Today is May 30th. Five years ago this day, the virtual Anchor Hold was born, out of the internecine warfare that mars the face of our holy Church.
Only about ten days before, two of my dearest listserv acquaintances, Mark Shea from the REBORN listserv, and the late Gerard Serafin of FreeCatholic and a few other places (Gerard pray for us!) had written to the lists about their shiny new blogs, and I went over to give them an ogle. On May 23rd, one of my graduate-school classmates delivered a nasty retirement present to my retiring archbishop, and the early long Dormition Fast of 2002 began, and the Catholic portions of the internet seemed to explode, often with statements that appeared to have little or no correspondence with reality. There was so much that needed said, by someone who actually belonged to this local church, so, less than two weeks after I read my first blog, I was writing my own.
I didn't know how to bold or italic or make a link that actually worked, so the first few days were painfully and embarrassingly plain. My first-day posts were an introduction, a reply to Sean of Nota Bene about what had happened here, and a prayer request for our archbishop.
There are ten lessons, truths of faith and life, that were learned, or painfully and powerfully reinforced, in the first few turbulent months of this site, which will remain true no matter what the current troubles are or who might be the current pariah. Or even if the current pariah should come to be me. The site's anniversary is an excellent time to review them:
1) The details of our long-ago-confessed and long-ago-absolved sins and stupidities are the business only of God. They are most definitely not the business of those who would turn them into cudgels.
2) The details of the sins of other people are none of my business; I've enough troubles with my own.
3) Sins and stupidities do not negate goodness, wisdom, love, or generosity.
4) The Accuser of the Brethren can have no foothold among us if we refuse to play his foul game. We must not accuse others, only ourselves. We cannot defend ourselves, even justly, by accusing anybody else of anything; not if we seek to live truly submitted lives.
5) The Church has wisely declared that the Lord can and does use imperfect instruments to build his Kingdom, and that the sacraments are not dependent on the perfection of their ministers. If we insist on having only perfect bishops who have only perfect priests, we will have neither bishops nor priests; for all of us have sinned, every single one of us has done spectacularly stupid things, and even the strongest and most faithful of us come equipped with two clay feet.
6) Where the bishop is, there is the Catholic Church, which the Lord has promised to protect and sustain, and there is no other place where one can be certain of that.
7) When chaos is breaking out all over and the world is spinning and shaking, one reaches deep down inside, down to the foundations of the soul, and finds one of those things that are known to be true and will not change, and one clings tightly to that until the chaos subsides. Two of those unchanging true things are "God made me to know Him, and to love Him, and to serve Him, and to be happy with Him forever and ever in Heaven" and "God is all-good and deserving of all my love."
8) I have myself sinned and have done some incredibly dumb things; I have no right to ridicule anybody, ever.
9) The judgment I judge is the judgment I will be judged by; the forgiveness I offer will be the forgiveness I receive. So how dare I even think of stringent judgment or withholding my forgiveness?
and 10) from the public chapter of faults, the last formal teaching, of my gentle and devoted retired archbishop, who was the designated pariah when this site was brought into being five years ago: I have learned how frail my own human nature is, how in need of God's loving embrace I am. Empty-handed for me now means a willingness to accept my humanity totally, just as Christ accepted that same human nature out of love. But for me it also means to be fully receptive to whatever God wants to place in those hands, to be ready with empty hands to receive new life.
But I am also aware much self-pity and pride remain. I must leave that pride behind. Each day I will try to leave room for God to enter into my life more and more. Ultimately I understand that the humanity God so loved and sought to redeem, including my own humanity, will be transformed by his loving embrace and grace.