Tuesday, September 3, 2013

"Rules for Interacting on Social Media"... by St. Ignatius!

St. Ignatius working on his blog. 
I've been doing some research on St. Ignatius of Loyola for an article I'm writing (part of a series I'm working on for a popular magazine that will appear next year).

The man blows. me. away. Of course, as is so often the case with the teaching of the saints, I feel overwhelmed. When it comes to holiness, I am just NOT THERE.

May God have mercy on me for presuming to say anything about Him.

Lets listen to Ignatius. He's the real deal. The early Jesuits compiled several collections of "sayings" from his letters. As I was going through these, several of them struck me as relevant to the interaction so common among us, particularly in what I like to call the "Catholosphere" (haha).

Of course these apply to any kind of human discourse, but they have particular importance for those of us who think we have something to say that will "help" our brothers and sisters. And they are excellent points to remember when we are engaged in the awkward, disembodied conflicts that often arise on the Social Media.

And so, without further comment, here are some Rules For Communication on Social Media (and everywhere else)... by St. Ignatius:

"[A] good Christian has to be more ready to justify than to condemn a neighbor’s statement. If no justification can be found, one should ask the neighbor in what sense it is to be taken, and if that sense is wrong he or she should be corrected lovingly. Should this not be sufficient, one should seek all suitable means to justify it by understanding it in a good sense" (from the Spiritual Exercises).
"We should be slow to speak and patient in listening to all men.... Our ears should be wide open to our neighbor until he seems to have said all that is in his mind."
"[In seeking to help our neighbor] we should not move straight to what is highest and most perfect, but proceed slowly and gently, from lower things to higher."
"We must adapt ourselves to people's capacities. Try to pour too much at once into a narrow-necked bottle, and you will just spill it and fail to get it inside."
"When, as is but human, errors are committed by others, you should see in them, as in a mirror, some deformity that needs removing in yourself."
"Beware of condemning any man’s action. Consider your neighbor’s intention, which is often honest and innocent, even though his act seems bad in outward appearance."
"If your neighbor’s sin is so manifest that you cannot in honesty excuse it, blame not the sinner but the violence of his temptation, remembering that you yourself might have fallen as badly or even worse."
"Love even the most abandoned: love whatever faith in Christ remains in them: if they have lost this, love their virtues; if these have gone, love the holy likeness they bear, love the blood of Christ through which you trust they are redeemed."