Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Well, it happened once again! On Wednesday of this past week, by 9 o’clock in the morning, several people from the Saint Mary community had contacted me, to advise me that they had received a bogus email “from me,” requesting that they reply and send me a gift card. Of course, it was not truly from me. However, simply by adding one character to my legitimate email address, to an unsuspecting recipient it could be very convincing.
Now, not only am I mentioning it to give all readers a “heads up advisory.” I would like to use it as an analogy regarding what I believe often happens in regard to communication at an interpersonal level, as well as with regards to the Truth (and individual truths) of Faith. Perhaps some of us have participated in an icebreaker exercise where each person in the group is assigned to share “three truths and a lie” about themselves. It is an innocent enough game, in context, and usually the “lies” are obvious enough to name.
However, Satan—one of whose titles is the Liar—is much more subtle, like the scammer who adds one little false character to an email address in order to mislead the recipient. Often, in the midst of a conversation, we hear a report about someone, from a third (or fourth or fifteenth) party. On the surface, the preponderance of what is being shared is accurate. However, one inaccuracy, whether it is intentional or not, whether there is active malice or not, throws off the whole matter. When I digest with my ears the inaccuracy, my mind and even potentially my heart become infected. Great damage can be done to another’s character in the process.
When it comes to our Catholic Faith, it is vitally important that the person transmitting the information be accurate in every detail. One distortion, no matter how apparently small, can throw off the whole presentation of the actual Truth of Faith, thereby distorting the mind and the heart of the recipient. If we are going to be a parish authentically striving to build the vision, leading to transforming lives for Christ, it is vital that all of us be vigilant in learning the fullness of the Truth of faith. That is why we need to offer faith formation for all ages! That is why we promote FORMED, the online free-access resource for all things Catholic.
Likewise, anyone who claims to be a “leader” within this community must continually check our words and behavior—including our “activity” on social media—and ask: “Is this misrepresenting any aspect whatsoever of the authentically Catholic vision? When the beauty of Faith is marred by our faulty opinions, even if it is veiled in humor, we are accountable and that is matter for Confession.
Am I sounding strict? Well, if I truly love the people under my pastoral care, I need to be willing to say the sobering things that we—I included—need to be served as reminders.
I love you,
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