This Lent, one of my key resolutions is to avoid harboring resentments and (often related) complaining, particularly about some particular people in my life. As this has become an entrenched habit over several years, it’s not surprising that I’ve had very mixed results with this resolution. But, I keep trying, which is bound to please our Merciful God and yield more success than giving-up! 🙂

On a related note, I’ve been troubled for some time that another resident of my diocese regularly comments on several wildly-popular Catholic blogs, spreading complaints about our bishop and diocese wherever s/he goes, whether it’s relevant to the original post or not. Worse still, this commenter only uses a geographical handle that doesn’t identify gender, let alone first name, so there is no good way to address the person privately. Though I tend to agree — generally and quietly — with this person’s concerns about our diocese, his/her response of griping all over the Net not only violates the basic charity we owe to all and the respect we owe to our shepherds particularly, but unnecessarily shames our diocese before readers from all over the world.

And, griping campaigns — this person’s loud one and my quiet ones — are ultimately weak tools for addressing our concerns with others. Prayer is not only a stronger tool, but a more charitable one, with ample precedent in 2,000 years of Church history.

Today, I read two valuable reminders about how praying for those who bother us is better than griping about them, privately or publicly.

You don’t have to like him but love him. Pray for him. Or this whole thing falls apart.

This latter statement (“or this whole thing falls apart”) makes another good point. Really, gripe campaigns often fail to even touch the one at whom they are directed — and if they do, it is not in a positive, corrective way, but in a negative, destructive way. Instead, they rather do great harm, especially spiritually and emotionally, to those who engage in them. If one is spending his time going around to blogs and making the same bitter comments everywhere, then how much of his life outside of the Internet must be eaten by the bitterness?!

So, if there must be a campaign, let it be like Rosary for the Bishop! Or for whomever.

I picked-up several more excellent ideas for responding charitably to those who bother us during a recent spiritual talk:

  • Don’t judge the person rashly, as this then becomes a sin on your part.
  • Remember your own sinfulness and quirks.
  • Fight the urge to disassociate from the person and befriend him instead.
  • Have no enemies and write no one off.
  • Let go of anything that is unimportant or a matter of opinion — and not just in your words, but even in your thoughts, as fascades always fail eventually.
  • Ask “Does it offend God?” If the answer is “Yes,” then you are obligated, as a work of mercy, to correct the wrongdoing.
  • When you must correct, do it with prayer, privately, positively (as advice and not a reprimand), at the right time (not when the person is distracted or under pressure).
  • Be patient in waiting for results, as change often takes longer than we might expect.