Beatification, Blogging and JP II

John Paul II uses the internet to publish
John Paul II uses the Internet to Publish, November 2001

On 22 November 2001, Pope John Paul II became the first pope in history to publish an official document via the internet (allegedly using the laptop pictured here). Today, on the Octave Day of Easter, he is being beatified, not because he was flawless but because he was demonstrably holy. Beatification is recognition of having lived a life of heroic virtue. For some it may seem too much, too soon; but goodness is a quality most of us find attractive, however much we may dislike the tackiness that surrounds some aspects of the process of beatification (vials of blood kept as relics, anyone?). I have no difficulty asking the prayers of Pope John Paul II and I pray that he may encourage many to aspire to holiness of life.

By the time you read this, Digitalnun will be on her way to Rome, not for the beatification (she arrives too late for that) but for the Bloggers’ Conference hosted by the Vatican — another internet ‘first’, but perhaps a rather overdue one. Please pray for all who are attending. If there is to be real dialogue, we shall need the gift of the Holy Spirit in abundance: to listen, to ponder, to argue with wisdom and respect, and all within a little space.

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A Royal Wedding

Later today Prince William and Catherine Middleton will marry at Westminster Abbey. Judging by the amount of media attention this event has already attracted, one can confidently predict that there will be no shortage of instant experts to comment on everything, from the bride’s dress to the security arrangements. Mention of security arrangements does highlight the fact that this is not an ‘ordinary’ marriage but one that will be lived out in the glare of publicity. Very few of us could survive such scrutiny and, sadly, the British royal family’s marital history is not encouraging: there have been many breakdowns, with attendant sadnesses for everyone concerned. All the more reason, then, for us to pray for William and Catherine on their wedding day.

In 1366 another Catherine, a Dominican Tertiary, experienced a ‘mystical marriage’ with Jesus which transformed her life. She began to serve the poor and take an interest in world affairs, becoming in time a fierce critic of clerical mores. She was an adviser of both Pope Gregory XI and Urban VI and died at the early age of 33. Her Letters and her Dialogues are both remarkable, although not to everyone’s taste. A Doctor of the Church, she is a type of the mulier fortis. Love her or loathe her, Catherine of Siena is not easily ignored. Were she alive today, I feel sure she’d be a blogger. Perhaps we women bloggers should take her as our patron?

Media Links
The video of the talks at the recent Faith 2.0: Religion and the Internet Conference has now been uploaded to YouTube.

Opening Address: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytixq3-voh0&feature=relmfu
First Panel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPETf37g9_w&feature=relmfu
Second Panel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Im1HZXoofZ8&feature=relmfu
Keynote (Digitalnun): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYI2isQaqUs&feature=relmfu Faith 2.0 video
Third Panel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_3a2hf3y0s&feature=related

And for a gentle interview between Fr Rocky and Digitalnun on Relevant Radio’s Drew Mariani Show yesterday, go here. (Starts about 2.49 and last approx 15 minutes)

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Holy Ringtones and Online Debate

The mobile phone I use has its ringtone changed according to the liturgical season. At the moment, I am summoned to answer by a plainsong setting of the Regina Caeli. I find this makes answering the phone less of a chore and it reminds me that everything I do ought to be done in the context of prayer. (It is quite difficult to snarl when you have been mentally singing along, Regina Caeli, laetare, alleluia, you try it!) I think we should add a page of ‘holy ringtones’ to our web site; so if you come across any podsafe music, i.e. that may legally and freely be converted into a ringtone, please let me know and I’ll see what we can do.

In the meantime, I have been thinking a lot about how we should conduct ourselves online and commend this article to you by Matthew Warner. He has sensible things to say about how we should comment online. I’m all for debate but do sometimes feel uncomfortable when the argument turns ad hominem. Happily, that has never (yet) happened here. It is up to us to ensure that the blogosphere is a good place to be, isn’t it? I wonder if we could incorporate something like a ‘holy ringtone’ to sound BEFORE we push the submit button?!

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Catholic Women Don’t Preach

They blog instead. Or, I daresay, they lecture their spouses occasionally, if they are married, or their communities, if they happen to be nuns (we call it “giving a conference”). Dr Johnson, as everyone knows and some regularly misquote, thought that a woman’s preaching was very like a dog’s standing on its hind legs, remarkable but not necessarily done well. Having listened to the preaching of several Anglican and Methodist friends, I have to dissent from the Great Cham’s opinion on the surest of all grounds, that of experience. Some of the most brilliant preaching I have ever heard has come from women. Why is the Catholic Church so iffy about allowing women into the pulpit?

Partly, we know, it is because of what the Catholic Church believes about the Mass (which is where most preaching occurs) and the sacrament of Orders. It is quite wrong to see this as an equality issue although it is sometimes presented as such, by those who wish to uphold the status quo as well as those who wish to attack it. I don’t think “equality” really comes into it, but what we believe about the Mass and Orders may affect perceptions in other areas. For all kinds of reasons, women in the Catholic Church are still seen primarily as wives and mothers, even if they are neither or have many other roles in addition. We don’t usually define men in terms of their being husbands and fathers (although American Catholic men seem touchingly ready to define themselves that way). The argument from complementarity works well on paper but is less convincing in action. I have a sneaking feeling that some of those most passionate in its advocacy are secret admirers of the article on “woman” in the old Catholic Encyclopedia. (I read it, entranced, at the age of eleven and have wondered ever since whether it would be possible to meet such a being.)

Blogging is a low-cost way of addressing an audience and many Catholic women, including me, have taken to it with delight. It doesn’t need an imprimatur (remember them?) or a sacrament or anything in particular to validate what is said. I do believe that anyone claiming to be a Catholic blogger should take the trouble to find out what the Church actually teaches before launching into the ether, and I hope I’m scrupulous in that regard, though that is for others to judge. The trouble is, I am still haunted by Dr Johnson’s little joke. Am I preaching when I jot down my posts, musing aloud in public (which is what I like to think) or performing some kind of verbal acrobatics? Doughty dame or dancing dog, who knows?

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