Ars Orandi: The Final Post.
Below is the text from Mr. Werling’s Facebook page, with the explanation of why he has closed the blog.
It’s probably best to put the rumors to rest. No, the Jews aren’t to blame for my sudden departure from the internet, nor the Masons, liberals or the government.
The reason is, is that I had an epiphany, a sudden realization that all of this and more, including my personal construction of “traditional Catholicism”, had turned me into an incredibly ugly person. How many people have I insulted and made to feel like shit? Is that the faith? If that’s your faith, you can keep it; I’m done with it. It was all nothing more than a façade, a double life that even had me fooled, and it was all fed by my narcissism and delusions of grandeur. It was those closest to me who suffered the most, and it had to end.I’ve always believed myself to be a better person than I am… no, I’ve never been happy with who I am, and that’s a sad and pathetic thing. Before all this, I was an ex-seminarian who wrote fantasy stories and poetry, and I played Dungeons and Dragons, listened to rock music, and enjoyed long car rides with my wife, blaring that same rock music as loud as possible. I was happy then, but that was the kind of person I came to judge and condemn with the most severity once I became the internet asshole all of you know. So you know what? I quit the internet to write poetry and fantasy, and I’m going to find a D&D game too! If you think I’m going to hell, then say a prayer for me. If you snicker and judge me, then, oh well; not that long ago I was just like you, sad and pathetic.Of course, a good deal of loony bigots and conspiracy theory kooks will conclude that this has been penned by some Satan worshipping Jew-Freemason. For you reasonable folks, take that for what it is… creepy cultish and destructive behavior.So, if you want to believe in something, stop looking for it on the internet. True faith isn’t an internet opinion composed by an internet asshole. Lighten up. Listen to music. God won’t hate us if we stop being jerks. As my daughter told me recently, if it just causes you stress, then what is it? Shouldn’t it comfort you?In conclusion, a quote from one of my favorite movies, Apocalypse Now, which seems to sums up internet people quite well: “There are two of you, don’t you see? One that kills… and one that loves.”
As someone who has endorsed his blog (a blog of far higher quality than mine in many respects) I would like to say some words. I would like, so to speak, to write to Mr Werling what I would say to him if we were friends (I do not have the honour; and a honour it would be) and we were discussing his blog closure in front of a good pint of ale. If Mr Werling thinks that I not his friend and therefore not entitled to offer my humble opinion, so be it; take, then, these reflections as relating merely to my own blog, and and explanation of my motivation for blogging.
If, therefore, I were to sit with him in front of a friendly ale, I would say the following:
1. It is his blog. The sweat of his brow. If he wants to close it, destroy it, polverise it, and condemn it to the damnatio memoriae, so be it.
2. Not everyone is born for blogging. Not everyone reacts in the same way to the stress and controversy blogging causes. If one thinks that his blogging activity leads him further away from salvation, it makes sense that he should stop blogging. He is, without doubt, the best judge of that. I for myself can say to my readers that to run a blog does cause some stress, in my case particularly because it exposes me daily to a motherload of Modernist rubbish that at times I think I would be so happy to just ignore, and pray my rosary.
Having said that, and with all due respect, I also allow myself to make some slightly more critical considerations.
Ars Orandi was a pearl of Catholic wisdom and beauty. We may all be, as Mr Werling says, @ssholes, but then again the @ssholes are those in most need of beautiful words from, say, Dom Gueranger, and of beautiful and inspiring pictures and inspiration from liturgical texts. Once Mr Werling took the decision to stop blogging, perhaps it would have been advisable to keep the blog online. If then Mr Werling thinks his own blog posts are conducive to @ssholery, then it might have been advisable to cancel those only, leaving the beautiful devotional material and the beautiful pictures online. And let us reflect on this: one who visit his blog to read the liturgical and devotional pieces is, perhaps, not so irredeemable an @sshole after all.
I have always thought – and will always think – that ceteris paribus, between the old lady who looks so saintly in her utter desire to ignore everything evil going on around her, and the emotional fighter who gets angry and perhaps insulting, because he cares for more than his own peace of mind, the second is the one Jesus looks on with the more approving smile.
Unicuique suum, of course, and not everyone is made in the same way. Still, I do think that in the heat of the battle one has the right and at the same time cannot avoid to be, at times, overheated. It comes with the territory of being a human and a wretched sinner. What shall one do then, renounce to the fight because he is an unworthy fighter? Padre Pio got very angry at times. On occasion, he slapped people in the face. He has been known to shout in church. But he was padre Pio. I would suggest to Mr Werling that he cuts some slacks to the @ssholes, starting from himself if he really wants to put himself in that category (which, let it be clear, I don’t).
My impression is that this is a bad case of Anglo-Saxon mentality. If I criticise sinners, I have no right to be one. If I call for higher standards in prelates, I must have extremely high standards myself. If my life is full of the misery of sin, I should not tell other what I do not like, much less write a blog about it.
I wish Mr Werling were Italian. If he were, he would know our sinful nature is a given, and no one expects from us that we, say, do not listen to rock music because we write a blog. If Mr Werling had been Italian, he would have resumed long ago his rock music listening, and his car rides with his wife; and then perhaps – just perhaps – this would have given him the serenity and energy to continue his beautiful, beautiful work. At a slower pace, certainly. Probably with less stress. But continuing to give a great help to many, the writer of these words obviously included.
There is no either/or between being a blogger and a sinner. We are all sinners, and some of us are also bloggers. We aren’t special, we merely write better or have clearer ideas. At the same time, we have no obligation to be saintly – or else, hypocrites and @ssholes – simply because we can say what other feel, and those others resonate with what we write. It never ceases to amaze me how the Southerners live so serenely with their fallen nature, and the Anglos are always obsessing with the feeling if they criticise others they can only be Puritans or, well, @ssholes.
One day we will die. All our trespassesses will be all very clear to our mind. But I dare to think that our trespasses caused by our sincere love for Christ and his Church will, on that day, be looked upon with some leniency. Its’ easy to be beautiful when one refuses to fight the ugliness. If you fight against a shite cannon, there will be shite all over you. If one is interested in feeling the good guy, then I suggest one should be one of those oh so nice Anglicans whom no one would call @ssholes, but who will be judged on that fateful day, if Catholicism makes sense at all, with a different measure than the one who lost his temper because of his righteous anger.
I look at myself in the mirror, and I see one who never shunned a fight, but is not a specialist in being the kindle and gentle “more tea, vicar?”-Anglican chap. You know the type. Very serene people. No shite in sight. I wouldn’t be able to even have afternoon tea with one of those without starting to argue – pleasantly at times, unpleasantly at other times -. If this makes me an @sshole in Mr Werling’s eyes, so be it, and my esteem for him will be undiminished. But no, I prefer to die an @sshole in Mr Werling’s estimation (and countless others’, no doubt!) but be in the position to, one day, put my excesses and @ssholery to the feet of the Blessed Virgin and to say: “this, my Mother, is the horrible-looking crown of roses this wretched sinner could give you. I know it doesn’t look good. But it comes from my heart, and it is the best I found in myself the skill and virtue to do”.
And no one must read me in the first place, anyway; which applies to every other blogger, too. Therefore, if someone becomes a complete idiot because he reads me, it is his responsibility, not mine, to recognise that my blog does not make of him a better person, and does not help him on his way to salvation. No doctor ever ordered a patient to read “two blog posts of Mundabor’s (or Mr Werling’s) @assholery, daily, after the meals”.
Yes, discussions heat the spirit. Yes, you end up at times thinking things you shouldn’t, and losing your composure. Padre Pio shouted that the window panes trembled, and he one of the greatest saints. Those who never shout are, I would say, those who don’t care. Sinners, though, we all are. Mr Werling, myself much more of course, even Padre Pio who lost his countenance rather easily for the things he loved; and lost his temper greatly, because he loved greatly. Again, you never have to explain these things to an Italian; but alas, I write this blog in English.
My suggestion to Mr Werling, then, at the end of the above mentioned pint (or two), would be to keep the blog without his own posts, for the edification and help of those who take advantage from it; to, by all means, listen to all the rock music he likes, and spend wonderful hours with his wife and family without worrying about the blog; but to consider, perhaps, in a more tranquil hour, whether what he has done up to now was really so bad, and so worthy of destruction; and whether he would not find in his heart, perhaps at some point in future, to put the archive online for the benefit of us @ssholes and, perhaps, one day, start blogging again.
Posted on January 24, 2014, in Catholicism, Conservative Catholicism, Traditional Catholicism and tagged "Ars Orandi" blog. Bookmark the permalink. 31 Comments.
One of the traps some Catholics fall into, is that they become puritanical in nature and separate themselves from the worldly things. If you enjoy something, and it’s not offending God, causing you or your neighbor to sin, enjoy it. The important thing is that you’re working out your salvation, and helping save other souls.
Generally speaking you present good advice here that could apply to many situations in life, and I agree with you that the blogger could enrich others in a different way if he chooses by following your suggestions.
Your BEST blog ever! I am not Anglo-Saxon and can’t understand the milque-toast persona of so many members of the Church of Nice as Michael Voris so aptly calls modern Catholics in the West. It’s the taint of Prostestantism.
Yes, it’s the taint of Protestantism. And the obsession with niceness it causes is what produces the political correctness, which in turn generates sodo”marriages”. From there, the crap expands to the other countries, too.
Yes. Good observation Mundy, and Akita-ette. Interesting how neo-Catholicism is so common among Americans. I think it is due in part to it being a predominantly Anglo-Saxon culture. Neo-Catholics have Protestant hearts, not Catholic ones. No wonder they fall prey to puritanicalism. Of course you get neo-Cats in Southern Europe too, you call them ‘normalists’, but not as ferocious as Weigel, Shea and Akin et al.. If you’re too nice you’ll end up becoming insufferable.
Thanks for this post, Mundabor. I’ve been longing to know what happened to Ars Orandi. The explanation is not what I was expecting, I admit, but I wish Mr Werling all the best.
Religion sometimes does make people a**holes. It’s happened to my [sadly former] best friend. He does all the right things, and believes all the right things, but like Joe Di Naro says above, he has run away from the world. He doesn’t watch television or films, nor use the internet, nor listen to music, at least not secular music. He thinks all these things are bad. He doesn’t smoke, drink, or eat surgery luxurious food. He fasts assiduously. He expects every one to do the same. It takes him 40 minutes to pray five decades of the Holy Rosary and he prays 15 decades per day. He thinks the sitcom ‘Father Ted’ leads people to hell.
Essentially, he’s not the boy he used to be. In his conversion, he has become someone else. Whereas, true conversion leads you become even more like yourself. He won’t be able to keep this up. He will become disillusioned, and lose the faith. He will realise what an a**hole he has become, and in his arrogance he might blame it on Catholicism. It sounds awful but I hope he does lose the faith…temporarily, because then he will be able to relearn how to become a real son of God, and not the insufferable, invincibly obnoxious and smug young man he is now. Sad really, he was quite popular and he’s lost a few of his good friends, including me.
That’s another one from an Anglo-Saxon country, right?
In Italy he would have been covered by laughter, and laughter from good Catholics.
I think it is another expression of the “Francis syndrome”: look at me, I’m so good. Why, why isn’t everyone as good as I am?
Mind, many play this game: ideologic vegetarians, ideologic vegans, global warming nutcases, & Co.
Your friend simply chose a different way.
Yes Mundy. He’s Anglo-Saxon. A Celt more specifically, but they are often worse (Jansenism was popular in Ireland, and Scotland was always more puritan that England on account of their Calvinism). He is middle class, a group more susceptible to this kind of thing, in my opinion, at least in Britain. Would you agree?
Myself, I’m English, a convert, from High-Church Anglican stock. My family has always had a Catholic heart and a distaste for Protestantism. I look to the recusants, you know, like the ones in ‘Brideshead Revisited’? They knew how to have a good time! Chesterton is an encouraging example of a good Anglo-Saxon Catholic.
Oh, it seems to me in this country the working class is just drunken/sluttish/heathenish (no big difference with the Victorian era) and the disappearing upper class has no faith at all. So yes, believers are more likely to come from the middle class!
Chesterton was an excellent example of convert who really got it. At least if you ask me. But you see, the famous convert generally do: Ronald Know is stellar! It’s the omnipresent Proddie mentality that influences so many here…
No God in his words. No Christ. No Virgin. No Saint.
What you had, Mr. Werling, was not an “epiphany”, but a nervous breakdown. If you had asked ME, I would have suggested a pause and an Ignatian retreat…
Mundabor is right: It’s not an either/or, Mr. Werling. Tradition is not hard, it is natural, as the soil where the bones of our ancestors lie, as the air they breathed. It’s sunny and mild, like the first sunlight of the day, like dew on flowers, like the smell of rain, like a mother’s hug.
There are not two in each one of us, there’s only one. One body, one soul, one fallen nature, one being loved by God. Two, or more, are Legion, and that is not from Above.
“No God in his words. No Christ. No Virgin. No Saint.”
That worries me too. I hope he does not throw away the beautiful gift of Catholicism because of it. I propose we all say an extra prayer for him that he may work out his problems while keeping the faith.
I wouldn’t read too much into it, personally.
You can have people insulting you all the way and then ending their message with “peace with you, in Christ, may you be richly blessed with abundant harvest and fertile daughters” and the like.. 😉 Similarly, you can have spiritual people just giving some air to their frustration. I think his message was “I have become a worse person”. But again, being “loving” to everyone wouldn’t make of him a better person. If this were the case, the Anglicans would be all canonised instantly upon death.
I beg to differ.
In this case it is quite relevant, because we know he knows all these things. He is not the author of the Book of Esther… And he talks of good or bad while ignoring Good incarnate by name. Be sure it is not a coincidence coming from him.
at least we know what happened now. It was Mr Werling’s decision and must be respected as such. I agree with every word of your hypothetical answer to him, however, even though I am not Italian… 😉
That said, however, this paragraph of Mr Werling’s explanation has left me mystified:
“Before all this, I was an ex-seminarian who wrote fantasy stories and poetry, and I played Dungeons and Dragons, listened to rock music, and enjoyed long car rides with my wife, blaring that same rock music as loud as possible. I was happy then, but that was the kind of person I came to judge and condemn with the most severity once I became the internet asshole all of you know. So you know what? I quit the internet to write poetry and fantasy, and I’m going to find a D&D game too!”
What is un-Catholic about enjoying car drives or writing poetry or fantasy? Why would anybody condemn these activities “with the most severity”? I somewhat get the objection to rock music as many of its lyrics are incompatible with Christianity, glorify sinful activities and so on, although even this worry strikes me as a little overblown. Yes, let us avoid the near occasion of sin, but you cannot avoid *all* situations where you just might possibly commit a sin. There’s a reason they call it the “near” occasion! The same with D&D, which is completely harmless if enjoyed responsibly and within a serious and mature gaming group. At its root, D&D is about sitting around a table with your friends, playing a fantasy hero, working together with your friends who play heroes themselves, in order to overcome evil and have fun doing so. In the hands of a skilled game master (the player who organizes the game and thinks up the scenarios, stories and plots used within the game) it can even be very conducive to instill the heroic imagination someone like Tolkien has awakened in many readers of his Lord of the Rings. It is partly creative story-telling, partly dice-based tactical combat game, and partly social interaction with friends. I myself have been playing in a D&D gaming group for more than six years now, and it has not impeded my conversion to Catholicism at all. There is, in fact, such a thing as innocent fun, and it’s not forbidden to have some. If we were not living several thousand miles apart I would be honored to invite Mr Werling to my humble party of fantasy heroes… 🙂
For what it’s worth, I also enjoy listening to rock music sometimes, and love writing poetry (about the fantasy world I have invented as part of being a game master for my D&D group). All these activities are polluted by sin, error and modernism, just as much as you would expect in a time of near-universal apostasy. But the same goes for everything you do both at work and in your free time, and not everybody is called to be a contemplative monk. Just stick to Holy Mother Church in everything you do, to the Pope, to Tradition, to the Sacraments, to Prayer (especially the Rosary), keep the Faith, do good works, and hope for the best, that is, the mercy of the Lord.
As to Mr Werling, I sincerely wish him only the best, and hope and pray that he may keep the True Faith while recovering the happiness he apparently enjoyed before he started blogging. I will miss his beautiful blog dearly, however.
(Sorry for the length of the comment. Will keep it shorter again from now on.)
I think we must read it from an Anglo-Saxon persepctive. Not being anonymous, Mr Werling would be subject to hate mails or reproach of people telling him “how can you write that blog and listen to, say, Metallica…”. Those types are not infrequent here or in the US, I think even more so in the US. As his name is out in the open, everyone can look at every aspect of his daily life and find things he doesn’t like, which will then cause stress. At least I read it that way.
I was more surprised by the last phrase with the “loving” and “hating” types. Very very Anglican. He must have had a “Pope Francis” moment, or more probably a bad day.
As to the people who “feel like shit”, I herewith declare that if someone angers me for what he does to the Church (not for his private weaknesses; this blog is very mild with private weaknesses) I *will do my best to make him feel like shit*. Then perhaps he will stop talking nonsense that confuse the faithful and harm the Church. Yes, I think this very Christian. Meritorious, even.
Heavens, if our enemies feeling like shit stops us, how could we go to war – I mean real war, with guns & Co. – against them? Did Pope Pius XII ever care if Stalin felt like shit by reading him? No better chance of salvation for Joseph, say I…
As fellow player and game master of role-playing games, I salute you! An excellent comment you have left. Being a traditional Roman Catholic and having a love for the hobby in question are not mutually exclusive things. God bless you!
“Not being anonymous, Mr Werling would be subject to hate mails or reproach of people telling him “how can you write that blog and listen to, say, Metallica…”.”
Another reason for anonymity. Also, sometimes what Pope Francis said about not judging does have an application. Apparently there are more than a few people out there on the “traditional Catholic” fringes who jump at judging another man’s soul just because he does not happen to share their taste in music or suffers from some other perceived defect.
In this country there is a black/white attitude that at times is simply scary. I think the obsession with niceness partly comes from that. If one is, say, a vicar, he can never be angry, people just expect from him outward expressions of “holiness” at all times. That’s why they tell jokes all the times, and never take a decent stance against anything. it ruins the tea and scones, by the way.
By us (I mean in Italy) the contrary is the case: people look with mistrust at those who are always nice, never angry, never show passions or emotions. Don Camillo is so popular also because he is so true.
My 2 sons were raised in a SSPX chapel that I helped bring to my city on the west coast US. They were both altar servers through high school, and sang in the choir. But they also had a rock band and traveled the western states in their tour bus. My friends and I would see them when they played locally. They also excelled in Tae Kwon Do. The music and the martial arts brought us some criticism (a lot!) from some Catholics. But we have no Anglo Saxon blood and weathered the criticism. These same sons are now fathers and their babies have all been baptized in the same chapel. My take on the criticism we endured was that there is a strong streak of Jansenism in many Trad circles. Some at our chapel won’t let their children celebrate Halloween, or enjoy Santa Claus. And this new version of Jansenism is very protestant—very prudish, so I can understand what Mr. Werling means. But there is no Church law that dictates that severe type of behavior.
I wish him all the best, and pray that he will continue to love the true Faith while discarding the unsavory attitudes. Ars Orandi was one of my top 3 blogs to follow and I believe his ability is truly a gift from God.
Ah, I can only discourage from “celebrating” Halloween. Heathenish thing! But again, if an SSPX member were to go out at Halloween I would not be concerned at all. The one who concerns me is the “catholic” who cares for Halloween and doesn’t know in the morning it’s All Saints…
I can understand some (mild) criticism of rock, and again it depends on the person. One can see a naked statue and have lustful thoughts, another sees the same statue and only sees beauty. The Vatican is full of naked statues.
I am flabbergasted at the idea martial arts should be bad, though. Conservative people should be all in favour of self-defence, surely?
I believe it was St. John Chrysostom who said that to NOT get angry when the situation called for righteous anger it was actually sinful. Me thinks Ars needs to have a convo with Our Lord and as “what do YOU want me to do?” The answer just might surprise him…and I doubt it’s writing fantasy fiction:+) You are a good friend, Mundy. And I agree that Ars just might be drinking the Church of Nice Kool Aid. Love isn’t some emo emotion…and Our Lord Himself called people some not so nice names…”Sons of the Devil, hypocrites, white washed tombs full of dead mens bones.” I think if Ars kept to attacking the behavior rather than the person, he would be fine:+) God bless
Prayers for Mr. W. I benefited so very much from his blog. May God reward him for it.
It is to be preferred being anonymous online. Shortly after March last year I gave up Facebook and friends that I had known for years after being verbally attacked by priest friends for expressing my concerns and sharing solid blog pages that expressed those concerns better than I am able to express them. My thanks to you again.
Forgot to add something:+) Discerning if what we are doing is right or not is not dependent on how we “feel” it’s dependent on if it’s A) a good and holy thing B) getting us in the spiritual battle C) we sense that God is leading us to use our gifts to help others for His glory. It sounds like Ars didn’t like the battle scars and consequences of suiting up. Doing the right thing isn’t easy or pretty. It sounds like he needs a good spiritual director to teach him what love and the spiritual battles look like. And discerning if an activity is good or not takes a brief moment with the Holy Spirit and your conscience. Rock music is fine if it’s not screaming profanities, lust etc. There is also a ton of Christian rock out there too. Ars needs some wisdom and prudence from a man of reason and faith…he is blessed to have your insights:+) God bless~
“Doing the right thing isn’t easy or pretty”
I like that!
Yes, we will be insulted and considered loonies who do not blend with the x-factor society.
More merit one day, hopefully.
Still, please cut some slack for the poor man, who has given us such a beautiful blog. Hopefully he is merely having a difficult period.
Sad business. Thank you for posting this. Good insights.
I should clarify: by celebrating Halloween, I meant letting the little ones dress as princesses or pirates and visit the neighbors for candy.( It has actually become a freakish festival here in the US.) Also, my sons’ band was considered ‘Christian’ rock although they didn’t label it as such. The complaint about martial arts was that it has an air of Asian (pagan) mysticism.
My point was that there will always be people who look for any opportunity to criticize others and if we are alive, we will have to accept that and learn to ignore it or fight back, as the need arises.
And I sincerely miss the Ars Orandi site… 😦
Yeah, I go with Rorate Coeli’s diagnosis: nervous breakdown. The vituperation against those who would in happier times be called “supporters” is the tipoff. Now he departs with a flourish of defiance, to do all the things those “assholes” disapprove of. Hope the reaction doesn’t go all the way to outright atheism, but I’ve seen it before.
Thank you for your post. I, too, am sorry David Werling’s body of work has been “completely” taken off-air, however, his departure is understood, especially through the words of his daughter.
The following is interesting; maybe you (and Mr. Werling) might appreciate it too:
“But what is this newfound power, this instant knowledge of good and evil, really about? Why has it appeared so swiftly, and spread everywhere, and why does it engender so much addictive behaviour in its devotees? That it is a tool with potential for immense good is undeniable. That it is a tool for immense evil is also undeniable. The internet is neither good nor evil in itself. Evil cannot be created. No created thing is evil. As the Lord says, it is not what goes into a man that is evil, but what comes out of him. Even so, we must always consider whether our tools and powers are disposing us toward good or toward evil. Do they make it easier for us to live the good, or more difficult? The question I am asking is, are there consequences to an omnipresent e-culture other than its obvious good and evil effects?…..Perhaps we will have a clearer understanding of the question, and the answer, when we turn off the machines and go out into the cold clear air and walk among the marvels of nature’s universe….” -Michael D. O’Brien, Waiting: Stories for Advent, “Communication or Communion”
Hhmm, nor persuaded…
There are battles to be fought. To walk among the marvels of nature’s universe won’t help anyone to fight them.
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