Preparing for Holy Week and More on Faith 2.0

I spent much of yesterday trying to catch up with things. Among the letters and emails were a couple that made an impact because of their sheer unpleasantness. The writers clearly thought that it didn’t matter how they wrote or what they said. If a word fitly spoken is ‘like apples of gold in pictures of silver’, a word carelessly spoken can be more of a maggot, eating away at the heart of things and causing putrefaction. As we prepare to enter Holy Week, we should think about how we use words, and whether we build up or tear down.

It is very easy to assume that we are ‘speaking the truth in love’ and use that as a justification for dishing out all manner of hurt. In my experience, a little love  achieves more than a large amount of unvarnished truth. Who was ever lectured into becoming better? Most of us know that it is being loved and trusted that encourages us to try harder to merit the love and trust shown us. Benedict assumes that the abbot will have to use correction at times, but only when more positive methods have failed.

As we reflect on how we have used words, we may come to see that we need to ask forgiveness of others. As with so many aspects of the spiritual life, it is not just the forgiveness of God that we need but the forgiveness of the community, whether that community be our family or a wider group. ‘Sorry’ is a very little word, sometimes hard to say, but capable of breathing fresh life into many a difficult situation.  Admitting that we may be wrong, that we may have caused hurt, allows the grace of God to flow freely; just as withholding forgiveness from others builds up a barrier. So, if I have given offence in what I have written in the past few months, I apologize and ask your forgiveness. When we read the Passion narrative tomorrow, we shall be reminded that the Lord suffered the anguish of the Cross for our sins; and none is easier or more prevalent than sins of speech.

Breaking news
Digitalnun is one of the lucky 150 who have been invited to the Vatican Bloggers’ Conference, see here. There may be an interruption in normal blogging service while I look for cheap flights and somewhere to stay. Please pray for the success of the whole venture.

Faith 2.0 Conference Audio
All the audio of the presentations is now available on the RSA web site, divided into morning and afternoon sessions (be aware there is a LOT of excellent material).You can listen to Digitalnun’s keynote below and there is an online version of an interview with Aleks Ktotoski here (link opens in new window).  Many of those who participated in the Conference have uploaded reports and assessments which can be found using Twitter or Facebook.


18 thoughts on “Preparing for Holy Week and More on Faith 2.0”

  1. Words are tricky things, especially in print, where there are no clues of body labnguage or facial expression to clarify meaning. I’m quite sure from what I have read since dicovering this blog that you never knowingly wrote what was intended to hurt. Sadly, we can’t always guess how what we have written will be understood.

  2. Congratulations on your stimulating and amusing speech. I’m impressed by how well a presentation designed for a specialist live audience reaches an internet generalist.

    Re ‘safe space’ and ‘tradition’ – your references to Benedictine life and heritage (even in the blog name that may well age) allowed me to be far more trusting and receptive than elsewhere on line.

  3. I cannot begin to imagine anything on here causing offence … am sorry you’ve had some unpleasant comments ~ how horrid!
    Yes words are quickly spoken & a long time regretted sometimes … have been trying this Lent, to be aware of what I say, especially when pressured at work …

  4. It was astonishing to me too at first that the spirit of this blog should be so misunderstood, even if only by one or two. My gratitude for your postings is so great that initially I was tempted just to think “what can’t be cured must be endured”. Hatreds and anger of this sort can’t readily be cured; they’re not always, anyway, quite what they purport to be about; and certainly such reactions cannot be eliminated. But the hurts they inflict are real, and all the more so, as here, proportionate to the palpable spirit of charity in which the original writing has been undertaken. (In cases like this, I find the sermon on the mount cuts me to the quick, although in a different sense. I fall so utterly short of it. I dare say, most of us do.) You, D.Catherine, have written some fine blogs around this topic already — this has sent me back to a whole number of your postings in the first half of March this year. I’d like to refer some of your angry posters back to those, too: in hopes, for us all.

  5. Online communications are tricky at the best of times, but I love your comment that we should assume we are ‘speaking the truth in love’ – that goes a long way towards preventing misunderstandings. I don’t know what the initial confusion was since I am new to your site and your posts, but hopefully all will be resolved over time as we aim for charity in word and deed. I love the way that your community is using the Internet to inform and inspire others about the vocation of love through Jesus Christ. Blessings of the coming Easter season to all.

  6. For one who has come late to the understanding that lecturing does not effect desired change in others, however well intentioned one is, I am reinforced by the iteration of “that it is being loved and trusted that encourages us to try harder to merit the love and trust shown us”.

  7. What excellent news that Digitalnun is among the 150 who have been invited to the Vatican Bloggers’ Conference. Heartfelt congratulations. The Conference will be enriched by the voice of this wise Benedictine nun.

  8. I’m sorry to hear that your hospitality has been disrupted. I listened to your excellent keynote speech yesterday, and wanted to ask one question: how does the Benedictine charism of [on-line] hospitality shape the inner life of the monastery – insofar as you feel able to share with us? I sense that a small community may have less elasticity, or resilience, to the presence of guests.

    RB53 famously treats of hospitality; but Benedict also recognises that the unexpected intrusion of guests may disrupt the community (v16). He also admits that welcoming visitors from the household of faith invites the risk of ‘excessive demands that upset the monastery’ (RB61:2).

  9. Congratulations on being a blog-delegate! I always derive benefit from reading the blog. Interestingly in view of your comment at the Faith 2.0 conference I prefer to read this (the only one I read regularly) to Twitter, as I like to approach an essay actively rather than be passively deluged!
    Don’t be upset by negative and unconstructive comments. My husband calls people who leave these sad comments trolls!
    Looking forward to more from you …
    P.S. Are you staying in Rome for the beatification of Pope John Paul II?

  10. Thank you for all the kind comments and words of affirmation. I will reply later in the week but today I need to be more silent after all the words of the past few days. Blessings!

  11. Sister, thank you for posting the link to your talk on here. I have just listened to it and enjoyed it very much and found it extremely interesting.

    If I may be curious and ask a related question: are your website skills self-taught or have you had formal training?

  12. Thank you for all your comments. I’ll try to ‘answer’ all in one, if I may.

    Far more people write positively than write negatively, but those who do write negatively often have a burning sense of injustice prompting them to write. Sometimes trying to answer thoughtfully and carefully can defuse the anger. Often the source of the anger is not in what I/we have done but in something else entirely — which is a lesson for all of us when tempted to go off the deep end!

    As many of you know, we are cramped for space and have little in the way of material resources so much of our hospitality is online. However, a small community has ‘difficulties’ with any form of hospitality, real or virtual, because of pressure on people and time. There are times when we struggle, but happily the Lord always seems to renew our energy, although not always when or in the measure we would like.

    Some people are unaware that we are small and get irate if they do not receive what they want when they want (which is a back-handed compliment to generations of monks and nuns). Others have difficulty understanding that we have other priorities than the internet. We just have to live with the contradictions and do the best we can. I keep hoping we can grow so that what we have begun can be taken up and expanded. We have candidates for admission to the community but our ability to receive them will depend on whether we are able to acquire premises of our own.

    Our web design skills, such as they are, are self-taught. No courses, no books, just ‘have a go’ and see what transpires.

  13. Fantastic speech, Dame Catherine. I was so glad to hear a ‘church person’ recognise the internet-attention-span phenomenon, as well as the power of the search engine. I hope someone at the Vatican listens to it.

  14. Congratulations on your selection for the Vatican blogmeet. And thanks for your comment about my diskike of the phrase ‘Taliban’ Catholic.

    I too have been invited to the blogmeet and am number 56 on the list. All the best with your travel arrangements. Am similarly occupied. Have never been to Rome before and am very excited and honoured. Have no idea what to to about finding somewhere to stay. I pray that our arrangements go well and do hope to meet you on May 2
    Thank you for your blog which I’ve only just discovered.

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