View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Oh, Prunella!

My family and I have watched (and enjoyed) the movie, The Song of Bernadette, many times.

In the movie there is an older nun, Sister Marie Therese, who doubts Bernadette’s visions and sourly torments her, continuously questioning her character and her motives until almost the end. I actually had to look up the character’s name: We always just referred to her as “Prunella,” and speculated about how many lemons she sucked each day.

I was reminded of that character recently.

Vandals recently broke into one of our churches and desecrated it, including urinating in the holy water.

Another blogger wrote about it, but then used the incident as a way to attack our bishop and local liturgists, accusing them of "desecrating the Churches" here for years. I was surprised at the use of this terrible incident to launch an unprovoked attack on our bishop, so I asked for sources for the accusations – as this person was not from our diocese. He cited several, including articles from The Wanderer.

Those who have read my blog or know me know that as a former journalist, I have little respect for the journalistic standards of The Wanderer. Its articles about events I have covered have often contained inaccuracies, distortions, and misrepresentations.

But my biggest criticism of The Wanderer and its band of fellow travelers is that they personalize their criticisms.

I have no problem with disagreements about decisions, actions or theological positions – I have disagreed with some of the things my own diocese has done – but I do have a problem when the disagreements include insults, name-calling, labeling, innuendo, etc.

All too often I have seen our bishop called a heretic or quasi heretic. I have seen articles that blatantly hint that he is gay. I have seen motives attributed to him when he has said or done nothing to suggest that he had any such motives. But as so many politicians and bigots and distorters of the truth have long known, you only have to suggest something to make it true in some people’s minds.

Watching him over a span of some 12 years, I could see the pain and sadness in his eyes as he has faced these attacks.

I don’t know whether these kinds of attacks come out of fear, anger, past hurts, jealousy, or some other darkness of the soul. I would not presume to judge what is in another’s heart. But some of the people who offer this personal style of criticism certainly seem perpetually angry and unhappy.

It saddens me to see such things going on. It is a scandal to the Church. Christ’s command was to love one another. Yes, to reprimand the one who is doing wrong (a part of the Christian discipleship folks on the left sometimes forget), but always with love.

“This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)

I wonder how many non-Christians reading these sorts of attacks would be able to tell whose disciples these attackers are.

In the end, “Prunella” realized that all her venom was motivated by jealousy. She prayed for forgiveness and healing, and changed her ways.

I urge us all to look carefully to see if our actions model the standard of love Christ set for us.

If we discover instances in which we are not following his example, I pray that we will have the wisdom and humility to ask for God’s forgiveness and strength and healing.


Blogger ~m2~ said...

i always enjoyed it when sr. prunella would call st. bernadette by her full name -- "BAYR-NA-DETT-SU-BA-ROOOO"

i agree with this post 1000%, by the way...

4:48 PM  
Anonymous Connie said...

" (a part of the Christian discipleship folks on the left sometimes forget), but always with love."

The "always with love" part is what folks on the right tend to forget. That is really the hard part; it's easy to judge.

2:11 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Connie - I agree. Both sides fail. that's why sometimes I descibe myself as "libative" or "conserberal"!

7:22 AM  

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