Introduction: Humility In the Combox

faith reason

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I tend to look at first articles in a new home as a chance to introduce yourself. In that spirit, and since I’m the new kid on the block here at Catholic Stand…hello! Some of you may already be familiar with my work and my backstory. For those that are not, I’m otherwise known online as The Catholic Book Blogger. When I first met Patrick Madrid this summer after exchanging numerous emails he stated, “Oh you’re the book guy”, so I go by that as well.

Three years ago I set off on a journey to provide readers with a source for trusted reviews of Catholic books. My ministry has grown to what now entails a featured book every week. Each week I provide a review, giveaway, and when possible an interview with the author of the book. I also dabble in a podcast I call The Open Book Podcast where I chat with authors. Additionally, I appear each month as a guest of Allison Gingras on her internet radio show A Seeking Heart on Bread Box Media.

In 2011 I felt called to launch The Catholic Book Blogger after reading the book Be A Man by Father Larry Richards. I converted to Catholicism nineteen years ago, and honestly most of that time I was a lukewarm Catholic going through the motions out of a sense of obligation to my family. Something in Father Larry’s book and a subsequent day-long Men’s Conference, where Father Larry was the keynote speaker, struck a cord in me. I knew I had to do more for myself and for others. Thus, my ministry was born. I will touch upon different aspects of my reversion in future articles, but for now you have a general background.

Hot Topics Worth Discussing

My writings here at Catholic Stand will expand upon the reviews of books I have read. It is my goal to share some of the current “hot topics” impacting Catholics today. With the working relationships I have been able to build with many Catholic publishers it, gives me the opportunity to get a real sense of what publishers at least consider the important topics to publish. My hope is that throughout this journey we can enter into dialogue about what I am writing about. I welcome that dialogue and wish to foster a real conversation in the comments box of each article.

Now that you know my background you can tell I am approaching this work as, what some might consider, a veteran blogger. In the blogosphere, we call the comment sections of our posts comboxs. Speaking of comboxs….“Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble.” A catchy tune and song popularized by Mac Davis could be an anthem for us bloggers and our readers today. I have witnessed a number of mini-explosions over what some fellow bloggers have posted in a comment box. The resulting pileups have been unfortunate and unfair, but undoubtedly a lesson for us all, writers and readers.

Most of us bloggers began simply enough. An idea, our computers, and a free hosting service, and we were off to the races. We had a small following, mostly read by a few family members and friends who likely cheered us on as we grew. Some of us have been fortunate enough to catch a break or two, gain many more followers and have some level of success in what we do. This is where it becomes tricky.

Bloggers (and writers for more popular sites like here at Catholic Stand) are generally separated from their readership. True, some may get a speaking engagement or two which affords them an opportunity to engage their readers, but likely no one will ever meet all their readers face to face. In that comfort and behind the protection of a monitor and keyboard, the temptation may be great to write that seething article or post a comment to shut down an argument once and for all. But is that really what we are called to do?

Humility and the Power of the Tongue

Even though we are successful, it does not put us on a level higher than our readers. Now before I go any further, let me admit, I struggle with this myself. Pride is a nasty thing that can box you into a very lonely corner rather quickly. Pride leads to the occasions where we want to write that sarcastic reply, hit the enter key, and call it a night. The problem is you wake up the next morning and may find you have started Armageddon with one….simple…post.

Here’s some pertinent advice I received from my spiritual director. As I stated earlier, I’m as guilty as the next writer and have had this discussion more than once with him. Take a look at James, Chapter 3. This chapter deals with the power of the tongue. Even though blog posts are not verbal, I venture to say if the words go from our heads to our fingers to the page, it’s something we would likely say anyway.

In the same way the tongue is a small member and yet has great pretensions.  Consider how small a fire can set a huge forest ablaze. The tongue is also a fire. It exists among our members as a world of malice, defiling the whole body and setting the entire course of our lives on fire, itself set on fire by Gehenna. For every kind of beast and bird, reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. This need not be so, my brothers. (James 3: 5- 10).

The Litany of Humility

Below you will find the litany of humility. As I venture forward as a columnist here at Catholic Stand I pledge to you, the reader, that I will pray this litany before my fingers touch the keyboard. I’m not writing to elevate myself, only to spark thought and conversation that ultimately will lead us all to heaven. I ask that you pray the same litany before commenting on an article I write, or another columnist here at Catholic Stand, or at another site on the Internet, has written. We are on a journey together through this valley with the ultimate goal of eternity with God the Father. We were sent here to love….not fight. Let us show humility, compassion and charity in our combox interactions. A higher place in heaven awaits those who do.

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,
Deliver me, Jesus. (repeat after each line)
From the desire of being loved,
From the desire of being extolled,
From the desire of being honored,
From the desire of being praised,
From the desire of being preferred to others,
From the desire of being consulted,
From the desire of being approved,
From the fear of being humiliated,
From the fear of being despised,
From the fear of suffering rebukes,
From the fear of being calumniated,
From the fear of being forgotten,
From the fear of being ridiculed,
From the fear of being wronged,
From the fear of being suspected,
That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. (repeat after each line)
That others may be esteemed more than I,
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease,
That others may be chosen and I set aside,
That others may be praised and I unnoticed,
That others may be preferred to me in everything,
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should.

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7 thoughts on “Introduction: Humility In the Combox”

  1. Thank you Pete Socks. Humility is a journey. I keep this same litany on my mirror in my room. In June I closed my Facebook account and opened my own blog and yes, it is only read by my close friends and family. But I have come to see that we must undergo a “formation” of sorts just like priests do while still in seminary. I started out as a righteous but indignant person. Now that all there is to be said has pretty much been said about the gay question, I have started to move past this confrontational feeling that I carried for so long. Sinners, no matter how much they may seem to hate what we have to say, shed the same tears and bleed the same blood as the rest of us. I like to think that we can get them all into heaven if we try.

    I asked my priest how one goes about tapping into that abundant grace that heaven offers us. His answer? “You have to want it.” These words are still burning in my soul weeks afterward. So lately I pray, “Lord, take me and form me!” I SO want it…

    Thanks again Pete and God bless you and yours.

  2. Agnes Goh: on Feeding-Tube :-D

    Very good, Mr Socks. It’s tempting to hide behind the anonymity of combo boxes to say all sorts of awful things. It’s important to write with love and respect. There’s no point writing something clever or winning an argument and then have to go to confession over it. :-D.

  3. Thank you for this! Tho Catholic Stand is very civil and peaceful compared to a lot of forums out there. I find myself slipping too. It is hard, esp when another poster is attacking. Exp when fundamentalists say the most awful things about our faith.

    One of the things I do to try to cut down on those posts you wish you’d never sent is to write my response in an editor. Then I look it over, I may even go do something else and then come back. I edit and rewrite until I either have something far more charitable or have decided that not answering is the best course of action.

    Another help: learning about logical fallacies. Most logical fallacies are used to elicit an emotional response rather than a civil and logical one. The poster using the logical fallacy does so cuz they usually don’t have a rebuttal to your point but to cover for that, they try to steer you into the emotional realm where they can easily lead you away from the point they can’t refute. Learning about these helps decrease falling into the emotional trap.

  4. Kate Seymore Irvin

    What a great introduction article; I feel that many, many people will totally relate. I was just watching Web of Faith 2.0 and Fr. commented in an answer to a viewer that pride is the greatest vice and humility is its counter. I wanted to research a little deeper and came across your article…perfect examples and thank you so much for the litany, I have never seen that before. God Bless!

  5. Thank you for writing this. I don’t know how many times I exploded in combo boxes. Humility is greatly needed for me and for everyone who engages in this space 😀

    I now pray this prayer before going online:

    Almighty and eternal God,
    who created us in Thy image and bade us to seek after all that is good,
    true and beautiful,
    especially in the divine person of Thy only-begotten Son,
    our Lord Jesus Christ,
    grant we beseech Thee that,
    through the intercession of Saint Isidore,
    bishop and doctor,
    during our journeys through the internet we will direct our hands and eyes only to that which is pleasing to Thee
    and treat with charity and patience all those souls whom we encounter.
    Through Christ our Lord.
    Amen

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