Bishop Barron recently came under attack on social media for what he had said regarding the St. Junipero Serra statue vandalism and removals happening in California. A
Although this wasn’t the first (or last time) Bishop Barron has had to face criticism over his words, it had escalated to such a degree that he addressed it in a video regarding online etiquette (especially amongst us Catholics) that I think everyone should see.
Even if you disagree with his stance on what to do regarding the St. Junipero statues, the incident, in general, brought up a glaringly obvious problem we don’t speak out about yet we should really address: how uncharitable we’ve become towards one another on social media and in person.
What “golden rule”?
Do you remember hearing about the “golden rule” growing up? You know, “treat others as you want to be treated”? Whenever there was conflict in the classroom between classmates, I remember my primary school teachers always bringing it up. Maybe it’s no longer taught in school as public schools have become more secularized and politically correct but, as Catholics this is something that should be in the forefront of our minds and taught onto the next generations?
“Why?” you may ask. Because it’s what Jesus himself taught us to do. Open up your Bible to Mark 12:31: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is no commandment greater than these.” (DR) Not only are we called to love God above all, we should also love our “neighbors” (read: every other human being) as ourselves. It doesn’t say we have to like them or agree with them. It doesn’t mean we can’t employee fraternal correction in a charitable way for the sake of their souls. It does mean that we have to treat them with the respect and dignity they deserve as a fellow son or daughter of Christ. Yes, I know; super hard with some people but, hey, no one said doing the right thing was easy or even fun.
Follow the Ten Commandments, even online
Here’s a challenge I pose to all of you: follow the Ten Commandments. No, not modifying them to how you live your life. Just live them out as they were given, including when you interact with others online.
“I am the Lord, thy God: thou shalt not have strange gods before me.”
Read: don’t make false idols out of political ideologies or celebrities. or, really, anything that isn’t God. Don’t make a false idol out of anything or anyone, especially those that pull you away from God.
“Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.”
Read: be careful with your words, even if you don’t type them out. It’s so easy to take the Lord’s name in vain while in the middle of an intense online spat, even if only you hear it said. Also, even if you don’t agree with what priests, bishops, or even the pope says, be charitable about what you say to and about them.
“Keep the Sabbath holy.”
Read: let’s be extra careful not to ruin our Sundays with petty arguments (or any arguments) or anything that will detract from the day. Extra challenge: do this for holy days of obligation as well.
“Honor thy father and mother.”
Read: Did your parents raise you to be rude, argumentative people? No? Then y dishonor them by acting in a manner contrary to how raised you? Didn’t have the best parental examples growing up? Then think about how your actions would be seen by God the Father and our Blessed Mother. If the words and actions would displease them, try to refrain from them.
“Thou shalt not kill.”
Read: Keep those sharp tongues in check. You may not think your words hurt but they might do some serious damage you don’t want or need on your conscience. Also, before you go in after someone to “cancel” them (basically killing their reputation), give yourself time to cool off and think about why you’re so upset with them before you do or say anything. If you can have an open, civil dialogue with them, do it instead of trying to get as many people as you can to attack them.
“Thou shalt not commit adultery.”
Read: no shenanigans. This one is pretty self-explicatory. Don’t post or look for anything that would cause unchaste thoughts and words.
“Thou shalt not steal.”
Read: If you share anything you didn’t yourself make or capture, give credit. This includes words and ideas. Also, don’t “steal” (waste) people’s time with things that uly don’t matter, especially arguments.
“Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.”
Read: don’t gossip or speak ill of anyone. I know; this is especially hard with trolls and random people you don’t know who attack you for no good reason. This may be one of the commandments most often broken, especially online. Be honest but charitable, especially when fraternal correction is necessary. Also, try to not jump to conclusions and assume the worst of someone just because someone else presents to you a quote. It may have been taken out of context so do yourself a favor and find the direct quote and go from there. It may take extra time but at least you aren’t contributing to the problem.
“Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife.”
Read: Self-explanatory. Keep your words, actions, and thoughts chaste, especially online.
“Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods.”
Read: Don’t want something because someone else has it. Yes, this includes the number of followers they have, they books or any other material possessions they may share online, etc.
Be a countercultural revolutionary: bring back manners!
Now that you (and I, as I wrote this out) have been given a little reminder of what God has commanded to do, do it. While the world is busy trying to “cancel” people and things that threaten their agenda, be a countercultural revolutionary, and bring back some manners. Follow the “golden rule” and the commandments and you’re well on your way to distinguishing yourself from the (sadly) vast majority of others, especially on social media. Again, it’s hard but not impossible. It does take some time and a lot of practice before it becomes second nature for us to do these things but it’s worth the trouble.
Let others take the low road as a division is exactly what Satan wants. We are children of God. We have a beautiful, rich faith that will help guide us to a better, more fulfilling life than the shallow and empty life that the world is offering us. We are better than what the world is telling us to do, think, or say.
Who is with me?
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