One of the things I love about being Catholic is that we belong to an eternal communion of Saints. I know it might sound odd, or even a bit off-putting to those not of the Catholic faith, but for us papists time and space are compressed, we pray with the Apostles, the thief on the cross who acknowledged his Savior, with Mary Magdalen and the Virgin Mother and a host of those with forgotten names who lived out blessed lives in obscurity and yet pray for us and with us from the feast of Heaven. No matter when they lived, or how they died or where they were in life they are with us always and we are all before the throne of God in prayer now.
They are there, the Saints, in continual example of what we can and should be. And we who are here on earth should all be working towards that end and helping one another along the path as best we can. Which leads me to the thought that has been bugging me the past few days. Why on earth, when we should be encouraging and helping one another do we seem to invest so much energy in pulling each other apart?
Now I understand on a psychological level why this happens, why we break into little subgroups and why we divide ourselves along nearly arbitrarily lines and why we are critical (sometimes to the point of cruelty) to those who violate what we establish to be norms. The more strongly we feel something is important the more likely we are to become somewhat exclusionary around that topic, but I have seen several times where a group (of theoretically friends) has literally torn itself apart over some rather minor disagreement of a practice or . Homeschooling, Parenting and Faith groups I think are all particularly susceptible to these kinds of breaks where some here-to-fore minor subject will become a point of disagreement and people will pick one side or the other and then things get ugly. And by ugly I mean that it gets to the point where people are picked apart on a person level.
I would hope that in groups united by faith there would be more honest tolerance, more personal responsibility and less us vrs them, but does not seem to be the case. I have seen Catholic moms online go after each other quite heatedly (and even gotten involved in the craziness myself) over some point or another. Question like “head cover at mass or not”, “when is NFP ok” or “Is some thing Catholic enough” and the like. Things one hesitates to call minor because they are important, but when compared to the totality of what we hold in common are they really that big a deal? Big enough a deal to loose all sense of perspective? Really I have no answers I just observe these things now, having learned long ago that only unhappiness can possible accompany participation and I pray for all involved, because I well know that most natural response to feeling attacked is to close off and protect one’s self. If we really want to convert someone to our point of view we have to approach in gentleness and kindness. Which leads me to think that all too often these arguments, disagreements, points of difference are much less about helping others see what we feel to be truth and really about making ourselves feel better about our own positions.