Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church


Combox Warfare

August 25th, 2010, Promulgated by Nerina

Given my recent exchange with “Curmudgeon” (found here), I got to thinking about  the limitations of blogging as a medium for effective communication (and dare I say it, engaging in “dialogue”).  My husband thinks no sane person should enter into combox discussions because people say things that they would never say to a person if they were “face to face.”  After my bruising discussion with “Curmudgeon,” I’m inclined to agree.

However, I’m not willing to give up just yet.  I do think  that each of us need to continually think about how we try to convey our thoughts and opinions and ask  if we are doing so with true charity.  Let me say it again, TRUE charity.  Not just some poor excuse like “I feel I have been charitable in taking time to respond.” In my opinion, and it’s only opinion, that’s a pretty sad standard.  I think of  1 Peter 3:15-16:

Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks your for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame.

In the discussion about Catholic schools, I asked what I thought was a straightforward question.  I stated that I had concerns about Catholic schools  since some of the stories I hear from parents with children in these schools is troubling.  Mike, in the spirit of my question which said, “Perhaps those with more intimate knowledge could elaborate” offered his experience.  With charity and honesty.  Curmudgeon, however, chose to attack.  I won’t rehash everything he said, but his opening salvo was enough to prompt rebukes from both Mike and Ben (for which I am grateful).  It’s hard to find “gentleness and reverence” in the following:

Perhaps you ought to learn about a subject before purporting to know anything about said subject. You condemn the show Friday Night Lights for glorifying abortion, (which it did not do)[ as an aside, this is NOT what I said], but put your children in an educational system that teaches, preaches and glorifies pre-marital sex, contraceptives and abortion through their sex ed programs.

Or in this:

It seems you speak before knowing or learning facts, and as such often overstate or know little to nothing of which you speak. Do not rejoice in your ignorance – learn something, please.

Ouch.  Believe me, it is no fun to review these comments because they hurt.  “Curmudgeon” may think they hurt because they are true.  That’s not it, though.  They hurt because they are hurtful. They demean and berate.  They are anything but gentle and kind.  “Curmudgeon” even later admitted that he could have been “more diplomatic.”

Clearly, “Curmudgeon” is sensitive about one Catholic school in particular – St. John Bosco. For the record, I have heard good things about SJB.  All the parents I talk to with children in the school are happy.  My only questions had to do with teacher qualifications and curriculum.  As I pointed out to “Curmudgeon” he could have been an ambassador for this school he feels so strongly about, but instead he chose to say this:

You doubt SJBS in particular and Catholic education in general. You admit to speaking without fact or context. You send your children to public school and feel fit to tear down authentic Catholic education.

And this:

…yet I will not be charitable to those who feel fit to critique those who are tying to make authentic Catholic education viable in this Diocese. As for verbal abuse – if you can’t stand the heat, don’t pontificate without facts, even in trivial matters.

“Curmudgeon” may still find everything he said acceptable.  Obviously, I disagree.  Again, for the record, I did not tear down Catholic education.  Not once.  I wish it were more vibrant in our diocese and that every family with the desire to send their children could afford to do so.  I sincerely hope that SJB proves to be the success that so many people desire it to be.  It’s success would be a great witness in our diocese.

Finally, I think we are all capable of saying rude and nasty things in comment threads.  If we try to imagine that we are sitting in that person’s living room in an actual conversation, we might be able to keep our emotions in check.  It is something I am going to try to remember more often.  I’ll leave us all Paul’s exhortation  in 1 Corinthians 13:1:

If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.

Heavenly Father, grant me the gift of true charity, desiring the best for my fellow man.  Silence my “clashing cymbal” and inspire my words through Your grace.  I ask this in the precious name of Jesus Christ, Our Lord.


Tags: ,


5 Responses to “Combox Warfare”

  1. avatar Anonymous says:

    All teachers at SJBS have minimum Bachelors degrees. Two have Masters degrees in Math.One taught at NASA and has 14 years experience homeschooling. The other taught at SUNY Brockport. The third middle school teacher has a Bachelors from Roberts Weslyan and a Masters from STA in California with degrees in history and music. He is a gifted organist and knows Latin/chant. 5th Grade teacher has a bachelors from Franciscan University (FUS)with studies in the Great Books. Another has BS and MS in education and taught in city schools for 13 years. Another has a Bachelors in education from FUS and a Masters in Special ed from SJFC. Another has a bachelors from Georgetown and Masters from Columbia in journalism/communications. Another has a BS in Nursing with several years homeschooling. All teachers are being formed and trained through the Institute of Catholic Liberal Education.
    I think Nerina has a legitimate question about the faculty since these are the people educating our precious children. The staff make a public oath of fidelity to the Magisterium on the first day of school. The Headmaster is completely faithful to the mission of the school. He is a very humble and holy man who loves the students and sincerely cares for their souls.
    The chairman of the Board has been guided by the Holy Spirit to found this school. A rosary society has been formed to pray for this venture. The Carmelite Sisters have been praying for us as well. How could we go wrong?! Many of the local clergy have been to the school to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and are supportive of the mission. We strive to create a Catholic Culture…morning prayer assembly including the morning offering, prayer for priests, Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be in Latin. We then read about the saint of the day and discuss the virtue of the month and how that saint exemplified this virtue. Classrooms are filled with Catholic art, statues, icons, etc. Grace before meals, Angelus at Noon, end of the day intentions and prayer. We have Holy Mass and confessions at least once a week and First Friday Mass is celebrated.All Holy Days are observed and the school has has several immersion days to deepen their faith. ie trip to Carmelite Monastery, tour of St Michael’s Church, March for Life in Fairport, dress up as a Saint for All Saints Day, Lenten retreats, soup luncheons, stations of the cross, Birthright walk for life at SJFC (we were the highest fund raising youth group last year), etc, etc. The students also took part in the E3 Fair at RIT this year and took 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place in their particular competition. Enrollment is now 85+ students with 35+ families. Tuition remains at $1800. Athletic, Art, and Music programs have been added. Hopefully this gives a better idea of what goes on at SJBS. Personally, my children have attended public, diocesan, McQ, Mercy,etc. So far, nothing compares to SJBS as far as the faith is concerned. There are certainly growing pains, but Grace builds on nature. This is God’s work and we just try to cooperate. Thanks for the opportunity to share some good news!

  2. avatar Sfomo says:

    As a grandparent of children at SJBS, and a former public and diocesan teacher, I was enlightened by the information given by Anonymous. The school is clearly a treasure. Hopefully, all the readers of Cleansing Fire have benefited from the exchanges between Nerina and Curmudgeon and I hope there are no hard feelings.

  3. avatar Nerina says:

    @Anon – thank you for your lengthy and information-filled response. It is very helpful in the overall discussion of Catholic education and done so with no rancor. I hope SJB continues to grow and thrive as I still have a pre-schooler at home who could attend.

    @Sfomo – it looks like your grandchildren are very lucky. Don’t worry, no hard feelings on my part. While difficult at the time, this discussion has taught me a few things.

  4. avatar Anonymous says:

    I wrote the above anonymous blog regarding SJBS. After rereading it, forgive me for all the grammatical errors!
    A Catholic School is only as Catholic as those who administer and teach in it. A Church member is “church” to the degree he ascents to what the Church teaches. I want to add that the faculty of SJBS are required to read and discuss the Holy See’s Teaching on Catholic Schools. It is at the heart of what we are trying to accomplish at St John Bosco Schools with God’s Grace. Is the curriculum perfect? No. Are the faculty perfect? No. Are all the families and board members perfect? No. But we take serious the command to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect. We have set out on a journey to be FAITHFUL!
    I am copying and pasting a brief overview taken from the Institute of Catholic Liberal Education website…..

    The Marks of a Catholic School
    Archbishop Michael Miller, former Secretary of the Sacred Congregation for Catholic Schools, has recently penned a “must-read” and easily readable book for all Catholic educators. The Holy See’s Teaching on Catholic Schools faithfully summarizes the last fifty years of Magisterial documents on the Catholic school [Link to Magisterial Documents]. We strongly recommend that the entire faculty read and discuss this book together. Board members should also be familiar with its contents.

    Archbishop Miller teaches that Catholic schools should be:

    1. Inspired by a Supernatural Vision

    2. Founded on a Christian Anthropology

    3. Animated by Communion and Community

    4. Imbued with a Catholic Worldview

    5. Sustained by the Witness of Teaching

    The following excerpts from his work illustrate these five marks.

    1. Inspired by a Supernatural Vision
    The enduring foundation on which the Church builds her educational philosophy is the conviction that it is a process which forms the whole child, especially with his or her eyes fixed on the vision of God. The specific purpose of a Catholic education is the formation of boys and girls who will be good citizens of this world, enriching society with the leaven of the Gospel, but who will also be citizens of the world to come. Catholic schools have a straightforward goal: to foster the growth of good Catholic human beings who love God and neighbor and thus fulfill their destiny of becoming saints.

    2. Founded on a Christian Anthropology
    The Holy See’s documents insist that, to be worthy of its name, a Catholic school must be founded on Jesus Christ the Redeemer who, through his Incarnation, is united with each student. Christ is not an after-thought or an add-on to Catholic educational philosophy but the center and fulcrum of the entire enterprise, the light enlightening every pupil who comes into our schools (cf. Jn 1:9).

    3. Animated by Communion and Community
    A third important teaching on Catholic schools that has emerged in the Holy See’s documents in recent years is its emphasis on the community aspect of the Catholic school, a dimension rooted both in the social nature of the human person and the reality the Church as a “the home and the school of communion.” That the Catholic school is an educational community “is one of the most enriching developments for the contemporary school.

    4. Imbued with a Catholic Worldview
    A fourth distinctive characteristic of Catholic schools, which always finds a place in the Holy See’s teaching is this. Catholicism should permeate not just the class period of catechism or religious education, or the school’s pastoral activities, but the entire curriculum. The Vatican documents speak of “an integral education, an education which responds to all the needs of the human person.”

    4.1 Search for Wisdom and Truth
    In an age of information overload, Catholic schools must be especially attentive to the delicate balance between human experience and understanding. In the words of T.S. Eliot, we do not want our students to say: “We had the experience but missed the meaning.”

    The greatest challenge to Catholic education in the United States today, and the greatest contribution that authentically Catholic education can make to American culture, is to restore to that culture the conviction that human beings can grasp the truth of things, and in grasping that truth can know their duties to God, to themselves and their neighbors.

    4.2 Faith, Culture and Life
    From the nature of the Catholic school also stems one of the most significant elements of its educational project: the synthesis of culture and faith. The endeavor to interweave reason and faith, which has become the heart of individual subjects, makes for unity, articulation and coordination, bringing forth within what is learnt in a school a Christian vision of the world, of life, of culture and of history.

    5. Sustained by the Witness of Teaching
    The careful hiring of men and women who enthusiastically endorse a Catholic ethos is, I would maintain, the primary way to foster a school’s catholicity. The reason for such concern about teachers is straightforward. Catholic education is strengthened by its “martyrs.”

  5. avatar Anonymous says:

    Agree or disagree here is the very reason why Cleansing Fire is and will remain a must have resource. God bless all of you doing this much needed work.

Leave a Reply

Log in | Register

You must be logged in to post a comment.

-Return to main page-