help from the angels and saints, I'm surprised by number of times I fail God's providence. I fail to move myself out of the way. I know it, I feel it, I see it, I experience it, but I can't seem to keep both feet planted in that mystical world.
So, while I can empathize when I come across the path of another distracted soul, there are certain jobs that come with greater responsibilities.
If you're working in a parish or chancery office, are feeling crabby and can't fake it, one might wish to excuse oneself from greeting people or answering phones. Take a spa day. This is the moment we have a fish near the net. A phone call to a parish or chancery is not the time to give a taste of the blood in the water form the sharks. We've got to do a better job reeling people in.
And, let us face it. We've got problems with social media. The insufferable communists inside and outside of the Church and Trump Derangement Syndrome add a little extra challenge. The sedevacanists have gone completely mad. Ironically, this is giving Pope Francis ammunition to discredit the Catholic fiat of living every day in a state of Sanctifying Grace.
Fr. Longenecker's post articulates some of the Catholic blog concerns I've had in responding to the spiritual malpractice happening in Rome. I love his analogy to the Chronicles of Narnia.
There are several things I take issue in his article. It's a little unclear what kind of 'extreme views' he is referring to. I zealously disagree with his assessment that Catholics who speak about how Catholic teaching guides one's political convictions as "right wing politics". Catholic teaching gives clear, lucid directions on political judgments and priorities. If one opines contrary to the guidelines in Catholic teaching, one is not thinking as the Catholic Church instructs. There is actually nothing 'right wing' about that outcome. It's either Catholic or it isn't.
It's also a theological error to refer to false religions as 'denominations', as if there is a smorgasbord of religions that are salvific.
I do agree with Fr. Longenecker about the burdens and unhealthy environment caused by the condition of the world and Church. I believe its getting in the way of attracting people to the Sacraments.
I love the genius of C.S. Lewis:
Finally Aslan says, “You see. They will not let us help them. They have chosen their own cunning instead of belief. Their prison is only in their own minds, yet they are in that prison: and so afraid of being taken in that they cannot be taken out. But come. I have other work to do.”Time, treasure and talent is too precious to waste. For the sake of naïve people who may get sucked into a rabbit hole, I do spend a little time debunking even those who are unwilling to be helped. There is also merit to teaching observers how to theologically discredit someone who is hopelessly lost. There is always a chance that disarming a captive of the devil will force them to take a good look at the foolishness and tiptoe away. But, for now, there is simply too much diabolical disorientation to manage and we've got to use sound judgment to pick and choose our battles wisely to help with the work on redemption.
There has been no time to teach heroism of the faithfulness of doing ordinary things, the tasks of home, the good we bring to others around us, teaching the difference between real joy and pleasure, the orientations of sanctification, wholehearted acceptance of the will of God, seeing God behind each thing, deepening our friendships with Christ and Mary, the treasures of the Church, Saints, Angels, love, family, friendship.
Our people are out of wine and we have other work to do.