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.