Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Thanks to Good People Like Father Danielsen

I received an e-mail last evening from a priest living in a foreign country whom I will call Father Danielsen. He and I have corresponded off and on since he discovered this blog a few weeks back, and his comments have been uniformly supportive. I feel very grateful for his comments and for his support, and he has not been alone in offering them. Many people close to me—and quite far from me too—have responded joyfully and supportively.

But last night Father Danielsen did something different. He told me to slow down. It was my own confession in this post that this blog “has taken over my life” that did it. Here's what he wrote in response:

Your blog has been a joy to read, but I enjoy it most when you keep to the basic score: “Why I am Catholic.” That was a very genial idea. You are at your best when you share the simple things that you ENJOY and APPRECIATE about being Catholic, the things for which you discover yourself to be profoundly grateful. But when you started linking to other blogs, right and left, I found myself thinking: “Oh, oh, it's happening!” I don't read your blog to follow links to other blogs. I read yours because in your writing about the people around you in your parish, I can see my own lifelong Catholicism and the Church herself in fresh and simple ways. On a number of occasions what you wrote has made me smile and sent me off on a reverie—remembering people and places and events from my own life—until my screen saver kicked in. Please don't feel that you HAVE to keep this going at any cost. Don't feel that you absolutely have to post one or two or three different things each day. You have heard the term “burnout” before, haven't you? No one who suffers from it ever expected to. I don't want to read: “Folks, that's it! I'm quitting this blog because I need to get my life back!” I'd be happy to see you post once a week or less if it’s a genuine “Why I am (happy to be) Catholic” moment.

I shot back a sort of weak rebuttal combined with thanks, which of course is a contradiction. And Father Danielsen’s comments have been rattling around inside me ever since. Especially because I have spent valuable time today meditating on my “saint of the day,” Hilarion, a spiritual son of St. Anthony of the Desert, and believe me, I can't find one honest reason to write about him. Hilarious, wouldn't you say?

I started this blog with a purpose—to sort out the reasons why I am a Catholic and to communicate them clearly and effectively to people I love, especially my wife and children. When did I start going off track? Probably when I received the first praise from “someone important.” But certainly when I started tracking response to the blog with “the best software available.” And yet—the purpose remains, along with my love of being Catholic.

So here’s my proposal, gentle reader. I will not be posting every day, or every other day necessarily. I will post when the Spirit moves me, and I hope, I pray that I will not take that promise lightly. I will post when something inside me says, “I love being a Catholic, and I want people to know why, and here it is . . . ” Then I will do my best to tell you why.

And by the way—for all those, like Ferde, who think my Friday posts on “Joan of Arcadia” are throwaways, you have another thing coming. Because I will continue posting on Fridays about JoA! And any other day I have a good reason to be Catholic.

Meanwhile, if anyone wants to send me their heartfelt reasons for being Catholic, I will review them and post those that I think can make a difference.

Until the next time the Spirit moves . . .