I’ve always thought that comment boxes on the internet are the absolute worst places. Read an article you love then look at the comments to see tons of people agree with you – and you won’t find them. Just hatred thrown at the author, anyone who agrees with the author, and anyone who might remotely look like, believe the same, or read the article. It’s where we’re our worst selves.
While it’s always been bad, I think it’s gotten worse in the past six months as we all spend a lot more time online. Many people will say the answer is to just spend less time online. While I tend to agree, it’s not really the solution to the problem is it? Less time online, but the comment boxes persist. Lest you think I’m only speaking about secular sites, have you seen the comment boxes on good Catholic sites? Moms being shamed for not baby-wearing or using formula or not choosing to home school. Teachers for being cautious about going back to work. Health care workers for asking people to wear masks and follow social distancing. Priests for saying almost anything. News organizations for portraying the news, as it is.
Like the article I share above, I want to offer a solution. It’s hard, so get ready. This verse from Matthew immediately comes to my mind:
For from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.Matthew 12:34b
The solution is to work on our hearts. When our hearts are full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and goodness – our actions are too. Those are the fruits of the Holy Spirit. We see them as evidence in our lives when we invite the Holy Spirit to do His work in us.
How does this help us transform our parishes? When we are seeking the Holy Spirit as leaders, it will overflow from us to other people. When our people are seeking the Holy Spirit, it will proceed from them to their neighbors, co-workers, friends, and strangers they encounter.
So what can we do?
- Preach out these heart-changing fruits of prayer during the homily.
- I predict the next few weeks are going to be ‘quite the place’ on the internet as we get closer to the election. Use this time to talk about an overflowing of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and the how of speaking to people about the issues, if we choose to do so.
- Have a three-week Adult Formation program on the seeing the fruits of the spirit in our lives, especially when everyone is on edge about politics. Role Play discussions that leave everyone feeling respected and heard.
- Pray. Pray! PRAY! Ask the Holy Spirit to permeate every aspect of your life and your parish.
- Stay out of the comment box!