OK, St. Francis of Assisi didn't say that. But, in fairness, he did not say the oft-quoted "Preach the Gospel at all times; when necessary, use words", either. Good advice, but apocryphal.
No, the reason for the title of my post is my constant frustration at my inability to preach the Gospel without my own personality flaws (read: sinfulness) getting in the way. You see, I am arrogant, and sarcasm is what an arrogant person mistakes for humor.
And I am guilty of sarcasm quite often. It pervades my parenting, as my wife can tell you. The patron saint (to-be-named-later) of housewives, Sharon could relate to you her continual mission to remind me that sarcasm is not an effective parenting tool.
For example, when my oldest son was about three-years-old, the following incident took place. After he was put to bed, and yet had called me up to see to some whim of his a few times already, he called me to ask for a glass of water. I replied with considerable fake deference, "Oh, no problem. Hey, I know what! How about if I stay up here in your room, all night, while you sleep, just in case you wake up and need anything. That way I can get it for you right away! How about that?"
In the very last moment of my son's innocent confidence in the love of his father, he replied, "Wow, thanks Dad! That's really nice!"
Well, you can see my problem, yes? In my own defense, it apparently works on dogs.
Back to the present day. I started a Facebook account a few years ago to keep up with the doings of certain local notorious heretics who tried to cause trouble for the Archbishop, in order to find out about when protests were to be held, etc. After the worst of it died down, the account basically went dormant. Lately, I have had occasion to use it again.
Facebook is the most amazing collection of varia, especially for Catholics trying to take their faith seriously. But you know this already. I have Facebook "friends" and "friends of friends" that use it for evangelization efforts. And God bless them for those efforts, which I in no way deride.
However, I just can't keep my big keyboard shut sometimes. After (oh-so-nobly, I like to pretend) resisting the urge to comment on a number of different religious-themed takes, I had a sarcasm lapse today.
In a perfectly helpful Facebook post, a person had linked to site where you could merge the novus ordo calendar into one's Google calendar. Very helpful, no doubt. But what got me going was the phrasing-- that there was an application to download "the" "Catholic Liturgical Calendar". Oh. The Catholic Liturgical Calendar. The Catholic Liturgical Calendar.
So, in a moment I regret, I posted the following:
"I can't get it to work. I try to download the Roman Calendar, but all I get is a greatly abridged version. It leaves out tons of feast days, there are hardly any octaves, and it uses weird, stultifying terminology like "ordinary time." What is that?"
I thought that was hilarious for about two seconds. Then the inevitable reality set in. Just how many people would that comment convince to give the glories of the ancient liturgy a try, who were not already convinced? That's an easy question to answer: zero. And it would more likely put up barriers for some who might have been convinced by a more helpful effort.
So, if you are disgusted with this blog, occasionally or constantly, you have no idea what effect it has on its own author. It gets hard sometimes to stay constructive and hopeful-- especially recently with all of the bad news and trends for the Church universally, nationally and locally. And yet, I am recently reminded of the right approach to these things, ironically enough, by the Facebook postings of Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. You see, they constantly quote from the great Doctor of Charity, St. Francis de Sales. He faced worse times, and overcame worse things. He preached the truth, but always, always in and with charity.
If I can't learn to do this then I should sign off.
And so, to end this confessional, I post the following prayer of C.S. Lewis, which I copied and placed by my computer long ago, but too seldom read:
The Apologist's Evening Prayer
From all my lame defeats and oh! much more
From all the victories I seemed to score;
From cleverness shot forth on Thy behalf
At which, while angels weep, the audience laugh;
From all my proofs of Thy divinity,
Thou, who wouldst give no sign, deliver me.
Thoughts are but coins. Let me not trust, instead
Of Thee, their thin-worn image of Thy head.
From all my thoughts, even from my thoughts of Thee,
O thou fair Silence, fall, and set me free.
Lord of the narrow gate and the needle's eye,
Take from me all my trumpery lest I die.