For us Catholics, we are going through a time in which there is a lot a person could complain about. But, I’m at a point where I’ve reached grievance fatigue and I’m starting to realize why. There’s nothing noble about the relentless habit of denunciation and the cycle of blame that we seem to be caught in.
There’s nothing intellectually or morally heroic about pointing out how others have gone wrong. Anybody can point out the wrong answer. Very few can articulate the right answer. It’s easy to criticize what is not true, it’s not so easy to affirm what is true.
And I get the temptation to respond this way. Anyone with any measure of intellect can look around at the world we live in and perceive injustice but there are a couple ways I think we can respond to that.
We can do the difficult thing and, really, the only thing we have any ability to address which is to look at ourselves and address the ways we contribute to the evils of the world. Because if we’re honest with ourselves, every single one of us is guilty of the things we love to condemn in others.
So, we could take the difficult path of sorting ourselves out and making sure that we aren’t contributing to the evils that we perceive but that’s an unpleasant thing to do because it means a kind of death to self. It means denying the things we want to do, often motivated by our appetites and passions, in favor of the things we should be doing, motivated by our sense of right and wrong and that is a struggle that can be painful and unpleasant.
But there’s another option. Instead of focusing on how I am contributing to the problem, I could set my sights on other people and denounce them for the ways that they get it wrong. And this is much more attractive because it doesn’t cost me anything, but it still gives me all the thrill and sense of accomplishment that I get when I’m convinced that I’ve made a difference.
But the thing is, when we take that approach, we don’t actually accomplish anything and so the anxiety and restlessness that God planted in our souls or our psychology that is meant to motivate us to address our own dysfunction will persist because we haven’t done anything to fix it.
And that might explain why the anger and frustration of those who prefer to blame others only grows until it becomes something much more dangerous than grumbling about our neighbors.
And that’s exactly what we’ve seen in the modern age. The horrors of the 20th century were the result of two sides of the same modernist coin which were Fascism and Communism. Both were much more skilled at blaming others than they were at proposing a solution.
And this is why the modern age can so easily be characterized by revolution which is the consequence of unrestrained protest and blame. It starts with an attitude that says, if I were in power, I could do it better, so let’s overthrow whoever is in power and install ourselves or our friends.
And this is the attitude that modern man has inherited, but it’s not a Christian and certainly not a Catholic attitude. It’s a modernist attitude. Christianity and Christ command us to look at ourselves before we look at other people if we want to cast blame. Jesus told us to address the log in our own eye before we try to address the spec in our neighbor’s eye.
And from the very beginning, scripture tells us that the first thing our sinful ancestors did was blame each other rather than take responsibility. The man blamed the woman for giving him the fruit to eat and she blamed the serpent.
And this is what concerns me about so many traditional Catholics, which is a perspective that I increasingly identify with. But traditionalists have always presented themselves as the frontline opposition against currents of modernism in the Church but at the same time, this attitude of protest and blame is incredibly pervasive especially in Traditional Catholic media. But as we’ve already seen, that is a thoroughly modernist approach to the problems of the world. If all you can do is denounce the faults of others than you’ve embraced modernism just as much as the liturgical dancers down the road.
So, does this mean that we should do nothing and avoid the responsibility to hold those who are corrupt accountable? I would say no. There is a responsibility and even obligation to be proactive in confronting evil, but denunciation, protest, and self-righteousness should not be the predominant method employed by anyone calling themselves a Catholic.
The way we deal with corruption in the Church is, by first, making sure that we aren’t contributing to it.
If we want reparations to be made, we can make acts of reparation. Spend time in prayer and penance for the sins you perceive and be willing to serve in self-sacrificing ways. This is the Catholic way. This is the way characterized by faith, hope, and love.